The Okaloosa County Department of Public Safety now accepts 9-1-1 texts. T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and AT&T customers can now send a text up to 140 characters long to 9-1-1 in an emergency.

HOW TO USE

Text to 9-1-1 should only be used in an emergency situation, when placing a voice call is not possible, as follows:

●if the caller is deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech impaired

●when speaking out loud would put the caller in danger. 

"Call if you can, text if you can’t," is the idea.

If there is an emergency and you are unable to make a call, remember these steps:

●Don’t text and drive

●Send the location and type of emergency in the first text message

●Text using simple words. Send a short text message without abbreviations or slang.

●Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 9-1-1 call taker.

●If you do not receive a text response from 9-1-1, try to contact 9-1-1 via voice phone call. Photos and videos cannot be sent to 9-1-1 at this time.

Text-to-9-1-1 currently cannot accept photos or videos, and cannot include more than one person.  You also cannot send the text to multiple people (no group text messages). Do not send your emergency text to anyone other than the 9-1-1 account.

According to an Okaloosa County media release, the service will have many challenges. A text or data plan is required to use it. As with all text messages, messages to 9-1-1 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.

Keep in mind the following information:

●Text to 9-1-1 service is ONLY for emergencies.

●It is a crime to text or call 9-1-1 with a false report.

Text-to-9-1-1 cannot include more than one person. Voice calls are still the best and fastest way to contact 9-1-1.

It is not available everywhere in Florida and the United States.