Teach your kids about 911
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Teach your kids about 911

The Foster City Police Department Dispatch Center receives approximately 15,000 911 calls each year. A large percentage of these calls are either misdials or disconnects, often from children playing with the phone. Handling these calls can sometimes interfere with the dispatcher's handling of real emergencies.

It is important that parents educate their children in the use of the telephone, particularly 911, at an early age. They need to understand that the telephone is not a toy, but also that it is okay to call 9-1-1 for help when they need police, fire or medical help. If you are teaching your children about 911, we suggest that you consider the following:

  • First, it is important that your child be taught their address and telephone number.
  • Secondly, make sure your child can physically reach at least one telephone. Wall mounted telephones can be unreachable for really small children.
  • Discuss with your child any situations that may be unique to them. This could include an elderly live-in relative; younger sibling; or any other unique factor that the child might encounter.
  • The 911 service is for emergencies. It is important to teach your child not to play with or misuse 911

If you would like to arrange to have your child call 911 for real, as part of your training program, please call our dispatch center at 650-286-3345 and let the dispatcher know you are training your child about 911. Ask the dispatcher if they have time to handle a 911 test call from your child before you place that 911 call.

When your child calls 911, they should also know what information will be expected from them. You should teach them to:

  • Tell the dispatcher what the emergency is.
  • Give their full address, phone number and name.
  • Stay on the line with the 911 dispatcher until they are told to hang up.

When calling 911, remember that emergency medical, fire or police personnel are being sent to you even though you are still talking to the operator. That is why sometimes it sounds like there is no one on the other end of the line. They can still hear you, but they are talking on another line or on a radio to get help to you.

Keep in mind, if your child tries to dial 911 from a cell phone they may be be connected to the California Highway Patrol. When you dial 911 from a cell phone your address is not displayed to the dispatcher. If your child is ever given a cell phone to use in case of an emergency, make sure your child knows where they are. That way, the 911 dispatcher can transfer their call to the appropriate agency for assistance.

For more information call (650) 286-3300 or e-mail police@fostercity.org.
 

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