Police Department

Teaching Children to Use 9-1-1

Teaching children appropriate use of the 9-1-1 system is as important as teaching them how to place a 9-1-1 call. Parents should also be aware that wireless phones without a current calling plan through a wireless service provider are still capable of connecting a call to a local 9-1-1 center.

Children should be told not to dial 911 from these old, or uninitialized phones with a charged battery, as a live call will be connected with the local 9-1-1 call center. If a child dials 9-1-1 when no emergency exists, do not hang up—that could make 9-1-1 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to the location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.

A child who knows how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency could save a life. Teach your child how to call 9-1-1 and tell dispatchers the location of the emergency. Parents can use the following safety tips to teach their children the proper way to use 9-1-1 to report emergencies:

  • Make sure your child can say her first and last name and provide her address or location. 
    • Post your address near the phone.
  • Explain the different emergency situations that might require your child to call 911.
    Here are some examples:
    • Fire
    • Medical emergency
    • Car accident
    • Stranger danger
  • Show your child the steps for calling 9-1-1 on your mobile phone.
  • Never say "nine eleven." There is no eleven on a telephone keypad or dial. Always say "nine-one-one."
  • Always call from a safe place. If there is a fire in the house, get out first and then call.
  • Never call 9-1-1 as a prank or joke. You can get into trouble and keep someone who really needs help from getting it on time. 9-1-1 is not for animal emergencies.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you think you have an emergency and explain the situation to the dispatcher.
  • Again, if you call 9-1-1 by mistake, don't hang up. Explain the mistake to the dispatcher and say there is not emergency.