Checking trouble on someone else's line

I miss the old days of NYNEX when I could call one number and a live person would answer and help me with something like this.

I have an elderly, disabled relative. I have been unable to reach him by phone all day. All I get is a busy signal. I want to verify if his phone is just off the hook or if there's a problem with his line. I try calling, go through all these contortions, only to find out it's *possible* there's a service outage. I would like to verify this, because his health is not particularly good and if his phone is off the hook, I need to get over there and make sure he's OK.

Why in hell can't this be a simple service for a service company to provide?

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