Suburban Residents Accidentally Calling 911 With Smart Watches, Dispatchers Say

Suburban residents are being told to watch what they dial as reports of inadvertent 911 calls using smart watches are on the uptick.

More than 500 calls to 911 come into the Lake County Sheriff’s emergency communications center each day, but increasingly, inadvertent calls from smart watches and other devices are clogging up the works.

According to suburban authorities, up to 10 people a day are accidentally contacting emergency responders.

Making an emergency call on the devices, primarily Apple and Samsung wrist units, is very easy to do. All users have to do is hold a button for several seconds, and help is summoned using the device.

It’s easy to accidentally dial emergency services with the device, but most residents who do so hang up, and that’s a no-no for responders.

“It ties up our telecommunicators because typically people assume they should hang up and get off the phone, but then we are obligated to find the person and get help to them thinking there may have been an emergency,” Kent McKenzie said.

Fortunately for users, disabling the feature on your smart watch is very easy, and Apple has provided a tutorial on how to do it.

Users can open the Apple Watch app on their phones and enter the My Watch tab. From there, users can tap "Emergency SOS" and "Turn Off Hold Side Button" to disable the feature. 

If residents do accidentally dial the emergency number, dispatchers implore them to do one simple thing.

“If you do call, stay on the line,” McKenzie said. “That will help reduce the extra workload and phone tag trying to go back and forth to figure out what the issue is.”

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