Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween: Tips for a Spooky Safe Night!

Happy Halloween everyone! This year, Halloween is on a school night, which means it is a
great idea to get started early on trick or treating activities. Did you know that on average, children are twice as likely to get hit by a car on Halloween? So while this time of year brings spooky fun and dressing up as your favorite characters, it is also a time when safety becomes an incredibly important topic.

Check out some tips from Cell Phone Sally on how to have a happy Halloween as well as a safe and smart holiday:

·        Always buddy up when trick or treating. Walk in groups with a trusted adult.
·        Avoid costumes that are too dark. Light and reflective clothing is best. Fasten reflective tape onto costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
·        Children under 12 should always have adult supervision. Safety first!
·        Have kids use glow sticks to help guide their way and make them more visible to drivers. You can also take a flashlight with you to help guide your way in the dark.
·        Make sure to examine all the candy when you get home. Check for any choking hazards or candy that has been tampered with. And don’t eat too much candy when you get home- it could make you sick to your stomach!
·        Always look both ways before crossing the street. Cars move fast so be aware of your surroundings.
·        Enter homes with haunted houses ONLY if you are with a trusted adult. And never under any circumstances accept a ride from a stranger.
·        When selecting a costume, make sure it fits well to eliminate chances of falling or tripping. No one wants to get hurt on Halloween!
·        Carry a cell phone with you to make sure you can contact help in case of an emergency.
·        If you are ever in an emergency situation, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.

Looking for more safety tips? Check out some information from the Safe Kids:  We hope everyone has a wonderful Halloween!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It’s September: Time to Get Prepared!

It’s that time of year again when we prepare, discuss and plan for a natural disaster event that could occur in your area. September marks National Preparedness Month and as the month wraps up, Cell Phone Sally wants to remind you that you can never be too prepared for an emergency. Being prepared includes in the home, at work or on the go including while you travel. You never know what type of emergency situation could affect you. Together we can make sure no matter where you are, you and yours are prepared to take on an emergency situation head on.

Here are the basics:

Be Informed: When it comes to being prepared for a disaster, there is no such thing as being too prepared. Being informed about the different types of emergencies that can happen in your area and their appropriate responses includes learning about the hazards that may strike your community, the risks you face from these hazards and your community’s plans for warning and evacuation. Awareness is the first key to being prepared. Want to know more? Visit

Make a Plan: Put a plan in place with your family and loved ones. You always want to be prepared for the “what ifs” so that when the emergency occurs, you feel more confident in contacting and locating your loved ones. Remember to think about how you will get in touch with each other to let each other know you are safe or if you need help. You also need to know where you plan on meeting to get back together during disastrous times. And lastly, you should communicate with your loved ones how you would react and what you would do depending on the type of emergency. For more info, visit

Build a Kit: Use building a kit as an opportunity to bond with your family and loved ones. Involve children in the process too so that they feel they are contributing to ways they can help their family in an emergency. Things to include in a supply kit include food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days which is why you want to have plenty of food and water to survive on. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer. To find a complete checklist of the supplies your household may need in the event of an emergency, visit
Take Action: This is your chance to get involved with your community. You can do this by visiting to find local Citizen Corps Councils. You can also look into USAonWatch (Neighborhood Watch) groups, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Fire Corps programs, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) programs, and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units. Ask them what you can do to prepare yourself and your community for disasters and how to get involved locally. National Day of Action is September 30th. During this grassroots national day of action, head over to this link and learn all about America’s Prepathon as well as register your preparedness activities.

Cell Phone Sally wants to remind you that 9-1-1 is a valuable resource and way to get or find help in any emergency situation. And remember- never use 9-1-1 for fun as it can clog up the phone lines for real emergencies.

Friday, September 2, 2016

In Texas Kari’s Law is now in Full Effect

Kari’s Law is officially in effect as of September 1st, 2016 in Texas. Business with multi-line telephone systems (MLTS), also known as PBX phones, must provide direct access to 9-1-1 without having to dial an additional digit such as 9. Texas is not the only state that has adopted a Kari’s Law- Illinois, Tennessee and Maryland have as well and more states are working on their own version. There is also a push at the federal level for a similar version of Kari’s Law which is working its way through legislation.

Kari’s Law represents a culmination of efforts in the aftermath of the tragic murder of Kari Hunt. For those who do not know the story, Kari Hunt met her estranged husband in a motel room in Marshall, Texas with their kids. During the meeting, Kari’s husband attacked her in the bathroom and ultimately killed her. But while this awful incident was taking place, Kari’s 9-year-old daughter attempted to dial 9-1-1 several times. Unfortunately, she could never get through because the hotel phone required you to dial a 9 first to get to an outside line. By the time help was able to arrive, it was too late.

