How to use Emergency SOS on your iPhone

Constance Armand 15 Mar 2021

In light of the tragic news about Sarah Everard, our cyber expert Constance Armand has put together some simple instructions on how to use your SOS Emergency feature on your phone. This feature is designed to call the emergency services and share your location with your emergency contacts if you ever find yourself in distress.

What is it?

If you ever find yourself in danger, think of using the Emergency SOS feature. This emergency function is designed to call the local emergency services and to share your live location with your emergency contact(s).

When activated, this feature automatically calls the local emergency number. In some countries and regions, you may need to choose the service that you need (i.e. police, fire, ambulance). The emergency function also offers the option to message your emergency contact(s) and inform them that you are in distress. Your iPhone will then share your real-time location with them, and for a period of time when you have entered SOS mode, it will send them updates on what your location is if you are moving.

How to set it up?

On your iPhone, go to Settings. In the Search bar, type in Emergency SOS and tap on the result. There you can enable “Call with Side Button”, “Auto Call”, “Countdown Sound”, and you can add your emergency contacts.

How to call the Emergency Services on iPhone 8 and newer?

  1. Press and hold the side button and one of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.
  3. If you continue to hold down the side button and Volume button, instead of dragging the slider, a countdown will start and an alert will sound. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown has finished, your iPhone will automatically call the emergency services.

How to call the Emergency Services on iPhone 7 or earlier?

  1. Rapidly press the side (or top) button five times. The Emergency SOS slider will appear.
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.

What happens after you call the Emergency Services?

After your call has finished, your iPhone will send your Emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel this option. If Location Services is off, it will temporarily turn on. If your location changes, your contacts will get an update and you’ll get a notification about 10 minutes later.

When your location is being shared, you’ll get a reminder to stop every four hours for 24 hours. To stop the updates, tap the status bar and select “Stop Sharing Emergency Location”. 

How to end a call?

If you start the countdown by accident, you can cancel it. 

On iPhone 8 or later, release the side button and Volume button.
On iPhone 7 or earlier, press the Stop button, then tap Stop Calling. 

If you accidentally call the emergency services, you can end the call. Tap the red call icon, then confirm that you want to stop calling.

How to use Emergency on your Android

Unfortunately Android does not offer the same feature. Although it does have an emergency feature, this is designed for first-responders as it allows people to access personal information (i.e. blood type or existing medical conditions) without the need for a PIN to unlock the phone. Nevertheless, Android allows users to list contacts they would like to be notified when the emergency feature needs to be used.

How to set it up?

Type in Emergency in the search bar, and tap on the result. Tap on “Emergency Information” and then on the pencil symbol (or, depending on your phone, on “Add”). You’ll be asked to put in your PIN or lock pattern before you can change these details.

You can find more details here:

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT208076

https://support.google.com/android/answer/9319337?hl=en-GB