Image source: Max Pixel

Apple Watches are accidentally dialing 911, causing problems for police

Apple smartwatch users are accidentally dialing 911 resulting in a waste of valuable police time, according to reports. But there are things you can do to prevent this from happening.

Essential reading: Wearables that keep you safe

Now better than ever, the Apple Watch is not without its faults. Last year’s operating system update brought a number of new functions to the wearable device’s side button, including a useful emergency SOS function that can call 911 and notify loved ones.

wearables that keep you safe - Apple Watches are accidentally dialing 911, causing problems for police
Image source: Apple

wearables that keep you safe 6 - Apple Watches are accidentally dialing 911, causing problems for police

To make a call you need to press and hold the side button on your watch until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Continue to hold down the side button. Wait for a countdown to begin and an alert to sound. When the countdown ends, your watch automatically dials emergency services. You can also drag the Emergency SOS slider.

While the feature is certainly useful, some users have pressed the device’s buttons without knowing. This has resulted in a deluge of false emergency calls. Law enforcement officers across the US have complained about such instances. Some Apple Watch owners only discover they have called police after officers show up at their front door!

“[We] call back and find out, ‘oh, it was my Apple Watch, I was exercising or I hit it wrong or hit the wrong button,’” Tim Smith, of the Ottawa County central dispatch told Michigan news outlet WMEN.com.

“We make every effort to follow up on that call, including if we have a valid location, we’ll send an officer out if we can’t get a hold of you,” Smith adds.

apple watches are accidentally dialing 911 causing problems for dispatchers - Apple Watches are accidentally dialing 911, causing problems for police

911 calls were first introduced some 50 years ago. The FCC requires networks to route every mobile-phone and payphone 911 call to an emergency service call center, including phones that have never had service or whose service has lapsed. With the advent of smartwatches, call centers have a new way to communicate with those in need of help.

If you find yourself accidentally dialing the number, don’t panic! Emergency officers urge you not to hang up. Although you can end the call by hard-pressing the watch face and selecting End Call, dispatchers would prefer you let them know the call was made in error.

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If you want ensure this never happens, Apple Watch app settings on your iPhone allow you to disable the feature. Just choose the My Watch tab, select General, tap Emergency SOS and turn off Hold to Auto Call. Its as simple as that. You’ll still be able to dial 911 as before but the auto call feature will be disabled.

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