We've all butt dialed someone, hopefully not your 9-1-1 Emergency Center, but it seems to be happening more often and that's not good.  Here's why.

According to Vince Gerasole, reporting for CBS Chicago.com

When someone “butt-dials” 911, it’s not just an inconvenience, it’s a public safety issue.

Officials in Evanston say that nearly 20 percent of the wireless calls they get each month are “unintentional” or “abandoned” calls; and they believe the vast majority of those unintentional cell phone calls are butt dials.

Emergency workers said those kinds of calls waste valuable time and could put people at risk.  About 500 times each month, someone mistakenly dials the Evanston 911 center from their cell phone and that’s only part of the story.

He said about 90 percent of those unintentional calls are the result of someone fumbling around in their purse or sitting on their cell phone and accidentally speed dialing 911.

Operators have to stay on the line until the call drops, then call back the number to see if there’s a real emergency. Since cell phones can only be tracked by general location, in extreme cases officers are dispatched to find whoever might be in distress.

Speed dialing is a convenience marketed by cell phone makers, many pre-programming one-touch 911 emergency service, even when the phone is locked.

National emergency management agencies have said the problem is cropping up across the country.

What can cell phone users do to avoid mistakenly calling 911? They should cover the touch pads or keyboards of their phones when they’re not in use and, if you realize you have mistakenly dialed 911, stay on the line and let the operator know it was a mistake.

Information via: CBS Chicago.com, Vince Gersole