Can you text 911 if you are unable to call? Texting 911 may be an option, depending upon your location. You can check with your local public safety officials to learn if the local 911 center is prepared to accept text-to-911 messages. Public information lines, such as 211 or 311, also may have more information on text-to-911 service availability, and the FCC’s website maintains some information at www.fcc.gov/text-to-911.
It’s important to remember that voice calls remain the best way to contact 911, as a phone conversation allows an emergency dispatcher to quickly gather important facts about your location and situation, talk you through any necessary steps and offer a reassuring voice.
Important items to remember when using text-to-911
- Texting is not always instantaneous and make take slightly longer to dispatch emergency services; text must be typed, transmitted and then read by the dispatcher and then texted back.
- If a text is sent a dispatch center that is not equipped for text-to-911, an automatic message is sent back to call the 911 center.
- Text-to-911 requires the use of text messaging service provided by VZW. Other messaging apps may not support text-to-911.
- The character limit for all text messages is 160.
- Do not use slang or abbreviations. Be as clear and concise as possible.
- Always provide your location, as only an approximate location can be tracked through a text.
- Include the nature of your emergency in your message.
- You need to be in range of Verizon Wireless cell towers.
- Text-to-911 is for emergency use only and should not append pictures, video, other attachments or other recipients to the message.