Enable this hidden phone setting to alert loved ones during an emergency

We never know when there will be an emergency — a car accident, an unexpected fall, a sudden illness — so it’s always good to be prepared ahead of time.

Luckily, our smartphones can be programmed to alert loved ones in the event of an emergency.

In this week’s tip, we’ll walk through a few simple steps to show you how to create emergency contacts and use Emergency SOS from your phone.

The Emergency SOS feature on both iPhone and Android devices allow you to quickly and easily contact 911 or your local emergency number. After setting up one or more emergency contacts, your phone will also send a text message to your loved ones with your current location and updates if your location changes.

How to make an Emergency SOS call from an iPhone

Here’s how to make an Emergency SOS call from an iPhone 8 or later:

  1. Press and hold your power button and one of the side volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
  2. Drag the slide to begin your call.
  3. If you continue holding the buttons, a countdown begins, an alarm will sound and your phone will automatically call emergency services.

To begin an Emergency SOS call from an iPhone 7, quickly press the power button five times in a row until the slider appears.

Setting up emergency contacts on an iPhone

Here are the steps to set up emergency contacts who will be notified when you make an Emergency SOS call on an iPhone 8 or later:

  1. Open the Health app and tap your profile picture
  2. Tap Medical ID.
  3. Tap Edit (or Setup), then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  4. Tap the Add button to add an emergency contact.
  5. Tap a contact, then add their relationship.
  6. Tap Done to save your changes.

How to set up emergency contacts and make an Emergency SOS call from Android

On an Android device, you will need to first enable Emergency SOS. In these settings, you will also be able to set up how your emergency contacts will be notified. (Note that these instructions may vary depending on your Android version and your phone’s manufacturer)

  1. Open your phone’s Settings app.
  2. Tap Safety & emergency > Emergency SOS.
    1. If this is the first time setting up Emergency SOS, you may be presented with a setup wizard.
  3. Choose your settings.
  4. Choose your emergency SOS action: From here, you have a number of Emergency SOS settings you can customize, like changing your emergency number, playing an alarm, and setting up emergency actions, including notifying your emergency contacts.

To make your emergency SOS call, press the power button 5 or more times quickly. Here is additional information about using your Android device in an emergency from Google.