Early on in childhood, kids are taught that in the case of an emergency they should dial 911. However, sometimes youngsters either mistake a minor inconvenience for a crisis or think it's a good gag to make the call for pretty much no reason. Usually dispatchers are very annoyed by this, as it ties up lines and takes away time they could be using for actual urgent situations.
Nonetheless, sometimes the kid's reason for calling is so hilarious they can't help but get a good chuckle out of their misguided efforts. Whether it's a fart assault carried out by an older brother, or a kid forced to clean up a messy room against his will, they certainly offer us a lens into what children view as a big deal. Here are some of Reddit 911 operators' funniest, most outrageous stories about why a kid called 911. Content edited for clarity.
"My uncle is a dispatcher in my hometown and once received a call from a hysterical 4-year-old saying that his older brother had farted on him, and the kid hung up quickly after his explanation.
Laughing so hard he had to catch his breath before dialing, my uncle called the number back and got the kid's mother on the line. He explained to her the call he'd just received and that he just wanted to make sure everything was alright. She was mortified and kept apologizing over and over, but my uncle said it was a welcome moment of levity during a stressful holiday workweek."
"The kid in question must've been about three or four. Mommy put him down for a nap and went out jogging while daddy was outside doing yard work. The kid woke up early and looked for mommy around the house but couldn't find her, so he called 911.
Kid: 'I can't find Mommy anywhere!'
Operator: 'Is your daddy around?'
Kid: 'Yeah, but he's outside digging a big hole.'
Cops got there fast and didn't leave until mommy got back from her run."
"My cousin called 911 once because she was giving her lizard a bath and it went down the drain. It was a tiny house gecko named Steve. She called crying that Steve was drowning and had gone down the drain.
By the time the dispatcher figured out Steve was a gecko, the police and fire department were already pulling in. She was like 6 or so at the time but I still tease her about it. I do feel bad for Steve, though."
"When my little brother was in 1st grade, he was a super deep sleeper. Such a deep sleeper, in fact, that my sister was able to dress him in a frilly ballerina tutu while he was taking a nap.
I guess they'd just done the whole '911 is for emergencies' lecture at school because when he woke up he ran to the landline crying in a blubbering mess. I didn't know what was going on, but I knew he wasn't supposed to be playing with the phone so I pulled it out of his hand and hung it up.
About 5 minutes later, the single cop in our tiny town showed up in our driveway. He knocked on the door and my brother answered, still wearing the tutu. The cop looked down and said, 'Oh, I guess I found the emergency.'
He then sat down with my crying brother for about 20 minutes and tried to cheer him up by letting him turn on the police lights and even pretend to drive the car. Afterward he gave the expected lecture that calling 911 was for real emergencies and told him that if his big sister picked on him again, he should tell our parents before getting the police involved. It was a really funny day and ended up being a really cool moment for him."
"I had a six year old girl accidentally call 911 saying that her mommy and daddy were making whoopie. I had flashbacks of Family Feud and laughed so hard. I waited a few minutes and called back and her mom tried to play it off saying they were wrapping Christmas presents.
Yeah, sure lady. If your present is a new little brother or sister."
"My kid was 17 months old and impossible to tie down. While I was cooking dinner one night he went into the study and somehow dialed triple zero (911 in Australia). I think he was trying to talk to his grandma but panicked when a stranger's voice came down the line instead.
I caught him and hung up the phone, not knowing he'd actually dialed anyone, then went back to cooking butter chicken for dinner. Fourteen minutes later the police were on my doorstep.
They came in urgently, looking for 'an old man who might have fallen down.' The emergency line operator had asked several questions, but the only response she had gotten was heavy, labored breathing so she thought it was an old man too injured to speak. Luckily for us, it was just a sneaky and confused toddler wheezing.
We figured it out and I brought my kid out to meet the policemen. One of them said, 'Yeah, that'd be the perp. Look at the guilty look on his face.' Funnily enough, my kid did have an expression of extreme chagrin. Possibly the first and last time he ever felt guilty for anything."
"My dad was the Chief of Police when I was growing up, and I spent a lot of time at the station.
When I was 4 or 5, my mom wouldn't let me do something, so I called the emergency line (pre-911 days) and after the 'Police, what is your emergency' greeting, I very sternly requested that they arrest my mother.
The dispatcher recognized the address I was calling from and called my dad to tell him that I was on the emergency line and what I wanted.
I got a lecture that night, but from what my dad says, they had a good laugh about it at the station."
"A couple of years back I got a call from a kid who was about 6 or 7, stating that his brother (who was about the same age) had hit him. Since that's more of a parental than a police matter, I politely asked him if I could speak to a parent.
