How to get the right help during an emergency at home


Nobody wants to think about an emergency situation unfolding at home, but the reality is they happen – and often very quickly.

Charnel Hattingh, Group Head of Marketing and Communications for Fidelity ADT, says neighbourhood networks play an important role when it comes to needing help in an emergency. Examples of such networks are neighbourhood watches, street schemes, CPFs, local security companies, and council and crime WhatsApp groups.

Hattingh says it is vital to know what is going on in your suburb. If you are connected to your neighbours via such platforms you have a lifeline to help should you be confronted with an emergency situation at home.

“While we constantly remind our clients help can quickly be dispatched if they activate a panic button, people do not always think clearly when something traumatic happens and they need medical or other help,” says Hattingh.

Charnel Hattingh, Group Head of Marketing and Communications for Fidelity ADT

As a result, she continues, it may be a neighbour who is closest and who can initiate contact with the right resources. While it is important not to ignore any distress signals from neighbouring properties, it isn’t wise to simply enter a property when you don’t know what has happened. The police and armed response officers are trained to deal with dangerous situations and should definitely be your first point of contact.

If you are the first on the scene, however, and feel it is safe to enter the property, try to find out as much as possible – as quickly as possible – about what happened, and check whether the victim is injured.

If they are able to offer a description of the perpetrators or their vehicle you can quickly communicate what you know on the relevant suburb group and resources in the area can immediately react on this.

Not all emergencies are related to crime, Hattingh adds. Accidents and incidents at home can include: Accidental poisoning, fire, drowning, serious fall, electrocution, bee attack, dog bite and various medical traumas, like heart attack or stroke.

Any of these will require a quick emergency response which is why it is important to have a link with your neighbours and broader suburb through social media groups.


Hattingh says these are the 7 most important steps when reacting to an emergency at a neighbour’s house:

  1. Ensure it is safe to approach the house.
  2. Ascertain what has happened as quickly as you can but don’t wait for this information – if you know something is wrong, hit your panic button and send a message on your local WhatsApp group.
  3. Stay with the victim and try to keep them calm.
  4. If they are injured and you know basic first-aid, initiate treatment if the wounds are not too severe.
  5. If the house number is not visible, stand on the curb and signal to the emergency responders.
  6. Keep track of what others are reporting on the WhatsApp group. It often happens that criminals jump walls and aren’t quick enough to get out of a suburb before residents offer enough information on their whereabouts to get them arrested.
  7. When the right help arrives, step aside and let them take over. You may be required to give a statement to the police and a description of events to your security company.


“The bottom line in an emergency is that you need to get the right help quickly. This means keeping a cool head and using the resources you have available to summon help. Quick reactions often save the day – and lives – as our reaction officers know all too well,” Hattingh concludes.