Children and Used Cell Phones

Local public safety officials are urging citizens to be more cautious with the disposal and distribution of used cell phones. During the holiday season last year, 9-1-1 public safety answering points in the Will County area encountered several 9-1-1 calls from children who were playing with used cell phones.

The calls take time for dispatchers to process and analyze and may prevent 9-1-1 call takers from dispatching timely services to legitimate, incoming emergency calls. The situation is likely caused by the increase of new cell phones following the Christmas holiday where adults are giving their used cell phones to children to play with as toys.

Because of Federal Communications Commission rules, all cell phones, even those with inactive accounts, are pre-programmed to make a live call if 9-1-1 is dialed. As a result, kids playing with used cell phones may be inadvertently calling 9-1-1 while "just pushing" buttons.

"It is important for parents to understand this issue," said Administrator Steve Figved, Will County 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System. "If you are going to discard an old wireless phone, simply take the battery out to make sure it is not operational. This will eliminate the problem."

Parents are urged to teach their children the proper way to use 9-1-1 in an emergency. The information needed by a 9-1-1 call taker goes beyond just the phone number and address. When calling from a wireless phone, the street address of your location is not available to the call taker. A child must be able to provide the address. If a child doesn't know the address, it is important to teach them to describe any landmarks or descriptions to assist the call taker in directing emergency responders.

Children must also be aware that any accidental or prank calls to 9-1-1 could result in emergency responders being dispatched to the location where the call is being made. This diverts the emergency responders from attending to real emergencies. In the event of an accidental call to 9-1-1, the child should know to remain on the line to confirm to the call taker that there is no emergency and that the call was accidental.

The Will County Emergency Telephone System provides administration of the enhanced 9-1-1 system to the communities in Will County. For more information regarding 9-1-1, contact the office at (815) 725-1911.