Skip to content

How to stay calm in an emergency

Feb 19, 2020

Emergency situations can be extremely stressful. Even the most level-headed people often undergo a transformation when put under this kind of pressure. Some freeze, unable to act, while others may struggle to control their emotions, perhaps running around without actually accomplishing any useful action.

The good news is that you can train yourself to react in a certain way to emergencies. While training for specific situations, such as first aid emergencies and the outbreak of fire, can be helpful, you can also learn how to stay calm no matter what kind of crisis you face.

Why is it important to stay calm in an emergency?

Being able to keep a cool head and think clearly in an emergency can save lives. Not only your own, but the lives of other people in danger too. The key is to avoid panicking and try to focus on a task, such as putting out a small blaze or calling the emergency services. Your fast action could prevent a small-scale crisis from turning into a catastrophe.

Age UK Personal Alarms

Find out more

Training yourself to manage crisis situations

There are training courses you can go on to prepare for a range of emergency situations, from first aid to crisis and incident management training. Arming yourself with this life-saving knowledge is one of the best ways to prepare for an unexpected emergency. If the worst should happen, your knowledge and training can kick in. The more you educate yourself, the less likely you are to panic at a crucial moment.

Knowledge of first aid or emergency fire safety can also give you a goal to focus on. This is very important in a crisis, where there’s usually a lot going on and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You can even practice focusing on one task or goal in a noisy or chaotic environment, tuning everything else out.

Lastly, you need to learn how to manage your emotions. In a crisis, you need to breathe slowly and calmly to prevent your natural ‘fight or flight’ instinct from taking over. There are lots of ways to practice calming yourself and self-soothing, and it’ll all be worth it if you can master your emotions in an emergency.

How to contact emergency services

The first and most urgent step in most dangerous situations is to contact the emergency services. Here’s what number you should call, and when - as outlined by the police:

  • If someone’s life is at risk or they are in immediate danger - always call 999
  • If a crime is taking place right now - call 999
  • If you witness a traffic accident and you suspect someone has been injured - call 999
  • If you wish to report a crime that isn’t happening right now or you want to give information about a crime - call 101 (the non-emergency number).

In nearly all emergency situations, 999 is the number to call. Don’t hesitate or worry about using the wrong number - it’s always better to make the call, just in case.

Emergency phone call

Can I make an emergency call without service? 

There are some circumstances when it may not be possible to call 999. The first is when you don’t have a signal on any network. Mobile phones may display a message saying ‘emergency calls only’ and partly due to this, it is a common belief that you can call 999 when you have no service at all. However, mobile phones will only be able to reach the emergency services if there is a signal from a network available. If yours isn’t, your phone can piggyback on another network’s service for emergency calls. But if you’re underground or the signal is blocked by an obstacle such as a mountain, you may not be able to call at all.

It can also be useful to know that you can make a 999 call on a pay as you go phone even when you have no credit.

If your phone runs out of battery, you won’t be able to make any calls to the emergency services. In these situations, a personal alarm could be a real life-saver. This is an alarm pendant or button that you keep on your person, and it’s connected wirelessly to a base that plugs into your telephone socket. Press just one button and you can contact a 24-hour emergency response team.

These personal alarms are ideal for use at home, especially for older people. Many have quite a wide range (of around 75m) so the user can head out into the garden or any part of their home and still be within range.

If the person suffers a fall or other accident  and can’t get to the phone to call 999, or their phone has no battery or service, they can use their personal alarm. This offers great peace of mind to both the person and their family - as emergency help is only the push of a button away.

Age UK Personal Alarms

Find out more


Back to top