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When to Call 911

When should you call 911?

911 should be called in EMERGENCIES only: when the situation is life-threatening or could become life-threatening in the imminent future.

What is an emergency?

Here are some examples:

  • For POLICE:
    • When a crime is occurring right now!  Following a suspected impaired driver, persons entering vehicles, a break and enter in progress, assaults in progress
    • Immediately after a serious crime has occurred!  ie. sexual assault, robbery
    • When you suspect a crime is being committed! ie. can hear screams nearby or the breaking of glass
    • A serious motor vehicle accident in which there are suspected injuries
 
  • For FIRE:
    • When you have fire
    • When you smell or see smoke
    • When you smell an unusual odor
    • If you hear an explosion
    • For fire alarms/smoke or carbon monoxide detectors going off
 
  • For AMBULANCE:
    • When someone is seriously injured
    • When someone is unconscious/not breathing
    • For signs of heart attack or stroke
    • For any other medical condition in which the patient needs medical attention immediately

 

The video below from Toronto Police Service teaches kids when to call 911:

 

When NOT to call 911:

Frequently people mistake 911 as the do-all, report all number.  Please do NOT call 911 for any of these situations!

  • To ask for a phone number.  Even if you are wanting the number for a hospital or a Police agency, 911 does NOT have these phone numbers nor provides telephone directory assistance
  • To ask about highway conditions
  • To report a power outage
  • To report a water main break or flooding in your basement
  • To ask for directions
  • To help get a cat out of a tree.
  • To complain about a loud party or loud music
  • To report a theft or other crime that happened some time ago
  • To report a property crime that is not happening at the time (ie. graffiti, willful damage)
  • To talk to Police about ongoing issues/complaints (ie. neighborhood or bylaw complaints)
  • To ask for an update in a file you have previously reported
 

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