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No, ordering pizza when calling 911 not code for danger in Nigeria

Calling 911 and asking for a pepperoni pizza will alert the operator that you’re in danger and afraid of someone in the room. That’s the claim in a meme shared on Facebook in Nigeria.

The emergency phone number in the US and Canada is 911. In Lagos, Nigeria the numbers for ambulance, fire and police emergencies are 112 and 767. 

“If you need to call 911 but are scared to because of someone in the room, dial and ask for a pepperoni pizza,” the meme reads. “They'll ask if there's someone in the room.”

It says emergency dispatchers “are trained to ask specific yes or no questions... don’t hang up!”

Will pretending to order a pepperoni pizza on an emergency phone line alert the operator that you’re in danger?

Advice based on real incident

In 2014, US media site BuzzFeed published the story of a former 911 operator. He had received a call from a woman said she wanted to order a pizza. The operator realised that she was in danger but couldn’t speak openly, and sent a police officer to her home. 

The story was widely shared across US media, and inspired a widely seen TV advert by No More, a US non-profit organisation working to end domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Soon, memes similar to the one on Facebook appeared on social media, advising people that 911 operators were trained to respond to callers ordering pizza.

Police debunk pizza code

In March 2018, several media articles reported that the US police said people shouldn’t follow the advice in the memes

On 21 March 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted about the meme: “That is false. Operators are trained to recognise voice inflection, odd conversations that would indicate a dangerous situation, among other things.” 

Even if you’re in the US or Canada, ordering a pepperoni pizza when calling 911 won’t necessarily signal to the operator that you need help.Eileen Jahn


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