911 Emergency Tips & Tricks

Learn how to be prepared for an emergency situation and call to 911.

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Matt Anderson's Take
Nobody expects to run into an emergency situation but being slightly prepared for one may mean the difference between life and death. Follow our tips so you know what to do in case of an emergency that requires dialing 911 for help.

Know Where You Are

Do you know where you are right now? Of course you do. But if you had to tell somebody else, over the phone, could you? Do you know the street name you're on? What about the house / building number? Is there an apartment or suite number?

Unless you're at home or work, you may not truly know where you are at, or at least couldn't easily and quickly tell somebody else over the phone. Any time you go somewhere make a point to know the address when possible, or at least at places you frequent (like homes of friends and family). What about your own home? If you have kids make sure they know their address. Also, tape a piece of paper with your home address on your home phone in case somebody else ever had to dial 911 from your house.

The more you know, the more prepared you'll be. While some 911 systems can find your location automatically this doesn't work in all areas nor with all phone systems. Don't rely on police, fire crews, or ambulances to be able to locate you automatically.

Making The Call

When you call 911 it's important that you remain as calm as possible. You want to quickly explain to the 911 operator what the emergency is without panicking. Then give them your current address or location as best you can. Use landmarks as needed as well. For example, if you have a really long driveway or an obvious paint color or even a huge tree in your yard then mention that.

Don't expect to give that information just once, you may be transferred to another operator or department so be prepared to repeat the information more than once. Don't hang up on the operator until they've said it is okay to do so. Stay on the phone with them until help arrives and they tell you it's okay to hang up.

The Waiting Game

Now you're waiting for help to arrive. Listen to everything the 911 operator tells you as they may be giving you some advice that could save lives or prevent further harm.

Make sure that emergency crews will be able to get to your location as easily as possible. Move anything that may be blocking their way into your home or location. They often come in with equipment so giving them a wide path is in your best interest. Lock away any pets as even the friendliest pets can become aggressive when people come charging into your house. Besides, they'll just be in the way and may get hurt as well.

Turn on any outside porch lights as well as inside lights if it's dark outside. This will help make your home stand out even more, as can making your porch light flash on and off as crews approach.

Does the injured person take any medications? If so, try to gather those up so you can show emergency crews when they arrive. Making a list of medications as well as allergies can also be helpful.

Help Arrived

If you're still on the phone with 911 let the operator know they've arrived and ask if you can hang up now. Once emergency crews arrive, make sure you stay out of their way. Tell them what they need to know and answer any questions they have but otherwise give them room to do their job and don't bother them with endless questions. Make sure you keep anyone else out of their way as well.
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Matt Anderson
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