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Are You Ready for Kari’s Law?

New Legislation Holds Businesses Responsible for Providing 911 Access


If someone in your office or warehouse experienced a life-threatening emergency, would first responders be able to find them? More importantly, could your employees dial 911 from their handset and request life-saving services?

Though the answer might seem to be “yes,” many legacy phone systems are simply not configured to summon emergency services. That was the case in 2013, when a woman named Kari Hunt was tragically murdered in her hotel room after multiple failed attempts by her daughter to dial 911.

In her memory, Congress passed Kari’s Law, which – along with Ray Baum’s Act, requires all multi-line phone systems in the U.S. (like those found in hotels and offices) to enable direct dial to 911, direct routing to a 911 center, and on-site notification of a 911 call that includes a detailed “dispatchable location” to decrease response time.

Signed in 2018, the laws go into effect on February 16, 2020.

Kari’s Law amends the original Telecommunications Act of 1934 as well as its overhaul in 1996. The bill has transformed emergency communications by mandating that public safety be built into every aspect of a telephone system. Kari’s Law makes it so that every person can easily call for help, and be easily located by emergency services.

As of February 16, your phone system needs to allow:

  • Direct dial to 9-1-1 with no prefixes
  • Direct routing to 9-1-1
  • On-site notification of a 9-1-1 call being made, with a “dispatchable location” conveyed (for example, which floor of an office building a worker is on or which classroom a student is calling from)

Penalties For Noncompliance

Companies who do not finish the upgrades by Feb. 16 could risk fines and penalties. But, an even greater risk would be if a tragedy occurred on a noncompliant site – the potential of prolonged litigation and devastating civil liabilities are a real threat.