Can You Text to 911?

Emergency call centers now accepting text messages.

By on May 29, 2014

Texting has become second nature to most of us, with 81% of cell phone customers using their devices to send text messages, according to The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

Recognizing the vital role that text messages can play in emergency situations, 911 call centers across the United States are in the process of upgrading their technology and capabilities in order to be able to receive text messages from those who need emergency assistance and find themselves in situations where talking might be dangerous, or for individuals who are deaf, speech-impaired or hearing-impaired.

Since 2012, Verizon Wireless has worked closely with the public safety community to enable customers to send text messages to local 911 call centers. It’s important to remember that 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.

If you are unable to call 911, texting 911 may be an option, depending upon your location. You can check with your state and local government to learn if text to 911 is available, or visit FCC.gov for a list of counties which have deployed text to 911. When texting 911, keep the following in mind:

  • Always provide your location, as only an approximate location can be tracked through a text
  • Include the nature of your emergency in your message
  • Use clear language and avoid slang and abbreviations
  • Do not attach pictures or videos in your text
  • If you text 911 to a center that doesn’t support the capability, you will receive a bounceback message advising you to call 911.

Verizon Wireless is committed to keeping you connected. And in times of crisis, a connected world means a safer world. Whether by voice or text, harnessing the power of wireless technology is transforming the way we communicate and enhancing public safety.  

Tags: text messages, emergency response, Verizon Wireless, public safety, wireless technology