How to use the SOS feature for emergencies on iPhone

How to use the SOS feature for emergencies on iPhone

  • The Emergency SOS feature on iPhone allows you to quickly call local emergency services.
  • The iPhone 14 series introduced two new emergency features, collision detection, which automatically makes emergency calls, and the upcoming satellite emergency SOS feature.
  • When you make an emergency SOS call, anyone set as an “emergency contact” will receive a text message.

Modern smartphones put a surprising amount of work into making sure you can always call 911, no matter the situation.

For example: if you own an iPhone, you have access to the Emergency SOS feature, which can automatically call local emergency services, even if you are unable to move.

Here’s how emergency SOS works, how to use it and how to make it easier to access.

How to use Emergency SOS on your iPhone

When activated, the Emergency SOS feature immediately calls local emergency services (usually 911 if you’re in the US). You don’t need a SIM card in your iPhone, and in most cases you don’t even need a cell signal.

The easiest way to activate Emergency SOS is to hold down your iPhone’s lock button and one of the volume buttons. After a moment, three sliders will appear — swipe right Emergency Call slider to make a call.


Drag the “Emergency Call” slider to the right.

Apple; William Antonelli/The Insider

If you have an iPhone 8 or later, there are two more ways to activate Emergency SOS. But before you can use them, you’ll need to enable them.

Open the Settings app and scroll down to tap Emergency SOS. You can include here Call waiting and Call with 5 presses.

  • Call waiting allows you to activate emergency SOS by holding down the lock and volume keys. When you do, the sliders will appear as before, but you can just hold down the buttons to call 911.
  • Call with 5 presses allows you to activate an emergency SOS by quickly pressing the lock button five times.

If you use either of these two additional emergency SOS triggers, your iPhone will ring and blink for a few seconds before making a call to let you know this is happening. If you activated it by mistake, you can use these few seconds to cancel the call.

Emergency SOS settings menu on iPhone, with Call Waiting and 5-Press Call highlighted.

You can choose how you want to access Emergency SOS.

Apple; William Antonelli/The Insider

iPhone 14 has two additional emergency SOS functions

The iPhone 14 series (including iPhone 14 Plus, 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max) adds two new ways to use Emergency SOS.

The first is collision detection. If your iPhone detects that you’ve been in a traffic accident — you stop suddenly, there’s a loud noise, a change in air pressure — it will offer to activate Emergency SOS. If you don’t answer or can’t answer, it will automatically make the call.

The second is Emergency SOS via satellite. Later this year, Apple is launching a system that allows iPhone 14 owners to contact emergency services even when they’re completely out of cell signal range. This system works by connecting you to satellites above the Earth, which will then transmit your messages and location to responsible people on Earth.

Emergency SOS via satellite system will be free for two years. Apple hasn’t announced how much it will cost after that.

Urgent SOS can send an SMS to your emergency contacts

Emergency SOS calls go to any local emergency number — usually 911 if you live in the US. But you can set Emergency SOS to notify any of your friends and family members when you contact emergency services.

To add an emergency contact, open the Health app and tap your profile picture in the upper right corner. Choose Medical IDthen Edit in the upper right corner, then scroll down to select Add an emergency contact.

The “Medical ID” menu on iPhone, with the “Add Emergency Contact” option highlighted.

You can add more emergency contacts.

Apple; William Antonelli/The Insider

When you activate Emergency SOS and contact emergency services, your iPhone will send a text message to each emergency contact to alert them. The text will also include your current location.

#SOS #feature #emergencies #iPhone

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