What happens when you have an emergency during an outage and cannot contact 911? Is there a 911 for 911? Many of us rely on our cell phones to be able to contact someone in an emergency at any time. Wi-Fi connections, Wi-Fi calling, and cell phone coverage, however, are not always reliable though. Even if you own a traditional home phone line, outages due to extreme weather, maintenance, or human error can still happen. So, how do you prepare if 911 goes out, and what do you do?

Can You Text 911?
Depending on where you are within the U.S., you may be able to use Text-to-911. If your local emergency call center has opted into texting you will be able to send information such as location or the type of emergency response needed. To find out whether you can text 911 call centers, the Federal Communications Commission has a Text 911 Master PSAP Registry you can download.

Is There a Way to Know if 911 isn't Working?

  1. First, confirm that it isn't your device. Your phone may be damaged, or your service provider might be out of service, so ask another person nearby if you can try and call. Ask someone else using a different service provider or try a landline, if possible.
  2. If you call 911 and the line rings, but no one answers: do not hang up. 911 dispatchers can be very busy, and there may be no other option than to wait. If it is safe to do so, stay on the line and wait for an operator to pick up.
  3. If you call 911 and it has been ringing longer than 1 minute: follow step 1 and try again. This could be a problem with your call not going through from your device.
  4. Make sure you have the right emergency response number on hand or entered in your phone. There may be a different emergency service for your location.
Occasionally, 911 may go out in your area and alternative emergency numbers may limit the number of calls taken at one time so that you may encounter a busy signal. In a critical emergency, so long as it is safe to do so, you can keep trying until you get through to a responder.

What Else Can You Do When 911 is Down?
Learn and save local emergency numbers. Emergency preparedness includes having additional contact information ready if 911 isn't working in your community. If 911 goes out, even during outages, many emergency services remain up and running. Save your local Police and Fire Department's phone numbers. You can also be prepared with the number of the nearest hospital or your family doctor.  Some areas may even have local ambulance or medical response services.

In situations where resources are down or limited, having access to contact information and emergency contacts can make a meaningful difference. Preparedness depends on having the right number for  the situation. Which local emergency numbers should you have to be prepared in an emergency?

  • Local police department and fire department
  • Nearest hospital or family doctor
  • School, Preschool or Daycare Facilities of your children
  • Local EMS
  • Poison Control and Animal Control
  • Veterinarian
  • Utility companies: water, power (gas and electric)
  • Locksmith
  • Local towing and auto services
  • Emergency contacts or emergency community members' numbers

What if you're traveling or in another country? Before departing on a planned trip, learn and save the local emergency numbers in your phone or keep them written down somewhere like your wallet or purse for contingency planning in case even your cell phone goes down. Here are some additional emergency service and response groups you may want to save when you're exploring unfamiliar territory:

  • Coast Guard
  • State Division of Wildlife
  • Highway Patrol
  • 112 if traveling anywhere in the EU. This is the emergency telephone number for police, fire, and ambulance responders in Europe and many other countries around the world.

In today's complex world of new technology and systems featuring digital and voice, there are bound to be issues and outages from time to time, unfortunately. At TD, we believe that you can worry less about communications failure and access to emergency resources when you properly prepare for any emergency.

Bold Commerce Collaborator