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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

How to Use the Emergency SOS Feature on Your Smartphone

No matter the make and model of your phone, it’s likely to have an emergency SOS feature built in—something you will hopefully never have to use but should make yourself aware of, just in case.

Emergency SOS works in a similar way across mobile platforms, as we’ll outline below. Whether you’re dealing with a medical emergency or other safety concerns, its main purpose is to let emergency services and your trusted contacts know that you're in trouble and where you are.

Apple iPhone

If you use an iPhone, the Emergency SOS feature allows you to quickly call the emergency services in whatever country you’re in and let one or more chosen contacts know that you need help. First you’ll need to set those contacts up. From the Health app, tap your profile picture, then choose Medical ID.

Tap Edit, and then under the Emergency Contacts heading select Add emergency contact to pick one or more names from your address book. These people will get a message when you’ve used the Emergency SOS feature,  and they’ll be sent your current location. Tap Done when you’ve finished.

There’s one other options screen to look at in advance. If you go to Settings, and then Emergency SOS, you can enable both Call with Hold (which calls the emergency services with a button hold) and Call with 5 Presses (which calls the emergency services if you rapidly press one of the side buttons five times in a row). In both cases, you’ll see a short countdown before the call is made.

To actually access the Emergency SOS feature, press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons, then use the Emergency SOS slider, which will call the emergency services in your region. You can also keep holding the side button and volume button if you’ve previously enabled Call with Hold.

Samsung Galaxy Devices

If you own a Samsung Galaxy phone, you can set up the Emergency SOS feature by heading to the main Settings app and choosing Safety and emergency. Turn on the Send SOS messages toggle switch to configure how many rapid presses of the side button are required to enable the feature.

Once the feature is enabled, your emergency contacts will get a message saying that you need assistance, and they’ll be able to track your location for 24 hours. During the setup process, you can select emergency contacts from the contacts list synced to your phone.

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On the Send SOS messages screen, you can also opt to include pictures and a five-second audio recording with the emergency message you send out. In addition, you can have your Samsung Galaxy phone automatically call someone after the messages have been sent: Tap Auto call someone, then choose a contact.

Back on the Safety and emergency screen, there are various other options you can make use of: You can edit your list of emergency contacts from here and turn on the ability to share your location when you make an emergency call. You can also enable Emergency mode, which saves battery life in a crisis situation.

Google Pixel Phones

When it comes to Google Pixel phones, you’ll find there’s a Safety app preinstalled on the device, and this is where the Emergency SOS feature lives. You can tap Emergency SOS right at the top of the opening screen and then turn on the Use Emergency SOS toggle switch to enable the feature on your phone.

Further down the same screen, you’ll be able to configure the options that control how it works. With five taps on the power button, you can get a loud alarm sound to play, call the local emergency services in the current region, share your location with your emergency contacts, and record a video. You can select which of these options to enable.

The Emergency contacts option is on the opening screen of the safety app. Tap on App contact if you want to pick someone new, then select them from your contacts list. You can use the small x buttons at the side of the list if you want to remove someone from your emergency contacts.

Back on the main Safety app screen, you can also turn on Car crash detection. If your Pixel phone thinks you’ve been in a crash, it will play a sound and ask if you’re OK—if you don’t respond to that prompt, your phone will attempt to contact the emergency services and share your current location. You can also watch a demo to get a better idea of how it works. 

If you have an Android phone that's not a Samsung or Pixel device, your directions should be similar to the steps for Samsung devices. Head to the main Settings app, and look for Safety or Emergency.

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