Texting 911: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

There’s a great new technology available to people needing emergency help in Broward County — they just shouldn’t use it if at all possible.

Starting Tuesday, people in the county trying to reach 911 can text their emergencies to dispatchers. But officials promoting the new service are also pushing the mantra: Don’t text if you can call.

So what’s up? Here’s what you need to know about texting 911:

Where can I text 911?

In South Florida, people can text emergencies to 911 in Broward and Palm Beach counties, while Miami-Dade County plans to have its service in operation later this year.

How can I know if I’m in an area that allows 911 texts?

If a 911 text is sent in an area where the service isn’t offered, your phone company will send you a message telling you to make a voice call.

When should I use texting?

Emergency managers recommend texting in situations where talking on the phone might put you in danger, such as if you are hiding from an active shooter, are in a domestic violence situation, if someone is breaking into your home or if you are abducted. Hearing-impaired individuals and those with speech disabilities will also benefit from being able to text when they don’t have access to a TDD phone for the hearing impaired.

Why shouldn’t I text when I can call?

Texting is limited by technology. Sometimes a text can be delayed. You won’t have any indication if it hasn’t been received.

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