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Things Parents Need to Know to Be 911 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 911.  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 911 is

Explain to them that 911 is the phone number to call when they need help in an emergency.

Teach your kids when to call 911

Talk to them about the difference between an emergency and a non-emergency.  911 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 911 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 wireline 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 911 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 911 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 911.  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 911?  To avoid an unintentional call to 911, remove the battery before giving it to a child to play with.  Better yet, recycle or donate your retired phone.