Keep These 15+ Emergency Numbers in Your Cell. Save Time and Have Peace of Mind Should an Emergency Arise. Use Your Cell and Be Prepared!
Updated March 2020
These are uncertain times we live in. It is more important than ever to have essential emergency numbers in your cell phone directory. Particularly now, in the midst of a pandemic, certain emergency services we rely on might not be available. If this is the case, you will need to try other options. For example, if your town services are overwhelmed, your county or state emergency services may still be available.
When I was a kid, the phone book was the go-to place for all types of information. There was always a page at the front that had emergency numbers. There was also usually a write-in spot to add your doctor’s contact information and other numbers you might need. My parents always put the phone book right by the phone in the kitchen. These days we rely so much on technology that we don’t even bother to memorize our important numbers. With your smartphone or tablet, everything is programmed once and then often just appears as a name. On lots of smartphones these days, you won’t even see the number you’re dialing. Even more frequently, we make use of apps that allow for direct communication, bypassing landlines and cellular communication.
Think ahead with the most important numbers you’ll need in an emergency
This can be a big issue if and when another crisis arises, or if the current crisis worsens. Let’s say that you lose your smart phone and need to place a call on your landline. Will you know what numbers to dial if 911 is busy? It’s entirely possible that a storm or other event could wipe out internet services while keeping the landlines active. You should have some of these critical numbers written down somewhere in addition to putting them on your cell phone. A good place to put these numbers would be in a waterproof bag or container inside your 72 hour emergency kit. You might have to leave home in a hurry but still be able to use a landline later, at an abandoned gas station or restaurant, or at a friend or neighbor’s house.
Most of the numbers recommended below are not used every day. When they are used, they might be for general information. BUT, having them available on a moment’s notice means you are better equipped to deal with an emergency situation should it present itself.
Having these numbers handy will save time and battery power, not to mention giving you peace of mind. NOTE: In a real emergency your first choice for an emergency call will still be 911. These emergency numbers will not replace a lifesaving call to 911.
ICE: In Case of Emergency Contact
Make it easy for emergency responders to find your family or partner contact when they need to. Sure they can search your phone for the most frequently called numbers, but why not make it easy for them. Create an ICE contact in your phone. One reader suggests: “As a veteran Paramedic, ICE is a well-known header for important numbers.. however, I may suggest you list every number separately, label them, ‘My Husband,’ or ‘My Husbands work’.. etc. As an emergency responder, I need to know who these people actually are when I call them.” Good tip!
What should you do if you have a lock screen feature on your cell? I like this simple idea from PCMag. Be sure to read the article for detailed instructions for Nafroid & Apple phones:
ICE Hack Job for Any Smartphone from PC Mag. On any smartphone, there’s one really simple way to add ICE information.
1. Open any note-taking app.
2. Type whatever ICE information you want in the note. Make sure you have margins on all sides and that the text easily fits on one screen.
3. Take a screenshot of that note.
4. Use that note as your lock screen wallpaper.
With this method, an emergency responder will have to dial the number that appears on the lock screen wallpaper, rather than have the phone dial it for him or her, but it’s better than nothing!
Now, without further ado, here are 15+ essential emergency numbers that you should have written down and programmed in your cell phone.
15+ Emergency Numbers to have in your cell
Local fire department – Our local fire departments have a wealth of information and provide community training and local CERT support. We also call our local fire department for burn day information. In many states, we have a designated day or week to burn brush on your property in order to prevent forest fires.
Local police department – List the non-emergency number for your area. In my small town, the number contacts the on-duty officer directly. It is common for people to dial 911 when they need to contact the police for any reason, but this is not so good. Calling 911 for a non-emergency really clogs up the lines and distracts dispatchers from potentially life-threatening situations. If your neighbor keeps on blasting heavy metal music, this is not a 911-sufficient call. Just dial your local PD. In the event of a major state or national emergency, 911 may be so clogged up that in order to get a quicker response, it might be better to just contact your local police directly.
