911 Emergency

When to call 911

If your health, safety or property is threatened and you need help right away.

If you’re not sure if your situation is an emergency. The 911 call taker will determine if you need immediate help.

NOT for general inquiries such as calls to police concerning ongoing investigations, or calls to fire departments about community events. Unnecessary calls tie up valuable resources.

  • 911 is for emergencies only. People who abuse the system by intentionally placing calls that are not 911 emergencies can be charged and face serious penalties.
  • If you accidentally call 911 do NOT hang up. Stay on the line to alert the 911 call taker that the call was accidental. If you hang up, the 911 call taker will call you back and if they don’t reach you, they may contact emergency services.
  • Teach children when it is okay to call 911 and when it is not. Be sure to explain that 911 is for emergencies only.
See the video and a full list of non-emergency numbers

Facts about 911

There is no charge to call 911 from any phone, including pay phones. Anyone in Nova Scotia can call 911.

When you call 911, it is very important that you stay on the line with the 911 call taker and answer all the questions. Expect to be asked:

  • the nature of the emergency
  • the complete address of the emergency, including civic address number, street name and type, community and county
  • to confirm the telephone number you are calling from

How to call 911

From a land line:
When you call from a land-line telephone, 911 will know:

  • your address
  • your phone number (even if it is a non-listed or non-published number)
  • police, fire and medical responders for your area

If you call 911 from a land-line telephone and you cannot speak, emergency responders can still be dispatched because your address appears on the 911 call taker’s screen.

It’s important to have at least one land-line phone that plugs directly into the wall. Cordless phones need electricity and won’t work during power outages.

From a cell phone:
When you call 911 from a cell phone, the 911 call taker will know your approximate location. It’s important that you can provide details about where the emergency is.

If you see an emergency while driving, pull over safely as soon as you can and call 911.

When you call 911, take note of distance markers or any other road signs and civic numbers in the immediate area. This will help emergency responders find your location.

Through an Internet phone service (VoIP):
When you call 911 over the internet, be aware that:

  • Your phone number and address may not be available to the 911 call taker
  • Your call may not be sent directly to a 911 call centre in Nova Scotia
  • If your power or internet service is interrupted, you will not be able to call 911

Text with 9-1-1 service; for those with hearing or speech impairments:
Nova Scotians who are deaf, deafened, hard of hearing or with speech impairments can use Text with 9-1-1 for emergency services. They must register their cell phone number with their wireless provider, and ensure they have a compatible cell phone. In an emergency, they call 9-1-1 and the emergency call centre will automatically receive notification to begin the conversation by text message.

With a TTY device:
911 call takers can receive 911 calls directly from individuals who are using a TTY device for the hearing or speech impaired.

When you don’t speak English or French:
911 call takers have access to interpreters in more than 170 languages.

Is your civic address visible from the street?

So emergency responders can find you quickly, make sure that:
  • your civic address is visible from the street, day or night. White numbers on a reflective blue background work best.
  • every person in your home or business knows the correct civic address.
  • you post the civic address by the telephone.