How early should children be taught what to do in case of an emergency?

(InvestigateTV) — A majority of kids as young as two know how to use a smartphone, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

However, their research finds not all of them know how to use it to call 911.

In St. Louis, Missouri, a 10-year-old’s quick thinking saved his grandmother’s life.

Melanie Robinson suffered a diabetic episode, and doctors say her condition could have been worse if her grandson Keon didn’t call 911 immediately.

Her grandson knew how to get help. Does your child or grandchild?

Mobile Phones Outpacing Landlines

The Centers for Disease Control reports more than 80% of children lived in wireless-only households in 2022.

The American Academy of Pediatrics analyzed how 50 children between the ages of four and nine would individually react in a simulated emergency. Less than half of the children in kindergarten and first grade recognized the emergency, and none were able to dial 911 or report it.

However, in second and third grades, 80% of children recognized the emergency, but only 20% were able to call 911, and even fewer could answer the dispatcher’s questions correctly.

In that same study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, half of the parents said that they spoke to their child about what to do in an emergency, but only 34% of those kids demonstrated how to call 911 on a smartphone.

When to Start & What to Say

First responders recommend starting the lesson as young as three, and if you don’t have a landline, they say you should identify what cell phone to use and where it will be kept.

When having this conversation with your kids, first responders say it’s critical to explain the different types of emergency situations, from fires to medical emergencies or even stranger danger so kids can articulate to the dispatcher what is happening.

Another important thing parents need to drill down is the child’s home address.

Watch the full story in the video at the top of the page.

Heather Graf

Heather Graf

Heather Graf is an award-winning journalist for InvestigateTV+, working as a national reporter based in Washington, D.C.