On these occasions, I get the opportunity to eavesdrop on a conversation due to a cell phone calling me without the owner’s knowledge. These can be quite funny. I had one hilarious five minute voicemail from an agent that I was working on a deal with. He must have been at home in his kitchen when the call was made. He discussed in detail with his wife whether the tomatoes on the counter were too ripe and should be discarded.
I have been known to make these calls as my husband’s work number is saved in my phone. A few times he would get to work on a Monday mornings and listen to a muffled conversation I had in the car with our kids. When he got a call where I was with a client, I bought a new flip phone with keyguard.
While these stories are humorous, here are statistics that are not:
Unintentional or accidental cell phone calls to 911 make up 30-50% of the total 911 calls made by wireless callers. Now, factor in that 30-40% of all 911 calls are from cell phones and it becomes apparent that there is a problem here.
A typical 911 call will last less than a minute. But an unintentional wireless call will take several minutes for the emergency dispatcher to handle. They have to call back the phone number several times to verify that there is no emergency and that the caller needs no assistance. Since the phone is operating, unknown to the caller, it does not ring and repeat attempts must be made for contact.
Many cell phones are pre-programmed for 911 services at the touch of a button. Due to the escalating number of erroneous calls, these features are now being disabled prior to a phone being delivered to the consumer. That way if the feature is required, the consumer is aware that the feature is activated they can take precautions to avoid an unintentional call.
The Minnesota Wireless Foundation offers the following solutions to prevent unintentional 911 calls:
- Disable Emergency Buttons. Check your user manual or contact your service provider to find out if your phone has a preset emergency feature. Follow directions to disable and prevent unintentional calls.
- Lock your Keypad. If your phone has a keyguard locking feature, use it. Not only will you not dial 911, it may save you from leaving embarrassing and unknown voicemails on other numbers.
- Don’t Hang Up. If you realize that you have made a 911 call in error, stay on the line and explain the situation to the dispatcher. You are not in trouble! When you stay on the line, it allows the dispatcher to get back to taking other calls more quickly and those valuable minutes could save someone’s life!
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