Coast Guard – if you are on a shoreline, major lake or river, the Coast Guard might be a life saving resource for you and your family. Even if you are quite a ways inland and are running out of other options, the Coast Guard has helicopters with a range of hundreds of miles.
Your Doctor – This number is elementary and one you probably already have listed! If not, do it today. List your doctor’s office number, and their cell number if you have it.
Nearby hospitals – I have the three closest hospitals in my contacts. If there are multiple numbers available for the hospital, it will be good to have the emergency room office line in your phone. If you know doctors or nurses personally at those hospitals, be sure to list their cell phone or office numbers as well.
Local EMS – In some places, the ambulance is separate from the FD and PD. Take the time to find out if you have a separate ambulance service in your community.
Poison Control – Find your Regional Poison Control Center and enter the number. Did you know that every 13 seconds, the U.S. Poison Centers receive a call about someone being exposed to poison? Over 50% of these emergencies involve a child under five years of age. Your regional poison control center is an essential contact for being able to provide calm and immediate advice for how to deal with a poisoning case. Not all poisoning treatment is the same. Always consult the experts.
Veterinarian – Don’t forget your four-legged friends and their needs.
Water company – This is a useful number to have for calling about broken water mains and botched bills. Call your water company to get more information if you have a boil water alert or another contaminated water issue.
Power company – A useful number to have in your phone to report power outages.
Tow truck – List a few local tow companies as well as your AAA number if you are a member. If you aren’t a member, consider joining today. It can be as low as $40 a year for a one year membership, and provides complimentary roadside assistance if you break down or get in an accident.
Animal control – Stray dogs and cats can be a problem. Animal control can give you information about helping, shelters and other wildlife issues you may have. There appears to be a mountain lion frequenting the new property I’m moving to. Animal control has been very helpful with information. They will also send an officer to your property if there’s a dangerous situation involving wild animals. Remember, if you have a large dead or dying wild animal on your property, or one behaving strangely, it could have rabies. Do not attempt to deal with it yourself. Contact animal control for advice.
Locksmith – Don’t forget the locksmith! If you get caught without a reputable locksmith, you will likely get ripped off. If there’s no locksmith available and you’re in an emergency situation and find yourself locked out, then you’ll need to manage on your own. Here’s some basic tips on how to break into your own house.
VIPs: Very Important People!
Next door neighbors – Get to know your neighbors and exchange numbers. They will be a big asset to you in an emergency. Extreme disasters can bring out the best and worst of individuals. Mostly, they will reveal people for who they really are. It can be helpful to know who a person really is already, so take my advice and get to know your neighbors better!
Insurance agent – Find out who to call in case you have an accident or home damage. Some companies use a main incident reporting number separate from your local agent. List both.
Co-workers – Feeling sick and need to let them know about that project that’s hanging around on your desk? Be a team player and give them a heads up. If the internet is down, your co-workers can be a good resource for collaboration, working from home, or just figuring out whether your office is still open for business!
Boss – Feeling sick? Or just taking a day off? Either way, you want to have your boss’ number on your cell phone and written down somewhere. If you get extremely sick or are otherwise incapacitated, having your boss’ number written down will make it easier for friends, family, or neighbors to call on your behalf and make sure you don’t get fired for not showing up to work!
Family – You probably have your immediate family member’s phone numbers memorized. If not, surely they are already in your cell phone. But be sure to add their numbers to the list that you store in your 72 hour emergency kit. It is also important to add out-of-state relatives’ numbers to the list in your kit. These could be absolute life savers if you need to flee your region and head to higher or safer ground.
Okay, so you spent 30 minutes searching online and gathering the numbers. How will you group them in your phone? I created an Evernote note called ICE for my numbers. I also created a subgroup in my Gmail contacts. Grouping them together will make it easier for finding and for making updates in case any of the numbers change.