Starting May 15, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will let you text police in case of an emergency. Here’s how it works.
Beginning May 15, wireless carriers in the US will uniformly and voluntarily support Text-to-911, a program that lets you send text messages to emergency services as an alternative to placing a phone call.
While carriers will climb on board, this just means they’re making the service available — the ability to text the police in an emergency situation won’t work everywhere in the country the second May 15 rolls around. On the flipside, some counties have already embraced the program, usually working with a single carrier. Here are some important things to know about texting 911.
What is Text-to-911 and how does it work?
Text-to-911 is a free program for sending a text message addressed to “911” instead of placing a phone call. To use it, you address the message to 911 and enter the emergency in the body of the text, making sure that you also add your exact location — or else emergency services won’t be able to dispatch help your way.
Since it’s all SMS-based, you will hear a response for more follow-up questions, or when help is on the way.