If you are looking for advice on what to do in a emergency for kids then you have come to the right place!
Let me start with a funny story.
When my daughter was three years old, we couldn’t find her kiddie swimming pool that had been packed away since last summer.
I was pretty certain that my husband had “accidentally” tossed it away months ago in the local council clean up because honestly the only alternative was that someone had come into our backyard and “stolen” it.
(And we all know the likelihood of that happening – close to zero, whereas the chances that my husband accidentally placing it out with our other old things were high to very likely).
A few minutes after this discussion with my husband, I turned to see my threenager on the landline telephone talking to someone (I had no idea to whom – up until then I honestly wasn’t even aware she could MAKE telephone calls on her own!).
So you can imagine my surprise when I took the phone off her and discovered my three year old had actually called 911 (000 here in the Land Of Oz) all on her own to report her stolen inflatable swimming pool.
And ten years later, it still amazes me that she had the initiative and confidence to take control and try to solve the mystery of the missing pool (finally resolved the next day when I went to buy one from Target).
Child knows how to contact emergency services (mmm…except just not at the right time!).
This post is all about what we need to teach our kids to keep them safe in real emergency situations (not fake ones!).
It also includes important information that YOU need to know too, because that’s face it, sometimes we panic in moments of distress and important facts usually go flying out the window along with our sense of calmness.
Consider this a quick refresher course for you. Or maybe if you are like me, you will also learn a few new things along the way.
THIS INFORMATION COULD SAVE THE LIFE OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE
FIRST THINGS FIRST
We have already noted that your child will need to know who to contact in case there is an emergency and you or another responsible adult isn’t there to take action.
Ideally this responsibility should never be placed on a child’s shoulders but there may be an instance where a parent has fainted, mother goes into labour or someone is hurt and it is up to the child to take action.
Not ideal I know but please note that it is better to be prepared than not prepared for such situations.
Make sure you teach your child to use a telephone or cell phone from a young age.
From ages 3 and up, it is fine to role play making a call to someone in case of an emergency.
Please don’t incite fear or terror in the child during this practice.
Simply say something like “if you need help and mommy can’t help you, you can call daddy or grandma” (or whoever else is on your emergency list.)
Older kids will understand and appreciate being informed of a backup plan in case of an emergency.
For this purpose you will need to have an emergency list stuck to your fridge or noticeboard, beside your landline phone or wherever else you think it will be obvious and not missed.
Our emergency list includes the following information:
OUR HOME #
OUR STREET ADDRESS
MOM’S MOBILE #
DAD’S MOBILE #
GRANDMA’S HOUSE #
GRANDPA’S MOBILE #
AUNTIE MEL’S #
POISON HOTLINE #
You can include whatever information is pertinent to you and your family but I recommend including your STREET ADDRESS and the main emergency number (911 in United States or 000 in Australia).
Even if it’s obvious to you because it may not be obvious to your child if someone goes wrong.
REMEMBER IT’S BETTER TO BE PREPARED.
ALWAYS STAY CALM
Let your kids know that calling for help is the most important and useful thing they can do in the instance of an emergency.
A REAL EMERGENCY is when:
-Your life or somebody else’s life is in danger
-Someone is badly injured or not well
-There is a significant accident or crime taking place.
If there is no adult, older sibling or helper around, your child will need to call emergency on their own.
Let them know they will be asked:
Do you need POLICE, FIRE OR AMBULANCE?
-They will need to take a deep breath to calm down.
-Call 911 or 000.
-Tell the person who answers that there is an emergency.
-State your name and where you are (this is why it’s so important that they know their home address).
-Explain what happened and who is hurt.
-Follow all of the operator’s instructions carefully.
-Stay on the line until the person tells you it is okay to hang up.
Make it clear to your child that they must never prank call Triple Zero.
There are serious consequences for wasting their precious time when they could be speaking to people who really do need their help.
Make sure your child also understands that they don’t need to know a mobile phone’s passcode to call 911 or 000.
They can just press the emergency button at the bottom of your cell phone to make this call.
Make sure to show your children in advance how this can be done.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure your family knows where to find your first aid kit. You do have a first aid kit at home, right?
