If you feel the need to contact the city or law enforcement, but the situation is not serious enough to warrant a call to 911, what do you do? The City of Austin has a non-emergency telephone line, 311, that anyone from within the city limits, on either a cell phone or landline, can call for help or advice.
If you can't get that number to work, you can also call (512) 974-2000, which will take you to the same line. Operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you prefer, you can now report many issues online rather than calling the phone number.
For smartphone users, there is also an Austin 311 app for iPhones or Android devices. The app makes it easy to report problems such as sidewalk damage or lost-and-found pets. You can take a photo and easily submit it, along with a description of the problem, within the app.
When You Should Use Austin 3-1-1
You should use Austin 3-1-1 for those moments when you witness or come across something that is potentially dangerous or needs to be dealt with, but perhaps isn't urgent enough to call 911. You never want to divert emergency services for a non-emergency event. Some common examples for 311 include:
- If you have solid waste/garbage/recycling concerns or issues.
- If you see a water leak or flood.
- If there is a non-emergency crime that needs to be reported to the police.
- If you see an animal left in a vehicle or witness other means of animal cruelty or neglect.
- If you have complaints about a barking dog or animal bites.
- If you see a bat on the ground, particularly near a school.
- If you see a sick or injured animal (besides livestock or deer).
- If you see debris in the street.
- If a traffic signal is malfunctioning or if a traffic sign needs maintenance.
- If there are trees or low limbs in the street, or vegetation causing blind corners.
- If you need to report a pothole in the road.
- If a dead animal needs to be removed from the road.
When Not to Use Austin 3-1-1
For certain services, such as utilities or wildlife, there are specific numbers you should call depending on the assistance needed. Of course, most people don't have these specific numbers memorized or easily accessible. If you're unsure who to call, you can always dial 311 and they can direct you to the correct department.
- If there is an emergency situation. Call 911.
- To report power outages. Call (512) 322-9100.
- If you see an injured deer. Call (512) 389-4848.
- If you have questions about your electric or water account. Call (512) 494-9400.
- If you see tree limbs on power lines. Call (512) 494-9400.
- If you have questions about street construction. Call (512) 974-7065.
- Wildlife rescue issues. If it's a baby bird, check to see if the mother bird is nearby. The bird may not need rescuing. Call (512) 472-9453.
- If you have questions about central booking or jail. Call (512) 854-5245.
- If you have questions about Texas Gas Service. Call (800) 700-2443.
- If you have very specific questions about recycling, such as whether you can recycle milk cartons or shaving cream cans, you'll get a quicker answer by calling Austin Resource Recovery at (512) 974-4373.