Since Kari’s death, her father Hank Hunt has made it his mission to educate the public as well as elected officials across the U.S. about the important need to change all MLTS phones to provide direct access to 9-1-1. That means any phone that you would usually have to dial a number to get an outside line first (i.e. hotels, schools, large businesses, and hospitals) should now be able to dial 9-1-1 and get connected to 9-1-1 immediately.

It is important that businesses comply with this law. If for some reason the existing MLTS cannot be re-programmed or replaced, then a one-year waiver will be granted upon timely submission of an affidavit. The waiver as well as more information on this law and how it works is located at

CSEC created a PSA to bring awareness to the law. They also created a toolkit to assist 9-1-1 educators and coordinators with their efforts in educating businesses and the public. The toolkit includes a media release template, a brochure, a list of business outreach opportunities and a letter template to send out to business service users who have MLTS phones. You can find the toolkit here. Let’s make sure all businesses with MLTS phones provide direct access to 9-1-1 because it could and will ultimately help save lives.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Texting to 9-1-1 and What You Need to Know

When some people hear about texting to 9-1-1, they think, now why would you text to 9-1-1 instead of calling if you need help in an emergency? That is a great question and one we will explain to you along with everything else that texting to 9-1-1 entails. When you are done with this blog, you should have a better understanding of who texting is best suited for and how it is useful to some in emergencies, when you need it the most.

In May 2014, the four largest wireless carriers (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile) made text to 9-1-1 available at the request of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs, otherwise known as 9-1-1 centers). Since then, in Texas, the Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) has adopted policies in an effort to implement text to 9-1-1 to all 22 Council of Governments (COGs) by the end of 2018.

Texting to 9-1-1 was first introduced to assist the deaf and hard of hearing community as a way of getting help in an emergency. It was also recognized that texting to 9-1-1 would greatly benefit anyone in a situation where they could not speak or call for help, like a home burglary, abduction or having something caught in your throat making it difficult for you to speak.

While texting to 9-1-1 could be helpful in these situations, in most emergencies it is not. We want to encourage citizens to call 9-1-1 first because texting can potentially delay help from getting to those in need quickly. Texting should never be the first option for contacting 9-1-1, especially since it is currently only available in certain areas. It is important that the community remember to first call 9-1-1 in an emergency.

In Texas, there are some areas that you can text to 9-1-1. For those areas that you cannot, if you were to attempt to text 9-1-1, you would receive a bounce-back message requesting that you please call 9-1-1 for help. This is because whatever area you might be texting from might not currently have the capability to receive text messages. The FCC is updating information on their website regularly as counties and PSAPs add text to 9-1-1 services throughout the country. You can find more information by clicking here.

Remember, call if you can, text if you can’t. For more information on what CSEC is doing to help provide text to 9-1-1 services please click here:
Below is a great video from the Sarasota Sheriff's Office on Texting to 9-1-1. Check it out!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Celebrating EMS Professionals and the Important Work They Do

This year marks the 42nd year since President Gerald Ford authorized this week as a time to celebrate and recognize EMS practitioners for the incredible work they do in emergency services. May 15th-21st is an opportunity for local communities and medical personnel to honor EMS professionals who provide life-saving services every single day.

EMS practitioners not only save lives by responding to various medical emergencies including heart attacks and drug overdoses, but they also help deliver babies and provide comfort to those who need help at the most crucial of times. This is a job that isn’t for the faint of heart. These individuals are courageous, strong, empathetic, and brave.
The theme for 2016 is “Called to Care” and is a powerful and timely reminder of the commitment these individuals make every day when they go to work. People who choose to work in emergency services- whether it be fire, EMS, 9-1-1, or police- make a choice to care about other people living and surviving and choosing to do this through their profession. Not many people can handle this and it can take a huge toll on those who work in this industry.

That is why it is so important that we recognize these amazing individuals for the life-saving work they do and let them know how much we appreciate them! In honor of EMS Week, we are sharing an article from EMS Strong on 10 Scene Safety Tips to Get You Home Safe and Sound. You can read the article here:

Remember to thank an EMS professional today for the hard work they do each and every day! And please remember, if you ever find yourself in an emergency, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.

