What is an emergency?

One local former EMT mom put together a three week (one hour per week) emergency preparation class for kids. During the first week kids learned to recognize an emergency. The second week covered what to do in an emergency - stay calm, call 911 (or 112 for us in Germany), check Airway, Breathing and Circulation (ABC's). The third week was reserved for hands-on practicals.

Week 1: We discussed different emergency situations, learned about different types of emergencies, emergency related vocabulary and made family fire emergency plans.

What is an Emergency?

Should emergency services be called if:
the house is on fire?
mom falls down the stars and is acting strange?
the roof blew off the house and a sister is stuck under a bookshelf?
the baby is playing with blood pressure medicine and the top is off the bottle?

During our emergency class the kids were given sticky notes and pens to write down possible emergencies. Then they had to decide if the emergency was a Natural Hazard or Disaster, Man-Made Hazard, Criminal Emergency or an Injury/Medical Emergency.

Emergency Language
Many words associated with emergencies aren't part of our everyday conversations and are therefore unknown to lots of children. Unconsciousness, impaled objects, and possible neck or back injuries were eagerly discussed, as well as personal stories relating to emergencies and injuries.

Fire Emergency/Family Plan
Discussing what to do in case of fire before hand is of critical importance as it makes reactions automatic. Here's what we told the kids.

In case of fire the number one priority is to get to a safe place. Assist siblings if necessary, but don't put yourself in greater danger by searching for a pet or phone inside a burning house. Know your designated family meeting spot away from the house. Stop, Drop, and Roll if hair or clothing catches on fire. If the smoke is think crawl because the low air is more breathable. 

Phone Number List
Placing a sheet of paper near the phone with fire, police, poison, and other emergency numbers can help those who forget everything under pressure.

Preparing for an emergency by exploring different scenarios can save time during a crisis. Knowing what to do helps those assisting in an emergency take quicker and better action. My children learned so much and I would highly recommend organizing a class such as this covering basic emergency procedures. I still hope these skills never have to be used, but it's a good idea to have a plan of action.


  1. My girls have done a few EMT course with St Johns in NZ. They are so very valuable.

    Our emergency # in NZ is 111, which is a bit of a nuisance as my eldest made a couple of calls when she was a toddler. The first was free but when they make a few non-legit calls you get charged $5 and it was only when we got our phone bill that we realised what the little minx had been up to. In Aussie the emergency # is 000

  2. These are valuable lessons - I've been pondering how and when to introduce these topics as well. What age group was included in your lessons? I've done fire safety and escape plans with the kids, but nothing medical or criminal related because I'm not sure if it would be more frightening or beneficial to my younger ones.


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