Texting 911

Text to 911 should ONLY be used in an emergency and in circumstances when you cannot safely call 911.

When texting 911 might be better than calling:

  • If you are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • If you are unable, for medical reasons, to speak into the phone.
  • If your safety would be compromised if you spoke out loud — for example, during a home invasion or abduction.
  • If you cell signal isn’t strong enough for a voice call to go through.

Things to remember when sending a text to 911:

  • Include your exact location and the nature of your emergency.
  • Use clear, simple language. Abbreviations and slang may create more confusion and delay response time.
  • Silence the ringtone on your phone if noise may compromise your safety. If you stop responding to text messages from teh 911 center, the dispatcher may need to call to check on your safety.
  • Do not text and drive. Not only is this dangerous, but it is illegal in most states. Please pull over to a safe location and stop your car prior to sending a text to 911.
  • Do not copy other people on a text sent to 911.
  • Send texts to 911. No dashes needed.
  • Don’t attach pictures or videos to a text message to 911.
  • If you are in an area where text to 911 service is not available, you will get a “bounce back” message telling you to make a voice call instead.
  • Texts sent to 911 have a 160-character limit.

Most importantly, remember to all if you can and text only when you can’t call. Providing essential information to a 911 dispatcher is much faster by voice than text. Texting is not always instantaneous.

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