Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Be Informed: Know your emergency numbers!

Normally the first step in our guide to preparedness is "Build a Kit," but I decided to change things up a bit after reading an interesting CNN article by Amy Gahran. Everyone knows (or should know) to call 911 in case of an emergency. Now that the majority of Americans carry a cell phone on their person at all times, it's hard to imagine not being able to get help. But have you ever wondered how your call gets to the nearest dispatcher?

Take my cell phone for example. Be it stubbornness or laziness, my area code remains Colorado based. To make things even more complicated, I live in Southern Indiana, but work in Louisville. So if for some reason I needed to call 911, who would be fielding my call? Would they even be in the same state?

Most 911 calls are directed to a number determined by the tower you are nearest when you make the call. To ensure you have all bases covered, Gahran's article recommends that when calling 911, you begin by giving the operator your location (street names, landmarks, or mile markers). Always be aware of your surroundings. Also give the 911 operator your number just in case the call drops.

She also recommends you have alternative emergency numbers (non-911) in your cell phone for all cities in which you spend a lot of time. Remember this suggestion is for emergency calls from a cell phone, not a land line. Each police department is different, so do your research. When in doubt, dial 911.