The 911 system was designed to provide a universal, easy-to-remember number for people to reach police, fire or emergency medical assistance from any phone in any location, without having to look up specific phone numbers. You can use 911 system text option when there is a dangerous situation which requires you to be silent. The deaf and hard-of-hearing have the same option to use the 911 system text service.
Call If You Can, Text If You Can’t
Activity and coloring pages to learning 911 facts, safe to talk out aloud, if that happens you can text 911 for help!
In an Emergency, Dial 911 or Your Local Emergency Number Immediately.
An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or ambulance. Examples include:
- A fire
- A crime, especially if in progress
- A car crash, especially if someone is injured
- A medical emergency, especially for symptoms that require immediate medical attention
If you’re not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, officials recommend calling 911 and letting the call-taker determine whether you need emergency help.
When you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker's questions, which may include:
- The location of the emergency, including the street address
- The phone number you are calling from
- The nature of the emergency
- Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency
Remember, the call-taker's questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 911 centers call tell you exactly what to do until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR. Do no hang up until the call-taker instructs you to do so.
Text-to-911: Quick Facts & FAQs
- Today most consumers can reach 911 by sending a text message from their wireless phone.
- In limited areas of the United States, however, it is now possible to use certain wireless telephone services to send a text message to 911. This means that in such areas, if you are unable to make a voice 911 call, you can type your message on your wireless phone and send it to a 911 operator. But 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.
- FCC rules require all wireless carriers and other providers of interconnected text messaging applications (i.e., those text messaging providers that enable consumers to send text messages to and from U.S. phone numbers) to deliver emergency texts to 911 call centers upon request. If a 911 call center requests text-to-911 service, text messaging providers must deploy the service in that area within six months.
- If you attempt to send a text to 911 where text-to-911 service is unavailable, you should receive an immediate "bounce-back" message that text-to-911 is not available and that you should contact emergency services by another means, such as by making a voice call or using telecommunications relay services (the latter for consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability).
Ask your wireless phone company if text-to-911 is available in your area. You can also ask your state legislators or public safety officials if your 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 in your area. (Also, see information on specific areas where Text-to-911 is available.)
Voice calls to 911 are usually the most efficient way to reach emergency help. For example, voice calls allow the 911 operator to 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 more quickly. In addition, when you make a voice call to 911, the call taker will typically receive your phone number and the approximate location of your phone automatically.
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