Helpful safety tips for children

by Brittany Gilbert

I’m pretty sure parents would agree that keeping our kids safe is a priority and something we think about constantly. How about teaching our kids about safety?

I’ll admit that sometimes my urgency to teach my kids something about safety is usually when I read about something that has happened or see a news piece that scares me. While those things can be good motivators, I would prefer to teach my kids how to be safe at all times and have a plan in place for when and if an unsafe situation occurs.

I saw a news video where the reporter interviewed families and put their kids to the test when the parents said their children knew how to dial 911 and give their information to the operator. The parents were confident that their child knew how to do it, however, out of the dozens of children tested, only one could give her home address and other information to the reporter. Most children had difficulty navigating a parent’s smart phone.

Here’s what we’ve done. So far, our plan is simple, but it’s something our young kids can remember and we plan to expand on it. When we first started our safety plan, my husband and I made it where our passcodes for our phones are the same. We taught our children how to dial the code, find our names and call if a situation is urgent. We also test them on this every now and then. One of us will hand our children our phone and instruct them to call the other parent. We are working on calling 911, but at this time our kids aren’t confident when telling their address, so this plan is safer for us right now. It is also easier because we can practice as often as we want. Calling 911 for practice isn’t an option.

In teaching your kids about safety, there are a few tips to remember.

Make sure they understand that calling 911 as a joke or prank is never a good idea. They can take life-saving attention away from someone who desperately needs it. Calling 911 is also for emergencies only. A runaway pet does not qualify as an emergency. However, an unconscious person, an intruder and a fire are all examples that would be considered emergencies.

When in doubt, if there isn’t an adult around, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Keep a safety plan in a known location. Ours is in a drawer in our living room, and it has the numbers 911 on it in big writing so it is easy to see. Include important phone numbers and home address so that your child can refer to it, especially if nerves get the better of them in an emergency.

Introduce your kids to local law enforcement and first responders. Earlier this year, I called the Conway Fire Department and asked if I could get help with our smoke detectors. Our ceilings are really tall, and we weren’t sure if the detectors were working. Within a few hours, four of their guys showed up at our house in a huge fire truck. Not only did they go throughout the house checking our smoke detectors, but they also brought one for us to have.

One engineer also sat down with our 5-year-old and talked to him about Star Wars because he could tell our boys were getting antsy for attention. When they were done talking to me about what they noticed with our detectors, they invited the kids out to the fire truck and showed them around and gave them stickers. I was so impressed with our local fire department.

It also gave me a unique opportunity to talk to my kids about the different kinds of helpers our city has and how we need to get to know them. I want my kids to be comfortable and familiar with the different people who are here to protect and serve.

This is an ongoing conversation. You can develop a safety plan for and with your family, but it is something you need to revisit every now and then to make sure your kids remember the steps they should take. As they get older, they will be able to handle more responsibility, too.  


Brittany Gilbert is a former FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and a daughter and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].