FIRST AID KIT ESSENTIALS
-First aid manual
-Adhesive bandages in various sizes
-Sterile gauze pads or dressings
-Antiseptic cream or ointment
-Pair of scissors
-Non-latex disposable gloves
-Saline/Distilled water for cleaning wounds
-Cold pack (disposable and instant)
-Multi-use tool (such as a Swiss Knife)
-List of personal medications
-Notepad and pencil
WHAT TO DO WHEN THERE IS A FIRE
If the air is very smoky and it’s hard to breathe, we are taught in Australia to get down low and go, go, go.
Make sure to hold the back of your hand up to the door to check if it is hot. If it feels hot, there is probably a fire on the other side so you should use another exit.
Please don’t try to find your family inside the house.
Your goal should be to get out and stay out.
Do not go back inside a burning house to find anyone. Instead meet your family at the designated family meeting spot.
If a fire starts in the house and there is no adult around, remind your kids not to try and put out the fire.
Exit the house immediately and have a neighbour call 911 (or 000) for you.
Make sure your home has working smoke alarms, a fire blanket, fire extinguisher and a fire escape plan that you have already discussed with your family.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THERE IS AN OIL FIRE
Call 911 (or 000) immediately.
Make sure to turn off the source of heat.
DO NOT POUR WATER ON IT – IT WILL MAKE THE FIRE WORSE!
Do your best to remove all oxygen from the flame.
You can do this by covering the oil fire with a metal lid (not glass as it will shatter) or a blanket.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS BITTEN BY A SPIDER
Let’s start with the good news first.
Most spider bites are non-venomous, do not require medical treatment and cause only minor effects.
For most minor spider bites, all you need to do is clean the bite with mild soap and water and apply a cool compress or ice pack to the bite to help reduce pain and swelling (you can also take an antihistamine to help reduce swelling). If the bite is on an arm or leg the limb should be elevated.
Now for the bad news: if you are not certain if the spider was venomous or not, you will need to immediately seek medical attention or call the emergency poisons line.
In some cases, you will be prescribed an anti-venom injection to remove the venom from your body.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS BITTEN BY A SNAKE
If your child is bitten by a snake, you will need to IMMEDIATELY call an ambulance or drive to the nearest emergency room yourself, where anti-venom can be administered if necessary.
Immediately remove any restrictive clothing or jewellery as venomous snake bit can cause rapid swelling.
It is also important that you immobilise the bite area with a pressure bandage (not a tourniquet) and if possible mark the location of the bite area with a pen or take a photo of the bite to help emergency staff later on.
Make sure your child remains as calm as possible as an increased heart rate will only spread venom (if it is a venomous bite) move through their body faster.
It is also important to keep the bite area below the level of your heart as this will slow down the flow of any affected blood towards the heart.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD HAS A BURN
Hold the burned skin under cool (not cold) water continuously for 10 minutes or until pain subsides and cover loosely with sterile non-adhesive gauze or bandage.
Seek medical attention if you are concerned about the severity of the burn.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS LOST AT THE SHOPS OR WHEN OUT AND ABOUT
Teach your child the basic rules of staying safe and discuss the possibility of getting lost.
It is helpful if they know the plan they are supposed to follow if they get lost.
They need to have CLEAR information about what to do if they become lost whilst out in public.
They should know their first and last name and know YOUR full name too.
If your child is too young to memorise your cell number, you can write it down on a piece of paper and put it in their pocket or have it written down on a bracelet, lanyard or necklace.
Take a photo of your child before a big outing so that you can remember exactly what they are wearing.
Call for help within a few minutes if you have lost a very young child and are unable to find them.
The sooner you get help, the quicker that the premises can be secured.
Remember every large store has an action plan for cases of missing children.
Try not to panic.
Tell your child not to go ANYWHERE with a stranger and ideally they should stay in the one spot when they realise they are lost instead of continuing to walk around. Immediately call a store worker if you are concerned.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS APPROACHED BY A STRANGER
Your child is NEVER too young to learn this all important safety lesson.