'NO!' was his reply. I lowered my voice an octave and said, 'Let me talk to your mom or dad,' only to get the same reply from the kid. Then I went into semi-angry but totally serious ADULT mode and firmly said, 'Put one of your parents on the phone or I'm sending the police to (his address).'
He paused for a moment, and then I could hear him start vomiting in the background out of fear. We did wind up sending the police out to chat with the young man as I was never able to speak to a parent to verify that everything was ok, and he received a long lecture."
"If you didn't know, cell phones with no service can still dial 911. It's a nuisance because we can't call them back and are rarely able to trace them. Also, some people give them to their kids to play with and they end up dialing 911 over and over.
One night it was so bad we sent an officer to look for the phone based off of rough GPS. The operator was warning the child that dialing 911 is illegal and he could get in trouble.
The kid, without missing a beat, said, 'Then put some minutes on my phone, wench!'
We kept that recording for a long time."
"One time my stepbrother decided to dial 911 on our landline and just left the phone there without saying anything. He was around 8-9 at the time and did it for kicks just to see what would happen.
We lived in the middle of backwoods nowhere and since there was a cop already in our area for something like somebody shooting off their weapon and a neighbor complaining, they sent the cop over to see what was up.
My bedroom was right next to the front door, which had a small glass window that you could see out of. My sister (also my stepbrother's age) got to the door before I could, saw the officer, and yelled, 'Oh no, it's a cop!' then proceeded to run down the hall while the cop was still standing at the door.
The officer was really not happy about that and had to come into the house to make sure that everything was okay (due to my sister's stupidity). He gave both my siblings a lecture while 12-year-old me was trying not to burst out laughing. Boy, did they both get chewed out by our parents after the officer left!"
"When I was about 4 years old and my younger brother was 1, both our parents were cops. My mom was working dispatch that day and my dad was the resident deputy of the tiny town we lived in about 20 miles out from a bigger city.
We also lived right next to an airstrip with no building or hangars, just a small runway for little planes to land on. Well, this day a plane had wrecked and my dad was off duty but decided to go take care of it since we lived like 200 feet away and he was a cop. However, he ill-advisedly left my 4-year-old self to look after my 18-month-old brother, who was just getting good at running around and being horrible.
The only thing I remember is standing in the kitchen trying to get to the snacks I wasn't supposed to have when this wretched smell hit me. I looked over and my younger brother has had a MAJOR blow out; there was poop going from his ankles all the way up his back into his pretty little curls. I instantly started crying because the tyke was known for such accidents.
Considering it an emergency I called 911, not knowing my mom was on dispatch. When she answered and I heard her voice I just started balling my eyes out, hyperventilating, and trying to explain my emergency. She realized it was me and asked, '(My name), honey, where is your dad?' and told her that he was off dealing with some plane crash.
I was distraught and my mom was freakin' ticked that my dad left us alone, but she walked me through how to put my brother in the bath like she did. This was 1993 so we didn't have a cordless phone, just a 20ft cord that only reached halfway down the hallway to the bathroom. So there I was, bawling and screaming to my mom from the bathroom that my brother was playing in poopy water and getting it all over me!
Years later when I was older, my parents told me that as soon as my dad made it to the plane the first responders sent him back because my mom dispatched them and said that if he didn't get his butt back home to the kids, they'd be taking out a body. C'mon, dad, don't leave little kids alone!"
"I have two favorites, the first of which was short and sweet:
Me: '911, where's your emergency?'
Kid: 'Wow, this really is the cops!' Click
For the second one, I answered and there was a second of giggling before the phone disconnected. As with all hang-ups, I called back and a child answered. 'Hi, this is (my name) from the 911 center. We just received a call from this line.' Click
I called back again, and it rang at least six or seven times before a very tired sounding man answered. 'Hi, this is (my name) from the 911 center, we just received a call from this line?'
'No,' he responded, obviously not fully awake.
'Yes sir, we heard some noises then we called back and a child answered.'
There was a pause and then we hear him shout, 'Jane, John, get in here, now! Did one of you call 911?!'
Pause for what I can only assume was some vigorous head shaking. 'The police are on the phone and say someone did!'
Then there was a loud gasp. 'John did it, daddy! I told him not to! I can't go to jail!' She ratted him out immediately. It turned out the poor dad was home sick with the flu and the mom had run to the store thinking they'd be fine watching TV for 20 minutes. That was not the case."
