OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WDAF) – Police say they get a lot of accidental 911 calls, and it’s become a distraction.
A spokesperson for Overland Park, Kansas, said many calls appeared to come from Apple Watch users, who frequently brush against the watch’s touchscreen or the large buttons on the side. Most of the time, these users don’t know they’ve called the police until the call has been answered.
“What is happening is that while people are moving around while they sleep or exercise, they put the Apple Watch in emergency mode. Without knowing it, the watch will call 911, ”said Overland Park Police Captain Jim Sutterby.
Sutterby said that when dispatchers call back accidental callers, they sometimes say their Apple Watch triggered the call. Dispatchers are required to return calls that result in the caller hanging up or silent.
Unwanted calls distract emergency dispatchers and take away resources intended for real emergencies. Sutterby said the Overland Park 911 center receives about 250 calls per hour, some accidental.
Tech experts say it’s common. Jae Reynolds, manager of the Mobile Revive store in Westport, Kansas, said he advises customers to purchase a protective case for their Apple watches. This provides protection for those buttons and pimples.
Reynolds said it was also possible to turn off the iPhone’s SOS feature. This can be done in the settings of the connected iPhone.
“Once you have it in place, it’s easy to select a setting because you’re constantly moving with, in, and out of your pocket. Things like that. It’s easy to accidentally call someone, ”Reynolds said.
Apple said it was not familiar with this issue, but the Emergency SOS feature has been helpful in life-threatening situations.
To place a call using the Apple Watch, a user must press and hold the side watch button, located below the Digital Crown button, until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Once the user has dragged the slider, a countdown begins. When finished, the call to 911 is made automatically.
On its website, Apple provides instructions on how to end an accidentally initiated emergency call. “If you make an emergency call by accident, press the End call button, then press Yes to confirm that you want to end the call,” he says.
Sutterby advises callers who accidentally call 911 not to hang up, but rather tell the dispatcher that the call was made in error.
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