Don't call 911 just because your power went out: B.C. dispatchers
VANCOUVER -- Once again, B.C. dispatchers are having to remind the public of the appropriate uses of 911.
Call volumes were high over the weekend when a windstorm blew through, knocking out power to parts of the province.
But that's not an appropriate reason to call B.C.'s largest emergency communications centre, E-Comm said in a post on Twitter.
"Many people are continuing to report power outages. Please remember that our call takers can't provide info on outages or restoration," the social media post said.
"911 is for emergencies only."
Instead, people will power-related inquiries are asked to reach out to BC Hydro. The provider posts regular updates online and on social media during outages, including Sunday's, during which some were in the dark for hours.
It's not the first time an outage has prompted a spike in calls. Back in November, when thousands of hydro customers were in the dark for about an hour, there was also a surge in 911 calls.
Questions ranged, E-Comm said at the time, from when the power would be back to how four-way stops work.
In December, the call centre reported another non-emergency tying up phone lines. An increasing number of British Columbians were calling 911 to report people breaking provincial COVID-19 health orders.
Callers reported a variety of violations including house parties, neighbours hosting guests and issues with physical distancing in restaurants.
These behaviours can be reported, but are not emergencies. Instead, these tips should be given to bylaw or police officers through non-emergency lines.
And each year, E-Comm puts out a "top 10" list of worst reasons for calling 911.
This year's list included one caller who asked if it was illegal to own a trampoline during the pandemic, and another enquired about the time.
A third called to complain that the second-hand mattress they bought was more soiled than advertised, according to E-Comm.
Callers also complained that their food delivery never arrived, asked questions about a lockdown, hoped for help in applying for CERB and reported a bank card stuck in an ATM, among other non-emergency issues.