Every American adult knows that emergency care is just a phone call away, but what happens if the only adult in the area is incapacitated or a child is alone? It’s important that all children are taught the basics of handling emergency situations . The emergency care physicians at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center recommend that children be introduced to the concept of calling 911 as soon as they are developmentally able to understand it. For some children, this may be as early as three years of age, or as late as four or five.
Recognizing Emergencies and Non-Emergencies
Countless calls to 911 are for non-emergencies. You can begin teaching your child about handling emergencies by helping him or her to understand what constitutes an emergency. Lost toys and skinned knees are situations that call for a parent’s intervention, not emergency care. House fires, unconscious and non-responsive adults, drowning, severe bleeding, and choking are situations that require an emergency response. Be sure to tell your child that if he or she isn’t sure if something is an emergency, it’s best to call 911 just in case.
Practicing Emergency Responses
Discussing the act of dialing 911 isn’t always sufficient to empower children to act when necessary. Ask your child questions such as, “What should you do if you see a fire in the kitchen?” and “Is it an emergency if your sister won’t share her toy?” Then, practice dialing 911 using a toy phone or a disconnected landline phone. If your child is still working on number recognition, spell out 911 in large letters and post it by the phone.
Identifying Age-Appropriate Skills
Emergency care physicians can save lives, but sometimes children can, too. Depending on your child’s maturity level, you can teach him or her how to apply pressure to a bleeding wound and perform hands-only CPR. Let your child know that if someone is drowning, your child can throw that person a flotation device and call 911, but he or she should not go into the water. Elementary-age children can even be taught how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Emergency care physicians are available around the clock, every day of the year at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center . Families in the greater Las Vegas area have been placing their trust in our hospital for nearly 60 years. All medical emergencies should be directed to a 911 dispatcher, but non-emergent, general healthcare questions may be directed to a registered nurse at (702) 233-5300.
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