If your child were alone in an emergency, would he know what to do without an adult to take care of him? Allstate Insurance and Lisa Bedford, author of "Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst Case Scenarios," have identified four emergency situations in which all children should know what to do if they are alone. Call them the ultimate survival skills.
Survival Skill No. 1: What to do if a child is lost
Lost children are scared children, and usually their first instinct is to begin searching for their family. Train your children to stop and sit as soon as they realize they are lost. Assure them that, no matter how scared they might be, you are searching for them at that very moment; but also that, if they keep moving around, it will take longer to find them. Consider equipping your children with an inexpensive cell phone and when venturing outdoors, a few survival items tucked in a backpack or their pockets. Items such as a whistle, a bright bandana and a bottle of water are the makings of kids' survival kit that will go a long way to helping them be found more quickly.
Survival Skill No. 2: How to answer the door when a child is home alone
Usually the best strategy is to not answer the door. The person knocking could be a burglar scoping out the neighborhood, and once the door is opened, it's that much easier for an intruder to enter. Children are easily overpowered. Train your children to enforce home security: Keep doors and windows locked and blinds and curtains closed. Noise from a TV or radio is fine. Those with questionable motives will think twice about entering a home if they hear noises inside, even if the house is closed up and no one answers the door.
Survival Skill No. 3: What to do in a medical emergency
From a young age, kids can learn how to dial 911 and report an emergency, but this takes practice. Spend some time rehearsing phone calls, teaching your children to relay detailed information to an operator, follow his or her instructions and then stay on the line until help arrives. If possible, children should also get the home ready for the arrival of EMTs by putting pets in closed areas and, if it's nighttime, turning on both indoor and outdoor lights. Summer is an ideal time for children ages 9 and older to take first aid and CPR classes.
Survival Skill No. 4: How to maintain situational awareness
This one skill can help your children avoid many dangerous situations. The concept is simply for children to be aware of the people and events around them. Parents can help their children become more observant and aware--not by scaring them, but by playing games to teach and practice this skill.
- When driving in the car, ask your kids to describe a building or vehicle you just passed.
- Teach them to pay attention to the route home by asking them to give you driving directions.
- Tell them to close their eyes and describe what someone in the room is wearing.
- Encourage them to check out the license plates of passing cars: Which states are they from? What is the sum of the numbers on the license plate?
Being aware of their surroundings will help them avoid predatory people and other dangerous scenarios. Simple to teach. Fun to practice. And, quite possibly, a life saver.