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In Case of Emergency

In Case of Emergency

Teaching your children key safety skills is a critical part of being a parent.

By Sara Kendall

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All parents worry about the safety of their children and as they grow, kids must be taught about life beyond your warm embrace. An effective way to do so is to create teachable moments so that your child can learn safety rules. In the process, you may prevent an accident or two!

I’m Lost

Just thinking these simple words terrifies many children. Prepare your child by making sure he knows some essential information. He should know:

  • His full name;
  • His home address;
  • His telephone numbers; and
  • Who to turn to for help.

To make sure your little one knows these facts, write her full name on an index card or white board. Put it somewhere she spends time every day, such as her bedroom, a bathroom, or the kitchen. Ask her to repeat her name (and how to spell the last name if it’s tricky) until you are sure she knows it.

Now do the same for his address and then for his telephone numbers. He should know both your and your partner’s cell phone numbers, as well as the house phone, if you have one. It would be helpful if he knew a grandmother’s number or someone similar.

Talk with your child about who she should approach if she gets lost. First, tell her to look for a police officer but if none is in sight, suggest she approach someone who works where she is, such as the librarian in a library, a clerk in a store. Anyone in uniform is a pretty good choice, too. Explain that everyone will be a stranger in this situation, but assure her that you believe these people will help.

The Nevers List

Your child needs to be made aware of possible dangers of listening to others before asking permission from a parent. It’s an unfortunate reality that someone he knows might not always be nice when there isn’t a parent around. Have a chat with your child about the following list of Nevers; it could reduce or eliminate potential harm from a familiar person or stranger.

Remind your son or daughter that he or she should:

  • Never go outside without a parent.
  • Never accept candy, an offer to see a puppy, etc. from someone without asking a parent.
  • Never get into a car or leave a location without permission from a parent.
  • Never go inside a neighbor’s house without permission from a parent.

Think about your family’s personal circumstances. Add to this important list as you think necessary and appropriate for your child’s age.

Dial 9-1-1

Knowing how to make a 9-1-1 call could be the most crucial skill on this list. Discuss with your child when she would make this life-saving call. A fire, an intruder, or unconscious family members are all valid reasons. Just as important, let her know this is not a call to joke around with. A missing pet, a skinned elbow, or a lost toy are never good reasons.

Role play with your child using a play phone or an old cell phone. You play the dispatcher and your child plays the person in need. Ask your child questions, such as what’s the emergency?, what’s your name?, and what is your address and telephone number It may not be easy or pleasant, but could be the most important game you ever play with your kid.

Take Action

Explain to your child that no one should touch or treat him in a way to make him feel uncomfortable. If he finds himself in a scary situation, instruct him to get out of it as quickly as possible. This is not a time to be passive; on the contrary, it’s okay to forget about manners or being polite. Make it clear he should immediately remove himself from circumstances he does not understand or that make him feel uncomfortable.

If your child encounters such an experience, encourage her to tell you as soon as possible. Let her know you are there to help her through a possible problem, and she is not tattling on someone — even a family member or friend. Opening up the lines of communication between you and your child will make it easier for her to come to you when she needs to tellyou about a questionable situation.


Educate your children about all of these safety rules. Having this vital knowledge in their personal safety arsenal will not only build their confidence, but will better prepare them if an unfortunate event arises.

For more, go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters.

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