Can I text 999?
Yes, you can send a text to 999 in an emergency. But why would you want to?
- In a remote environment in the mountains for example you may not be able to make a phone call but you may be able to send a text as they need less bandwidth to be sent. The problem with calls is that you need to ensure you’ll have proper reception during the length of the call. Sometimes signal quality is simply not good enough to allocate the necessary bandwidth for a voice call, but you can still send/receive texts because the bandwidth you need for that is really narrow.
- The emergency SMS service lets deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired people in the UK send an SMS text message to the UK 999 service where it will be passed to the police, ambulance, fire rescue, or coastguard.
So in an emergency situation being able to text 999 rather than phone them can save lives, potentially your own.
You will need to register your mobile phone before using the emergency SMS service. Following registration, by simply sending an SMS message to 999 you can call for help and the emergency services will be able to reply to you.
How to register your phone for text SMS
Register your mobile phone with the service before an emergency happens. Simply text ‘Register’ to 999. Wait for the reply so you know you are registered, usually you are asked to confirm that you’d like to register and the original message wasn’t sent by mistake. It is that simple.
When an emergency happens – If an emergency happens we advise you only to use SMS to contact the emergency services if you have no other option. This is because it will take longer than other methods such as calling 999, however if you can’t make the call, the text service is a valuable alternative.
What information should an emergency text message contain?
Which service? Need Ambulance, Coastguard, Fire Rescue, or Police
What? Briefly what is the problem
Where? Be as accurate as possible when giving the location. The better your information is the faster the emergency services will be able to send help. Using the App What3Words is a very easy and useful way to give your location, particularly in rural areas. Alternatively, the OSLocate app provides an immediate grid reference and is another valuable resource.