You can now send a text to 911 in St. Charles County. It's the department's latest upgrade of its 911 system.

“St. Charles County is one of only a handful of counties and municipalities in Missouri that have text-to-911. Its implementation takes our outstanding public safety services to another level,” says County Executive Steve Ehlmann. “Credit goes to our Department of Emergency Communications and the cities of Lake Saint Louis, O’Fallon, St. Charles, St. Peters, and Wentzville for their work in making this service a reality.”

County officials say more than 70 percent of emergency calls come from wireless devices.

Calling is still the best option in an emergency, but people can send a text message if they're speech impaired, deaf or if talking on the phone would put them in danger. There are certain situations when texting for help is safer.

Text-to-911 has the same results as a 911 call, but with added safeguards for texting:

• A citizen text comes in to the 911 system and their approximate location appears for the dispatcher on a computer-based map.

• The dispatcher texts the citizen back to confirm the phone number and location, and asks if it is safe to call. If the answer is no, the dispatcher will continue to text.

• The dispatcher will keep messages simple and to the point, using simple words and avoiding text lingo or abbreviations. The citizen texting is encouraged to do the same.

Texting 911 is simple:

• Enter the numbers 911 in the “To” field of the text message on a mobile device.

• Send a brief message: location and type of emergency.

For more information about text-to-911 and the new 911 system, visit sccmo.org/EmergencyCommunications.