From Pasadena to Palo Alto, callers in nine California area codes will be required to use 10-digit dialing when making phone calls beginning Sunday.
The changes, which will affect thousands of California residents, stem from federal rules that will make it easier for callers to reach crisis resources.
Callers who have a 988 exchange or “central office code” — the first three numbers of a seven-digit phone number — will have to dial the area code of a desired number first, followed by the remaining seven digits, to complete their connections.
The change was ordered by the Federal Communications Commission in July 2020 when it established 988 as the new nationwide three-digit phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Across the U.S., 82 area codes will transition to 10-digit dialing to help facilitate the change.
Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses the toll-free number (800) 272-8255 to connect to an expansive network of approximately 180 crisis centers nationwide.
According to the FCC, the changes “will help to ensure ubiquitous deployment of 988, thereby easing access to the suicide prevention and crisis intervention services, decreasing the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health crises and ultimately saving lives.”
In California, the following area codes will switch to 10-digit dialing:
- 209: Stockton, Modesto and the surrounding areas
- 530: northern California regions, including the Sacramento Valley, Shasta Cascade and the northern Sierra Nevada
- 562: Long Beach and surrounding areas in Orange County
- 626: most of the San Gabriel Valley and surrounding area, including Pasadena
- 650: most of San Mateo County and part of Santa Clara County, including Palo Alto
- 707: the north coast, including Santa Rosa, Napa and Vallejo
- 925: areas in the East Bay and parts of Alameda County
- 949: southern Orange County
- 951: parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties
Residents residing in those area codes will have to dial all 10 digits for any calls — including local numbers. Calls made using only seven digits will not be completed; users will be instructed to hang up and try again using the correct 10-digit format.
Some callers also may be required to manually add a 1 before the three-digit area code, including those dialing from landlines or wired phones. Most cellphones already add a 1 in front of a dialed area code automatically.
Although the change takes effect this weekend, the dialing shortcut for the lifeline will not go into effect until July 16. At that time, callers who dial 988 will automatically be directed to the suicide-prevention hotline.