Teaching Your Child to Use 911 Responsibly

By Kelly Bayliss
|  Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013  |  Updated 2:59 PM EDT
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Teaching Your Child to Use 911

Vladimir Koletic, Shutterstock

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Does your child know how to use 911?

Lucky for Melissa Amey, her 12-year-old daughter Alina knew exactly what to do.

On Sunday, Alina called 911, whispered her address and "Help us" and hung up while her mother's boyfriend was threatening to kill her mom with a dart and then a butcher knife, according to Coopersburg Police.

That call, police say, just may have saved her mother's life. Officers went straight to the home and arrested 48-year-old Miguel Espada. He's facing multiple charges including simple assault and reckless endangerment.

But how many other children would have known how to use 911 in an emergency situation? As a parent, it's your job to make sure your child knows what to do.

  • It's 9-1-1, not 9-11

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The most important thing for a parent to teach their child about using 911 is that it's 9-1-1 and not 9-11, says Charles Brooks, Chief of Operations for Delaware County Emergency Services.

"You don't want your child wasting their time looking for an "11" on the phone," Brooks said. "It's 9-1-1, that's the emergency number."

Physically show them how to dial 911 on a telephone.

  • What is and what is not an emergency

For example, a home intruder, an unconscious person, a fire are all emergencies. A lost pet, scraped knee or stolen bike is not. Although, you should make it clear that if they're in doubt as to whether or not something is an emergency and there's no adult around to ask, they should call 911.

"Better safe than sorry," is always the route to take, says Kidshealth.org

It is however, important to note that many local communities use 911 for more than just emergencies -- it is also a service for dispatching police, ambulances and firefighters -- so be sure to find out what 911 is used for where you live.

  • Memorize address and phone number

This is so that your child can give the 911 operator the right information. Sure, operators can -- and will -- trace the call when necessary, but why not help them out with the info to assure that time isn't wasted on sending emergency personnel to the wrong place?

  • Stay calm and speaking clearly

To help as best they can, a 911 operator needs to be able to understand what a caller is saying.

  • Trust the operator

Children need to know that a 911 operator is a person that can be trusted, so giving them personal information will only help resolve the situation.

  • Don't hang up!

Explain that, if possible, they should stay on the line with the 911 operator until they're told (by that operator) it's OK to hang up the phone.

Brooks says that there's countless examples in Delaware County alone of children saving the lives of others by knowing how to use 911.

Remember, offensive is the best defense.

For more information on training your child for emergency preparedness talk to your local police or click here.


Contact Kelly Bayliss at 610.668.5574, kelly.bayliss@nbcuni.com or follow @KellyBayliss on Twitter.

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