There is some really useful information out there about how to support your child when learning about the emergency services, or, the people who help us. It can be a bit of a minefield, so we have sifted through it all to give you some simple pointers and sensible advice.
Most toddlers have an awareness of the emergency services, fans of Fireman Sam on repeat will confirm this, and most young children are fascinated by the sight of a high-speed ambulance or fire engine roaring down the street.
BUILD ON THEIR INTEREST – You can build on your young child’s interest by making it clear what these vehicles are for – don’t use frightening, hard-to-understand terminology, of course, but take the opportunity to tell your young child that an ambulance could be rushing a poorly person to hospital or they may be on their way to help someone who has had an accident.
999 – Children are never too young to be told about the significance of the 999 number but it must be instilled in them that this number must only ever be used in a genuine emergency. A Purple Daisies team member (who will remain nameless) once had a stern telling off from a 999 operator after a cheeky little one dialed the number and hung up! Best avoid this!
NO FEAR – Help them not to be scared about calling 999 – the emergency services are there to help you and are used to taking calls from children. They will guide you and offer their support as you wait for help to arrive.
SLOW AND CLEAR – To help the ambulance or fire service understand where you are and what has happened, help them practice speaking as clearly and calmly as you can.
NAME AND ADDRESS – Teach your child to learn their full name, address, and telephone number. The more you persevere with the same information, the more your child will likely remember that information.
SERVICE – Games are a great way to make it clear to them about the role of a paramedic/doctor, a police officer, and a firefighter. Teach your child to know which vehicle they require in the event of an emergency. Remember, at the beginning of a 999 call, they will be expected to say which service they require.
SAFE PLACE – As well as making sure your child has an understanding about when and how to contact the emergency services it’s also a good idea to make sure they know of other adults nearby they can go to in an emergency. Do you have a trustworthy neighbour, for example, that your child could go to for help? Having another responsible adult close at hand can make all the difference in an emergency so make sure your child is familiar with a neighbour and knows which house they live at.
Do you have any other tips for teaching your little ones about this?