Here’s how to avoid an accidental 911 call from your smart device

Smart devices dialing 911 without their owners knowing it

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Across the U.S., 911 call centers are fielding emergency calls from smartphones and smartwatches. And many times the owner has no idea they’ve made that call.

These inadvertent calls to 911 are happening a few different ways. If you have an Apple Watch, it comes equipped with a feature called Emergency SOS. When that feature is enabled, if you hold the side button down for longer than three seconds it will connect your iPhone to 911.

But now Apple’s added a new feature to watches, and it’s automatically enabled for users who register as age 65 or older. This feature is called “fall detection." If the watch’s sensors detect a fall and you’re then motionless for a minute, the watch will call 911 and your emergency contacts.

And a recent tweak to the iPhone SOS emergency feature means calling 911 is as easy as pushing the volume button and power button at the same time. After a five second countdown the phone will automatically call 911. Users of the iPhone report making these calls by hitting those buttons without realizing it, when their phone was in a pocket or purse.

We checked with the Hamilton County 911 center and learned they field several of these accidental calls from phones and watches every week.

If you do call 911 by mistake, don’t hang up. Instead let the operator know you called accidentally. Otherwise that operator will have to follow several steps to make sure there isn’t a real emergency.

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