Dialing 911 from a cell phone: Tips to teach your kids

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Kids need to know how to call 911, but it isn’t as simple as when we were children. Most of our kids can’t just pick up the phone and dial because many homes no longer have landlines.

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Thanks to cell phones, it’s more of a process to call 911, but it’s something our kids should learn — and fast.

“You never know when you’re going to get to a situation that you need help,” said Candace Ochalik, a 911 operations supervisor and training supervisor in Virginia Beach.

Ochalik admits cell phones can be tricky for little ones to use, but with some practice, she says it can be done. First, teach them how to get to the keypad on your phone.

On iPhones with a home screen button on the bottom, click the button. On the bottom left of the screen, you’ll see the word “Emergency.” Teach your child to touch that word, then dial 911 on the screen.

“Once they get to the keypad that they have to hit, you know, the green cell phone button to actually send it, or some cell phones actually say the word ‘send,'” said Ochalik.

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On an Android, and iPhones without a home screen button, tap the side button and swipe up to get to the keypad. On the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the word “emergency.” Click on that word, dial 911, and hit the green button to send.

Another quick option for iPhone users: Hold in the power button and volume button at the same time. After a couple of seconds, a screen will pop up showing a red “Emergency SOS” tab. Swipe that tab to the right. The phone will automatically call 911.

Newer Android phones also have a feature that allows users to dial 911 by pressing the power button, quickly, five times in a row. That will launch a countdown before calling an emergency service dispatcher.

If your phone has face recognition, Ochalik suggests one more option.

“Maybe put your child as the second face, so it would recognize, so it would gain access to the keypad easily,” she said.

No matter how you teach your child to dial 911 on your cell phone, remember to practice, practice, practice.

“The sooner the better. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for,” said Ochalik.

After your child learns how to call 911, the next step includes teaching them what to say to dispatchers.

“The biggest thing is location. That is the first thing we ask of anybody that calls in,” said Ochalik.

She also says it’s very important for your child to know your full name. Remember, to them you are “Mommy” or “Daddy,” but your real first and last name is information that dispatchers need to know.

“Location, names, phone numbers, and then what the emergency is,” said Ochalik.

It’s all information that could save your life someday.

If you are interested in becoming a Virginia Beach 911 call taker, the city is hiring.

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