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Monday, January 30, 2017

4 Ways to teach young children what to do in an emergency

Emergencies can be scary, even for us adults, so imagine just how scary they are for little kids {especially if you, the adult, are incapacitated at the time}. Nobody ever wants to imagine their children alone and scared when something has gone wrong, but its a fact that some children will unfortunately find themselves in that situation. We as parents often do all we can to avoid accidents and do first aid courses so we know what to do if our children hurt themselves, but what if we are the ones that are hurt and they are the ones who need to help us?

This has been playing on my mind a lot lately, especially with T working shift work and me now being in my third trimester. It's often just bub and me and labour is going to inevitably happen at some point, not to mention there's always the possibility of accidents occurring at any time. If something should happen I don't want her to be freaking out by herself, I'd rather teach her what to do so she can get help asap {both to help me, and also so she isn't alone}.

Over the last week or so I've been gently broaching the subject of when to call an ambulance with bub {with an emphasis on not making it seem scary}. We've spent a lot of time at hospitals and the doctors since I've been pregnant so she understands that Drs help people and make people better, but she hasn't really been exposed to ambulances or the concept of calling 000 {she was taken to hospital in an ambulance when she was younger, but she doesn't remember it}. These are the ways I've been teaching bub what to do in an emergency.


I'm a big believer in using picture books to introduce complex concepts to young children. I didn't really know how to start a conversation about emergencies, but reading the new Toby the Teddy book was a great way to explain different emergency situations to bub and has also lead to lots of other conversations about what to do in an emergency.
Toby the teddy book: Is this an emergency?
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Toby the Teddy is purposely written to facilitate discussions between kindergarden and primary school aged children and their parents and teachers about what situations constitute an emergency and when they need to call an ambulance. Written in collaboration by a primary school teacher and paramedic, the book follows Toby the teddy through a series of scenarios that children may face and explains whether these scenarios are emergencies or not and what Toby should do in each situation. The book starts out with something that every child has most likely experienced, dropping their ice-cream by accident, and then gradually goes through more urgent scenarios such as falling over, an asthma attack and an allergic reaction.

I really like that the book included the asthma situation as I have asthma myself and bub knows that I have special medicine for it, but hasn't seen me have a really bad attack yet. I also like that the book ends with Toby finding his mum unconscious and he has to call the ambulance, because this is the exact situation I'm worried about her being in. The book calmly walks trough the steps Toby needs to take if he had to call an ambulance, which has allowed us to have the same conversation with bub.

The book includes a Notes for Parents and Teachers reference section at the back which provides background behind the book and ways to further discussions on the topic of emergencies after reading the book. There's also a fridge magnet included to write your address on so your kids know the address to tell the 000 operator if they ever need to call {we hadn't taught her our full address yet so its good to show her its on our fridge so she knows where to look if she needs it}.


After reading the book a few times bub's been very interested in talking about ambulances and how ambulance people can help us if we're hurt so we've been incorporating this into other activities as well. Twinkl have a plethora of teaching resources {for both teachers and parents} available to teach children of all ages about people who help us. I browsed through the site and downloaded a few different activities that I knew would appeal to bub.


We've downloaded numerous themed can you find posters from Twinkl so when I saw they had a people who help us can you find poster I knew bub would love it. I laminated it and she's been using her glass pebbles to find all the items on the page. As we play we have conversations about what all the people are doing and how they can help us in different situations.


I also found these pencil control worksheets that teach kids to get people to the correct helpers. There's a few sheets in the set including a sick person who needs a doctor, a fireman that's helping to put out a fire and a robber that gets caught by the police. The great thing is these sheets facilitate discussions about emergencies while she's also working on her pencil grip and pre-writing skills.


There's also numerous different people who help us colouring sheets available from Twinkl, ranging from simple sheets like these ones we downloaded to more complex colouring scenes. These are great to use during quiet time and get kids used to what people who help us look like so they can easily recognise them if needed during an emergency. There are many different sheets available in the sets including police, firemen, ambulance officers as well as doctors, lifeguards, vets, ses workers and numerous other people who have jobs that help others.

Twinkl are also currently creating new resources directly related to the Toby the Teddy book. To be notified of when these will be available click here.

Other non invasive ways to introduce emergencies and people who help us to young children include:

1. Small world play
2. Role play/imaginary play
3. Story stones or other books
4. Tv shows such as Fireman Sam
5. Triple Zero Kids Challenge app.

Since we've started introducing the concept of emergencies with bub she now knows to call zero, zero, zero in an emergency and to ask for an ambulance if we're hurt. She's started conversations with us about when she needs to call the ambulance which has lead to discussions about various different situations, both when she would need to call an ambulance and when she doesn't. We still need to work on certain things, like teaching her our address, but most of all I'm happy she doesn't seem scared of having to call an ambulance, which reassures me that she'd be ok in an emergency.

Do your kids know what to do in an emergency?

Toni x
Disclosure - Some of the Twinkl resources shown in this post may be paid resources, but there are a huge range of free resources available, simply sign up for a free subscription.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Oh wow, I had never thought about how hard it must be to introduce a complex topic to a kid. Sadly I've seen my share of emergencies so I'm nearly always calm (don't want to jinx myself!!) but I know from being a first aider at work that others aren't so calm when you're suddenly presented with injuries or issues.

    1. I'm usually quite calm too when its someone else injured, it's like I just go into survival mode and do what needs to be done. I wasn't as calm when she hit her head though, I guess because it was my own baby who was injured. I'm hoping she won't totally freak out if anything happens though.

  2. Goodness me you are doing such a good job helping your little girl here. This is pretty heavy stuff but it seems like the book (and your words) break it down into parts for understanding by children. I think you mentioned it before..but 'bub' needs a new blog that 'bub 2' is arriving soon....LOL. Denyse xx
    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week 5/52. Next week's prompt is "How Much Money is Enough".

    1. I know Denyse! In all honesty we haven't thought of another nickname yet, we actually call her bub still in real life so it's hard to break the habit. I thought another nickname would just naturally evolve as she got older, but it hasn't happened yet! I need to think of a better one for the new baby so we don't end up with this issue again haha.

  3. My eldest knows how to call her nanna on our home phone, and knows 000 is the ambulance/police. But my youngest is pretty clueless at what to do. Thanks for this reminder to talk to them about it x

    1. That's awesome that she knows how to call her nanna. Mine would know how to get my phone, but wouldn't know how to call grandma on it so I thought 000 would be easier for her to remember for now. I'll have to think of easy ways to teach her how to call her grandma though.