Hernando 911 now accepts text messages

- The Hernando County Emergency Communications Center will now accept text messages sent to 911. 

Sheriff Al Nienhuis said the center will begin answering text messages to 911 immediately.The service is expected to provide better service for residents who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, speech impaired or not able to speak out loud due to safety reasons. 

The service will be available for residents who have cell phone service through Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile wireless. The text messages to 911 can be up to 140 characters long - the same length as a standard tweet. 

HCSO provided these tips for anyone who may use the text to 911 feature: 

- Don't text and drive
- In the first text message, send the location and type of emergency.
- Text in simple words - Send a short text message without abbreviations, slang, or emojis.
- Be prepared to answer questions and follow instructions from the 911 call taker.
- It is a crime to text or call 9-1-1 with a false report.        
- Persons sending prank text messages can be identified and located.
-  A text or data plan is required to place a Text-to-911.
- As with all text messages, messages to 911 may take longer to receive, may get out of order, or may not be received at all.
- If you do not receive a text response from 911, try to contact 911 another way.
- Photos and videos cannot be sent to 911,
- Text-to-911 cannot include more than one recipient. Do not send an emergency text to anyone other than 911.
- Voice calls to 911 are still the best and fastest way to contact 911.

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