Community Helpers and Preparing Kids for Emergencies

Bright lights, noisy sirens, and fancy equipment often means there is a community helper on the way! Community helpers are people who work to help our community (i.e., doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, police officers, mail carriers, dentists, bus drivers, bakers, farmers, plumbers, etc.). “Community helpers are part of children’s everyday lives,” (Julie A. Daymut, Handy Handouts) and kids are often either mesmerized or scared when they encounter a community helper. Teaching children about community helpers not only inspires interest in ones own community and possible careers, it also opens conversation for what to do in an emergency and promotes safety. As parents and educators, it’s our responsibility to teach children how to keep themselves safe and to be alert and responsive in a true emergency. Child Inspired has complied a list of tips and strategies for teaching kids about community helpers and what to do in an emergency.

How can I teach my child about community helpers?

  • Watch videos and read books about community helpers. Two of my favorite youtube videos to teach about community helpers are: Kids Academy- Community Helpers for Kids and Moonbug Kids- Different Jobs and Professions with Blippi.
  • Identify the tools a community helper needs to on the job.
  • Draw pictures or write about community helpers at work.
  • Ask your child what they want to be when they grow up.
  • Make it a competition to see who can name more community helpers and make a list of what each person does. 
  • Make a map of your local community and star the places that have community helpers.
  • Play dress up and act out community helpers’ jobs.
  • Visit places in the community where community helpers work and get to know them! 
  • Point out different jobs when out in the community. “When your child goes to the store with you, identify the store clerks who help us find and pay for the things we buy. If there is a security guard on duty, explain how that’s the person we talk to if we have a problem — such as getting lost.” (Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool)
  • Point out uniforms that helpers wear and ask your child what that person’s role is (i.e., chef apron, police officer uniform, etc.). 
  • Play I-spy when riding in the car to spot vehicles used by some community helpers (i.e., ambulances, fire trucks, delivery trucks, etc.).
  • Most importantly, teach kids how to ask for help and who to ask (see below).

How do I teach my child how to appropriately respond to emergency community helpers (police, EMT, firefighters, etc.)?

  • Begin by focusing on teaching your child these three key pieces of information to remember in an emergency situation and review this information regularly:
  1. Phone number
  2. Parent/ guardian name(s)
  3. Address
  • Next, teach your child what an emergency is. Teach kids that a 9-1-1 emergency is “when someone needs help right away because of an injury or an immediate danger” (Nemours Kids Health). For example, they should call 911 if:
  1. There is a fire
  2. Someone is hurt (explain needing a bandaid vs someone is seriously injured)
  3. Someone has trouble breathing or is choking
  4. There is a car accident
  5. There is a crime

Finally, teach your child how to use 9-1-1. Teaching your child how to use 9-1-1 could not only save your child’s life, but it could save your life or someone else’s!

  • Calling 9-1-1 may feel scary for kids. Share with your child that the 9-1-1 operators are there to help. Explain that it is safe to give out personal information to 9-1-1 operators vs strangers.
  • Review questions the 9-1-1 operator will ask. Explain to your child that “they should give the operator all the information they can about what the emergency is and how it happened.” (Nemours Kids Health)
  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. Where?
  4. When?
  • Role-play calling and talking to 9-1-1 several times a year to familiarize children with emergency situations. This will help reduce fear and confusion in case of a real emergency by preparing children as much as possible. 
  • Develop a family emergency plan and/ or an emergency kit.

Lastly, remind your child that community helpers are here to HELP! Get to know the team members and community partners that help support our community at Child Inspired. How will you help your community today?

Join us for “Hometown Heroes”: Preparing Kids for Positive Interactions to their Community Helpers on May 21st, 2024 from 11:00AM-12:00PM at the Lewes Public Library immediately after Children’s Story Time, for a FREE workshop to learn healthy, developmentally-appropriate tips and strategies that will help little ones embark positively into community experiences “Around Town”. This session will focus on creating positive introductions and connections with our local community helpers. Child Inspired’s pediatric specialists will provide positive tips and strategies for turning interactions with community helpers into positive community and trust-building experiences. Kids will have an opportunity to explore playful activities and prepare a fun make-and-take that emphasizes the value of emergency preparedness.

Authored by Lexi Gooch, Family Education Specialist

Child Inspired is an emerging family-centered, pediatric wellness practice in Southern Delaware . We are so proud of the inspiring group of pediatric therapists and educators that are working collaboratively to bring help and healing to children and families with in-home, outpatient therapy services and community outreach initiatives. The Child Inspired team takes their work very seriously, but does make sure to sprinkle in moments of silliness and laughter, as we all need strategies to cope with the various challenges we must navigate.

Thanks for being part of our community! We’d love to hear from you!