Starting today, July 1, residents and people visiting Osage Beach will now have the capability to send a text message (SMS) from a mobile device to 911 instead of having to place a phone call for emergency help.

Starting today, July 1, residents and people visiting Osage Beach will now have the capability to send a text message (SMS) from a mobile device to 911 instead of having to place a phone call for emergency help. 

The City of Osage Beach announced the service in a press release on Thursday, June 30th. It is the first and only lake area jurisdiction using text to 911, according to the release. 

To text 911, a user enters the numbers “911” in the “To” or “Recipient” field, and should include a brief, but detailed message that contains the location and type of emergency. The City says to make sure only the numbers “911” and no other punctuation when addressing the message.

If the service is not available where you are located, you will receive a message from the wireless carrier stating that the service is unavailable and to please place a voice call. 

The text messages will be received by the Osage Beach 911 Emergency Communications Center, but public safety officials encourage the public to think of texting 911 as a last resort and not the normal process for contacting 911 during an emergency. 

Calls to 911 are preferred because they are typically more efficient during an emergency, the City said in the press release and reminded citizens to only contact 911 in a fire, medical or police emergency. 

The City is encouraging using the motto, “Call if you can. Text if you can’t,” and listed four occasions when to text: 

1. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability. 

2. If you cannot speak due to an injury or medical condition.

3. If you are in a threatening situation and a voice call could increase that threat. 

4. If you cannot make a call because your mobile phone reception is poor. 

Once received, a person who sends a text to 911 will receive a response from the 911 call center, the press release states. The City reminds, that as with all text messages, 911 text messages can take longer to receive, may be delivered out of order, or may not be received at all.