Holidays, including Christmas, are almost always high traffic days for your local Emergency Communications Center (ECC). Something about gathering estranged family members together, driving in less-than-ideal conditions, and spending hours cooking extremely flammable holiday dinners makes this time of year very busy for public safety professionals. How do you stay on top of potential emergencies to avoid having to call 911 on a day that’s supposed to be filled with cheer?
911 is for Emergencies Only
Our first piece of advice is to remember that you should not be calling 911 unless you’re experiencing an emergency that requires a response from police, fire, or EMS professionals. Since most holidays are already busy for your local 911 telecommunicators, dialing 911 for anything other than one of those types of services is taking resources away from someone who might actually need them. Keep the lines clear for people in life-threatening situations, especially on high traffic days like Christmas.
Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best
During the winter season, we North Texans deal with an unusual weather pattern. One day you’re in danger of heat stroke, and the next week you’re worried about icy roads. Stay prepared for any possible situation this winter by loading up on any necessary supplies. It is recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) that you keep at least two-week’s worth of food and water stockpiled in case of an emergency. Though we hope you don’t have to break into your stockpiled food during the holidays, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Driving in icy conditions can be dangerous, so it’s also recommended that you take precautions to avoid accidents by ensuring you have enough air in your tires and driving slowly. Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle such as a first aid kit, flares, blankets, and kitty litter or sand.
If you’re cooking this year, maintain kitchen safety precautions. Don’t leave stovetops unattended and keep an eye on any children. And if you’re frying a turkey, be sure to do your research for a proper set up to avoid a burnt lawn or, worse, house!
Don’t Hang Up
If you do happen to experience an emergency on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas and need to dial 911, be sure to stay on the line until your call is answered. Though it is rare, during high traffic times you may have to wait to have your call answered, and some callers are tempted to hang up and redial. Don’t do this. This puts your call back at the end of line. Stay on the line until a 911 telecommunicator answers, and then listen carefully and answer all questions and instructions. Have your location information ready to relay as this is the best way to ensure a fast response time.
The holidays are stressful, but don’t make them harder than they need to be by being unprepared. If you do need assistance from emergency services during a major holiday, stay calm, stay on the line, and answer all of the 911 telecommunicators questions for a fast response.