Oh no! A burglar broke in and you hit him over the head with your updated version of the Duden. As it’s a hardback with 1,152 pages, he went down. Unfortunately, he knocked over a candle on his way, which rolled over to your net curtains which went up with a whoosh. Your pet cat wanders in to see what all the commotion is about, sniffs disparagingly and walks back out, singed tail raised high in disapproval. So, now you need the police, an ambulance, the fire brigade and a vet. ARGH!
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a hypothetical situation. The odds of all these things happening at the same time are, erm, well maths never was my strong point, but the odds are probably pretty low. However, there may come a time when you need to call an emergency number in Germany so let’s break them all down here.
Basically, there are two types of emergency – criminal and medical. If you’ve been murdered or have died, don’t worry, you don’t need to lift a finger. In all other cases, there are two main numbers you can call. (Sadly, Ghostbusters don’t operate in Germany.)
Both are free of charge so if you haven’t bought a credit top-up or your phone is locked and you’re in too much of a panic to remember your password or finger pattern, you can still call. If all of your fingers have been broken, use a toe or your nose. Operators allegedly speak English as well as German but take that with a big old grain of salt. If there’s been a theft or burglary, make sure to file a police report as you’ll need it for your insurance company.
As with any phone call, wait to be connected to an operator (duh). Calls are usually answered after around nine seconds in this land of shiny efficiency. Once you’re connected, clearly state what happened, where you are and how to reach you. Answer any questions, follow any advice you’re given and don’t hang up until you are told to do so. Probably a bit like a phone call with your mother. After you’ve hung up, don’t immediately start calling your mother, fifteen best friends and the guy in your local Späti to tell them what’s happened as there’s a chance the emergency service may need to call you back.
Call 112 immediately if you’re having:
It’s hard to quantify what significant blood loss is but a paper cut probably doesn’t qualify, you big baby. In that case, please do call your mother.
If you’re ill at night, at the weekend or on a public holiday and feel like you can’t wait until the next day to get treatment, the number to dial for the on-call service is 116 117. And whoop-de-doo, that’s also free.
Examples where it might be necessary to call 116 117 include:
The service will then refer you to an on-call practice that you can visit. If you’re too ill to move, someone will come to your home. It doesn’t matter if you have private or public health insurance, you’re covered (depending on your contract and deductible because, after all, this is still Germany).
Being stuck in a Stau for two hours does not constitute an emergency. It’s ganz normal. However, if you’ve been in a car crash or your car has broken down, call the police if you’re still in the main lane (or your car insurance company or ADAC if you’re a member), turn on your emergency lights and place the warning triangle 200 metres behind your vehicle so other cars don’t crash into you and make an already bad situation worse. Do not stop on the Autobahn unless there is an actual emergency – this is against the law, and for good reason since cars are probably whizzing by you at over 200 km/hour. (Seriously, how cool is the German Autobahn??)
Well, first of all, you go to the hospital. Use your googling skills for something useful for a change to find one. Found one? Great. Go there. There? Excellent. Walk in. There’s usually a main reception so present your Gesundheitskarte (health insurance card) there to register. Then wait. In an emergency, go to the A&E department. Do the same. Your health insurance provider will cover the cost of your hospital stay.
Search for Notfallapotheke on Google Maps or enter your postal code here.
If you’ve lost your credit card, call your provider and block it immediately. Here are the contact details for the main providers:
If you’ve lost your passport, you may need to make a report to the police and call your embassy.
In case you lost your keys or locked yourself out of your apartment, take a breath and read our key loss guide before you call the first locksmith you found on Google.
Other important numbers include the nursing advice line: 00800 4759 2330, lost property (Fundbüro): 69 95, lost property (railways): (01805) 99 05 99, air rescue (if you live a super exciting life): (0711) 70 10 70, and the toxic substance emergency hotline (Federal Institute of Risk Assessment): 192 40.
Obviously, we hope that you live a long, happy, healthy life here in Germany but frankly, you never know when someone might want to rob you, stab you, poison you or turn you into a human torch. Better safe than sorry, right?
Heard horror stories about people being ripped off by locksmiths? Unfortunately, it does happen as Linda O’Grady, co-author of “From the Bürgeramt to the Bedroom” found out. So that the same thing doesn’t happen to you, read our 4-point guide to finding a reputable locksmith at the end of the article.
The good news is that the number of burglaries in Germany is decreasing - and around half of all burglary attempts fail. Unfortunately, that means around 50% succeed and you could be in the unlucky half. Read on to find out what you can do to protect yourself and your belongings from burglars.