Review your phone’s emergency settings to reduce accidental calls to 9-1-1

Calgary 9-1-1 provides a critical life-saving service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

On average, Calgary 9-1-1 receives over 3,000 calls each day. Of these calls, The City estimates that at times, up to 20 per cent are accidental calls.

The majority of accidental calls to 9-1-1 come from cell phones. Many iPhones and Android cell phones have an Emergency SOS feature that can automatically and inadvertently dial 
9-1-1 in certain circumstances. For instance, pressing the power button five times in a row on iPhones and many Androids can trigger an emergency call, as can holding the power and volume buttons simultaneously on iPhones.

Reducing accidental calls and hang-ups can help Calgary 9-1-1 continue providing effective emergency services to citizens. Accidental calls can tie-up Calgary 9-1-1’s phone lines and resources, and may cause a delay for someone with a real emergency being able to get through. Calgarians can help reduce accidental 9-1-1 calls by familiarizing themselves with the emergency feature in their cell phone’s settings to understand how the feature is activated. If you know what your phone’s settings are, you can better prevent accidental misdials.

For safety reasons, every single call that comes into Calgary 9-1-1 is answered and attended to, including hang-ups. If an accidental call is made to 9-1-1, the caller is asked to stay on the line and let the Emergency Communications Officer know what happened so that 9-1-1 does not have to call back, taking resources away from other calls.

Other tips to help reduce accidental calls to 9-1-1:

- Safely store your cell phone to avoid “pocket dials”. A cell phone in your purse, pocket or backpack can call 9-1-1 sometimes, even if the keypad is locked.  

- Accidental 9-1-1 calls can also happen when 9-1-1 is pre-programmed into a phone.  9-1-1 is an easy and well-known emergency number and in an emergency, dialling 9-1-1 is often faster than remembering which speed dial code you programmed.

- Be mindful of who can access your phone, especially when children are involved; please don’t let kids play with your phone as this can result in accidental calls to 9-1-1.

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