[10/22/21] Ten Digit Dialing Starts Sunday

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You’ll be punching more numbers when making a phone call next week.

Starting Sunday, callers in all of Eastern Washington will be required to dial the area code when making a local phone call.

That means any local numbers you’ve got saved in your cell phone contact lists will need to be updated to include the numbers 509, if you haven’t done so already.

This is all to accomodate a new three-digit nationwide number for the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline. The Federal Communications Commission has given it the 988 number, and will replace 1-800-273-TALK as the lifeline’s number beginning next July 16.

But that 988 number won’t work in the 509 area code until the 10-digit requirement goes into effect. So the 1-800-273-TALK number will still be operational until the switch is made in October.

In Washington, the new FCC requirement is only for people in the 509 area code region. But we’re not alone; hundreds of thousands of people in dozens of area codes throughout the nation also will need to dial 10 digits.

However, 9-1-1 calls will still be a three digit call; also, any other three digit calls, like 211, 311 or 411 will remain three digits.

Again, the ten digit dialing requirement goes into effect Oct. 24.