Sometimes calling 911 is not an option; example, having a burglar in your house. That is about to change. You can now text 911 in select areas. All four major U.S. carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, have begun to offer text-to-911.
A fact sheet provided by the Federal Communications Commission offers a detailed breakdown where the service is available, as well as what platform is used to receive and process the incoming texts.
Select counties in the following states now have the text-to-911 option, including Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.
A full rollout across the U.S. could still take years.
“Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st Century,” Julius Genachowski, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said when the “text-to-911″ plan was first proposed in 2012.
However, because the service is still limited the FCC advises that for now, you should “not rely on text to reach 911 and in most cases, you cannot reach 911 by sending a text message.”
“Always contact 911 by making a voice call, if you can,” the agency cautioned. For people who are deaf or have speech disabilities, the FCC recommended using “a TTY or a telecommunications relay service, if possible.”
“Even where text-to-911 is available, if you are able to make a voice call to 911, and if it is safe to do so, you should always make a voice call to 911 instead,” the FCC adds. “Voice calls allow the 911 operator to more quickly ask questions and obtain information from the caller, while two-way communication by text can take more time and is subject to limits on the length of text messages.”
In the number field enter 911 and in the body of text, state the emergency and location before pressing send.
If texting is the only option, people should share both their emergency and their location in their message. A message will pop up confirming that somebody is on the way.
Keep in mind if you do have text-to-911 capability in your area, you must have a wireless plan that includes texting. Contact your wireless company if you have further questions about your specific plan.
You Can Text 911
Now when you’re in stranger danger, you can text 911!