Apple Watch Users Accidentally Dialing 911: Here's How to Avoid It

Apple Watch owners are accidentally calling 911, according to emergency services dispatchers in Connecticut who have reportedly been receiving a deluge of false emergency phone calls from Apple watches.

The Apple Watch can call 911 all too easily with its SOS feature, officials say. Credit: Apple

(Image credit: The Apple Watch can call 911 all too easily with its SOS feature, officials say. Credit: Apple)

The calls could be a stress on ambulance services and fire departments and their response time for legitimate emergencies, the Tolland County Mutual Aid Fire Service in Connecticut told local news channel Fox 61.

Officials are afraid that the problem could get worse as more consumers buy the Apple Watch, which has an SOS feature turned on by default.

Out of the box, if you hold down the side button (and not the digital crown), the Apple Watch will automatically call 911, and send notifications will be automatically sent to contacts who you specify in the app.

It you make a call by accident, you can hard-press the watch face and select End Call. However, it's better to remain on the line and let emergency services operators know you called by mistake, rather than having them spend more time calling you back.

You can disable this feature so that you have to press the side button, and then use the Emergency SOS slider on the watch screen to contact emergency services. Here's how.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
  2. Tap the My Watch tab
  3. Select General
  4. Tap Emergency SOS
  5. Turn off Hold to Auto Call.

Even after deactivating this setting, you'll still be able to call 911 using your Apple Watch. Simply hold down the digital crown until the Emergency SOS slider appears.

Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.