"I was maybe 5 years old when this happened. I remember playing with all my toys and making a huge mess all over the house. I was finally finished playing for the evening when my father asked that I pick everything up and put it away. I refused. There was a lot of back and forth with him making threats about how much trouble I'd be in should I fail to comply, but I stood my ground and continued to ignore him.
As things got more heated, I don't recall the 'trigger moment,' but I called 9-1-1 and said, 'My dad is trying to make me do things that I don't wanna do.' I was too innocent to realize that, to the authorities, that sounded like my dad was abusing me. The police came and he clarified the situation, but they still recommended that my family get help from a social worker.
They visited probably 2-3 times in total and I was given the good-touch/bad-touch routine, and I also tried to explain that the actual issue was over picking up Legos. The social worker also spent time with my parents, I assume to coach them on not raising a little punk. I was grounded for a whole summer after that."
"I had a little one call into our center about 10 times just so she could tell us that she loved us and appreciated us, and that we were doing such a great job. Our center is pretty big, so she would get a different person almost every time.
However, if she got you more than once, she would say something like, "Nooo, I already told you! I need to tell someone else. You're great, but they need to know they're great, too! Okay, I love you, bye!'
It was all from a disconnected cell and we weren't really getting a great phase on her location, but she stopped after about an hour so it wasn't super concerning. It made my day! I hope she grows up and keeps that big heart of hers, we need more people like her in the world."
"This happened a few years back when my oldest (who was three at the time) was supposed to be sleeping in the master bedroom while my wife was with some friends and I was watching football on the television. Apparently, my son wasn't sleeping because he got hold of my cell phone and somehow dialed 911.
At that point in the game, the referees were doing their best to blow the game for my team and, as is often the case, I had the volume turned down so that I didn't have to listen to the announcers and to keep things quiet for my sleeping son.
Of course, that all went out the window when the operator heard me cursing and, apparently, threatening physical harm to the refs. Hearing only my side of the argument and sensing an escalation of the situation, the police were dispatched. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when the officer came knocking. We pieced the story together, but he called my wife to make sure that everything was good on her end. After she stopped laughing, she explained to the officer that I can get pretty worked up while watching a game. The cop got a chuckle and watched the last minute or two (we lost) with me before leaving."
"My mom had told me (probably with much more sincere and somber tone than I interpreted) that if I was ever in trouble or needed something, I could call 911 to reach the police. She also mentioned that it didn't matter where I was or if I had any money because dialing 911 was free (this was in the '90s so pay phones were still a thing).
One day we were at the park and I wanted a gumball from the little machine. I didn't have any money and my mom didn't have any change, so I thought, 'Hmm, maybe the police will have a quarter I can borrow.'
I proceeded to call 911 and ask for change for my gumball. I obviously knew it was a wrong thing to do because I got scared after the lady said hello and hung up. This led to about three police officers showing up to nothing but a bratty child who wanted a treat. My mom was mortified and I learned a lesson about what warrants a phone call to 911."
"Me: '911, what's your emergency?'
Kid: 'Uh...yeah...I...we need a...a vegetarian.'
Me: (long pause) 'A what?'
Kid: 'A vegetarian.'
Me: (Silence as I processed)
Kid: 'For my dog, he's sick.'
Me: 'Ohhh, okay you need a veterinarian. Sorry buddy, but 911 is for human emergencies!'
Kid: 'Oh, okay, bye.'
The kid sounded like he was 10 to 12 years old and probably should have known better."
"I had a little boy call 911 to tell me he was hungry and needed breakfast. I asked him if he was alone and he said no, his sister was watching him but she was sleeping. I told him he should go wake his sister to have her make him breakfast, but he said that she was really mean and wouldn't be nice to him.
I said, 'Ok, you stay in the house and I will take care of this.' His mom was an EMT and I knew the family, so I called his grandma and had her go take care of the breakfast crisis. His sister had no idea he was hungry, and his mom later called to apologize so I just asked her to explain the general rules of 911 to him."
"My 5-year-old sister called 911 to call for help in finding a lost sock and she was frustrated because we weren't helping her. Unbeknownst to us, she made the call in her room and didn't mention anything to anyone.
The cops knocked on the door and my brother answered. They flipped their lids as soon as they saw him and start shouting orders at him while keeping their hands on their holsters. They kept asking where the child was and she heard the commotion and walked out.
One officer questioned my brother near their patrol car while the other talked to my sister. Once they realized what was really going on, they breathed a sigh of relief. They mentioned that the 911 operator received a call from a child asking for help that then hung up. They also said that they've been dealing with a child trafficking case and assumed the worst. They apologized and left, but Child Protective Services still came by a few days later to check us."