Calling 999 or 112 – A Parents guide!

There are many stories in the press about how young children have saved lives by simply knowing how to call 999 or 112….could your child do the same?

Most children have a great awareness of the emergency services from seeing police cars whizzing down our roads, hearing the loud roar of sirens from an ambulance and watching programs such as Fireman Sam. You can expand on a child’s interest by explaining what these vehicles are for, who is in them and why they are used.


We don’t think a child is ever to young to learn what the numbers 999 and 112 are used for but it should be taught in a way that clearly states that it is only used for genuine emergencies. Depending on their age you may need to make sure they understand what an emergency is, as you’d agree their reason for an emergency can be very different from ours ie; a lost toy is NOT an emergency. You must make sure that they know calling 999 is serious and under no circumstance should they call the number as a joke or to see what happens, even if a friend has told them to do it.


You could possibly talk to older children about the different reasons you might need to call 999 or 112 ie: there has been a car accident, someone is having difficulty breathing, there is a fire, someone has fallen into a river etc. Children need to know that calling 999 or 112 can be done even if there is no adult around and that all emergency services can be contacted through the same number….even the coastguard!


What is the difference between 999 and 112?

999 is the worlds oldest emergency call number. It was first introduced in the London area in 1937 and then to the whole of the UK in 1976. In the first week of its existence there were 1,336 calls… there are more than 30 million calls a year. The number 112 was introduced in 1995 as a way of contacting the emergency services in countries within the European Union and several other countries. According to Wikipedia there are 81 countries that the number 112 can be used in, you can see the list here.


When you call 999 or 112 from a landline the operator automatically receives your phone number, address and household name of the caller so they can trace the call without having to rely on information given by the caller. Very useful if a very young child was to call but also a great way to trace hoax calls. It is free to call 999 or 112 and can still be called from a mobile phone even if the key pad is locked or you have no reception.


Calling 999 – What all children should know!

It is always a good idea to teach your child their full name and address as soon as you can as it will prove hugely helpful in many situations, not just for calling 999 or 112 in an emergency. As well as knowing their name and address we have put together some other useful information children should know when calling 999 or 112:


  • Calling 999 or 112 can be done from either a landline or a mobile phone!
  • 999 and 112 are available at all hours of the day and night!
  • You don’t have to have reception on a mobile phone to call 999 or 112!
  • Make sure you are safe before calling 999 or 112 ie: Get out and Stay out if there is a fire!
  • Don’t be scared about calling 999 or 112, the emergency services are there to help you!
  • Always speak as clearly and calmly as you can so the operator can understand you!
  • If you don’t know where you are look around you and tell them what you can see, they will find you!
  • Clearly explain what has happened, how many people are involved and what you have done, ie: have you given first aid or stopped traffic etc.
  • Don’t hang up until the operator tells you to! They need to make sure they have got all the right information in order to help you.

As well as being able to call the emergency services it may be a good idea to make sure they know of a near by adult they can also contact in an emergency, whether that be a phone call to their grandparents or a neighbours house they can go to.

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