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August 20, 2008 > Dial N-1-1 numbers

Dial N-1-1 numbers

By Anuja Seith and Aditya Anand

For many people, the first three digit phone number that comes to mind is the emergency contact 9-1-1. But there are many three digit numbers that can offer help and support in cases of non-emergency situations. Here is a list of n-1-1 numbers that may come in handy for an emergency situation or day-to-day need.

2-1-1: This number is a free phone line available in over 150 languages that connects people with important community services. It provides callers with information including securing adequate care for a child or an aging parent or finding health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health, drug and alcohol intervention and rehabilitation, food banks, clothing closets, shelters, rent assistance, utility assistance, summer camps and recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring, and protective services. 2-1-1 is a county wise toll free service which is available to residents of Alameda and Santa Clara County. However, all wireless providers, except Nextel, charges users in airtime minutes. For more information, log on to

3-1-1: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and America's telephone companies adopted 3-1-1 in 1996 to handle non-emergency police calls. The 3-1-1 number was later approved for nationwide use by the FCC in 1997. Currently, it is operated by some police departments to field non-emergency calls which helps to reduce the number of non-emergency 9-1-1 calls received, and it is also used by some cities to provide service "city service" calls for potholes, fallen trees, noise complaints, and non-functional street or traffic signals. The service is provided in the city of San Jose in Santa Clara County only. For more information on 3-1-1 please visit
4-1-1: This is the number dialed for local directory assistance, which includes published phone numbers of individuals and businesses across the country. 4-1-1 can assist customers in obtaining the local telephone numbers, horoscope movie show times and locations, driving directions, reverse lookup and business search like finding a restaurant, a hotel or any other business you need. Dialing 4-1-1 usually incurs a fee. Since wireless providers charge different rates, users are advised to inquire about the cost of dialing 4-1-1 from their service providers.
5-1-1: This is a free phone and web service that consolidates Bay Area transportation information into a one-stop resource. 5-1-1 provides information on traffic conditions, incidents and driving times, schedule, route and fare information for the Bay Area's public transportation services, instant carpool and vanpool referrals, and bicycling information for 24 hours a day throughout the week. It covers Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma counties. Wireless calls will be charged in minutes, and new tariffs may apply. For more information log on to

6-1-1: This is an automated customer service number provided by wireless carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. AT&T calls may incur airtime charges. T-Mobile customers can also dial 611 free of charge or call toll-free number at 1-800-937-8997 from any phone. Nextel users can also call 611 or dial 1-800-639-6111 to learn about coverage, billing or Nextel Direct Connect.

7-1-1: The FCC has adopted use of the 7-1-1 dialing code for access to Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS), which allows people with a hearing or speech disability to use the telephone system, via a text telephone (TTY) or other device, to call persons with or without such disabilities. Dialers can use the text telephone (TTY) or telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) to make calls. Both voice and TRS users can initiate a call from any telephone, anywhere in the United States. Operators will assist in calls. The 7-1-1 service is provided in all counties within State of California. Airtime charges vary with providers.

For more information visit or call the Federal Communications Commission at (888) Call-FCC (Voice) or (888) TELL-FCC (TTY).

8-1-1: A new, federally-mandated national number, 8-1-1 was created to help protect citizens from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects. People digging often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked due to concerns about project delays, costs and previous calls about other projects. These assumptions can be life-threatening as diggers may harm themselves or disrupt services to the entire neighborhood. Charges for 8-1-1 calls vary with service providers. For more information, visit

9-1-1: This number is used in the case of a police, fire or medical emergency. As such, it should ONLY be used in emergency situations. After receiving a call, the 9-1-1 operator will usually ask the caller to verify the information, which appears on his or her computer screen, while sending emergency services. In many areas, phone number and location information is not yet available for 9-1-1 calls made from wireless or outdated phones. For more information, visit


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