Call if you can, text if you can't
If there is an emergency and you cannot call 911, take these steps:
- Enter the numbers 911 in the "To" field.
- Text your exact address and type of emergency.
- Send the message.
- Use simple words, but do not include abbreviations, emoji’s, pictures or slang.
- Promptly answer questions and follow instructions.
Best Practices and Challenges
Text-to-911 comes with challenges. For instance, emergency response may be lengthened due to the time it takes for a text to 911 to be typed and sent. Delivery of texts and speed of delivery are also not guaranteed. Here are several reminders to ensure the best service and response from dispatchers.
- Dispatchers prefer calls so they can get cues from background noise and voice inflections. If you text 911, dispatchers will ask if you can safely place a phone call.
- Location is not as accurate with texting as it is with a call. Be sure to text your exact address.
- A text or data plan is required to use Text-to-911.
- Texts to 911 will get a bounce back message if you are roaming.
- Texts to 911 have a 160 character limit, can get out of order, or may not be received.
- There is no language translation service for texts to 911.
- Do not text and drive!
The new service should only be used in emergencies. Texting 911 with a false report is a crime. If you accidentally send a text to 911, send another text, or call 911 to let the dispatcher know that there is no emergency.
Remember: Call if you can, text if you can’t.