Kids and 911 in the cell phone age

Emergency responds advise parents teach kids how to use smart phones

MIAMI - With fewer households having landlines, emergency responders say parents must teach their children how to call 911 on a cell phone.

"We recently got rid of our home phone because we weren't using it a lot," said Julie Santos, a mother of two. "My husband and I are using our cell phones as our primary phones."

But what happens when there's a fire or another emergency at home?

"When you (Local 10's Jen Herrera) and I first talked about it, I thought, 'Of course my children know what to do in an emergency. Of course they know to dial 911,'" said Santos. "But when I gave it more thought, I realized where will they dial 911 from?"

Preschoolers are typically taught how to call 911 but not how to do it with a smartphone.

Santos' son Drew took several minutes before he pulled up the keypad on his mom's cell phone to dial out.

"You want to make sure they know how to use it the proper way in the event of an emergency," said Miami Fire Rescue Lt. Ignatius Carroll. "Does your children know your code to get into it? Do they understand how to dial 911 when do they put your phone on?"

Carroll also recommended having an "in case of emergency" contact in your phone if you're involved in an accident.

"I need to sit down with them, show them how to properly work mine and my husband's cell phones so they really do know what has to be done in case there were an emergency," said Santos.

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