Concerned woman calling 911

Using 911 Appropriately

Generally speaking, people are aware that they should call 911 in an emergency, but they are less aware of the circumstances in which they should not call 911. The result is that many requests to 911 do not involve true emergencies, which overloads the 911 system with non-emergency calls.

Most people rarely face emergency situations and lack firsthand experience with 911. They may have unrealistic expectations about what will happen when they contact 911 for emergency assistance. Check out these Frequently Asked Questions to learn about using 911.

There is a growing need for targeted and well-coordinated public education efforts about how to use 911 appropriately. Because 911 system capabilities vary across the nation, the National 911 Program supports local efforts to promote public awareness and the effective use of 911 resources.

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 officials think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, simply explain to the call-taker what happened.

More Information

NENA 911 Tips and Guidelines