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Special Education Articles: Learning Disabled Articles: Prepare Your Child For An Emergency

Prepare Your Child For An Emergency

Author: Carl Bendroff, M.Ed.


Your children need to know basic information should an emergency situation arise. Teach and review when and where it is important to state their full name, address, and phone number. When they go out with you, show them who they must report to in case they get lost or separated. Point out what an employee looks like. Tell them they usually wear a name tag or work behind a cash register. Instruct your children that they should never be taken out of that place whether it is a store, park, or even your place of worship. Another option is to tell your children to stay where they are when they realize they are lost. Tell them that you will find them more quickly if they stay in one spot. You may also want to designate a meeting place in case of separation. Most importantly, emphasize repeatedly that they are not to leave the premises with anyone.

Teach your children how to contact you at home, work or at a friend's. An almost fail safe method is for you to to carry a pager; teach them the number. However, this method is useful only if they remember to dial the number where they can be reached, or a voice pager is used and the children know their location. An alternative may be to teach them a trusted adult's number such as their grandmother or friend. The pager may also be useful if your child is lost.

Children on regular prescriptions need to learn and take responsibility for remembering when to take their medication. This is especially important if they are away, and their daily routine has changed. They may need to bring a pill container with the dosages separated in each compartment or wearing a watch with dual alarms will remind them exactly when their medication must be taken.

Teach your children how to politely answer, then to give and take information over the phone. Keep a paper and a pencil near the phone. Have your child tell the caller that you are not available right now. Emphasize and explain the importance of not saying they are home alone or with a babysitter. Have them write the name and number of the caller and repeat the message back to the caller.

Teach your children to carry coins for the pay phone when they are away from home. Practice with them, pointing out each step in the process of using an unfamiliar phone. Do not assume that they know them. Pick up the receiver, and listen for the dial tone. Put the coins in slowly, one at a time. Dial the number. Wait for an answer. If you reach someone's answering machine, leave a message after you hear the beep. If there is no answer, or a busy signal hang up. Wait for the coins to return if there is no answer. Take out the coins and try again.

Teach them to learn how to use a phone book. They need to know when to use the yellow pages or white pages. If they know the exact name of the person or place they wish to call, use the white pages. If they know the subject (i.e., movie theatre, music store) but not the name, they should use the yellow pages instead. Teach them also to dial 411 for information if no phone book is available. If it is an emergency situation they should dial 911 or a trusted friend.


Carl Bendroff received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1980. By 1982, Carl earned three California teaching credentials from UCSB: a Multiple Subject credential to teach in a regular education classroom, a Learning Handicapped, and a Severely Handicapped Teaching credential to teach Special Education. He also earned a Masters Degree in Education from UCSB. Since 1983, Carl has taught a special day class for the seriously emotionally disturbed in the public school setting. The students in this setting may also experience learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder with/without hyperactivity, behavior disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder. Carl has developed successful teaching strategies to maximize the learning potential of each student.

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