PC Doctor October 21, 2019

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Dear PC Doctor:

I see many entries in the local police logs where people accidentally dial 911 while taking their cellphone out of their pockets, handbags, etc. This causes extra work for the police as they have to confirm it is, indeed, a misdial and not an emergency. How do these accidents occur, and how can they be prevented?

Signed, Curious

Dear Curious:

Thanks for this interesting and important question!

If you have a recent open-faced smart phone, putting it to sleep before pocketing it should help, as will changing your settings to require a password, swipe pattern, or face recognition in order to turn on features. (This will also safeguard your phone against unauthorized use.)

If you have a flip phone, keeping it closed should prevent accidental 911 calls.

Some older wireless phones are equipped with a 911 auto-dial feature. If you have an older phone, you may not even be aware of the feature or that it has been pre-activated by the manufacturer or retailer. Newer wireless phones generally require you to activate an automatic 911 feature to make it work.

When a 911 auto-dial feature has been activated, accidental dialing of 911 can occur, especially when open-face design phones bump against other objects in a purse, briefcase, or pocket.

You can help reduce accidental 911 calls by locking your keypad, which prevents a phone from responding to keystrokes until you unlock the keypad using a short combination of key presses.

You can also turn off the 911 auto-dial feature if your phone has one. To determine whether your phone has this feature and how to turn it off, check your device settings, user manual or the manufacturer’s website, or call your service provider.

Until next time,

Happy Computing!

PC Doctor

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