Teaching Kids How To Handle Emergency Situations

Your relationship to the child doesn't matter when there is an emergency situation. Any adult, may it be a parent, neighbor, teacher or a stranger passing by, that sees a child in distress is responsible to act. We also need to remember that what a child defines as an "emergency" situation may be situations many adults would not consider an emergency. The ability to handle sudden, unknown situations has to do both with maturity and personality. Some people get easily stressed while others go seemingly stress-free through life.  We already know that our reaction and behaviors as adults give important signals to children but this is especially true during emergencies.

Many accidents or distressful situations occur in places where the child spends most of his time, at home or in school. As a teacher or parent, it falls under your responsibility to be able to provide the child with the best advice and training for emergency situations.

Ideas on how to talk about emergency situations


We normally don't want to spend too much time, if any, thinking about what can happen but we have to if we want to practice some emergency behavior. Luckily, there are lots of fun and creative ways to accomplish this. All you have to do is use your imagination and figure out what the best approach might be for your children or students.

There are many good books and even videos on YouTube, just make sure to review them before you let your children watch them and always, read or watch, together with the child. Never leave her or him, alone to learn about something that may cause fear and anxiety.

Kids love to learn through drawings or by playing fun games. If they are particularly attracted by fun games, then find a way to talk, teach and practice, through playing. Almost all kids respond well to game stimulation, so make sure to at least take it into consideration. You can also use colorful toys and cards and have various emergency scenarios explained to students. If you are interested to learn more about this particular approach, here are a few more details you should know.

You can make use of bingo cards and a bingo board to teach the children and young adults about the potentially dangerous situations they might confront. For example, if there is a shooting incident, someone is taken a hostage, or there is a break-in problem.

For this game, you will need to create copies for each student in your class, and instruct them to cut their own cards. Call out a situation that may or may not be an emergency and have the kids check the cards on their boards. If they have a card that matches the situation you've mentioned, turning it into an emergency, have them call out “emergency!” and explain why. Just like a game of bingo, they will then have to mark the respective card on their board. The first student to fill the card will be the winner of the game. You can use brand new bingo cards every time, with different scenarios and emergency situations to further stimulate your students' thinking. It might be a good idea to use laminated cards, as they are more resistant to stains and breaking.

Safety at home


The home is supposed to be the safest place for our children but sadly enough, this is actually the place where most accidents happen. Just as a school as a yearly fire drill, so should each family. It's not enough that we talk once with our children about potential dangers at home, we need to repeat this every year. In order to be able to act on "auto-pilot" during a real emergency, we must practice "fire-drills" also at home, every year. This is especially important as children grow and mature. 

One of the most common fatal emergency situations that occur at home are children being locked in vehicles. An average of 37 children every year die after being accidentally left in a hot car without ability to get out. This is an example of a terrible accident that should not occur. Anyone who sees a child alone in a car should stay until an adult arrives and if signs of distress, call an authorized locksmith who can open the doors of the car without damaging it and get the child out. 

Children, often at a young age, look for places to hide as part of their play and can easily lock themselves up in the most unthinkable places. It's important to practice what to do if this happens and not only tell our children not to hide in certain places. With children at a bit older age, it is important to talk about what to do if they are under threat by someone trying to break into the house. Where to hide safely, how to quickly look doors and windows, enabling alarm systems or knowing what to do in situations of a home break-in. In case of a real situation, you should immediately have all broken locks or keys fixed or replaced on the spot. The smallest glitch or vulnerability on a lock or a key could lead to a disastrous scenario no one wants to witness. Safety should begin at home, and it should be properly nourished and taught both at school and at home. Video screening of potentially dangerous situations should also be played to children in school. They should be encouraged to brainstorm everything they can remember about the video and taught how to act if they ever fall victim to one of the emergencies in the video.

If you are a teacher, you should also create special information sheets for parents, and give clear instructions on how to proceed in further educating their children at home. These sheets will also let parents know about the type of information and knowledge their children are being taught at school. They can also embrace a series of home activities that will encourage them to increase the overall safety around the household.