Call When You Can …Text When You Can’t

On February 16, 1968, State Senator Rankin Fite phoned the police chief in Haleyville, Alabama. hq720 Though the men had spoken before, this call was different.  It was the first time 9-1-1, the new nationwide emergency number was used.  Eleven years earlier, the National Association of Fire Chiefs proposed the designation of an emergency call number which was unique, easy to remember, and easy to dial.

Today, 9-1-1 is the universal emergency number in the US, Canada, parts of Mexico, the Philippines, and beyond.  Other countries may use a different emergency number sequence.  When travelling abroad, learn the universal emergency number for the area you are visiting.

The National Emergency Number Association estimates that 240 million 9-1-1 calls are made annually in the US.  And, 70% of those are made on wireless devices.  To make it easier for wireless callers to access 9-1-1, NJ introduced Text to 9-1-1 last fall.  The ability to text is helpful to those unable to talk in an emergency and to those with hearing impairments or speech disorders.

How to send a 9-1-1 text

  • Open the message app on or phone or wireless device
  • In the “To” field, type “911” with no punctuation
  • In the message field, type the location (address and municipality) and a brief description of the problem (ex. 123 Main St Franklin I hear someone breaking in)
  • Press “Send”
  • Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.  Keep text messages brief and concise.

 

When to text 9-1-1

If you have a speech or hearing impairment, notify 9-1-1 so they can inform responders

If speaking may cause you harm such as a break-in or domestic violence.  REMEMBER OT SILENCE YOUR PHONE SO THE SOUND OF THE 9-1-1 REPLY DOESN’T GIVE YOU AWAY.

If you are with a group and some members are doing something dangerous or illegal

If lack of service makes a voice call impossible, you may be able to get data service to send a text

DO NOT attempt to send videos or photos.  Limit your message to TEXT ONLY. Be as specific as possible about your location.  Provide as much of the following as possible:

  •                 Exact address including unit/apartment number and city
  •                 Business name
  •                 Names of both streets at the nearest intersection
  •                 Landmarks

Once you have begun texting, do no end the session until then 9-1-1 operator instructs you to do so.  Text to 9-1-1 cannot include more than 1 person. Do not copy your emergency to anyone other than

9-1-1. Wait until you are safe to notify others.  Translation services for text to 9-1-1 are not available.  Text in English only.

 

Have you met the Wexters?

Whether or not you can place the name, you have met the Wexters.  You’ve probably bumped into them on the street.  The Wexters are folks who walk and text at the same time.fear-of-the-zombie-apocalypse

You’ve seen these distracted pedestrians ambling down the sidewalk, through the parking lot, and across the street with eyes down as they busily text, talk, or listen to music all at the same time.  With no idea what is going on around them, the Wexters are dangerous to themselves and others.

There are reports of distracted pedestrians that have walked into utility and sign posts, bumped into walls and other pedestrians, and stepped in front of moving cars. Occasionally, we hear of the distracted pedestrian who walked into a glass door or into a fountain.  Let us not forget the woman who fell into Lake Michigan.  A study published by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) revealed 40% have witnessed a distracted pedestrian incident and 25% admitted their own involvement in an incident.

It’s easy to laugh.  In fact, 22% of AAOS respondents think distracted walking mishaps are “funny.”  But incidents like these are no joke.  Serious injuries can and do occur.  In 2013, Ohio State University released a nationwide study which reported 256 distracted pedestrian emergency room visits in 2005.  Five years later, in 2010, the number rose more than 500% to 1,506.  This does not account for visits to personal physicians.

Avoid becoming a Wexter:

  • Keep volume on headphone low enough to hear traffic.
  • Focus on the people, objects, and obstacles around you.
  • Obey traffic signals.  Don’t jaywalk.
  • Look up especially at curbs, stairs, and escalators.
  • If you must make a call or text, step to the side, out of the way of pedestrians and traffic.

Photo credit: Found online. Unable to trace source

O Tannenbaum, How Lovely Are Your Branches

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

In NJ and around the world, cutting down a Christmas tree has become a family tradition.  On a crisp December day, Mom and Dad bundle up the kids, pile into the car, and head out to a tree farm.  Hack saw in hand, they trek through the fields and over the hills inspecting, rejecting, and finally, finding the perfect tree.  Alternatively, the family stops at a nearby lot and selects a pre-cut tree.  Wherever the tree is purchased, it has to be brought home.  That’s when the trouble starts.

While this stately tree may fit perfectly in front of your picture window, it may be a bit oversized for your car.  How do you transport your Tannenbaum safely from field to foyer?

The folks at www.cars.com asked the experts at the National Christmas Tree Association for some tips on transporting your tree.

  • Get your Christmas tree netted before leaving the lot to make it more manageable. If it’s going on the roof, the trunk should be facing front.
  • Make sure to select a tree that will either fit inside your cargo area or on top of your roof. A roof rack is a good idea.
  • Have enough rope or cord to wrap around the tree and secure it to the roof rack or to cargo hooks.
  • Protect the cargo area or roof with a tarp or blanket.
  • Before leaving the lot, give the tree a good tug to make sure it’s secure.
  • Drive slowly and avoid the highway. Heavy objects affect your vehicle’s center of gravity and consequently emergency handling.

The NJ State Police emphasize that improperly secured trees can cause the tree to slide down the windshield and obstructing the driver’s view or falling off the roof and strike another vehicle.  They suggest planning ahead and arrive in a vehicle to support the size of tree you select.

Whether your holiday plans call for “rockin’ around the Christmas tree,” or sitting in quiet contemplation, make sure you and your tree arrive home safely.

“Waes Hael” and Be Safe

carolingLike many traditions, caroling harkens back to olden times.  On Twelfth Night, people in the apple growing regions of southern and western England gathered in orchards for wassailing. Because wages were often paid in apple cider, a bountiful harvest was necessary for the livelihood of the landowner and laborers.  Dancing and singing traditional songs, the people paraded through the orchards pouring apple cider on the trees and settling cider soaked bread on branches to chase away evil spirits.  They toasted the apple trees with a hearty “waes hael” (good health.)

Today, families and friends keep the tradition alive with a night of caroling.  Like the ancients, they walk through neighborhoods singing favorite carols and perhaps stopping for food and drink.

Unlike the ancients, carolers today may be walking on cold nights and icy sidewalks.  Keep these winter walking tips in mind.

  • Bundle up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarves.
  • Wear sensible, warm, waterproof boots for snowy or very cold nights.
  • Dress in layers.
  • Stay hydrated.  Carry a thermos with water or hot cocoa.
  • Carry a battery operated lantern or a flashlight to light the walk and to be seen by drivers. Be visible.

Have a great time!