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Our most commonly asked questions for grades K-3 are:
 How do you call for help?
 What is an emergency?
 What is 911?
 What is the Emergency Alert System (EAS)?
 How does a cell phone work?
 What is a cell phone tower?
 What year were cell phones invented?
 What do the numbers in a phone number do?
 How does a radio work?
ringing 911 telephone How do you call for help?
To call for help dial 9-1-1 on any phone that is working, you will be connected to an emergency operator, called a dispatcher. The dispatcher immediately connects you to the person that can help. 9-1-1 emergency services should be use to report a crime in progress or a fire, or to request an ambulance. 9-1-1 should be used only when you have an emergency. Using 911 for non-emergency calls may delay the arrival of help for people caught in real emergencies.
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Emergency Hospital sign What is an emergency?
An emergency is when there is danger (like a fire) or when someone is badly hurt. Don't let the word scare you. You can be a big help when there is danger or when someone is hurt – just dial 9-1-1 . If you have questions about what an emergency is, it is best to talk to your parents or another adult.
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911 operator What is 911?
Dialing 9-1-1 on your home phone is the fastest way you can get help for yourself or someone else. 9-1-1 was put into operation in 1968 as the number to call for emergency help anywhere in the United States to make getting emergency help faster and easier.

Before 9-1-1 was put into operation, in an emergency, people had to find the right phone number in the phone book or through an operator. If there was a fire, people phoned the fire department. If there was a crime, people called the police. If someone got hurt, an ambulance had to be called. Finding a number for any of these emergency services could be very confusing, especially if the person calling was in a hurry or in an unfamiliar area. But today, you only need to know one number for emergency help. You can reach the fire department, the police, or an ambulance by simply dialing 911. For more information about 9-1-1 visit http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/er/911.html.

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EAS alert on TV What is the Emergency Alert System (EAS)?
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires TV broadcasters, radio broadcasters, cable television systems, satellite television providers and many others to offer the ability to get information to as many people as possible in the U.S. during a national emergency. The EAS system may also be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information such as AMBER (missing children) alerts and emergency weather information for specific areas. The FCC works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) to implement EAS at the federal level. The FCC’s goal is to make the EAS capable of distributing emergency information as quickly as possible to as many people as possible.
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image of cellphone and towerHow does a cell phone work?
A cell phone is a special type of phone that is not connected to your telephone in the house and works both inside and away from your house. For example, you can use a cell phone to make and receive calls in your car, at the park, at the mall, or even at the beach. A cell phone turns your voice into a special type of electricity and sends it over the air to a nearby cell tower; the tower sends your voice to the person you are calling. Cell phones work well when they are near cell towers, but not so well if they are too far away from a cell tower. Cell phones are important because they let us keep in touch with our families when we are away from the house, and can be used almost anywhere to make 9-1-1 calls in case of an emergency. Some cell phones have games you can play; some let you send email or send instant messages to your friends; and some let you take pictures and send them to people.
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cellular tower What is a cell phone tower?
A cell phone tower acts like an antenna. It picks up the call from your cell phone and sends it to the person you are calling so that you can talk to them.

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What year were cell phones invented?
In 1973 Martin Cooper invented the first cell phone. It weighed two pounds! Because they were so big and expensive, at first cell phones were only used by the military and businesses. By 1983 they were smaller and much less expensive and used by more people in the general population.
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What do the numbers in a phone number do?
The telephone number that you dial to call somebody is an address, similar to the street address of your home. In the United States, all phone numbers have a total of 10 digits. The numbering plan was developed by AT&T in 1947. It uses three blocks of numbers - two blocks of three digits and a single block of four digits. It is used for wireline and cell phones.
Area code Prefix Line number
301 555 0703

Area code – A different area code is assigned to each specific geographic region in the United States, such as a city or a part of a state. In the example above, the geographic region “301” is part of Maryland. Area codes are assigned by the US Government.
Prefix – The first 3 digits of what you think of as your phone number are called the prefix. This prefix originally referred to the specific telephone company switch that a phone line connected to. Each switch at a phone company's central office had a special three-digit number.
Line number – The last four digits of your phone number is called the line number. It is the number assigned to the phone line that runs into your home or a business. The line number is assigned to the phone line and not to the phone you are using. Because the phone number is not assigned to the phone, the phone can be changed and you can even add more phones to the same line.
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image of radioHow does a radio work?
Radio signals are made up of two kinds of waves: “audio” (or sound) waves represent the sounds being sent to the audience and radio frequency waves travel with these sound waves to "carry" them to radios in homes and car, for example. All waves have three parts: a wavelength, an amplitude and a frequency. Each of these parts can be changed to carry information.
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On April 3, 1973, Martin Cooper made the first cellular phone call.



last reviewed/updated on 08/13/09 

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