Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Land Line

Like many people living in the twenty-first century, we dropped our land line. We had one for a while when we were in our old house, but as we started relying more and more on our cell phones, eventually it got to the point where the only people who called the land line were solicitors and David's grandma. For some reason, it was kind of hard for me to let it go, but David convinced me that it was silly to spend money every month on something we didn't use. And so we dropped it.

I haven't missed the landline at all. We've never had one in this house, and we've never needed one.

But I have a tendency to go over worst-case scenarios in my head, and with two little ones, many of these worst-case scenario visions/fears/anxieties involve having to dial 911.

Except, what if I can't find my phone?

At least twice a day, I find myself hunting for my cell phone. It's just too easy to set it down when I get distracted by something (read: someone) and then I forget where I put it. I'll find it a little while later in a closet, on top of the towel rack in the bathroom, next to the olive oil on the kitchen counter.

The point is, I can't always put my hands on it immediately. And I often put it somewhere that Zuzu can't reach it. Plus I'd have to teach her how to use it. Not to mention that she doesn't know the passcode to unlock it.

Anyway, lately, I've been thinking what would happen if... And I was worried enough about it that I talked to David about maybe getting a land line again.

I asked a few friends about this when we got together for a BBQ over the weekend. Of the five couples there, only one had a land line. And all of those who relied on cell phones only had worried about the 911-emergency issue as well. I mentioned that we were seriously considering getting a land line, if only to give me some peace of mind about it.

Jamie pointed out that you don't have to unlock a cell phone to dial 911, so a kid could do it without knowing your passcode (though she admitted that she's never shown her 4 1/2 year old how to do that). The emergency feature on the phone does solve the problem of not wanting your kids to know your pass code, but doesn't do a lot of good if you can't FIND your phone in an emergency.

Beth's husband, Curt, came in during our conversation and made a pretty brilliant suggestion. Instead of paying a monthly fee for a land line, he suggested we could each buy a pre-paid cell phone and keep it in one place in the house, designated for emergency use only.

I really like this idea! I would definitely feel better knowing there is always a phone available (and not buried in the bottom of my purse or sitting on the ironing board in my closet), should I need to use it. My cell phone could still be off-limits to Zuzu, but eventually we can teach her how to dial 911 on the emergency phone.

What do you think? Would you buy a pre-paid phone just to have in case of emergencies? Do you have a land line? If you have older kids, have you taught them to dial 911 on a cell phone? Do you freak out about not being able to find your cell phone in an emergency? Do you have another solution? (Please don't say hip holster!)

Updated to add: We'll be contacting our telephone provider this week to see what our options are. (And by "we" I mean David because in the division of household duties, "Talk to strangers on the telephone" falls in his column. Also, he owes me for the Code Brown Bathtub Situation I had to deal with last night while he was out to dinner.) 

I also found this post really helpful, and, unfortunately, Missouri is not on this list of "soft-dial" states.


  1. We have one for when we have babysitters at night if we go out (twice a month LOL). I want to always be able to get ahold of them and I don;t necessarily want them on their cell phones all night if the kids are awake. It;s so cheap that who cares? If you want one, have one.

  2. We kept our land line for exactly that reason. I waffled and in the end when I phoned the phone/cable/internet company it was only a $5 savings/year to lose the land line since we bundle all our services together. So for $5 I thought it was worth peace of mind. Call the company - I find if you ask to reduce the charges they often comply - there's a lot of competition and everything is negotiable!

  3. A prepaid that you keep in a safe place was exactly what I was going to suggest.

    We didn't have a landline in Germany (where we lived for 21 months), and it was never an issue. I honestly can't remember if we had one where we lived previously (for 15 months), which goes to show how much we had to use it.) We have one here in England, but only because we couldn't figure out how not to, and it has occasionally be useful -- my husband's phone is dying, he works from home, and it's nice to have a reliable phone that people can reach him at during the day.

    I have never had to call 911, and I rarely misplace my phone. It's either in my school bag, my pocket, or plugged in to charge.

  4. If you have a traditional phone plugged in, no cordless, you can still dial 911, no dial tone required. Hope that helps!

  5. What about a free internet based phone? We have an Ooma Telo. It works like a regular phone. Plug in your regular landline phone, cordless etc. but it works through the internet. You basically invest $100 and you have a free landline. Of course, if your internet is down, it won't work, but otherwise its cool. For a small fee, we can add an additional line etc. Was thinking of doing that when the kids are older. I understand that most don't use the landline, but I can't imagine have no phone access as a kid unless I borrowed my parents cell. I feel like they will be calling their friends soon enough, and my kids aren't getting their own cell for a LONG time. You could even buy a phone that has the photos on it of the grandparents, 911 etc. for kids to dial easily. My friend looked into this after her baby had a scary not breathing episode and her phone was not easily located, kids couldn't call for her, etc.
    (long time reader, hesistant to comment. finally have something to contribute! love your writing!)

