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MPUC Holiday Safety Message: Don’t Let Kids Dial 9-1-1 on an Old Cell Phone for Fun
December 22, 2009
Maine Public Utilities Commission
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Augusta, Maine—A holiday safety message today from the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s Emergency Services Communication Bureau: Old cell phones should not be given to children as playthings unless the battery has been removed or run down completely so that 9-1-1 cannot be dialed. Prank or false emergency calls divert 9-1-1 and public safety resources needed for call-taking and emergency response. In Maine, it is against the law to dial 9-1-1 unless there is a legitimate emergency to report.
Why the warning? School snow and vacation days seem to spawn elevated numbers of false 9-1-1 calls. The source often turns out to be children at home and playing with old out-of-date cell phones given to them by well-meaning parents. The only number old cell phones with a little charge left in their battery will dial is 9-1-1. And so, on the first snow day—in early December --the Department of Public Safety’s Gray Communications Center received 58 emergency calls from one child at home playing with an old cell phone. The Center was busy that day with 660 other real emergency calls that needed immediate attention.
NOTE: By Maine law since January 2008, any retailer who sells cell phones will take them back at no charge. For a list of cell phone recycling programs by company see the Maine Department of Environmental Protection website: http://www.maine.gov/dep/rwm/recycle/cellphonesrecprog.htm.
Background: Non-initialized cell phones (called NSI devices) are those no longer affiliated with or served by a cellular company. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that all cell phones including those out of service have access to 9-1-1. The Commission’s Emergency Services Communications Bureau is responsible for the implementation and maintenance of the statewide Enhanced 9-1-1 system.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, telephone, water and gas utilities to ensure that Maine citizens have access to safe and reliable utility service at rates that are just and reasonable for all ratepayers. Commission programs include Maine Enhanced 911 Service, Dig Safe, and Efficiency Maine.
Contact: Evelyn deFrees, 207-287-6141 firstname.lastname@example.org
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