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The Ohio Department of Aging

Ohio Department of Aging Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

Boomerang: It all comes back to you!

My Community - November 2010

All kinds of help are just three digits away
Convenience services go beyond 9-1-1 and 4-1-1

"In case of emergency, dial 9-1-1." "For directory assistance, dial 4-1-1." Most of us are familiar with these three-digit codes for access to assistance, but there may be a wealth of help available to you hiding behind similar codes. To make widely sought-after resources handy for telephone consumers to access, the North American phone system includes a host of options.

There may be a wealth of help available to you hiding behind three-digit codes2-1-1: In most Ohio communities, you can dial 2-1-1 to receive referrals to health and human services, such as housing assistance, alcohol counseling, senior citizens programs and mental health services.

3-1-1: While 9-1-1 is specifically for emergency assistance, residents in some Ohio communities can dial 3-1-1 for non-emergency government services, such as reporting situations that don't involve a crime in progress or immediate safety risk.

4-1-1: Telephone consumers can dial 4-1-1 for directory assistance. However, unlike the other three-digit telephone services, 4-1-1 usually is not free and can cost from a few cents to several dollars for each number you access. There are a few services available that provide 4-1-1 services free of charge, but may be advertiser-supported or require a subscription. With the popularity of the Internet, more telephone consumers are turning to online phone directories and search engines, instead of 4-1-1, to find phone numbers of businesses and friends, usually for free.

5-1-1: In Cincinnati, drivers can dial 5-1-1 to access real-time, route-specific traffic information.

6-1-1: Most residential telephone consumers can dial 6-1-1 to report problems with their phone service. In most cases, 6-1-1 is free of charge, and you may be able to call it even if your phone currently is not working for other calls.

7-1-1: Ohioans with hearing impairments can dial 7-1-1 to access the telecommunications relay service. Through 7-1-1, voice calls are translated to text, which the caller can read using a specialized device or phone.

8-1-1: Ohio law requires anyone, including homeowners, to call 8-1-1 at least two business days before doing any digging on their property to allow underground utility lines to be marked. By doing so, you ensure you will not be injured if you accidentally dig into buried electric or natural gas lines. Even if you are just planting a tree or putting in a mailbox post, call 8-1-1 first.

Most of the services above, along with 9-1-1 are available at no cost to the caller. Also, most can be accessed whether you are using a residential (wired) line or a cellular phone.

9-1-1 is accessible from any home or wireless phone line, regardless of whether you currently have service on that phone. However, it works a little differently depending on the type and location of line you're calling from. Basic 9-1-1 is available statewide and links you to a call taker at a public safety office, usually a sheriff's office or police department. In most communities, your call to 9-1-1 will automatically transmit the number you are calling from and your associated address, provided you are calling from a traditional residential phone service. When you call 9-1-1 from a mobile phone, your phone number and the location of the cellular tower closest to you are transmitted to the call center in most cases. If you have phone service through the Internet or your cable company, call your provider for details about your 9-1-1 service and how it works.