Apple watches blamed on surge in 999 calls

Apple watches sending out false SOS alarms during gym workouts are being blamed on surge in 999 calls

  • The smart watches can trigger a call to emergency services when button is held
  • READ MORE: Do YOU have an old Apple gadget that’s worth a fortune? 

Apple watches are triggering a surge in calls to 999 while users are working out in the gym, it has been claimed.

The gadgets, which are priced at up to around £1,000, have an SOS feature built in. If activated, they emit an alarm to attract attention and also call the emergency services. 

This automatic response is triggered if the wearer presses the button on the side for more than ten seconds. 

But police have found that rigorous workouts can accidentally activate the feature, causing a rise in ‘silent calls’ to emergency dispatchers. 

One Apple watch customer said they were in the middle of a training session when he heard a ‘screeching’ that sounded like a rape alarm. 

Apple watches are triggering a surge in calls to 999 while users are working out in the gym

Emergency call handlers have found that they are receiving an increase in ‘silent calls’. File image

READ MORE HERE: Do YOU have an old Apple gadget that’s worth a fortune? How rare Mac computers, collectable iPhones and 30-year-old cameras are now selling for hundreds of thousands of pounds

‘I know personal training can be torture but this is ridiculous. The trainer warned me it might dial 999. I thought it was a joke until I heard the operator asking what service I required.

‘When I told the emergency operator what had happened, she did not seem at all surprised. She just told me to hang up,’ he said according to the Sunday Express.

The watch also offers a setting whereby it will detect if the user has fallen over. The latest models are also fitted with car crash detection. 

Apple customer service suggested that holding weights above the head with hands flexed may cause the button to be held down, and therefore trigger the SOS function.

An National Police Chiefs Council spokesperson told MailOnline that members of public must stay on the line even if the call was an accident. They are asked to let the operator know they are not in need of any assistance. 

They added: ‘Calls to 999 where the operator cannot hear anyone on the line (silent calls) are never just ignored. Call handlers will then need to spend valuable time trying to call people back to check whether they need help.’ 

Apple has been contacted by MailOnline for further comment. 

The surge comes as last month the government was forced to launch a probe after 999 calls failed to connect to emergency services.

Throughout the day 999 calls did not connect to several emergency services and Britons were told to call 101 instead. 

A government spokesperson said at the time: ‘There was a technical issue with the 999 call system earlier today. This is now fully resolved and the service is running as normal, and so anyone with an emergency should call 999 for assistance in the normal way.

‘A full investigation is under way to understand what caused this problem.’


Apple’s Emergency SOS option allows iPhone and Apple Watch users to contact local police, ambulance or fire services at a moment’s notice with a quick button press. 

Even if the handset has no service, it will connect to whichever emergency service provider is available in your area.

To switch the feature off on iPhone 8 and above, go to the Settings app, then tap Emergency SOS and set the Auto Call toggle to off.

Now if you hold down the side button and a volume button, which normally activates the feature, a slider will appear that you have to swipe to place the call, making accidental calls less likely. 

Those with an iPhone 7 or older model will not need to switch this setting as these models have an SOS slider activated by default. 

Apple Watch users can disable the feature by heading to the the Apple Watch app on their iPhone and tapping the My Watch tab.

From here, tap General, then Emergency SOS, and hit the disable Auto Call toggle.

Doing this will mean you’ll have to swipe the Emergency SOS slider when it appears, rather than just continuing to hold the crown button.

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