‘One call after another.’ Kids playing with a disconnected phone flood 911 with calls

Did you know a disconnected cell phone can still call 911? Neither did some kids in Utah who dialed police 30 times New Year’s Day while playing with one, KSL-TV reported.

“It was one call after another,” said Sgt. Sam Winkler of the West Jordan Police Department, KUTV reported. In all, dispatchers received 30 calls in 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon before tracking down the phone signal using cell tower pings.

Since the cell phone had been disconnected, police could not otherwise tell who was calling, KSL-TV reported.

Police asked parents to teach children not to dial 911 unless it’s a real emergency, even on disconnected cell phones, which are required by law to still be able to reach 911, KTVX reported.

“It’s a waste of our time and resources to go out and try and track these numbers down,” Winkler said, KUTV reported. He also suggested that parents remove the batteries from disconnected cell phones before letting children play with them.

In February, dispatchers in Elk Grove, California, received as many as 20 errant 911 calls a day from an Apple phone repair facility, The Sacramento Bee reported. The calls may have been triggered by employees testing buttons on repaired phones.

In 2015, Michael O’Rielly of the Federal Communications Commission estimated that up to 50 percent of 911 calls were mistaken, often a result of inadvertent “butt-dialing” on mobile phones.

Across the U.S., “an estimated 240 million 911 calls” are made annually, according to the National Emergency Number Association.

If you call 911 by accident, stay on the line and explain the error to the dispatcher, advises E-Comm 911, a 911 agency in Canada.

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