When to Call 9-1-1

Eight Tips for Calling 9-1-1

  1. Use 9-1-1 for emergencies only. An emergency is any serious situation that requires the help of a police officer, firefighter or emergency medical provider right away. When in doubt, go ahead and call 9-1-1. The 9-1-1 call taker can determine if you need emergency assistance and get the appropriate help.
  2. If you call 9-1-1-even by mistake-do not hang up the phone. If you call by accident, stay on the line until you can tell the call taker that there is no emergency-so the call taker doesn't have to waste time calling you back or sending police with lights and sirens to check your address for an emergency.
  3. Stay calm and help the call taker help you. Call takers can't help you if they can't understand you. Take a deep breath and think before you talk. Speak slowly and clearly. Call takers are trained to get the most important information first so they can get help on the way. Answer all of the call taker's questions-no matter how irrelevant they may seem-before you hang up or leave the phone.
  4. Determine the location of the emergency, if possible, before you call. Knowing your location and providing the right address are vital for getting police, fire and EMS units to respond. For wireless 9-1-1 calls, sometimes the 9-1-1 call center that answers may not be the one that services the area you are calling from. Look for landmarks, signs at cross streets and distinctive buildings. Know the name of the city or county where you are.
  5. Teach your children how to call 9-1-1. Be sure they know what 9-1-1 is, can dial from your home and cell phone, and trust the 9-1-1 call taker. Make sure they are physically able to reach at least one phone in your home. When calling 9-1-1, your children need to know their name, parent's name, telephone number and especially their address. Tell them to answer all the call taker's questions and stay on the phone until they're told to hang up.
  6. Prevent prank calls to 9-1-1. Prank calls not only waste time; they are illegal in most states and endanger public safety. If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. Be sure all members of your household are aware that prank or harassing calls to 9-1-1 will be dealt with by local law enforcement agencies.
  7. Post your home address clearly and prominently. Posting your 9-1-1 address at your driveway entrance and on your home will prevent confusion among emergency responders about your location. Try using something reflective or illuminated so that the address is visible at night. Do not assume that your mailbox clearly posts your address. Mailboxes are not always at the entrance of a driveway and usually are not marked clearly on both sides. Check with your local city or county for ordinances on posting 9-1-1 addresses, and always report missing street signs.
  8. Know your phones. Educate everyone in your home about the phone system in your home as well as how to use your cell phone.

Source: http://www.nena.org/911-tips-guidelines

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