Get a copy of your own placemat like the one below by following this link:

Friday, May 6, 2016

May Marks Global Youth Traffic Safety Month

Each May youth across the nation come together to focus on one of the leading causes of death for teens- traffic-related crashes. Global Youth Traffic Safety Month was created to empower teens to create and teach each other about traffic safety education as well as supporting local law enforcement in their efforts to protect teen drivers.

The National Safety Council compiled a list of important data that parents might not be aware of but should know. Did you know?

·         Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens.

·         Teens crash most often because they are inexperienced – not because they take more risks behind the wheel.

·         Other teen passengers are one of the biggest distractions for teen drivers. Just one teen passenger raises a teen driver's fatal crash risk 44 percent. Two passengers doubles fatal crash risk. Three or more quadruples crash risk.

·         Most fatal nighttime crashes involving teen drivers happen between 9 p.m. and midnight.

·         More than half of teens killed in car crashes were not restrained by a seatbelt.

While these statistics are incredibly scary, together as a community we can do something about it through education and awareness. This year, the focus is on paying attention to your tires. The Cooper Tire & Rubber Foundation created a new program called “Tread Wisely” to promote driver and tire safety among teens. To learn more about this initiative, please visit

Traffic education is crucial now more than ever especially with cell phones being a major contributing factor to distracted driving. Help young drivers in your area have the safest summer they can by following these key steps!

Ø  Just Drive: Avoid all distractions – they can wait!

Ø  Always Buckle Up (Passengers too!)

Ø  NEVER drive impaired or ride with anyone else who is!

Ø  Plan your Route and your Ride: Always take the safest way and ride with safe drivers.

Ø  Stand up for your own Safety: Speak up and get out if you need to!

Ø  For parents: Model GOOD behavior! Teens learn driving habits from YOU!

Stay safe behind the wheel. And remember if you are ever in an emergency, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1. You could save a life.

Please do not text and drive! Watch this video:

Monday, April 25, 2016

What You Need to Know about Kari’s Law

For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Kari Hunt, you might not know much about Kari’s Law. But if you are in the 9-1-1 world you are very much aware of this tragic event and the outcomes involving direct access to 9-1-1 from a multi-line telephone system.

Here’s the background story:

On December 1, 2013, Kari Hunt of Marshall, Texas met her estranged husband with their three children at a motel room. What happened next was unthinkable. Kari’s estranged husband became violent. During the struggle that occurred in the bathroom of the hotel, the oldest daughter tried to dial 9-1-1 for help several times. Unfortunately, her call to 9-1-1 was never received. Like most hotels (and many business including schools) with MLTS phones, you have to dial 9 or another digit first to get an outside line before you can dial 9-1-1.

Kari tragically lost her life that day. Since then, her father Hank Hunt has diligently pushed for Kari’s Law, which would allow anyone trying to call 9-1-1 from a MLTS phone to reach 9-1-1 when they need it without having to first dial 9 for an outside line.

In May of 2015, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 788, also known as Kari’s Law. Kari's Law requires direct access to 9-1-1 service from a telephone system that provides outbound dialing without having to first dial a prefix or other access number or code.

The law also requires all capable MLTS to be programmed to send notification of a 911 call to a central location on the premises of the site a 9-1-1 call is placed. Under Kari's Law, if an MLTS system cannot meet these requirements without substantial cost, a 1-year waiver of these requirements may be granted. If a waiver is granted, an instructional sticker must be placed adjacent to all noncompliant, outbound capable telephones that the phone is unable to directly access 9-1-1 without first requiring a prefix.

For more background information on Kari’s Law and how it transpired, you can visit the CSEC page here: In the future, CSEC will also make available an MLTS toolkit to assist 9-1-1 coordinators and educators with their efforts in making sure businesses are compliant with the new law.

While Texas paved the way for this law, there is still much to be done. And at the federal level, they agree. Kari’s father Hank was in Washington D.C this month addressing the committee about the need for Kari’s law on a national level. A proposed federal Kari’s law has now moved its way to the full house energy and commerce committee to be voted on. While the bill still has a ways to go before becoming national law, it is a wonderful step in the right direction.

A Texas website will be coming soon that will provide information on Kari’s Law including where waiver requests are to be submitted, as well as to clarify the placement of instructional stickers on non-compliant handsets. Everyone should have direct access to 9-1-1 in an emergency when seconds count.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April Marks 9-1-1 Public Education Month and Telecommunicator’s Week!

April is a big month for 9-1-1. Not only do 9-1-1 educators have the opportunity to spread emergency services information all month long, but they also have the opportunity to show major appreciation to telecommunicators during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week  (April 10-16, 2016).

