My sons have become fascinated with talking on the phone. E even wants a cell phone of his own. However, I fear the day that either of them will accidentally (or just for the fun of it) dial 911 and get in trouble for doing so. I decided to teach them about when they should — and shouldn’t — call 911. This brings me to the topic of safety and having emergency plans.
First of all, we observe Shabbat and phone calls are not permitted from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. However, an exception is made if one’s health or safety is at risk. The boys know the rules of Shabbat, so I first had to bring them into a new mindset of when it is and isn’t okay to use the phone on the Sabbath. Then I had to explain to them that it isn’t okay to dial 911 at any time. We strategized that if they had a cut that could be remedied by a bandage, they did not need to call 911. However, if they had a cut that was gushing blood and a bandage wouldn’t fix it, they should call 911. Same rules applied to bumping their head slightly on a piece of furniture where ice would heal it as opposed to hitting their head so hard that they passed out. My husband and I eventually quizzed them on these scenarios. They did pretty well and we kept rehashing the topic, including when it was okay to make a phone call on Shabbat. We even extended it to other safety issues, such as fire, a tree falling on the house (one fell on our grill, so that was pretty close), someone entering the house that didn’t belong there (i.e. a robber), etc.
Along with teaching them about when something constituted an emergency, I also taught E our home address. I felt it was important for him to know if he ever had to call 911 on our behalf. Also, if he were to get lost, he could have someone trustworthy bring him back home. (See my post about stranger danger in regards to who I deem trustworthy.) We even made up a little song about our address and I still check in with him to make sure he remembers it. I haven’t taught our address to M yet, but he memorizes songs and stories, so I think he could learn it quickly, as well.
I don’t want to overwhelm the kids with safety information, but I do want them to know the important stuff. I heard about a young child who ran to the nearby fire department to save their dad’s life. I’ve also heard of other instances where kids have helped their parents by simply dialing 911 and saying where they lived. I get a sense of relief in knowing that my kids would know what to do in an emergency situation, even on the most basic of levels.