HONOLULU (KHON2) — Local residents will soon need to start dialing 8-0-8 at the start of their calls, even on the same island. It’s all part of a new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) effort to make contacting the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline easier.
The FCC has adopted 9-8-8 as a new three-digit number to be used to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. The number can be used starting July 16, 2022. All telecommunications carriers and VoIP service providers will be required to take part in the initiative by requiring callers to use the 10-digit dialing system.
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“This requires all telecommunications carriers, including Hawaiian Telcom and others, to make any network changes that are necessary to ensure that callers can dial 988,” said Ann Nishida Fry of Hawaiian Telcom. “Hawaii is among more than 30 states that use the 988 prefix, and so must transition to 10-digit dialing for local calls.”
What will be the new dialing procedure for Hawaii? Starting Oct. 24, Hawaii residents looking to place a call will need to dial area code 8-0-8, followed by the telephone number. This also applies to calls to people on the same island. Following this change, local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform you that your call cannot be completed as dialed.
“Hawaiian Telcom, we’re prepared, so our customers can go ahead and use a 10-digit-dialing now,” Nishida Fry said.
Hawaiian Telcom is urging residents to consider automatic and speed dialing equipment, such as medical monitoring devices, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates once the change goes in effect. These will need to be reprogrammed to include the full 10-digit number.
“If you have security alarms or any other devices that were programmed to local numbers without the area code, you will want to update them to include the area code,” Fry said.
Don Langman from SuperGeeks Hawaii says it may be a hassle, but he personally recommends cell phone users to manually change their contact numbers to add the area code.
“Most people will call 10 maybe 20, and as you’re calling them you could actually adjust the number,” said Langman.
Until July 16, 2022, customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-TALK to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. Starting July 16, 2022 dialing 9-8-8 will automatically route your call to the Lifeline.