It’s not enough that dumb crooks have unwittingly called 911, but sometimes it is old cordless phones that summon help. Operators across North America still get calls from old cordless phones that malfunction and dial 911, said Nancy Branson, a spokesperson for a 911 district. She said, “What happens with cordless phones, is that there’s a kind of chatter between the handset and the base. When the batteries get low, the digits start to become more random, and sometimes dial 911.”
Older cordless phone models are well known to call 911 when no one’s home, and are even known to seize control of the phone lines while owners are making other calls. No one’s sure of exactly how many false 911 calls are caused each year by malfunctioning cordless phones, but police and firefighters lose a lot of valuable time chasing the false calls.
The problem was so common in the U.S., that the FCC finally began requiring all cordless phone makers to install circuitry to keep the phone’s base from dialing numbers, unless the handset first transmits a security code. The change has helped to reduce the number of new false 911 calls, but operators still get bogus calls from older phones.
If you can’t afford a new cordless phone, then your best bet to prevent unwanted calls, is to follow the owner’s manual and make sure that the batteries always stay charged. Although newer cordless phones are not supposed to dial randomly, under special circumstances, they have still been known to do so.