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Can your child call 911 with a smartphone?

Posted: 7:35 AM, Sep 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-19 08:47:06-04

Calling 911 can be essential when it comes to saving a life, but does your child know how to make the call in an emergency?

As it turns out, new technology can make it tricky for kids, and many parents aren't even aware of the quick ways to dial 911 on a locked smartphone.

It's a call you hope your kids never have to make. Below is an example of a call to 911 made by a 6-year-old:

Dispatcher: Hello. 911.
Child: Hi
Dispatcher: Hi. Is your mom around?
Child: No. Where am I?

Luckily, this call wasn't an emergency. The child just couldn't find their mom. But what if emergency help was needed? Can your child make a call on a smartphone?

"Not to call 911, but she knows other things, so that would be something that I could look into doing,” Mareza Landeros, a mother said.

Jaime Hill, a mother, said she thinks kids should know how to dial in case of an emergency.

“I’m not sure if his age would be right because he might just call it just because,” Hill said.

Breanna Haley-Sauer, a 911 supervisor with the City of Tulsa, said it’s never too early to teach your kids.

“Parents absolutely should be teaching their kids when it is appropriate to call 911, how to, if they do need to,” she said.

Your child doesn't have to know your passcode to make an emergency call. If you have an iPhone, press the home button. Once it comes on, then press it again. The screen will prompt you to make an emergency call.

If you have an Android, you can swipe the screen to wake it up, prompting the emergency call button.

"There's an SOS signal and different things, even apps now that we didn’t have in the past that kids can use to get a hold of us,” Haley-Sauer said.

Once patched through to the call center, technology only helps pinpoint a broad area. Dispatchers need your address.

"It’s best if you can teach them their address at an early age or let them know where to find their address within the home,” Haley-Sauer said. “A lot of times, even with adults, we have to tell them where to find their mail."

If you don’t know your location, dispatchers act fast, tracing the coordinates of the call.

"On a phase two phone, whenever the 911 calls come in, we will have those on our screen immediately,” Haley-Sauer said. “With a landline we are going to know exactly where you are if you call."

Experts said it's also important to teach your child that it is OK to call 911, and not to be afraid. Make sure they know staying on the line with a dispatcher and not hanging up is critical in an emergency.

However, also teach your child the consequences to dialing 911 just for fun. A prank call could tie up a dispatcher, keeping them from answering other callers with active emergencies.

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