Emergency number 911 is busy?

September 29, 2006

Everyone knows which number to dial if there is an emergency: 911. But what if this number is busy and you are put on hold (it’s often the case!)… I share with you some tips I received from “ICE Safety Solutions“, a company giving safety trainings.

1) If you dial 911 from a landscape phone (e.g. from home), you will be dispatched automatically to the nearest “Fire Emergency Line”. You will receive help directly and don’t have to wait.

2) If you dial 911 from a cell phone, the system doesn’t know where you are (as opposite with a landscape phone) and you will arrive to a Central Dispatching of Emergency. You have great chances to be put on hold because of huge traffic to this Central Dispatching. When you get someone, they will ask you in which State and City you are and then will dispatch you to your local “Fire Emergency Line”.

Two things you can do if you are put on hold:

  • Dial 411 (Directory search) and ask for the “Fire Emergency Line” of the city where you are. The number given to you is the DIRECT number of Fire Emergency Line and avoids you the Central Dispatching of 911.
  • Dial the DIRECT number of Fire Emergency Line that you previously put in your cell phone. For example, I already programmed in my cell phone the direct number of Fire Emergency Line of the nearest cities  where I live (San Jose- Milpitas-Sunnyvale) in case of I have an accident on the road in the neighbourhood.

Tip: Program your local emergency phone number into your cell phone so you have it handy in case of an emergency. Look here to find the phone numbers (for the Bay Area only).

Tip: Before to call the 911 from a cell phone, be sure to know in which State and City you are (it will be the first question that the Central Dispatcher will ask you).


International call

September 15, 2006

To call a foreign country from USA, you should dial:

011 + Country Code + phone number

Some Country Code:

  • Belgium: 32
  • France: 33
  • Netherlands: 31
  • UK: 44
  • Spain: 34
  • Italy:39
  • Germany: 49

If you are looking for other country codes, click here.

Tip: If you are calling from a mobile, it is shortest to introduce “+” instead of 011. For example, instead to introduce:  

                            011 – country code – phone number

you can introduce:  +    – country code – phone number.


August 22, 2006

Skype is an excellent way of keeping in touch while you are expat. Skype’s internet telephony solutions allow you to talk to your friends and family for free. Skype also allows you to make outgoing calls to landlines and cell phones (a service you pay for, but at much lower rates than the alternatives) as well as use its instant messaging feature. Skype lets you make free calls over the Internet.  It’s free to download and you can add on voicemail for a small fee.

Tip: All calls from Skype to landlines and mobiles within the US and Canada are also free till the end of the year.