An easy to remember emergency number, 911 can be used to get help from police, paramedics, fire department, etc. 911 service is available at most locations across United States and Canada. While the emergency telephone number has emerged as a potent tool to provide timely help and save lives, the system faces challenges on several fronts. One of these is the issue of prank calls.
911 is meant to be used only to report emergency situations. When people randomly or accidently call 911 or if their children dial 911 by mistake, it creates additional burden on the system. Such fake 911 calls can prevent people who are really in distress from getting timely help. So, what happens if you prank call 911? Is there a fine or will you be sent to jail? Well, here are some important things to know about making a prank call to 911.
Prank calling 911 is a crime
In most states, intentionally making a prank call to 911 is a crime. For example, it can be treated as misdemeanor or a felony in the state of California. If you report a fake emergency fully knowing that there is no such situation, you could be guilty of a misdemeanor. This happens when your fake 911 call leads to dispatch of emergency vehicles, evacuation of a building, structure or area, and activation of emergency systems. If it is proven that you have reported a fake emergency, you may be sent to county jail for up to one year and have to pay fine of up to USD 1,000.
In extreme cases where your prank call to 911 results in great bodily injury or death, you could be charged with felony. In such cases, you could be sent to county jail for up to three years. The fine in such cases is up to USD 10,000.
What happens if you accidently dial 911?
More than prank calls, 911 call takers receive a higher number of calls that are dialed by mistake. Children and teens also often end up calling 911 by mistake. In such cases, the authorities may let you off with a warning.
In case you dial 911 by mistake, do not cut the phone. This may prompt the call taker to send a police team to your location to check if everything is okay. 911 system can detect the location of most landline and mobile numbers. If you or your child end up making a 911 call by mistake, just explain the situation and tell them that everything is okay. This way, you can avoid any escalation of the situation.
Also, make sure you train your child about 911 and how and when to make a call. By avoiding unnecessary calls to 911, you can reduce the burden on the system. It will ensure that help reaches the ones who really need it.