When to Call

9-1-1When to Call 911

  • To get help for someone who is seriously injured or needs immediate medical attention
  • If you see a crime in progress or about to occur
  • To report a fire
  • When you feel you are in danger
  • When someone else is in danger, or their property is in danger
  • To report an impaired driver
  • To report an accident with injuries

When Not to Call 911

  • To report a crime that is no longer in progress and does not require an immediate response
  • To report missing property
  • To report a loud party
  • To report minor auto accidents and disabled vehicles
  • To report telephone, cable, or power outages
  • To inquire about weather, road conditions

Be Prepared

Remember when you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker's questions, which will include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency
    • Physical description of a person who may have committed a crime
    • A description of any fire that may be burning
    • A description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency

Remember, the call-taker's questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 911 centers can tell you exactly what to do to help in an emergency until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR.

Finally, do not hang up until the call-taker instructs you to. If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, do not hang up - that could make 911 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.