HOUSTON - Many children are left home alone or with siblings or friends during the summer. There's a chance that something could go wrong when the parents aren't home.
If a child is confronted with an emergency, they might think about calling 911. That's good, but they might need to do more during or after that call.
"So you call 911, someone answers the phone," said Debbie Marley with the Center for Childhood Injury Prevention. "They need to follow the instructions of the emergency personnel and stay on the phone until they are dismissed."
After the child talks to the 911 operator, they should next alert a particular neighbor and call a parent.
Dr. Adiaha Franklin with Texas Children's Hospital said that acting out possible scenarios can be helpful.
"Kids are really bright. They have lots of ideas and are exposed to all sorts of things we weren't exposed to when we were younger," Franklin said. "Definitely get them involved in the plan of action because they may even think of ideas the parent hadn't thought of."
Franklin said the more that a child is involved in the plan, the more they will remember it. She said that when there is a major emergency, a family code word can help.
"If the child calls the parent and the parent thinks they are calling for a regular conversation, the child initiates the code word and the parent knows there is a major emergency."
Even in a minor crisis, a child needs to know what to do.
"The child at home should know how to do basic First Aid, how to take care of a scratch or cut," Franklin said. "They should also know about food safety, cooking safety, what appliances they can use when no one is at home."
It's also a good idea to have designated check-in times so parents can make sure thinks are always OK.
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