Parenting Blind Spot: Are your kids prepared for an emergency?
We are the parents to 3 beautiful little ones under the age of 5. As loving and caring parents, we have done everything we can think of to keep them safe while inside (and even outside) our home. They all sit in appropriately facing 5 point harness car seats, we cut up hotdogs to sizes that even mice could eat, there is a list of emergency numbers plastered on our fridge, bumpers on every sharp corner, gates at the bottom/top of stairs, etc. I mean, you name it and we have thought of it. Or so I thought.....
Just a few weeks ago, as I was sitting at work, I decided to call home to check on the kids and say hello. When the person in charge didn’t answer their cell phone, I started to panic. Why the panic? Because, in that single moment I realized that there was one BIG, FAT safety issue we had missed. There in our “parenting blind spot” it was lurking, ready to happen at a moment’s notice. A safety issue which could cost our children their lives.
Can you figure it out?
Our kids, 4 months, 2 years, and 4 years old were home with one adult and if something should happen to that person (i.e. fall, heart attack), they would not know how to call for help! It could be as much as 8 or 9 hours that they would be alone and in danger. In that time, tons of really bad things could happen and we would have no idea. It wasn’t just our concerns over something happening to a grandparent or nanny watching them, but it could also be me or Savy Daddy.
Immediately, I started formulating a plan. The plan needed to not only be easy for my 4 and 2 year old to do, but also one that made sense for our family and situation. We live in a very cold climate (6 months out of the year) where we get tons of snow and a neighborhood full of working families, so teaching them to go to the neighbor is out of the question. It just didn’t sound safe to have my 4 year old opening the door, leaving his two younger sisters alone in the house and running outside to find someone. And installing cameras throughout our home is really pricey and seems a bit ridiculous. I couldn’t feasibly teach them to use everyone’s cell phones as each model is different and the plan would rely heavily on them being able to locate the phone, use the phone and the phone actually being charged. But, I knew I was on the right track and that’s when I came up with this plan:
Step 1: Getting a house phone number that is registered to our home address. Years ago, we decided that we didn’t need this anymore because we had cell phones and a home security system. So, to cut back on expenses, we cut it out. Now, I am swinging 180 degrees on its necessity and getting one installed.
Step 2: Programming a cordless phone in our home to dial emergency contacts. These contacts will include me, Savy Daddy, Grandparents, and our nanny. The programming will only involve the kids needing to hit two buttons (i.e. *1 for Savy Mommy). I know, you must be thinking “What about 911?” Again, I just don’t think my 2 and 4 year olds have enough sense or self-control to not dial it any moment they get! If they happen to love to dial any of my emergency contacts, no big deal! We all love to talk to the kids any chance we get :-)
Step 3: Teach Big N., my 4 year old, and Little A., my 2 year old, how to dial the contacts. This involves, the below diagram which will hang next to said phone.
As you see the chart not only has the special programmed numbers, but next to it are the names of the people and their pictures. This will help both of them recognize who goes to which number immediately without having to read their names. Click here to download a blank Word template for your family.
When I suggested my plan to Savy Daddy, he quickly dismissed it, saying "The kids are too young to learn how to dial a phone." I then quickly reminded him that these same kids can easily unlock and navigate every smartphone/tablet in the house and operate all of the DVD players/TVs, so dialing a few numbers on a phone should be manageable.
Step 4: Talking about emergencies and when they need to call someone on the list. While, we don’t mind if the kids decide to dial us randomly, the real goal of this exercise is that they know when they NEED to dial someone. So, we will cover what types of emergencies could occur that would lead them to need to call someone.
Step 5: Practice, practice, practice! This is an important step. While I’m sure my 4 year old will get this in just a matter of minutes, it may take my 2 year old a few tries. And just like we practice fire drills and tornado drills, we know that there is importance in practicing this.