Healthy Living, Parenting

When Disaster Strikes and the Kids are Home Alone #Tips

If you are like most households, you work and the children are home alone if old enough or with a caretaker all day. With summer here many are home with childcare or an older sibling. Would they know what to do if a disaster struck while you were away form home? It’s a scary thought and a conversation you must have with your family today!


Would your children call from a cell phone or a landline?  And does it make any difference?  Surprisingly, the answer is yes.  According to the latest data, if you don’t have a landline in your home, it could be putting your children in grave danger. 


According to an investigation by the USA Today, the chances of 911 dispatchers being able to find you based on your cell phone’s GPS can be as low as 10% in some parts of the country.  With a significant share of cell phone-to-911 calls being placed from within residences—and 45% of Americans opting out of landline coverage at home—countless people are left vulnerable in emergencies.  The question then becomes not why you should have a landline in the home, but why haven’t you gotten one yet?

In the spirit of keeping you and your family safe, I recently partnered with Ooma leading Internet home phone service with reliable E911 technology—to deliver three tips for keeping your home safe this summer in addition to owning a landline. 


Whether it’s for a small scrape or something far worse, it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit handy.  People who call 911 from their cell phone are often surprised at how long emergency workers take to arrive on scene.  According to the recent 911 Emergency Response Study, more than one in five cell phone callers feel it takes too long—that’s seven times higher than for people who call from a landline.  If you’re often in situations when only a cell phone is available, consider keeping a first aid kit nearby.  


Make sure that no matter where you are, it’s easy for the people around you to call your emergency contacts. Consider posting your own number, as well as first response numbers, on your fridge so your kids know how to reach you and your family, family members who live close by, or the authorities.  Post the name and number of a trusted friend or neighbor, too.  With Ooma’s home phone system, up to three of these contacts can be notified by text message automatically when a 911 call is placed.  In situations when every second counts, this reliable Internet-based technology could save tens of thousands of lives. 


Educate your kids about the sights, smells, and sounds of danger.  If they hear a smoke alarm or see an appliance overheating, advise your children to get outside as quickly as possible.  Planning an exit strategy is key to getting a safe distance away from the house so you can alert a neighbor and have them call the fire department.  Consider making a detailed fire plan with multiple escape routes and keeping a printed copy of your fire plan on visible walls around your house.

For many people, money is understandably a legitimate concern—but when it comes down to it, we really can’t put a price on ensuring that the people we love are safe.  Luckily, first aid kits are both lightweight and budget-friendly, while the price of a secure Ooma landline pays for itself in just three months and costs less than a Netflix subscription on a monthly basis.  

My Natural Disaster story

I remember being in the Loma Prieta Earthquake in San Francisco bay area as a child. We were home with my Mom and it happened at rush hour. We knew my Dad was do to cross over the Bay Bridge and as we got the radio going as TV was out we heard about its collapse. We were so panicked. We tried calling his office but lines were down. It was 2 hours of panic and even flagging down an officer to say we suspect him on or near the collapsed bridge and how do we know? At about 7pm my Dad pulls into the driveway-I get tears now just thinking of the relief we had. Turns out he decided to leave work a tad early so he can swing by my Grandparents house to check a home fix they needed. In the end it worked out perfect because he easily could have been a victim on the bay bridge, but he actually was able to be present with my Grandparents when the quake hit and got them calmed down and secure before driving home. See, he did not have access to a radio or working TV or phones so he had no idea what we knew and the concern we were having about the bridge. 

Armed with these tips and a plan for how to stay in contact when disaster strikes, you can feel more secure that the kids are as safe as can be at home without you. For more on Ooma, follow on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’ve got a story you’d feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear about them!  Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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