Teaching Tools for Families

Do Your Kids Know How to Use 9-1-1 in Emergencies?

Teach your children how to use 9-1-1 and have them practice dialing the number to report an emergency. (Unplug the phone during practice sessions.)

Children may not be sure what a real emergency is. Remind children to dial 9-1-1 when help must arrive in a hurry to save a life or catch a lawbreaker. Go over this list of some true 9-1-1 emergencies with them:

  • Fire
  • Medical emergencies, when the victim is unconscious, can't breathe or is losing lots of blood
  • A prowler is on the property
  • A crime or accident is in progress
  • Other life-threatening situations, such as downed wires or broken water mains
  • A sounding fire or burglar alarm
Power outages, minor accidents, a crime that happened some time ago, a sick person who needs transportation to the doctor, and disturbances such as loud parties and barking dogs are NOT 9-1-1 emergencies.

What Should I Teach My Child About 9-1-1?

  • Teach children to call 9-1-1 when they need help in a hurry from police, fire or emergency medical personnel.
  • Teach children to stay calm, speak clearly and stay on the phone when calling 9-1-1. The telecommunicator will tell them when it is okay to hang up.
  • Tell children that if they accidentally dial 9-1-1, they must remain on the phone to tell the call taker that there is no emergency and explain that they accidentally dialed 9-1-1.
  • Most importantly, teach children that calling 9-1-1 is not a game. Remind them that 9-1-1 is for real emergencies only.

Act Now

The best time to prepare for an emergency is now - don't wait until one happens. Practice good emergency prevention by going over safety rules (what to do in case of fire, how to safely answer the phone, not opening the door to strangers, etc.) and teaching your children how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.

What Else Can I Do As a Parent/Guardian?

  • Remove the battery from old cell phones before you give it to a child to play with. Even a cell phone with no active service can still call 9-1-1, as long as there is battery power. These calls tie up 9-1-1.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers by the phone for kids and babysitters. The list may consist of your mobile and work number numbers, a trusted neighbor's number, and 9-1-1 for emergencies. Make sure your phone number and address and also on this list so that kids can tell emergency responders where to go.
  • Have children memorize their address. Many incidents happen at home and being able to relay this crucial information can be invaluable during emergencies when seconds count.