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Emergency Officials Warn About Old Cell Phones

Updated: Thursday, May 22 2014, 09:42 PM CDT
There is a warning for parents who may have old cell phones laying around their house. While it may be canceled, emergency officials say some key features still work. That means an old phone may not be the perfect toy for a young child.

Children always want to be like their parents, so giving them an old cell phone as a toy may seem like a good idea. But emergency officials say before you hand it off to a child, make sure the battery is removed or you could receive an unexpected visit at your home.

Kids dialing 911 is becoming more common as more cell phones roll on to the market. Christine Dennison gave her son alex an old phone to play with and received quite a surprise.

"It had the battery in it and he dialed an emergency call and I got a hold of the cell phone when I realized it had rang," said Dennison.

Officials at the Christian County 911 Dispatch center say 20% of their total calls are from children mis-dialing using old phones.

"So two out of every 10 calls," said 911 Administrator Mickie Ehrhardt.

Ehrhardt says the problem becomes a public hazard since Christian County only has  a few designated 911 lines.

"We've gotta answer every one with the assumption it's a true emergency," said Ehrhardt.

That means when children on the other end don't answer, other key services are wasted.

"That is using not only 911 dispatch resources but also law enforcement who are following up on these," said Ehrhardt.

To prevent an unexpected visitor at your home, emergency officials suggest taking the battery out of old phones.

"I know it makes noises and stuff with the battery in it and it lights up or whatever, but it's more fun for the children to play with, but it can still dial 911," said Ehrhardt.

And that's why grandmother of 7, Crystal Carnahan, takes her battery out. She advises other parents do the same.

"911 calls are for emergencies only and children don't know any better," said Carnahan.

We also checked in with other 911 centers to see if they have the same problems.

The Logan County Emergency Manager says they receive 2 to 3 misdialed calls from children on old phones every month. Officials say that number has started to decrease in recent years.

911 officials say the reason all cell phones, even if they are canceled, can still call 911 is because of a nationwide law instituted by the FCC.    Emergency Officials Warn About Old Cell Phones


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