Many people across Tennessee have smartphones and smart home devices that make life a little easier. They can turn off lights, identify intruders, play music and read bedtime stories. However, they do not always work the way we want or need them to.

For instance, some voice-activated devices may call police or other emergency contacts in times of distress, like a domestic assault. Some devices cannot do this. And some make the call in error.

Using a device to call for help

People with Amazon or Google products in their homes may assume they can direct their electronic assistant to call 911 like they would direct it to start a timer. However, most speakers out of the box do not have this capability. 

To call for help using a smart speaker, users can purchase specific equipment to make a device compatible with a landline. They could also do what one woman did and set up a special skill that directs the device to call specific contacts in times of distress. It will not call 911, but it will alert designated contacts that you need help.

Smartphone assistants like Siri, on the other hand, can make calls to 911 upon voice command. Some phones also allow users to connect to emergency services without speaking.

Mistakes can happen

Despite the advancement of these devices, they are not perfect. In some cases, a speaker could send an alert after overhearing something out of context. Or, a child playing with a parent’s phone may accidentally make an emergency call without realizing it. 

When these mistakes occur, it is possible that a person could wind up arrested or facing charges for domestic assault, even though no one involved called for help.

Protecting yourself with and without technology

Any person who is in a relationship with someone who may become violent should familiarize themselves with what their devices can and cannot do in an emergency. This knowledge could save a life.

If police do respond to a call made in error by a device, it is crucial to stay calm and contact an attorney right away. Doing so can allow you to avoid unnecessary charges and clear your name.