  6. I still have a landline (including a corded phone that hangs on the wall) but then I am older than you & pretty old school. Dh & I have cellphones but they are 7-year-old flip phones & pretty much the only time we turn them on is when we are out & about without each other (which doesn't happen much these days). I don't feel the need to be accessible to everyone all the time. Dh has brought up the subject of giving up the landline because, yes, it is expensive, even though we don't get a lot of calls these days (even my mother usually videocalls me on Skype now) -- although I find that funny, because he is even more vehemently anti-cellphone than I am ;) -- but the 911 issue does bother me. Also, I keep thinking back to the big power blackout of August 2003 -- once your cellphone dies & there's no way to recharge it, what do you do? Also, in that situation, it's important to have at least one phone in your house that's corded... the CEO of the company I worked for was at home and waiting for someone to call & update him on the situation. They finally realized that every phone in his house was cordless, and needed power to operate. Someone from security had to send a courier over with an old corded set they managed to dig up. ;) I always think of that story whenever I hear people talk about giving up their landlines.

  7. This hits home big time for me. This past summer we had a landline installed for the first time in 5 years. Why? My son was badly injured from a fall and I called 911. Phone dropped call then when I called back it connected me to the 911 service for a town two hours away. Im already verging on hysterics and struggling to tell dispatch where i lived while they were confused as well. Basically my worst nightmare realized. I live just outside a major city with typically excellent service, also have a major cell provider and was told this happens more often than you'd think. After this I'll gladly pay for a landline.

  8. We use a land line because I don't always get a good signal on my cell phone. I use it all the time to FIND my cell phone. Also, my phone has died or froze or gotten damaged, and I had something to fall back on. It's cheap.

  9. Landline for emergency use all the way -- if you call 911 on a landline, the dispatcher instantly gets the address you are calling from, including apt # if you are in a apt building. Its called Enhanced 911 or E911. Big problem with cell phones is calling 911 and emergency services having to figure out where you are calling from. I would not trust my toddler to give address/directions to the dispatcher -- or even be able to say much of anything. And the GPS signal from the phone is not pinpint accuracy. But if calling from my landline, someone would get to my house in short order even if there is total silence on the line. There's a fair amount of press about this particular issue (lack of wireless E911,not inadvertently dialing 911).

  10. Hmmm, this really has me thinking about a landline which I hadn't at all considered. I do worry about Finn not being able to work a smart phone just yet, but we do talk about emergencies and if he ever can't wake mommy go to the neighbor's house. Not sure he REALLY understands, but he will say, "if I ever can't wake mommy I will run next door and say, 'help me, help me'"

    Please let us know what you decide!

  11. We got a landline again a few months ago for just this reason. We have it as part of our "bundle" with Comcast and therefore reads as costing exactly 0.00 on our bill. (But of course Comcast is the devil and obviously it isn't free, but whatever).
    I don't want to worry about having to find my cell phone in an emergency. And the whole Enhanced 911 thing that commenter JDot talks about is the other big reason. When I called 911 on my cell phone when Brad appeared to be seizing last year, it took some time for them to connect to the correct 911 in my area - something I hadn't considered until it happened. When your husband is purple and struggling to breathe, you don't want to spend even 2 minutes longer than necessary alerting the help.
    I'd go landline all the way. It's not that expensive in the big picture, and the peace of mind and benefits are well worth it for us.

  12. We've had this conversation in our home often too, Brooke, and more often since Lydia's death. I often misplace my phone too. And one time a few weeks ago, I accidentally left it at work and Justin had to work late. I was so freaked out that something would happen and I wouldn't have a way to get help. I had to break out the laptop to tell Justin that I didn't have my phone too since I knew he would text me and worry if I didn't respond. We also have always both charged our phones downstairs overnight. The only change we've made so far is that I have started charging my phone upstairs overnight so we have a phone on each floor in the middle of the night. But yeah, I've thought a lot about this, and Lydia's death has made me think of all the worst-case scenarios.

  13. Land line all the way. We need it for our alarm system anyway, and it's bundled in with our internet. I want 911 access (from my home phone) on all three floors. And we plug our cell phones in on the first floor and they do not come upstairs with us anywhere near bedrooms, so that wouldn't work for us anyway at night. I'm not willing to give that separation from my cell phone at night up.

    I want our babysitters to have easy access to a phone plugged into the wall, and with E's allergic reactions in the past, I want to be on the phone with help in under 10 seconds.

    I just don't trust my cell phone for that. I know that things can go wrong with any system (and our current cordless phone batteries really need replacing, so thanks for the reminder), but I say landline all the way.

  14. We don't have a landline but I like the idea of a prepaid cell. We live in the city and so there are lots of neighbors close by.