Emergencies are inevitable – they occur when you least expect them. However, you should always prepare for an emergency situation and own a mobile device or landline to call 911 in the face of an emergency, be it robbery, an accident, or any other incident.
911 emergency calls are directed to local 911 operators, who, in turn, contact emergency responders such as a fire department or local police. You must provide your phone number and location because 911 operators may not have the information.
So, can you call 911 from a laptop if you don’t have a landline, cell phone, or a paid VoIP phone? Let’s read on to find out.
Can You Call 911 Online?
The 911 emergency system was invented in 1968 based on the landline telephone system. Although more than 90% of Americans owned a home landline phone then, technology has redefined the market over the last three decades with the advent of mobile phones and the internet.
Can you call 911 from your a computer?
You can call 911 from your PC, but only with the help of VoIP services. Over the last three decades, you could only make an emergency 911 call from a landline phone. The fixed lines enabled 911 operators taking emergency calls to pinpoint the precise location of a caller.
With the advent of mobile phones, technology became more popular for making 911 calls. Statistics by the Public Services Answering Points (PSAPs) indicate that mobile phones contribute to about 70% of all calls in the U.S.
When you call 911 from a mobile phone, the device sends Automatic Number Identification (ANI) and Automatic Location Identification (ALI) data to 911 call operators, ensuring that your calls comply with FCC regulations. It also helps 911 call takers overcome likely problems regarding your location.
You can call a local 911 operator from your computer if it’s assigned a telephone number and has internet access. A soft-phone application can help 911 operators identify your location without getting the information from you.
A soft-phone application is a software program designed to convert your PC or laptop into a telephone system. With a telephone service to assign your PC a phone number and the application, you can call 911 from your computer.
Can You Call 911 from a Mac Computer?
Wi-Fi Calling on devices connected to iCloud makes it possible for you to call 911. With this capability, you can use FaceTime on your Mac computer to dial 911 when connected to wireless internet.
You can also text 911 from your Mac laptop using a text application if your residential area supports text to a local 911 operator. You’ll have to connect your Mac computer to your iPhone messenger application to make this possible.
How to Call a Local 911 Operator Online
If your computer or laptop has access to the internet and you don’t have a landline or phone, you can use it to call 911.
Many online VoIP applications, such as Skype, can enable you to call a local 911 operator from your computer through the internet. However, the VoIP apps aren’t reliable because sometimes they fail to connect to the nearest 911 operator center.
Apart from Skype, you can dial 911 from Google Voice to call a local 911 operator for help with your emergency situation. However, you need a GSM phone, a landline phone or a VoIP phone at home to reliably call 911 when you get an emergency.
Is Calling 911 from a Computer Recommended?
Mobile carriers increasingly adopt VoIP to support calls made over wireless networks. This eases the pressure on mobile networks and helps carriers save on costs.
However, VoIP-based applications (Google Voice, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.), unlike mobile carriers, don’t have to comply with FCC regulations. Moreover, 911 call takers can’t identify your exact location when you use VoIP apps unless you tell them.
According to FCC regulations, 911 call operators must be able to identify your location within 300 yards when you make emergency calls. Although some VoIP apps and PCs have location-tracking features, they aren’t accurate enough to meet FCC regulations.
Laptops usually register the default address of the internet service provider (ISP) instead of the location of the computer, the two locations usually being thousands of miles apart. The same applies to computers with internet signals from wireless routers close-by.
Your laptop may need a GPS software to help 911 call takers to pinpoint your precise location.
Therefore, a telephone is recommended as the best option to call 911 due to these challenges surrounding the use of your PC. You must call 911 in emergency situations – only text if talking to the 911 call taker is impossible or dangerous.
The Best Solution – Get an Emergency Phone to Call 911
You can call 911 from your laptop when your mobile battery runs flat or you’re unable to access your mobile phone during an emergency. However, you need to find an emergency phone due to the challenges that come with calling 911 from your PC.
Find an affordable emergency phone with a USB charger to call 911. Even without an activated carrier, you’ll be able to use the emergency phone to call 911. However, the phone must be able to receive a signal.
If your emergency phone isn’t activated, add it to your Smart911 Safety Profile together with your mobile phone number to overcome location problems.
In this case, if your mobile phone isn’t accessible or its battery runs out in an emergency, 911 call takers will know your location and send help promptly to the right address. However, 911 call takers won’t be able to call you back if your emergency phone isn’t activated.
Can you call 911 from a laptop? We’ve found that you can call 911 from your computer, however, you may encounter some challenges with regards to pinpointing your location. Your ISP must assign a phone number to your computer to successfully call 911 from your laptop.
The 911 emergency system has evolved over the years since its inception in 1968. With newer technologies being invented, the system will continue to evolve into the future.
With enhanced 911 services (E911), your local 911 operators can access more information about callers, such as caller name and approximate location. E911 also supports text-to-911, and only some local operators offer the two emergency services.
Although you can call 911 from your laptop, you can’t text 911 (only possible from mobile phones) from your PC.