Our kids are already aware of many of the scary things that happen in the world around them. They hear about them from kids at school, on the evening news, and in conversations they overhear, so it’s not a matter of scaring them but equipping them.
Here are 7 scenarios that kids of all ages should be aware of and should know how to respond:
1. A loud, sudden pounding on the door, especially at night. This would scare the heck out an adult, so you can be sure it would terrify a child. Your children should know to never answer the door in this type of scenario but to either stay in their room or go to a safe room/area and lock the door. For security, that room should ideally have a solid wood door with a reinforced lock like this one.
2. The sound of a breaking window. This could indicate someone trying to break in the house or simple vandalism. Either way, it’s scary. You may want to apply a security film to your windows to help prevent someone breaking into the house through a window.
3. A smoke or carbon monoxide alarm sounding. This article says that very often children sleep through a smoke alarm! Perhaps very young children should sleep in an area closer to their parent’s bedroom rather than on another floor or separate area of the house, making it easier for a parent to wake them and get them to safety. For sure, kids should know what these alarms sound like and what they should immediately do when the alarm goes off. This inexpensive alarm detects both smoke and carbon monoxide and even has a voice warning, which can be more effective to wake sleeping children.
4. A sudden scream from someone in the household. This could be due to a serious injury or someone having a heart attack. From my first book: “Here is an example of a routine based on a crisis in which children must handle a medical emergency on their own, without any adults present.
- Decide if a medical emergency requires a 911 call. If you answer yes to any of these, make that call!
a. Is the person unable to get up or move?
b. Are you not able to wake the person up?
c. Is the person bleeding rapidly?
- Kid #1 calls 911 on a home phone.
- Kid #2 follows any instructions given by the 911 operator and calls Mom, Dad, or another adult family member.
- Get the house ready for the first responders. Even young children can help with these important steps:
a. Secure all pets in a bedroom.
b. Unlock the front door, so emergency responders can enter the house quickly.
c. Make sure all lights are on in the house.
d. The oldest child goes outside to signal emergency vehicles.
- Remain calm and answer questions from the emergency responders.
5. The driver of a car is suddenly unable to function. Does your child know how to steer a car? Does he or she know the brake pedal from the gas pedal? While driving, I’ve casually pointed out to my children how to put the car in reverse, where to find the brake and gas pedals, how to put the car in Park, and use the parking brake.
6. Loud, incessant barking from family or neighborhood watchdogs, especially at night. This alone can be scary and kids should know what to do. After all, the purpose of having a watchdog is that the dog will watch out for intruders! Sudden, loud barking might very well indicate that an unwelcome person is on the property. Kids should know to either come to their parent’s room or lock their own door while an adult investigates and wait for an “All clear!” or further instructions.
7. Sirens in the neighborhood. Whether it’s a police siren, ambulance, or a fire truck, sirens at a nearby house can be scary for kids. They should know to stay indoors and let a parent or other adult find out what’s going on.
What other scary scenarios should kids know how to handle?
Originally published May 29, 2013.