Although smartphones can help us retrieve virtually any bit of information we’re after, they don’t always do so as quickly as we’d like. For some situations, having a one-touch connection to help or resources is vital. Check out some numbers that you should have stored in your phone so they're immediately at hand when time is of the essence.
1. POISON CONTROL (800-222-1222)
For households with children (and accident-prone adults), getting quick advice on the proper protocol for dealing with the accidental ingestion of chemicals can be a life-saver. Poison Control also offers information on snake bites and recalled food items.
2. OVERSEAS CITIZENS SERVICES (202-501-4444)
International travel can get hairy if you happen to fall ill or tumble into a foreign bureaucracy. To help you navigate unfamiliar territory, the Consular Affairs office can assign a caseworker to help you get home safely.
3. YOUR UTILITY COMPANY
You can obtain—or report—information about power outages or suspected gas leaks to your local utility company, which is better equipped to respond to those issues than emergency workers.
4. HIGHWAY EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE (VARIES BY STATE)
If you’ve experienced a motor vehicle breakdown without injury, you may be better off contacting your state’s emergency highway dispatch instead of 911. Operators can also assist with hazardous spills and reports of reckless or dangerous driving.
5. ANIMAL CONTROL
Contacting your local animal welfare office goes beyond getting someone to corral a wild trespasser: You can also inform them of wounded animals on the road, suspected cases of animal cruelty, or your own lost pet.
6. A LOCKSMITH
Getting locked out of a residence with perishable groceries in the car or a child that needs to use the bathroom is not a great time to start searching for locksmiths. Research and pick one so the number's available when you need it.
7. ANIMAL POISON CONTROL (888-426-4435)
If you suspect your pet has swallowed something toxic and want advice before getting to the vet, calling the ASPCA national hotline for animal-related poisonings could help. Be aware there might be a consultation fee, so have payment information ready.
8. LOST CREDIT CARD HOTLINE
If you find yourself reaching for a credit or debit card that’s no longer in your wallet, you’ll want to act quickly to make sure the issuing provider cancels or suspends the account. Have numbers for each of your card’s customer affairs office so you can avoid having to argue against unauthorized charges.
9. CAR INSURANCE CLAIMS
After contacting medical assistance, your insurance company becomes the biggest priority following a vehicular accident. Keep them on speed-dial to report details while they’re still fresh in your mind.
10. ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE
Membership with an automotive club can be handy when a tire goes flat or you happen to lock yourself out of your vehicle.
11. INTERNATIONAL 911
If you’re going to be traveling, take some time to learn your destination's corresponding 911 service. The U.S. Bureau of Consumer Affairs has a list [PDF] of numbers for fire, ambulance, and police assistance.