Using the Telephone
Be very careful when using the telephone for your own personal calls. You are responsible for paying for your telephone use. Overseas and long distance charges are expensive and add up quickly. Talk to your host family about when it is all right to use the phone. Make sure that your friends don’t call you too late and disturb other people in the house. Use discretion when giving your host family’s phone number to friends, and do not give your number to anyone you do not know. Also ask your host family about using the computer for Skype calls as an alternative to using the phone.
It is important that you know how to use the telephone to get help in difficult situations and in emergencies. Keep all emergency numbers by the phone, including the poison control line, parent work numbers, and the doctor.
Calling Emergency Services Numbers
Emergency services phone numbers, like 9-1-1 in the United States, differ from country to country, but should always only be used in an emergency: fire, serious injury, or if someone stops breathing. Call from a safe place and stay on the line with the operator - do not hang up.
After you call an emergency phone number, call your host parents to let them know what happened.
Calling the Pediatrician
If the child is sick or injured but it is not an emergency, you might want to call the child’s doctor to ask for advice. Ask your host parents if they prefer you to call them first before calling the doctor. If you are unable to reach a host parent, call the doctor if you have a medical question. Here is an example of a conversation you may have with the doctor:
Office secretary: Good morning, Dr. Smith’s office.
Au pair: Hello. This is Jenny Hansen. I am the au pair for the Jones family, J-O-N-E-S. They are patients of Dr. Smith. Matthew Jones fell and hit his head, and I want to know what I should do.
Office secretary: I will put you through to the doctor.
Dr. Smith: This is Dr. Smith.
Au pair: Hello, I am the au pair for the Jones family. Matthew Jones is six years old and he fell and hit his head.
Dr. Smith: Is he conscious?
Au pair: Yes, but he has a big bump on his head.
Dr. Smith: Is he dizzy or sleepy? Is he throwing up?
Au pair: No. He just has a bump.
Dr. Smith: Put some ice in a towel and hold it gently on the bump. Watch him carefully for 30 minutes, and if he acts sleepy or dizzy, or if he vomits, bring him into the office right away.
Au pair: Thank you, Doctor.
It may be helpful to write down what the pediatrician tells you, so that you can explain the situation clearly to your host parents.
Calling a Parent at the Office
Someday, you may need to use the telephone to contact a host parent at their office or place of work, in case of emergency or child illness. Be calm and carefully explain what happened:
Office secretary: Good afternoon, Busybody and Company, how may I direct your call?
Au pair: Hello, I’m calling for Ms. Anne Jones, please. This is Jenny, her au pair. It’s very important.
Office secretary: One moment please.
Host Mom: Hello, Jenny, what happened?
Au pair: Hello, Anne. Tommy fell off his bicycle and I think he broke his arm. I put a splint on it and I’m going to drive him to the hospital now.
Host Mom: All right. I will meet you at the hospital.