Know Where You Are

  • Where are you right now? Could you tell 911 exactly where to find you?
  • When calling 911, one of the first things you’ll be asked to provide is the location of the emergency you’re reporting.
  • The call taker may not automatically know your location or may ask you to confirm it.
  • Tell the call taker the location of the emergency. Provide landmarks such as cross streets and mileposts.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.

Know Your Cell Well

  • Texting 911 is only available in certain locations. If you text 911 where the service is not available, you will receive an automatic response advising you to call emergency services.
  • Lock your keypad when you’re not using your phone, so 911 isn’t dialed by mistake. For the same reason, don’t put 911 on speed dial.
  • Do not give old phones to children as toys. A wireless phone with no active service can still call 911.
  • If you accidentally call 911, stay on the line and tell the call taker that you do not have an emergency.

Know How to Use 911 With the Phone You Own

  • The type of phone you use affects your call to 911.
  • Know the capabilities of the device you are using (landline, cellular, VoIP) when calling 911.
  • Whenever practical, use a landline at your location to call 911.
  • Cell phones may not automatically pinpoint where you are to 911. Also they aren’t always routed to the closest call center and it takes time to transfer your call to the closest one. Be ready to give specifics about where you are.
  • VoIP phones may indicate your home location to 911, rather than where you are while using the phone. Be sure to give detailed information about where you are.

Stay Calm & Ready to Listen

  • Try to stay calm, listen carefully, give information and follow all instructions.
  • In an emergency, seconds matter, so being knowledgeable and prepared can make all the difference.
  • Knowing when to call and what to expect when you phone 911 can help reduce fear and feelings of helplessness in an emergency.

Call 911 for Emergencies Only

  • 911 is the right number to call in an emergency when a prompt response is needed.
  • Call 911 when you need to save a life, stop a crime or report a fire.
  • If you dial 911 for a non-emergency matter, you are tying up resources that could be needed in a real emergency.
  • If you need talk about a police, fire, or rescue matter but do not need them to hurry to you, call (757) 385-5000 instead.​​​