Harris County 911 now allows you to text emergency dispatchers

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HOUSTON, Tx. --  Here's one for you: what do you do if there's an intruder in your house and you need to call 911,  but you're too scared to talk?

Ever thought about that?

The Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network has, and now they're teaming up with Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile to offer the city's first text-to-911 service.

"There's all types of situations you could think of, for instance, school violence, home invasion, domestic violence -- I could go on and on -- in situations where you would put yourself in danger if you tried to speak," explains 911 spokeswoman Sonya Lopez-Clauson.

It could, also, be a life saver for folks with disabilities. "Texting to 911 is a lifeline for the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired communities," 911 Executive Director Lavergne Schwender says, "They have been seeking this service for years."

Right now it's only available in Harris and Ft. Bend counties and only through Verizon and T-Mobile. And keep in mind, it's still just as vulnerable to autofails and misspellings as any other text message. And just like traditional 911 service, it's not a good idea to make prank calls.

"It is a crime and we will receive your phone number and location," Lopez-Clauson warns.

The message from 911: call if you can, text if you can't.