Things Parents Need to Know to Be 9-1-1 Ready!

It’s important to think about steps you might have to take in an emergency, before you ever have an emergency.  Planning ahead may make things easier if you ever need to call 9-1-1.  Your preparation now can help responders help you, if and when they need to.

Prepare your home:

Post your address.  Make sure your address is posted on a sign that can easily be seen from the road in both directions, and that it can be seen at night.  For best results, always post it on your house, and if you have a long driveway, also post it on your mailbox or at the end of the drive.  You want to make sure that emergency responders will be able to identify which house is yours, quickly and easily.  When you’re placing the sign, keep the different seasons  in mind and make sure the sign can be seen above snow banks and when trees are fully leafed out.  If you currently have a sign, take a look at it to determine its effectiveness.  Are the numbers still visible and reflective?  If your sign is no longer readable, this is a good time to replace it.

Prepare your family:

Teach your kids WHAT 9-1-1 is.  Explain to them that 9-1-1 is the phone number to call when they need help in an emergency.

Teach your kids WHEN to call 9-1-1.  Talk to them about the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency.  9-1-1 is the number to call to save a life, stop a crime, or to report a fire.  These things are emergencies.   Fights with siblings, disagreements with parents, missing bicycles, and lost dogs, for example, are not emergencies.  Be sure they understand that calling 9-1-1 as a prank or for a non-emergency can tie up the phone lines and may delay help for someone who seriously needs it.

Know your phones.  Make certain all members of your household know how to use the different types of phones in your home.  Keep in mind that the call-back and location information that is attached to your land-line phone is not available on cell or VoIP phones.  Location information may be limited on these devices.  Contact your service provider for more information.

Practice, practice, practice.  Help your children memorize the information that will help a 9-1-1 call-taker and emergency responders, including their name, their parents’ names, their complete address and their phone number.  Being able to provide this information quickly will help when seconds count.

Don’t hang up!  Let your children know that if they call 9-1-1 by mistake, they should stay on the phone and talk to the call-taker.  The call-taker’s job is to provide for the safety of people calling 9-1-1.  If they get a hang-up call, they may call back or may send a police officer to your home to check on things

Old cell phones.  Old cell phones may make entertaining toys for kids, but do you know that even deactivated phones with no service plan can still call 9-1-1?  To avoid an unintentional call to 9-1-1, remove the battery before giving it to a child to play with.  Better yet, recycle or donate your retired phone.