9-1-1 and Kids
Check out these resources to children learn when and how to call 9-1-1.
Video: When and how to call 911. Teaching children how to call 911 using various phones.
Children who know how to call 911 in an emergency could save a life.
Everyone needs to know about calling 911 in an emergency. But kids also need to know the specifics about what an emergency is. Asking them questions like, "What would you do if we had a fire in our house?" or "What would you do if you saw someone trying to break in?" gives you a chance to discuss emergencies and what to do if one happens.
For younger children, it might also help to talk about who the emergency workers are in your community — police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, nurses, and so on — and what kinds of things they do to help people who are in trouble.
1. Make sure your child can say her first and last name and provide her 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.
Tip: Making up a rhyme or song can help make it fun and easy to remember a name and home address.
2. Explain the different emergency situations that might require your child to call 911.
Here are some examples:
- Medical emergency
- Car accident
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. Doing so could prevent 911 dispatchers from quickly responding to someone in a real emergency situation.
Also make sure your child knows safety first. They should be in a safe place before calling 9-1-1. Talk though different scenarios with the. For example if there is a house fire they can go to a neighbors house.
3. Talk about what happens when you call 911.
Make sure your child knows that even though she shouldn’t give personal information to strangers, it is OK to trust the 911 operator and first responders. Walk them through some of the questions the operator will ask, including:
- Where are you calling from? (Where do you live?)
- What type of emergency is this?
- Who needs help?
- Is the person awake and breathing?
It’s OK to be frightened, but it is important to stay calm, speak slowly and clearly, and answer all the 911 operators questions. If your child is old enough to understand, also explain the emergency dispatcher may give first-aid instructions before emergency workers arrive at the scene.
Make it clear that your child should not hang up until the person on the other end says it’s OK - otherwise, important instructions or information could be missed.
Pointing out first responders (police, fire, ems) in the community and how they help people may also help your child feel more at ease in an emergency.
4. Show your child the steps for calling 911 on your mobile phone.
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.
If you have a security lock on your phone's Home screen, teach your child how to unlock it.
Verizon offers a Teach Your Children to Call 911 Simulator for some newer phones. Select your phone from the Simulator Index list, and check the Phone Calls section to see if instructions are available for your phone.
5. 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.
6. Practice, practice, practice.
The more repetition you can provide, the easier it will be for your child to recall the steps, even in a stressful emergency situation.
7. Do not let your children play with old mobile phones.
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.