9-1-1…am I in the Ghetto?

I fell asleep to the sound of distant sirens last night and was reminded of a time when I had to call 911 on the job. I had recently started a nanny job in an unfamiliar neighborhood for a family with two kids. Jay is ten and Jo is eight. Our day started out like any other. They got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, finished homework from the night before and cleaned their rooms. When it was time to leave for school Jo decided she didn’t want to be the door locker (a job that alternated by day), so Jay volunteered. I don’t remember checking to verify if it was locked or not since Jay was responsible. I took them to school and picked them up. When we got home I made popcorn while they took out their homework and told me about their day. Jay stopped talking and asked if someone was upstairs. All three of us were downstairs and no one was due home until dinnertime. The noise came again from their parent’s bedroom like someone was walking around. Creaking floorboards, jingling jewelry… the noises continued. Not knowing the area very well, I was unsure of crime rates and how common break in’s were. I took the kids to the back yard and called 9-1-1. The operator asked questions and sent a police car immediately. We went through the side gate to the front of the house where we were told to walk down to the mailbox. By now the kids were freaked out but trying to remain calm. The first police man arrived but had to wait for his partner. He talked with the kids and was very gracious when the stereotypical “what’s your favorite donut ’cause all policemen eat donuts” came up. Jay was intrigued with his guns and the car’s computer system. Minutes later the partner arrived. The police searched the home but didn’t find anything. He took the kids through the house to help confirm that everything was ok. They left and we finished homework and started dinner.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Go with your gut, if you don’t feel safe call for help. In this case, since the parents were far away at work and my parents were not close, 911 was my only option. 
  2. Take the kids to a safe area.
  3. Stay calm. Children sense fear and feed on it. If you stay calm, they will too. Reassure the children that calling 911 is just a precaution but they should always ask a grown up before calling 911 themselves.
  4. Keep parents in the know. I called the mom before calling 911 and after the police left to calm her worries and make sure everyone was on the same page.
  5. Know the area you are in. The police man said there had been five break ins in the past year in this particular neighborhood. I would have never known if I didn’t ask. City Halls and police stations have up to date criminal records.. take a look.
  6. Check to make sure all doors and windows are locked before leaving. The door had been locked that morning but it is important to double check.

* just as a side note, a few months later, the house was burglarized, and someone stole items out of the families side yard. Crazy huh? Luckily no one was home.

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