Call if you can, text if you can't

Residents or visitors to Hillsborough County can send a text message to 911 for help in an emergency. While calls are still the best and fastest way to contact 911, text messages are an option when a call may not be possible. Adding text to 911 will help make emergency services more accessible, and safer for anyone in need of help but unable to call.

When to text to 911

  • You are Deaf/Hard of Hearing or have a Speech Disability
  • A voice call will place you in a dangerous situation
  • You have tried to call 911, but do not have phone reception

How to text to 911

  1. Using your mobile phone, send a text message to 911 (no spaces or dashes)
  2. You will get a reply confirming you're in contact with an dispatcher and asking for more details
  3. Answer the 911 dispatcher's questions and instructions as quickly as possible as you would on a call

Important tips

  • Always provide your exact location and details of the emergency
  • Do not use slang or abbreviations
  • Do not send photos, emojis, or videos
  • Do not send a group text
  • Silence your phone if you are in a dangerous situation

Text message delivery is not guaranteed. Limited wireless or cellular service may cause text messages to be delayed or not received by the Public Safety Answering Point.

Text messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, or other social media messenger apps may not support Text to 911.

It's important to remember that while Hillsborough County now offers text to 911, the service may not be available in other neighboring counties or cities. You may find yourself in an area where SMS text services are not available, but calls may go through.

In emergencies, response times are critical. Always call 911 if you can, text if you can't.

Last Modified: 12/21/2023, 12:16:02 PM

Was this page helpful?