911 For Kids - St. Joseph County 911 Teaching Kids About Dialing 911

Teaching Kids About 9-1-1

Children who know how to call 911 in an emergency could save a life. Teach your child how to call 911 and tell dispatchers the location of the emergency.  Child safety experts and instructors, say children as young as age three can be taught to use 9-1-1 in response to an emergency.
It’s best to call 911 from a landline, but if one isn’t available, your child should know how to call from your mobile phone. Here are some tips for teaching your child how to call 911.

1. Make sure your child can say their first and last name and provide their address or location.

Some 911 centers don’t have the ability to automatically locate a caller. Thus, it’s important to teach your child to identify a location by buildings, signs or other landmarks.

2. Explain the different emergency situations that might require your child to call 911.

Here are some examples:

  • A Medical emergency where someone is hurt.
  • There is a car accident.
  • You see someone choking.
  • One of your friends has an allergic reaction to a bee sting or food.
  • You see a robbery or someone breaks into your house.
  • Someone has a gun and is threatening to hurt others.
  • A stranger is following you home from school.
  • There is a natural disaster like a tornado, an earthquake, a flood, or a landslide.
  • You see a fire or an explosion.
  • A friend falls out of the window and gets hurt.

Please ensure that your child understands that 911 should only be called if there’s an actual emergency. It should never be called for practice, as a joke or for any other non-emergency reason. 

The following situations are not considered emergencies:

  • You lost your pet, a special toy or stuffed animal.
  • Your big brother is picking on you.
  • You’re practicing a fake emergency.
  • You’re bored and making a crank call.
  • You’re lonely and bored.

3. Show your child the steps for calling 911 on your mobile phone.

If you have a security lock on your phone’s Home screen, teach your child how to unlock it so that they can dial 911 in an emergency. 

4. Go over your mobile phone’s keypad several times to help your child become familiar with making a call.

Have your child practice making a phone call from your mobile phone by calling a family member or friend. Remember not to actually call 911 with your child, unless it’s an emergency.

5. Practice as much as possible.

The more repetition you can provide, the easier it will be for your child to recall the steps, especially in a stressful emergency situation.

6. Do not let your children play with old mobile phones.

Because old mobile phones are still able to call 9-1-1 even if they are not active with a wireless carrier, they should not be used as a toy.

For more tips, check out 911 For Kids.com