Generally speaking, people are aware that they should call 911 in an emergency, but they are less aware of the circumstances in which they should not call 911. The result is that many calls to 911 do not involve true emergencies, which creates a burden on the system.
911 should only to be used to report emergency situations.
An emergency is defined as any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police/sheriff, the fire department or an ambulance.
If you are ever in doubt of whether a situation is an emergency you should call 9-1-1. It's better to be safe and let the 9-1-1 call taker determine if you need emergency assistance.
Good Reasons to call 9-1-1
- Any threat of harm to personal safety or the safety of others.
- Any criminal act that is in progress or just occurred.
- Any situation which escalates from non-emergency to emergency.
911 should not be used for simple questions such as, when will the power come back on, or for reporting that there is a cat up in a tree.