Study shows 91% of kids can’t call 911

Study shows 91% of kids can’t call 911

In 2018, a 7-year-old saved her little sister’s life after she fell into the family’s backyard pool. She calmly but quickly describes the situation as her mother performs CPR on the baby. In 2019, a 9-year-old boy saved the life of his grandfather, a type 1 diabetic who had a low blood sugar emergency. He was applauded for knowing how to call 911, resulting in life-saving care. There are many other examples, with a common thread – cell phones, if children know how to use them, can save lives.

But a 2021 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 91% of elementary school-age children can’t take the two steps necessary to make that happen: recognize when a situation is an emergency and ask for life-saving help to describe the problem. The study used a simulation in which an adult starts choking and a cell phone sits on a nearby table. In another room, a dispatcher is ready to take the call and see if a child is able to communicate the emergency on a 911 call.

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The results make some parents rethink how much they’ve taught their children to react in life-threatening situations. Only half of the kindergarten and first graders recognized the choking simulation as an emergency. None were able to successfully call 911. 80% of children in grades 2 and 3 recognized the emergency, but only 16% ended up being able to actually call and report the emergency to the dispatcher.

One of the obvious and difficult barriers to smartphones, which the study says are used for 80% of 911 calls, is that many are locked with a password or difficult to turn on and navigate for younger children (even those who are fully able to watch YouTube Kids there with ease). The researchers point to potentially outdated training in schools that doesn’t take these barriers into account as a possible reason why kids can’t call, along with education that doesn’t involve real simulations for best practice.

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They also note that the number of successful calls may be even lower than the study suggests, as most participants had household incomes close to or above the average annual household income in the US, and most parents had college educations — “Therefore, the study population may not represent the full range of children from all sociodemographic backgrounds.”

An additional 2022 study called Kids X Disconnected examines the lack of access to emergency services and finds that 26.6 million children under the age of 12 have limited or no access to emergency services, for various reasons. The study calls for changes in three areas: for parents to start training children as young as age 3, for schools to mandate an emergency training curriculum and create device policies that increase access, and for tech leaders to create new technologies with that need in mind.

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This is sometimes easier said than done for parents, especially those who need to have a lock code on their phone to work, or those who prefer to keep their child from ordering ten new plushies on Amazon. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Keep your smartphone in a place where kids can usually find it, like the same spot on the counter when you’re at home.
  • Teach them to bypass your security code, for some phones like iPhone, by repeatedly pressing the side button and then swiping the “SOS” bar to access 911. Or teach them your passcode and how to get the phone numbers. phone on the call screen.
  • Practice in airplane mode, emphasizing that this is for real emergencies only.
  • Teach them what to do next if it’s too difficult, like running to a neighbor’s house or calling Grandma or another relative.
  • Simulate or discuss scenarios that could be considered an emergency to help them recognize them.
  • Some providers have a simulation tool to help children learn, according to Verizon.
  • On many phones, you can teach your kids to say “Hey Siri, call 9-1-1”.
  • Make sure they know the address, first and last name, and other basic information they can do.
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Starting now with these life-saving lessons can save someone’s life, including yours.

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