We occasionally see or hear on the news about a young child dialing 9-1-1 and calling for help to save his or her parents or others. Whenever I hear this story, I first give thanks that the victim is all right. I then think about my own son and how he might handle a similar situation. Have my wife and I taught him the phone numbers of our emergency contacts? Does he understand what 9-1-1 is and how to use it properly? These questions arise when I hear the stories, and since my wife and I both have some health issues, we want to make sure that our son knows what numbers to call and when.
Emergency contact numbers
We keep a list of emergency contact numbers right next to the main telephone handset in the house. On this list we have the phone numbers of both of our cell phones, nearby family members, police, and 9-1-1. Our son knows about the list, but we occasionally wonder if he would know when he should call if we cannot. We have discussed the issues with him multiple times, but the situation has not yet occurred, which is actually a good thing.
When to call family members
The time will soon come when we can leave our son at home alone. When we first do, we will have that nervous feeling and wonder if he will know whom to call in case of emergency. He knows our cell phone numbers and knows to call us if we were to get separated. He also has the list of nearby family members and their phone numbers. We have begun discussing potential situations that would dictate that he call us. For example, when alone, if he sees strange people around the house that make him feel uncomfortable, he is to call us first.
Setting off the house alarm
The control panel to our house alarm contains buttons that automatically call the police and fire stations and alarm monitoring station. He could engage the appropriate button and explain the problem to the correct department. If our son called us and we could not get back quickly enough, we will instruct him to turn on the alarm (if not already) and set it off. The alarm will scare off any perpetrators. The company will call, and he will give them our account name and password. Whenever the alarm goes off, I get a phone call from the monitoring company with details of what they have done. I also have a family member as a backup in case the company cannot reach me.
Getting help from the neighbors
We have begun discussing going to a trusted neighbor for help. Fortunately, we have terrific neighbors with whom we have built mutual trust and respect with each other on the street. Since our kids play together constantly and we interact frequently, we all feel comfortable in these types of situations in that we can look after each others' kids.
I have two back injuries that will occasionally make me unable to walk without my cane. In late 2010, I threw out my back and could not walk. As I tried to get up from the couch at 4:30 a.m. to try to get to the bathroom, I fell. I could not move at all. I had to yell for my wife, who called 9-1-1. If I could not have yelled, then I would have remained there until she or our son woke up.
We need to make sure that our son knows when to call 9-1-1. Sometimes, the victim cannot speak, let alone yell. A potential life-and-death situation such as a heart attack calls for immediate action. We need the assurance that our son will know to call and give the correct information to get us the help we would need.
Simple but necessary measures
It takes only a few minutes to teach emergency numbers to our son, but we need to review them periodically. As he will soon become old enough to stay at home for a short time, we need to make sure that he knows what to do in potential emergencies. We do not want to become a news report, but better that than the alternative.
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