Safe America Prepared


How to Text

Text messaging, or texting, is the exchange of brief written text messages between two or more mobile phones or portable devices over a phone network. The original term referred to messages sent using the Short Message Service (SMS) which only allowed user to send messages of 160 characters or less. Today, text messages can also include messages containing image, video, and sound content (known as MMS messages).

Many people use texting as a convenient way to stay in contact with colleagues, family, and friends, but it is also a useful tool for communicating in an emergency when wireless and hard phone lines are unavailable. 

In situations where you are unable to use the phone to call for help—learning to send text messages can help save your life. There is a time and place for texting. You should never text while driving and using your phone to text in a classroom or working environment may be considered disorderly. However, if you are in danger or need assistance and cannot get through to 911, texting family or friends is a excellent alternative communications option.

Texting should also be your first choice when communicating non-vital messages to friends and family after a natural or man-made disaster.  

Step 1: Set up a Texting Plan

  1. First, check with your service provider to verify your text messaging plan—or standard text messaging rates may apply.
  2. Meet with your family members to come up with messages to send in cases of emergency —make up your own abbreviations for specific events or disasters.
  3. Arrange emergency messages in your phone’s template folder for immediate access— helps to cut out time texting entire message. 
  4. Set up “distribution lists” on your phone—add your emergency contact persons, including family and friends, to alert all at once when you send out messages. 

Step 2: Learn to Text

Learning to text can be a challenge for some—but here are some generalized tips to assist in text messaging. To create a new message to send, using your cell phone:
  •  Go to the “MENU” or "MESSAGES" (varies depending on phone)
  •  Find the option “TEXT MESSAGES” or “INBOX” 
  •  Select  option to “Create / Compose / or Send New Message”
  •  In the empty box—use the keypad to type your message

Most people have a difficult time typing in the messages for a text, but it is recommended to keep messages short.

Step 3: Understand your Phone's Keypad  

There are three main methods to use for typing in text messages: Multi-tap, T9 (predictive text) and QWERTY keypad. Currently, most mobile phones with fewer keys than alphabet letters offer either “Multi-tap” or “T9” text input method. Most smart, technologically enhanced phones (i.e., iPhone, Android-based phones) use QWERTY keypads.

  • In Multi-tap mode- to insert letters, hit each key up to three times to get your desired letter. For example, to text “HELP”:
o    press number 4 (2 times)
o    press number 3 (2 times)
o    press number 5 (3 times) 
o    press number 7 (one time) 
  • T9 is a text method that predicts your desired word with a single tap of a key. T9 can predict almost any word in the dictionary. For example, To text “HELP”- type 4357- and T9 will automatically predict the word “HELP”
o    In some cases, T9 may predict an undesired word—For example: To text “SAVE” – type 7283 – and you will see T9 also predicts the word “RATE” – depending on your particular phone- to change the word, type either #, 0, or *. Check with your phone manual for further assistance with word change in T9.
  • QWERTY keypad is an easy-to-use method that resembles the letters on a computer keyboard. To type “HELP” – simply use the keys to find the letters, H-E-L-P.