By Barrett Seaman–
Starting April 24, making a local call in Westchester County is going to get more complicated—by three numbers. As things are now, if you live in the 914 area and you want to call your neighbor down the road in Dobbs Ferry (693-1234) or your brother in Bedford (234-1234), you dial only those seven digits. But in a couple of weeks, you will need to preface even those calls with 914. If you forget during the ensuing six months, the call will still go through, but as of October 24, 2021, the call won’t go through and you will have to have to start over again, using all ten numbers.
The reason is the launch of 988, the emergency National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Its creation offers a swift and simple way for people contemplating suicide or being in the presence of someone who is to get instant help. Designating 988 as an emergency number means that every place in the country with 988 as their “prefix” number (the three digits after the area code) will be interpreted as an emergency.
Nationwide, folks in 83 area codes in 37 states, including four others in New York State, will face the problem. To give folks the time they need to change a habit, the Federal Communications Commission will not fully activate 988 until July 16, 2022. Until then, “if you or a loved one is in crisis,” advises the FCC, “please call 1-800-273-8255.”
The change will apply to cell phones, and VoIP systems as well as landlines. If you have a contract with one of the three major carriers, check out their support pages at:
Most of the other phoning protocols will stay as they are. You can keep your old number, including area code You still have to dial 1 before the area code on a long distance call. All the other three-digit services—211, 311…up through 911—remain the same.