Text-to-911

Residents and visitors in Howard County and the state of Maryland can now text 911 in an emergency. Review the below Q&A for more information on the program.

Q: What is text-to-911?
A: Text-to-911 is the ability to send a text message from your mobile phone to 911 in the event you are unable to place a phone call.

1. For individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, or have a speech disability
2. For someone who is in a situation where it is unsafe to place a voice call to 911
3. For an individual who is experiencing a medical emergency and may be unable to speak

You should only text 911 in an emergency. Prank-texters can be identified and prosecuted according to local laws and regulations.

Q: What are the challenges with text-to-911 service?
A: As with all text messages, texts to 911 may take longer to receive and respond than a voice call. Texts also do not provide the location of the texter, and could be received out of order or may not be received at all. Additional challenges include:

• Pictures and/or videos cannot be received by 911 via text
• If you include another contact on your text to 911 it may not be received by 911
• The preferred text language for texting 911 is English, however some limited translation services may be available

TEXT-TO-911 TIPS

Q: How do I text 911?
A: Follow these steps to text 911 in an emergency:

1. Enter 911 into the “To” field of a new message
2. Your first text should be short and include the location of the emergency and the type of service needed – police, fire, or ambulance
3. Press the send button
4. Answer questions from the 911 specialist and follow the instructions he or she provides
5. Text in simple words; do not use abbreviations or slang
6. Keep messages short

Q: How do I know that 911 has received my text?
A: If your text has been received, a 911 specialist should respond to your text. If text-to-911 is not available in your area, or is temporarily unavailable, you should receive a message from your wireless carrier letting you know that you must place a voice or relay call to 911.

Q: Is there a charge for using text-to-911 service?
A: Standard text messaging rates apply.