Teaching children how to use 911

Teaching your children how to use 911 could save their lives or yours. Here are four simple steps for teaching your children, no matter how old they are, how to use 911:  

What should children know about calling 911?

  • Assure children that they can call 911 at any time to report a crime, report a fire or save a life.
  • Teach them to call 911 if they think that one or more people are in danger or are seriously injured.
  • Assessing this kind of situation may not be obvious to children, so use concrete examples. 
  • Use language they will understand. For example, you could say: “If you see someone lying on the ground not moving, find an adult immediately. If no one is around, call 911.”
  • If someone close to you has a particular health problem, help your children learn about the illness. Describe the symptoms and tell them what to do in case this person is needs help.

How can I help my child understand when to call 911?

  • Remind children that they must be in a place that is safe before calling 911. For example, tell them that if there is fire in a room or anywhere in the house, they must leave the house first, and then call 911 by cell phone or from a neighbour’s house.
  • Make sure children understand that every second counts when someone is in danger.
  • Explain to your children that calling 911 is not a game or a joke.  An unnecessary call to 911 could take time away from someone who really needs help.

What will the 911 operator want to know?

  • First, the 911 operator will ask whether the caller needs police, fire or an ambulance. Then he or she will want to know where the emergency is, and your phone number.
  • When explaining this to your child, use words that are easy to understand (such as ambulance instead of paramedic).
  • If your children are very young, briefly explain the ways that the people with fire, police and ambulance can help in emergencies.


  • Practice with children by asking questions or using role play activities. Have them role play describing an emergency situation and saying where they are calling from.
  • Make sure kids know their home civic address. The caller will always be asked the location of the emergency first, followed by the name, location and phone number of the caller.
  • Let children know they may also be asked additional information about the emergency, such as if the person needing help is a male or female and their age.
  • It is important for children (and adults) to be as accurate and as clear as possible when calling 911. 

Where can I get more information about 911?

If you have any questions about the 911 service, you can contact the 911 Administration Office:

Telephone: (902) 894-0385
Toll Free: 1-887-894-0385


Published date: 
March 31, 2016
Justice and Public Safety

General Inquiries

Public Safety Division
PO Box 911
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7L9

Phone: 902-894-0385
Toll-free: 1-877-894-0385
Fax: 902-368-6362


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