As a parent, you’re likely to constantly be looking for ways to analyse and minimise risks in your child’s life. Everyone appreciates the effort, but the odds say there’ll be situations that will be out of your control. From natural to man-made disasters, medical emergencies and more, the point is, your child needs to know what qualifies as an emergency, what doesn’t, and what the emergency plan should be when the Play-Doh hits the fan.
FAMILY FIRST AID KIT
Get a family first aid kit prepped for whenever there may be an accident or in-home emergency. Things like plasters, bandages, cleansing wipes and medicines should be safely placed away from children just in case they become a little curious and you find them playing zombies with your dressing supply.
Instead of locking it away where they won’t be able to reach it, it’s useful to sit your child down at an appropriate age and explain to them what the family first aid kit is for and when it should be used – if they’re very young, reiterate the fact that they should only open it if an adult is with them or has given them permission. Un-pack and re-pack the kit with your little one, explaining what each thing is needed for. Or let them know that if ‘Mummy needs her spare asthma pump in an emergency, this is where you’ll find it’.
More information can be found via the NHS website on how to create a good first aid kit. You can also purchase one of these pre-made Littlelife First Aid Kit’s where you’ll have everything packed for you, easy as 1-2-3!
Falling over and getting a grazed knee isn’t exactly a dire emergency, so it’s great for you to teach your child that not everything bad or painful that happens is an emergency.
Always teach them that if an elder, parent or teacher uses the word emergency, to stay calm and follow instructions from whoever’s in charge. Giving your child ‘silly’ and ‘real-life’ emergency scenarios will help them figure out the difference. If you think they’re struggling with differentiating between the two, make it into a game at home and give them a short, fun quiz to test their knowledge.
ROLE PLAY: THE SERIOUS SCENARIOS
Familiarising children with emergency situations will help reduce panic or anxiety in case of a real emergency. For example, you can create a game with scenarios to test their knowledge and reaction skills. Adapt these scenarios according to your child's age and development and practice several times a year with a variety of situations so that your children are as prepared as possible. Below are two examples of basic scenarios that you can use with your children; the answers are provided in brackets:
- You're playing in the living room when you hear a loud noise from the kitchen. You go to see what's happening and see mum on the floor. What should you do? (Check to see if mum can hear me.)
- Mum answers you, then tries to get up but can't. She is bleeding a lot. Should you call 9-9-9? (Yes, I have to call 9-9-9 and ask for an ambulance.)
- What do you have to tell 9-9-9? (The Emergency is at 123 X street, X city. My mum fell down, she can still talk but she's bleeding a lot and can't get up.)
- Can you wait for the ambulance with your mum? (Yes. I'm not in any danger.)
- You're playing outside with your older sister and she falls off her bicycle. What should you do? (Check to see if she can hear me.)
- She answers you but says her knee hurts a little. Her knee is bleeding a little bit. Should you call an ambulance? (No, this isn't a serious injury and she is conscious.)
- What should you do? (Go into the house to clean the injury or go get help from an adult I know.)
Great, so your bone is sticking out, chest is in searing pain or you’ve taken a hard tumble down the stairs… It’s SO important that your child can call 9-9-9 and know exactly what to say. Teach them to learn their full name, address, and telephone number. The more you quiz them on the same information, the more your child will likely remember it. You can also leave important details by the telephone in your house if your child is old enough to read, just in case - this will allow them to quickly pick up the phone, dial 9-9-9 and recite the info left to the side.
With little ones, you can practice dialling on one our Wooden Toy Phone – they will love learning the ropes and this will help reduce any anxieties if they have to use the phone for the first time in an emergency when they’re older. Always emphasise that it’s important for them to follow any instructions the operator gives them.
NATURAL HAZARD INSTRUCTIONS
Covering your eyes with your hands may have seemed like a good plan when you were 5, but you now know you’re not actually invisible. Your child may not know what ‘go to a safe place’ means, so giving them clear, specific tips based on their usual environment is important.
During a school emergency, they need to find a teacher; in an earthquake or hurricane, they need to pick a spot where there won’t be things overhead that could fall on them; if it’s general home safety, be clear about which exits are safe to take if there’s a fire.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother showing me how to climb out of my window and onto the (low) roof outside if there was ever a fire in the hallway – I was old enough at this point to drag my mattress out with me in case I needed to jump down. Otherwise, jumping out of high windows or off building ledges only work for Spiderman unfortunately.
DO NOT FREAK THEM OUT
There is such a thing as being over-prepared. As a parent, you may find you have become extra sensitive and worrisome – you’ll want to avoid passing on too much of your anxiety to your little ones. If you’re constantly making them hyper-vigilant, they might not learn what they’ll need to do in a real emergency to navigate it without your help, as they’ll become too overwhelmed. Emergency ‘drills’ should take place once a month, not once a night.
Do you have any good tips or tricks in getting your child prepared for emergencies? We’d love to hear them as well as any successful emergency stories you might have!