Accidental Apple Watch Emergency SOS calls cause problems for local police

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A local police department in Kansas says they're seeing accidental calls that appear to be originating from Apple Watch devices, with the errant summons pulling resources away from actual emergencies.

According to local media outlet Fox Kansas City, the Overland Park police department complains that it receives so many accidental phone calls that it is becoming a distraction. The Overland Park's 911 center typically gets about 250 emergency calls an hour, authorities said.

"What happens is while people are moving around in their sleep or exercising, they'll get the Apple Watch into the emergency mode. Without knowing it, the watch will actually call 911," said police captain Jim Sutterby.

The issue appears to be the Apple Watch Emergency SOS feature, which will automatically make a call to first responders if the side button is held for a period of time.

Users can mitigate the issue by placing a case on their Apple Watch device, or by customizing or disabling Emergency SOS.

However, the feature can be a literal life-saver in emergency situations, so it's recommended that users keep it on. Since the debut of the Apple Watch, there has been a steady stream of reports of the device providing help to users in distress.

Local police in Kansas City say that Apple Watch users who have made an accidental call to authorities shouldn't hang up. Instead, they should inform the dispatcher that the call was made inadvertently.

This isn't the first time that Apple Watch safety feature caused problems for local emergency responders. In 2018, workers at an Apple repair and refurbishment facility in California would accidentally call 911 about 20 times a day. While not specified by Apple or local authorities, it was believed that the wearable's SOS feature was to blame for the errant calls.

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