Ask any 911 call taker the one thing they wish their citizens understood and you’ll get a few similar answers: they don’t always have your exact location, answering their questions doesn’t slow down the response, and never hang up on them. Even if you accidently dial 911!
The reason why you shouldn’t hang up is pretty simple: it takes longer to call you back and ensure you’re safe than it does to just stay on the line and explain the situation. Most 911 call takers will call back hang ups to ensure there is no emergency. Seconds matter in the emergency number field, and taking even a couple of extra moments to redial a hang up and confirm that you’re safe means that call taker isn’t available to answer a real emergency call.
Here are some of the main reasons callers hang up on 911, and what you should do if this happens to you!
Accidentally Dial 911 With Emergency Lock Screen Function
Most cell phones these days require a password to get into the device, including to make a call, but you can still dial 911 from the emergency call feature on the lockscreen.
The problem? Sometimes people accidentally pocket dial their local 911 call center using this feature. You can help prevent pocket dials to 911 by:
- Purchasing a case which prevents double tapping buttons.
- Decreasing screen sensitivity in the accessibility settings of your device.
Make sure your phone is properly locked before putting it in your pocket or purse and if you do happen to accidently 911, just stay on the line!
Children Who Accidentally Dial 911
Every 911 call taker has a story (multiple stories) of a child reaching 911 on accident while playing with a phone. And many times, parents just hang up as quickly as possible once they realize what’s going on. It’s always better to stay on the line and just explain what happened.
Children accidentally dialing 911 on older phones without data plans is extremely common in the 911 call center because parents will give their kids old smartphones to play with during the day. This takes 911 call takers away from actual emergencies, so please don’t let your kids play with old cell phones!
Accidentally Dial 911 With a Smartwatch
Watches are getting smarter and smarter, to the point where they can even dial 911 on their own. The Apple watch is equipped with a fall detection feature, which uses an algorithm to sense if the wearer needs medical attention after a fall. If you don’t use one of Apple’s safety apps to trigger a fall, you can use a button on the side of the watch to call for help. However, many 911 call centers are reporting false alerts.
Help your local 911 call takers out by ensuring your smartwatch is set up correctly to prevent accidental 911 calls, which you can learn how to do on an Apple watch here. If your watch initiates a call to 911, you typically have six seconds to cancel it. If you can’t cancel in time, just stay on the line and explain what happened.
Mistakes happen and 911 call takers know that you aren’t trying to take them away from their life-saving roles. But if you do accidentally dial 911, the best thing you can do is just stay on the line, explain the situation, and wait until the 911 call taker tells you it’s okay to hang up.