9-1-1 is reserved for emergency situations only. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or an ambulance. If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. It’s better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance. However, callers should still use sound judgment when trying to determine the difference between an “emergency” and a “non-emergency.”
A person should not call 9-1-1 to ask for directions, report a lost pet or complain about a noisy neighbor.
Do not call 9-1-1:
- For information
- For directory assistance
- To ask for directions
- To complain about a noisy neighbor
- When you’re bored and just want to talk
- For paying tickets
- To report a lost pet
- As a prank
If you call 9-1-1 by mistake, do not hang up. Tell the call taker what happened so they know there really isn’t an emergency. People who call 9-1-1 as a joke or a nuisance can be subject to fines and legal action.
What about 9-1-1 prank calls?
It’s a prank call when someone calls 9-1-1 for a joke, or calls 9-1-1 and hangs up. Prank calls not only waste time and money, but can also be dangerous. If 9-1-1 lines or call takers are busy with prank calls, someone with a real emergency may not be able to get the help they need. In most places, it’s against the law to make prank 9-1-1 calls.