For those of you who do not know, telecommunicators, also known as call-takers or dispatchers, are individuals who work for an emergency service provider (usually 9-1-1) and are qualified to answer incoming emergency telephone calls and provide for the appropriate emergency response. They work incredibly hard each and every day answering tough calls in an effort to get the public whatever emergency service they need.  

In 1991, Congress recognized their efforts and created a week distinguishing who they are and the importance they play in our society. Then, in 2008, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to increase national awareness about the importance and appropriate use of 9-1-1. By creating a month dedicated to 9-1-1 education, Congress is able to encourage annual public awareness events, public advertising campaigns, target outreach activities and provide training for parents and teachers.

Below, we have compiled some important messages and current issues that the public should be more aware of so that they can get the most out of 9-1-1 services.

Call if You Can, Text if You Can’t: Many have the misconception that you can text 9-1-1 for help. We can do everything else through text, so why not contact 9-1-1 this way too? Unfortunately that is not the case. Luckily, many agencies are working hard to make this available across the United States. While more and more entities are incorporating text to 9-1-1, there is only still a small percentage of the country that has it available. If you see a sign or information in your region promoting that you can text to 9-1-1, then you can guarantee it is available. But if you do not, then please assume you can’t text to 9-1-1 and please call if you need help. Keep in mind that if you do text to 9-1-1 and it is NOT available in your area, you will receive a bounce back message instructing you to please call 9-1-1 for help.   

Know Your Location: Many people have smart phones these days. And on these smart phones we have maps that show us where we are, so it doesn’t seem farfetched to think that if we have GPS in our phone, then 9-1-1 should be able to find us when we call. This is actually not the case. When you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone/smart phone, dispatchers are only able to see approximately where you are and not specifically where you are located. Remember to always be aware and know your location. Look for mile markers, landmarks, cross streets and addresses on buildings. This information could potentially save your life or another life!

Stay Calm and Ready to Listen: When we call 9-1-1, it is usually for an emergency and this can be a stressful situation. But it is imperative that you try your best to stay calm and listen to the call-taker’s questions so that they can properly help you. A lot of people get confused when the call-taker is asking a lot of questions. They are panicking and want help right away. Trust us- the call-taker gets it and the reason they are asking questions is so that they can help you to the best of their ability. And help is usually always on the way already even while the call-taker is still asking questions.

As always, do not forget that 9-1-1 is for emergency use only and should never be abused or used for fun. It helps save lives and is an important tool in helping our society to get the aid they need. Call 9-1-1 when you or someone else’s life is in danger, or if there is a crime or fire occurring. We are here when you need us. For more information on 9-1-1 education, please visit


Friday, January 8, 2016

January Brings Awareness to Human Trafficking

During the month of January, various local and national agencies will be bringing awareness to the horrible crime of human trafficking. In today’s world, there is still a form of slavery where women, men and children from around the world are being forced against their will to perform labor, domestic servitude or get involved in sex trade. People think if they don’t see it then it isn’t happening, but unfortunately, human trafficking is a very serious crime that happens all over the United States.

It is estimated that billions of dollars are profited from human trafficking. It is because of this modern day slavery that bringing awareness to human trafficking is so critical. It is also important that we give a voice to those who have suffered at the hands of human traffickers. Many times victims will not come forward for help because of language barriers as well as fear of the trafficker or even law enforcement.

These traffickers use many methods to lure their victims including force, fraud and coercion. Once they have their victims, they force them into labor or sexual exploitation. Traffickers usually prey on those who might have psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardships, and/or political instability. Victims usually suffer severe trauma and can sometimes be unable to identify themselves or are too scared to ask for help.  

The Department of Homeland Security is now in its fifth year of the Blue Campaign. This is a national effort to combat human trafficking as well as protect the basic rights of freedom while bringing those who abuse others to justice. For more information on the Blue Campaign please visit here:

What can you do to help?

Do not ever attempt to confront a suspected trafficker or alert a victim to your suspicions. This is for your safety and the safety of the victim. Please call 9-1-1 (in the event that it is an emergency) for help or contact local authorities. You can also contact these tip lines directly:

•Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (1-866-347-2423) to report suspicious criminal activity to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tip Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The Tip Line is accessible outside the United States by calling 802-872-6199.

•Submit a tip at  Highly trained specialists take reports from both the public and law enforcement agencies on more than 400 laws enforced by ICE HSI, including those related to human trafficking.

•To get help from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).