How to quickly make an emergency call with your smartphone

You hope you never have to do it, but someday you might: Making a call to your local emergency services.

We all know about dialing 9-1-1 directly, yet there are a couple ways to make it even faster and more convenient right from your home or locked screen, which can be especially helpful in an emergency situation.

In this tip, we’ll show you how to be prepared today if you ever need to call emergency services in the future.

In case of an emergency, your smartphone is the best tool to call for help — and with some preparation now, you’ll be ready to make a call quickly if an emergency arises. It may also be a good idea to memorize these steps so you won’t have to think twice during a fast-moving situation.

How to make an emergency call on iPhone

From the lock screen

If your phone is locked and you are unable to unlock it, you can quickly make an emergency call from the passcode screen by tapping “Emergency.” This will bring up a keypad from where you can dial 9-1-1.

Enable Emergency SOS

Emergency SOS is a feature built into all newer iPhones that allows you to make an emergency call almost instantly by pressing two buttons simultaneously on your phone. To use this feature, make sure you are running iOS 11 or later; the latest iOS is 15, so you probably are, but read how to find out which version you’re running and how to update it.

 Now, here’s how to enable and use Emergency SOS:

  1. For iPhone SE or iPhone 8 or later: 
    • This feature should already be enabled on your phone. To make an emergency call, click and hold your side (or top) button and either one of the volume buttons until a screen with a slider labeled “Emergency SOS” appears. 
    • Drag the slider to the right to make a call. Alternatively, your iPhone will make an audible alarm and begin countdown before it automatically makes a call.
    • To turn off the countdown, go to Settings > Emergency SOS and tap the toggle next to Countdown Sound.
  2. For older iPhones:
    • Quickly press your side button five times in a row, then drag the Emergency SOS slider.

For more information and limitations of this feature, visit this help article from Apple.

How to make an emergency call on Android

On Android devices, you can quickly make an emergency call by bypassing your lock screen and without unlocking your device. It may different depending on the manufacturer or model of your phone, but with Android, making an emergency call is very straightforward:

  1. If your lock screen is enabled, tap “Emergency call” at the bottom of the screen.
  2. When the dialer is visible, dial the number for your local emergency services, like 9-1-1.