Last weekend, we had some unseasonably warm temperatures here in Pittsburgh. Sixty degrees and sunny in JANUARY? Bring it.
Anyway, my daughter was itching to get outside and shoot some hoops in our driveway, so outside we went. We played for about 20 minutes, and then, her ball bounced away, down the driveway and onto the street.
As I’ve done hundreds of times, I ran after it, at full speed.
This time, however, I felt my feet slip out from under me. Our driveway slants downhill, and I tried to regain my balance, but NOPE. Not even 5 seconds later, I hit the pavement, hands and face first.
Stunned, I picked myself up. I couldn’t grasp what had just happened. I saw my busted-up sunglasses laying on the ground, and all I could hear was my daughter screaming, “MAMAAAAA! MAMAAAAAA!”
My face hurt. BAD. I touched it. Ouch. Blood. Dripping from my face, from my hands, from parts still undiscovered.
Meanwhile, my 7-year-old daughter stood frozen in our driveway, screaming her head off.
We were home by ourselves. My husband had gone to work for a few hours to catch up. I forced her to come inside with me, as blood continued to drip from my face and hands. She reluctantly followed me inside, and into our downstairs bathroom, a trail of blood following. I grabbed a towel and held it to my face. Oweee.
“Go get my phone,” I told her, as calmly as I could. Am I missing teeth?
“I can’t!” she said with a sob.
Did I break my wrist?
“You HAVE to. Go get my phone. You have to call Daddy.”
Now where is THAT blood coming from?
“I CAN’T!” she cried. “I CAN’T.”
I told her to take a few deep breaths.
I’m dizzy. I’m going to pass out.
“It’s upstairs. On the counter. You have to go get my phone,” I pleaded, but she continued to protest. She stood there, crying, panicked, frozen.
Finally, after a great deal of cajoling, she ran upstairs to grab my phone. Now this is the girl who, like most kids, is a mobile-device master. Yet, her hands were shaking so badly that she couldn’t even move the slider across to unlock the phone. She dropped my phone 3 or 4 times before I finally wrapped my hands up as best as I could and called the cavalry myself.
A few minutes later, my husband arrived home, calmed both of us down, and then summoned our neighbor, a retired nurse, to check me over. It’s hard to believe that I escaped such a tumble with no broken bones or missing teeth. My face, hands, shoulder, knees, and the status of my pride, however, represent a completely different story.
After everyone was calm and I had shaken the gravel out of my bra (true story), we asked our daughter what she would have done if I had been knocked unconscious.
Her response? “I dunno.”
“If Mommy had tripped and couldn’t get up, what would you have done?” my husband asked.
Our daughter stared at him. “I dunno,” she offered. “Called someone?”
“Do you remember what number to call when there’s an emergency?” I asked through my busted lip.
“9-9-1?” she asked.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve talked about what she should do in an emergency. She’s 7. She knows to call 9-1-1. We still have a landline phone in our bedroom and it has a giant “9-1-1“ sticky note stuck to it. She knows our neighbors, and that she should go to one of them and ask them for help if something terrible happens and she can’t get to a phone. I’m pretty sure that, had I been knocked unconscious, she would have gathered her wits and found someone to help.
And while what happened last weekend wasn’t a true emergency, it spoke to a larger issue: what would she do if, say, we passed out or were so sick or injured that we couldn’t get to a phone?
Needless to say, we reviewed our emergency plan again with our daughter, and we plan to again–and again–in the near future.
If you haven’t yet established an emergency plan with your kids, DO IT NOW. Here are some basic tips to get you started:
- Teach your kids that calling for help is the most important thing they can do in an emergency. Tell them to find an trustworthy adult, when and where possible.
- If your phones don’t work, or if your kids can’t get to one, have a plan for where they should go (if they’re at home).
- Teach your how to dial 9-1-1, and discuss the types of questions the operators might ask.
- Teach your kids how to operate your cell phone on its emergency setting.
- If you have a landline, teach them how to use it. You’d be surprised at how many kids don’t understand how “old-fashioned” phones work!
- If they’re old enough, have them memorize your phone number(s) and address.
- Type up a list of emergency contact numbers, laminate it, and post it where it’s easily accessible, like on a fridge door of bulletin board.
- Make sure your kids know their FULL names, not just their first names.
As my incident proved, you can never be too prepared, and even when you are prepared, like I thought we were, things happen. Make a family-emergency plan, and review it often with your kids. And if you have any tips to add to this list, please share in the comments below!