Share this page Print

Safety tips for different phones

If possible, always call 9-1-1 from a land line rather than a cell phone. You should have one phone in your home that doesn't need a power outlet to use it. This gives you access to 9-1-1 when there is a power outage. Cell phone location technology can be used to identify a caller's general location. The accuracy and reliability of this information will vary. Know your location - look for street signs, building names or landmarks. Know your address or the address where you are. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones may not automatically connect you to your local area 9-1-1 Centre. Find out from your VoIP service provider how you will be connected to 9-1-1 services prior to an emergency. When you call 9-1-1 from a business phone, tell the Emergency Communication Officer your exact location and know the building name, office and floor of the emergency.

Home phones
Cell/wireless phones
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): Internet or cable phones
Business phones

Home phones

For the purpose of this information, home phones are considered those connected to a regular phone jack in the wall (land line). If you have a choice, call 9-1-1 from a land line instead of a cell phone.

  • It's a good idea to have one phone in your home that doesn't need a power outlet to use it. This gives you access to 9-1-1 when there is a power outage.
  • Cordless phones mostly require a battery/power to keep them working. Place the charge unit in the bedroom so a phone is close by during sleep times.
  • Find out what 9-1-1 services you have by contacting your telephone service provider prior to an emergency.

Cell/wireless phones

Cell phone location technology may be used in some cases to identify a caller's general location. The accuracy and reliability of this information will vary from pinpointing the cell phone to within a radius of a few metres to several kilometres based on a number of variables. For example, the caller's location will generally be more specific within the city and less specific in rural areas due to the number of cell towers available to triangulate the signal.

However, factors such as signal strength, natural or man-made obstructions to wireless signals, and whether the handset is GPS-capable all contribute to the accuracy and reliability. Either way, the Emergency Communications Officer will ask you for location details to avoid any unnecessary delays. Other tips for calling 9-1-1 from a cell phone:

  • Get in a safe location before you call. If you're driving, pull over and stop the vehicle first.
  • If you have a choice, call 9-1-1 from a land line rather than a cell phone.
  • Know your location - look for street signs, building names or landmarks.
  • Know your address or the address where you are.
  • Old/inactive cell phones may still connect with 9-1-1. As a precaution, don't let children use them as toys.
  • Find out what 9-1-1 services you have by contacting your telephone service provider prior to an emergency.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) internet or cable phones

Internet or cable-based phones are also known as a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or broadband. These use a high-speed internet connection to make/receive calls. They can look and function much like traditional telephone service, and they are required to provide 9-1-1 access. Here's what else you need to know:

  • Calling 9-1-1 from a VoIP phone may not automatically connect you to your local area 9-1-1 Centre.
  • Find out from your VoIP service provider how you will be connected to 9-1-1 services prior to an emergency.
  • If special directions are required, post the information on or near your phone for reference.

Business phones

Depending on the size of the business, the information from your call to 9-1-1 may be the head office location and company name. If you are not working at the head office/billing address tell the Emergency Communication Officer your exact location when you call 9-1-1.

  • Know the building name, office and floor of the emergency.
  • Ask your office manger if there is anything special that you need to know about calling 9-1-1 from your business phone and building.
  • Learn your company's/building's standard emergency procedures prior to an emergency.