Many Americans can now text 911 during emergencies.
In accordance with an announcement made earlier this spring, Text-to-911 went live Thursday on the four major wireless U.S. carriers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile.
Customers in many areas of the country can now report crimes and emergencies with a text. Per the FCC’s website, if you are in an area where 911 dispatchers can take emergency calls, and you are covered by one of the four major carriers, then you should be able to text 911.
To use the service, include both the description and location of the situation in a text message with “911” in the recipient or phone number field. If you are in an area that is not up and running Text-to-911 yet, texts sent to 911 will get a bounce-back message reply explaining that it wasn’t received.
But since getting a bounce-back message rather than a real reply during an emergency could be a disastrous waste of time, officials still recommend that you place a 911 call if you are able.
“It’s always preferable to make a voice call to 911,” director of government affairs at the National Emergency Number Association Trey Forgety told ABC News. “Call if you can; text only if you can’t.”
Check here to keep up to date on the program’s rollout across the country.
Of course, most of us associate texting with chitchat and shorthand Internet slang, but anyone who finds themselves in a situation where he has to use this service should be as articulate and tight as possible via text. The Text-to-911 program, according to ABC News, is not equipped to accept picture or video messages.
And with those disclaimers, here, from the New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs humor column, are some examples of how not to use Text-to-911.