The Park District brochure arrived the other day and I immediately signed my 6- and 8-year olds up for the fantastic American Red Cross ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Basic First Aid for Children’ classes. They are single 1 1/2 hour classes and the kids enjoy them. I felt a wee twinge of guilt the first year when I dropped off my then 6-year old son, feeling like I should announce that I wasn’t actually going to leave him alone until he was older and spending even more time reassuring him that I had no intention of leaving him alone until he was older. BUT, I explained that the reason for taking the classes was that it would give him more confidence and the skills to deal with a crisis if it did happen. I explained that I’ve been certified in CPR and First Aid almost continuously since I was 16. Fortunately I’ve never had to do anything but address broken bones, minor head injuries and lots of hurt feelings, but even then I didn’t panic because I’d been trained over and over and over again, so reaction becomes automatic.
Why start kids at the age of 6 learning about being home alone and basic First Aid? First, as a single mom, what if something happens to me and the kids need to react? Even if they only remain calm enough to call 911, at least I know they will be found and cared for by emergency services. Same logic holds for any family situation. What if they are with a babysitter? Grandma? At a friend’s house? Do they know what to do? Second, learning basic First Aid helps them to understand that blood does not always equal death – they know to apply pressure and get help. Third, annual repetition of the class will teach the appropriate reaction to an accident and help them identify dangers from a respected authority figure (a welcome break from mom droning on).
Knowledge is power. Give your kids the right kind of power, the power to be safe and to recognize danger – contact your American Red Cross today and enroll your kids in Basic First Aid and Home Alone.
And parents – I’ve learned, if you don’t panic at the blood streaming down their face, your kids won’t panic either – think about signing yourself up as well.