Make it 100% clear that they must never accept a lift from a stranger, even if the stranger tells them “mommy told you to come” or anything along those lines.
Make it clear to them that you would NEVER ask a stranger to do anything like this – this job is saved only for trusted friends and family members.
If a stranger approaches your child, they must immediately go straight back to a safe location and inform you or a trusted person. Make sure to call 911 to report the offence.
Still not convinced that your young child could be lured away by a stranger? Then check out this video.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD BECOMES UNCONSCIOUS
Unconsciousness is when a person appears to be asleep and doesn’t respond to stimuli such as loud sounds or shaking.
They may even stop breathing or their pulse may be faint.
In such instances, you need to call or tell someone to call 911 instead of immediately taking your child to the hospital.
Do not move your child as you could cause further injury if they have a brain or spinal cord injury.
Await and follow instructions from emergency services – you may need to perform CPR if they are not breathing, coughing or moving until expert help arrives.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD IS CAUGHT IN A RIP
Teach your child to remain calm if caught in a rip and call and wave for help.
TELL THEM NOT TO FIGHT THE CURRENT!
They can float on their back or tread water instead of swimming back to the shore against the rip which will just exhaust them.
If they are a more experienced swimmer they can escape the rip by swimming parallel to the shore along the beach and then follow the waves back to the shore diagonally to avoid getting caught in the current again.
If you are a parent on land, immediately ask someone to inform the lifesavers.
You don’t want to get caught in the rip yourself – remember rips moves fast and it is dangerous for adults too!
Always swim parallel to the beach, instead of swimming against the current.
And remember the safe place is where the waves are breaking.
Rip currents eventually subside so try to remain calm at all times.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CAR IS THROWN INTO WATER
First things first – speed is of importance in this situation!
If the window isn’t open, open the window as fast as possible – before you even hit the water OR AS SOON AS YOU REALISE YOUR CAR MAY SINK.
Remain calm and stay focused on getting out of the situation at hand.
As soon as you can, unfasten your seat belt and that of your children.
Then unlock the doors – this will be your second option if you cannot escape via a window.
You need to immediately climb out of the window before the car is fully submerged.
Note: THE WINDOW IS YOUR BEST ESCAPE OPTION.
Help your children first and remain calm at all times.
If you haven’t managed to open the window, you only have a few seconds in which opening the door of your sinking car is still possible – while most of the door is above water level.
PLEASE NOTE: it is not possible to open the door again until the car is filled with water which is a situation you want to avoid. Your next option is to break the window with a heavy object but this may be difficult.
You may choose to keep a window breaking tool in the car, in case of an emergency.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE CAUGHT IN AN AVALANCHE
If you get caught in an avalanche, the best thing you can do is jump up slope after you notice the first signs of it happening.
But if it has happened too quickly for you to process what is happening your next best strategy is to move sideways.
You need to move out of its way – the quicker you move, the higher your chances of survival.
If you are simply stuck and unable to escape the avalanche, grab hold of something like a sturdy tree, if you can, as it will help stabilise you and delay you being dragged downhill.
Next you need to start swimming to help you stay near the surface of the snow.
You can attempt to stay afloat by kicking your feet and swimming uphill.
If you however find yourself buried underneath something and are unable to move, you can create a pocket of air by cupping your nose and mouth.
This will create a small pocket of air for you to survive on for 30 minutes.
Breathe only through your nose and not your mouth and keep your hands cupped in tight while remaining calm and waiting to be rescued.
HOW TO PERFORM CPR
Do you know how to perform CPR?
If yes, that is absolutely fantastic.
If no (and I’ll be honest I wasn’t entirely confident I could remember all the important bits before I wrote this post), it’s time you became reacquainted with all the steps.
In case you haven’t guessed, CPR is an amazing skill that can save a person’s life but the vast majority of people don’t know what to do if someone is experiencing a cardiac emergency.
While it is highly recommended that you take a certified CPR class (Why? Because knowing how to perform CPR can save the life of a loved one someday) here are the basic facts you need to know if you ever face a situation where someone requires immediate respiratory care.
BEFORE YOU START
Check for responsiveness by asking if the victim is okay in a loud, clear voice. If there is no response, call emergency services immediately.
