Are Your Grandchildren Ready For An Emergency and Know How to Call 911?

tdy_news_rossen_kids_911This Grandma watches the Today Show as much as possible.  One of my favorite segments is “Rossen Reports.”  May 8, 2017, “Would your child know how to call 911 in an emergency?” was Jeff Rossen’s focus.  He showed several children being asked if they knew what to do in an emergency.  Only one did.  And the oldest child, age 9, froze when the 911 operator came on the line.  It was scary.  It scared this Grandma.  Watch the segment.

Jeff Rossen interviewed Sgt. Tony Montanari from the Nutley, New Jersey police department, who said, “This should be the very first thing that a child learns when they know how to speak: where they live, their names, and what to do in an event of an emergency.”   The on line article gives other suggestions of what parents should do.

However, what was concerning was that Jeff Rossen seemed to imply that two year olds could do this.

I researched on line and found Parent’s Magazine’s opinion, which said the age to introduce what to do in emergencies and how to dial 911 is age 4.   The article was very informative, that it is important to explain to the child what an emergency is. It also included practicing a 911 call.  I would hope that the parent would call the local non emergency police number first to find out how to do this without disruption of the emergency system.  The article included introducing the child to the different emergency uniformed persons who might respond to the house, so they will not be too scared to open the door. gives the list of questions a 911 operator would ask to practice answers with the child.

Being the grandma I am, I immediately texted the parents of my youngest grandchildren and asked the question.  My son-in-law said the nine year old knew what to do and he would teach the six year old.  He agreed with me that before age six, the child might not be able to effectively call 911.

Definitely, the child should learn his or her name, one parent’s telephone number, and address as soon as they can speak.  Learning his or her name is easy.  However, a young child may not speak very clearly so that a stranger adult, a police officer, could understand the child.  It is not as easy to learn to spell the name.  Children learn songs and rhymes easier.  Try putting the spelling of the child’s full name to a rhyme, so when the child is asked his or her name, he or she responds saying it and spelling it in rhyme.  Try putting the telephone number and address to a song the child knows, such the ABC song, and have the child respond in song.  Practice asking the child’s name and ask the child to answer in rhyme with the spelling.  Practice asking the child’s address and telephone number and ask the child to answer in song.  Have the child practice with other adults.  This Grandma, a former teacher, thinks that learning should be fun, and learning in song and rhyme is easier for the youngest children.

Depending on the maturity of the child, then one can introduce 911.  Please remember, though, that young children on our Iphones will practice their song and rhyme on 911 when we don’t want them to.

Of course, using SIRI could also cause the same problem with a young child.

So, I agree with the father of our youngest grandchildren.  Keep the little ones as safe as you can, and teach them their name, a telephone number, and address very early, but do not expect them to be competent to use 911 in emergencies until at about age six.  He also said that teaching children to respond to emergencies should be reinforced often, and the amount of information given increases with the age of the child.

Each child is so different.  The parents should consider starting at age 2 and keep going with adding what the child can handle as the child gets older.  We don’t want to scare the child to have the child freeze as the 9 year old did in the Rossen Report segment.

This Grandma is so glad that this is not my responsibility.  Yes, I am concerned and will pass this post along to the parents of the grandchildren, but it is they who should decide when and how to help our grandchildren know what to do in an emergency.

All we grandparents have to do is pray that they never have a reason to call 911.








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