All you have to do is to go into your text messaging program in your cell phone, enter 911 in the “To” field (no dashes), type your message and press “Send” like any other text.
The 911 agencies point out that texting may take longer to pass information than a phone call. It takes time to type the text, plus time for a 911 call taker to read the text then send replies and questions.
The 911 agencies ask that you follow these guidelines when texting in an emergency:
- In your initial text, be sure to include your location as well as the type of help that you need. Location information is not always available when texting.
- Be prepared to answer questions from the 911 call taker. Keep your cell phone handy so that you can answer questions quickly. Stay on the line until the 911 call taker closes the dialog, if it is safe to do so.
- Keep text messages brief and concise. Text in simple words, do not use abbreviations, emoticons or emoji. Plain text will get your message across clearly and quickly.
- Don’t forget to silence your phone if you do not want to be heard.
Keep the following in mind:
- Only text when you have an emergency situation.
- Like with regular texts, messages can take a long time to be received, can get out of order or may not be received at all.
- Currently, the 911 agencies cannot receive texts if you are roaming.
- A text or data plan is required to place a text to 911.
- If the service is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you may receive a message to contact 911 by other means.
- The 911 agencies cannot accept group texts, photos or video at this time.
And one final piece of advice, DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE!