When should I call 911?

Emergency Situations

You should call 911 only for an emergency. An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance. Examples include:

  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured
  • A crime, especially if in progress
  • A fire
  • A medical emergency, such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention

Important: If you’re not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, we recommend calling 911 and letting the call-taker determine whether you need emergency help.


If you dial 911 by mistake, or if a child in your home dials 911 when no emergency exists, do not hang up—that could make the dispatcher think that an emergency exists, and possibly send responders to your location. Instead, stay on the line and simply explain to the call-taker what happened.

Show All Answers

1. When should I call 911?
2. What questions might I be asked if I call the police in an emergency?