For Adults And Children 9 Years And Older (Hands Only Technique If You Are Not Trained In CPR):
-Lay the patient on their back and kneel next to their neck and shoulders.
-Place the heel of one hand on the centre of the patient’s chest (exactly between their nipples).
-Then place the heel of your other hand over the first and lace your fingers together.
-Position your body directly over your hands, keeping your elbows straight and your shoulders aligned directly over your hands
-Begin compressions by pressing down around 2 inches (5 centimeters) and do so in a relatively steady and fast rhythm (about 100 beats per minutes). Some professionals recommend doing it to the beat of the chorus of Staying Alive by the Bee Gees.
-The American Heart Association no longer consider rescue breaths necessary for CPR as chest compressions are considered to be more important. If you have never done CPR before please stick with only chest compressions.
-Continue CPR until emergency services arrive, someone else takes over for you, you are too exhausted to continue or until signs of life return.
For Younger Children and Infants
-Tilt the head back slightly and lift the chin to open the airway and check for breathing
-If there is no breathing you will need to pinch the nose shut and make a complete seal over the mouth for a child. For an infant make a complete seal over the mouth and nose.
-Blow in for a second so the chest visibly rises. Repeat once.
-Then give 30 chest impressions just below the nipples. Push with 1 or 2 hands about 2 inches (5 centimeters) deep. With an infant push with 2-3 fingers about 1.5 inches (3 centimeters) deep. The rate of compressions is still at least 100 times per minutes.
-Repeat steps 3 and 4 until emergency services arrive, someone else takes over or breathing resumes.
-Even if the infant or young child seems fine by the time help arrives, a doctor will still need to check him or her to make sure he or she hasn’t sustained any internal injuries.
Please note: this is only intended as a guide and we strongly recommend that you take a certified CPR course to gain full understanding of this procedure.
HOW TO PERFORM THE HEIMLICH MANEUVER
Do you know how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver?
If yes, you can skip to the next section.
If no, please stick around to read this.
Honestly, choking is a situation no one wants to find him or herself faced with but given that a choking victim can’t speak or breathe, mastering this skill can make a real difference between life and death in some instances.
Choking will often be sudden and knowing how to do the Heimlich Manoeuvre properly can save someone’s life. Keep in mind there are a few different manoeuvres you can use on others, on yourself, and on small children.
Here are the steps you are perform the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim:
-Stand behind the victim. From behind, wrap your arms around the victim’s waist.
-Make a fist with your dominant hand and place your thumb side of your fist against the victim’s upper abdomen. This is below the rib-cage but above the belly button.
-Grab your fist with your other hand and press hard into their upper abdomen area with a quick upward thrust. Pull inward and upward using good force.
-Repeat this action until the object is dislodged.
-Do not slap the victim back as this can make matter worse.
When the victim is a child follow these steps:
-Lay the child down on the floor, face up and kneel at their feet or hold an infant on your lap facing away from you.
-Place the middle and index fingers of both your hands below his or her rib cage. Press into the victim’s upper abdomen with a quick, gentle upward thrust.
-Repeat until the object has been expelled.
If you are choking yourself you can follow these steps to save yourself from choking:
-Make a first and place the thumb side of your fist against your upper abdomen.
-Grab your fist with your other hand and press into your upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust.
-Repeat until the object is expelled.
-Alternatively you can leave other a fixed object like a table edge, railing or chair and press your upper abdomen against the edge to produce a quick upward thrust. Repeat until the object is expelled.
Always make sure to call emergency services immediately and remain with the victim constantly as they may require CPR if the object is not cleared with these steps.
Make sure the victim also sees a doctor after the rescue to make sure all is fine with him or her.
Please note that I am not a medical professional and this post is intended to offer general guidance only. Every effort has been made to provide the most current information, however errors and omissions may still occur.
Please act responsibly and safely at all times by calling 911 (or 000 in Australia) in the event of any emergency and seek the advice of a medical professional when required.
Does your child know everything they need to succeed in life?
This book provides information on all the important life skills they need to succeed both inside and outside of the home. Check it out here.