It's the beginning of August—smack in the middle of summer. Your kids are at home with a caretaker while you toil away at your 9 to 5. Then, disaster strikes. There's an emergency at home, and your kids have to call 911 for help.
Are your children calling from a cell phone or a landline? And does it make any difference? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. According to the latest data, if you don't have a landline in your home, it could be putting your children in grave danger.
Here's a shocking fact: According to an investigation by the USA Today, the chances of 911 dispatchers being able to find you based on your cell phone's GPS can be as low as 10% in some parts of the country. With a significant share of cell phone-to-911 calls being placed from within residences—and 45% of Americans opting out of landline coverage at home—countless people are left vulnerable in emergencies. The question then becomes not why you should have a landline in the home, but why haven't you gotten one yet?
In the spirit of keeping you and your family safe, I recently partnered with Ooma, a leading Internet home phone service with reliable E911 technology—to deliver three tips for keeping your home safe this summer in addition to owning a landline.
TIP #1: KEEP A FIRST AID KIT AT THE READY
Whether it's for a small scrape or something far worse, it's always a good idea to have a first aid kit handy. People who call 911 from their cell phone are often surprised at how long emergency workers take to arrive on scene. According to the recent Ooma.com 911 Emergency Response Study, more than one in five cell phone callers feel it takes too long—that's seven times higher than for people who call from a landline. If you're often in situations when only a cell phone is available, consider keeping a first aid kit nearby.
TIP #2: WRITE AN EMERGENCY CONTACT LIST
Make sure that no matter where you are, it's easy for the people around you to call your emergency contacts. Consider posting your own number, as well as first response numbers, on your fridge so your kids know how to reach you and your family, family members who live close by, or the authorities. Post the name and number of a trusted friend or neighbor, too. With Ooma's home phone system, up to three of these contacts can be notified by text message automatically when a 911 call is placed. In situations when every second counts, this reliable Internet-based technology could save tens of thousands of lives.
TIP #3: RECOGNIZE THE FIRST SIGNS OF DANGER
Educate your kids about the sights, smells, and sounds of danger. If they hear a smoke alarm or see an appliance overheating, advise your children to get outside as quickly as possible. Planning an exit strategy is key to getting a safe distance away from the house so you can alert a neighbor and have them call the fire department. Consider making a detailed fire plan with multiple escape routes and keeping a printed copy of your fire plan on visible walls around your house.
For many people, money is understandably a legitimate concern—but when it comes down to it, we really can't put a price on ensuring that the people we love are safe. Luckily, first aid kits are both lightweight and budget-friendly, while the price of a secure Ooma landline pays for itself in just three months and costs less than a Netflix subscription on a monthly basis.
Got any 911 emergency stories of your own? I wouldn't be surprised. In the past five years alone, over a quarter of Americans have called 911 with a cell phone, and in that group, there were many dissatisfied callers. If you've got a story you'd feel comfortable sharing, I'd love to hear about them! Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.