Every once in a while, I get lightheaded to the point of thinking I might faint. (One time, I actually did faint and my husband legit caught me in mid-air, gallant dude that he is.) When it happened again a few weeks ago, and I was home alone with my son, I realised it was time he knew what to do if there was ever an emergency and he needed to call someone for help.
Up until this point, he knew that if he ever needed help, he was to first knock at Mr. Randall’s house next door. If there was no answer there, he should go to Ms. Patricia’s house (and so on, around the neighbourhood). But at 8 years old and with a basic knowledge of how to use a cell phone, I decided he was capable of learning how to place an emergency call without getting too flustered.
When to call
Talk first to your child about the sort of circumstances where he or she might need to call triple zero. I explained this as any situation where someone was hurt or something scary was happening and there wasn’t a grown-up nearby who could help.
Some examples we talked about were if there was a fire, someone was very hurt and couldn’t call on their own, someone was having trouble breathing, or someone appeared to be asleep but he couldn’t wake them up.
What to expect
Next, we talked about who he would actually be talking to on the phone (an operator who would figure out who to send to help). I explained that the operator would answer and would first want to know what is wrong and where he is.
He has our home address memorized, but if he’s in another location, he should simply describe it as best he can (the park across the street from the city pool, for example). I told him that trying to stay calm was more important than trying to dial super fast.
How to call
Next, I showed him how to actually place the call from my iPhone and my husband’s Android. There are slight variations from phone to phone, so if you don’t already know how to place an emergency phone call from your locked home screen, you may need to search for specific instructions. In general, though, you tap a home or side button until the key pad comes up, tap “emergency,” dial 0-0-0 and then hit the green phone button to place the call.
We don’t have a landline in our home but even if you do, it’s still a good idea to teach your kid how to dial 000 from your cell phone in case they ever need to call when they’re in another location.
Now that he knows the basics, I’ll practice this with him periodically to reinforce the steps and hopefully make it more automatic for him.
One last thing: Be sure to reiterate that calling 000 as a joke is not only never, ever funny, but it could get them in big trouble and delay help to someone else who truly needs it.