If I call 911 from my cell phone, do you know where I’m at? What if I’m hiking or out in the wilderness?

ss911_admin Executive Office

When you call from a cell phone, the information the call taker sees is limited. Unlike with most landlines, a cell phone cannot provide exact location/address information. It is important for you to know where you are at all times in case of emergency so you can describe your location as precisely as possible – including cross streets, mileposts or landmarks.

Cellular service may not be available in some areas or in the wilderness. If service is available, a 911 call for help will be picked up by the nearest cellular tower in the most direct line of sight to your location. Your call could be answered by any number of 911 centers. Since these 911 centers may be located outside the boundary of the calling area, emergency responders will have no way of knowing where you’re calling from unless you tell them. Be prepared to provide your location – including trailhead and nearest city, destination or waypoints – and know how to increase your cell phone’s signal strength.

Ways to increase your cell phone’s signal strength include:

• Point your antenna up
• Find a clearing
• Gain elevation
• Turn your body (your body may obstruct the signal)

Remember, when you are in a remote location, help may be several hours away – or longer. If your 911 call is disconnected, call 911 again.