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A non-emergency helpline in various places throughout North America, dialing 3-1-1 allows local citizens to get the assistance they need without taking up the time of operators who might be needed for a more urgent situation.

National 311 Day seeks to educate and remind people that they can use this number to get the resources and information they need for daily situations and non-emergencies!

History of National 311 Day

While National 311 Day might be a bit more recent, its history dates back almost three decades to 1996.

This was the year when the city of Baltimore, Maryland, installed the non-emergency service number. The system was founded in hopes that people who needed assistance but were not in a true emergency would dial 3-1-1 on their telephones.

That way, the call would go to the back of the queue, leaving the true emergencies (9-1-1) to be handled first.

Several cities followed Baltimore’s example, building the 311 service into their emergency networks. The largest such service was established in New York City in 2003. Two years after this, some major cities in Canada began using the number in the same manner.

The first National 311 Day was observed in 2020 and has been an annual event to raise awareness and public knowledge about this number, which allows for reporting concerns without blocking access for those with true emergencies.

How to Celebrate National 311 Day

Those who are new to National 311 Day might want to brush up on its purpose and learn a bit more about how to use it.

Others might be interested in sharing it with their community! Check out a couple of these ideas for celebrating this event:

Learn When to Use 311

This event is intended to improve the knowledge of the folks who might benefit from the use of 3-1-1.

Average citizens in the US and Canada may have a wide range of reasons for needing to contact local authorities in a non-emergency situation, from parking violations to graffiti removal, from rodent infestations to dead animal removal.

Consider some of these other reasons that dialing 3-1-1 would be the right choice:

  • Roadway concerns like abandoned vehicles, potholes, debris and more
  • Housing and code violation or noise complaints
  • Public safety concerns
  • Parks and recreation concerns

Teach Kids About 311

Most parents and teachers are on top of teaching their children about how to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency, but older kids, especially teens, can also benefit from the use of dialing 3-1-1 if they know it isn’t a life-or-death situation.

In honor of National 311 Day, take some time to have a conversation with the kids in your life about the different reasons this number would be useful.

Go over different scenarios and ask them to decide which number they might dial, then guide them in making the right choice.

Every family hopes that their kids won’t ever need emergency numbers, but if they do, it’s vital to be prepared!

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