As parents we hope that our children will never have to experience this, but it can happen that they are the only ones who can help us in case of emergency.
I know it’s scary and we all may not want to even think about this.
I know many families where one of the parents is practically a single parent whilst the other one is traveling for work, or just not present.
When living abroad, this can be one of the biggest worries: what if something happens to us, and our children are the only ones who could help us? Do they know what to do? Should we tell them what to do? Won’t they be scared? Is this not “too much”?
I personally don’t think that this harms our children. Especially if we have this fear for some reason, our children will anyways feel our fear and worries and might even want to help. – I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of involving children. Some of us don’t have the choice, and this post is for them.
If we are still conscious we can give instructions to our children ourselves, but if we are unconscious, here are some tips about how to prepare also toddlers in a gentle way about what to do.
If our children can dial on our phone, they can call 112 (in the Netherlands) and get help.
Someone at 112 will walk them through the single steps.
When it’s a child that’s calling, they will make sure that the child stays at the phone and ask all kind of questions. One of the main questions is, of course, their name and if possible, the address. That’s all they would need to know.
Once the help arrives and, it’ll be time to call trusted family members or friends.
I always advise to have these on speed dial. One to three numbers should be enough. Please tell them what you expect them to do in such case (ex. take care of your child, call other people, take care of legal and insurance aspects if needed).
What you can do to prepare your child
If your child is still very young, I would advise to do it in a playful way: use a doll or a teddy bear that needs help and show your child in a role play what needs to be done; talk about who they would call, what they would say if they were to do this.
If you have a school aged child, you can act out the possible scenes yourself, show them even how to do first aid (assess if the person in need is breathing, bleeding, etc.) or the recovery position.
Go through the single steps:
– Is there any other adult in the house who can help?
– Call 112 (Netherlands), tell your name and what happened.
– Be prepared to tell where you are (at home: address; out and about: a restaurant etc. or are there landmarks?)
– Do what they tell you at 112.
– When 112 arrives, call those on the short list (speed dial is ideal, but a list of emergency numbers is always handy to have)
We teach our children so many things and first aid should be on the priority list. In some schools they offer first aid courses to children from 11 years and older.
I gave some first aid instructions to my children from a very early age on, whenever something happened. They are 16, 13 and 13 years old now, and they all did their first aid certificate and know about how to medicate scratches, small injuries (even small burns), broken bones, how to put you in recovery position if you’re unconscious etc..
As for me, I refresh my first aid skills every 2-4 years. There are so many things that change over time, and as teachers need to refresh their skills every 2 years, why should we parents not do this? The best would be to take a first aid course and then share your acquired skills with the rest of your family (or sign them up for one too).
When a mother asked about how to prepare her little one, just in case, in a facebook group lately, I thought I’d prepare a little pdf to download (it consists in 2 pages: one with the text in English, the other one with the text in Dutch) that one can hang on the fridge – or wherever you share important informations in your home – for young children to use if needed.
I wish you all the best and that your children will never need to use any of these tips…
Here are sites where you can find material to introduce this topic to your child, also the broader context of all kind of disasters and emergencies:
If you know other sites that I can add to this list, please let me know in the comments.