Before calling 911, assess whether you can handle the situation yourself. For example, before sending the police to check on a “suspicious person,” consider whether it’s necessary to escalate things.
You could also consider talking to the person and asking if they need assistance. Chances are the situation isn’t as dangerous as you may initially think.
And if you feel threatened by someone, avoid reaching for a gun. A study by Harvard showed that guns usually lead to escalating a situation and are often used to intimidate rather than defend.2
Your community may have more services than you realize for helping with emergencies.
Take note of local organizations that help with emergencies of all kinds. Compile a list of the resources to keep on your fridge or inside a cabinet door.
You’ll likely find local organizations that are better equipped than police, fire departments, or ambulance services when it comes to handling more nuanced emergencies.
Look for collectives that specialize in helping with domestic abuse, stray animals, mental health, and youth outreach.
These are just a few that we found:
The people you know and love are sometimes the best resources in an emergency.
Whether it’s a ride to the hospital or a safe place to stay, creating a friendly environment on your street means neighbors can help you as much as you can help them when something serious comes up.
Getting to know your neighbors makes your street a friendlier and safer place to live. Learn how to start a neighborhood watch program in your area to keep everyone safe. Attending neighborhood council meetings and creating neighborhood phone trees are other ways to get to know people who live nearby and the concerns of your community.