Published: Dec. 5, 2018

Have you updated the software on your iOS phone lately? If so, you now have an emergency calling feature right at your fingertips. Rather than opening your phone app and dialing 911, the iPhone will do that for you.

Man calls 911 during an emergencyIf you have an iPhone 7 or earlier...

Follow these steps to activate the emergency calling feature:

  1. Rapidly press the side (or top) button five times in a row.
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call 911.

If you have an iPhone 8 or later...

Follow these steps:

  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 911.
  3. If you continue to hold down the side button and volume button, instead of dragging the slider, a countdown begins and an alert will sound. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

Additionally, if you set up your Emergency Contacts in Settings, your iPhone will send a text to those people after calling 911 for you.

If you have an Android...

For Android devices, the service is different. The Android SOS functionality will not call 911 for you, but the phone will capture photos and audio and send a text messages to up to four people whom you designate. But, you have to set all of this up before the emergency happens.

  1. Turn it on: Go to your settings menu and click on the “Privacy and safety” submenu. From there, select the “Send SOS messages” choice. Finally, move the toggle switch on the top of the screen to “On” and agree to the terms and conditions.
  2. Add emergency contacts: You will be prompted to add anywhere from one to four contacts. When finished, tap “Done” and press the back button on the top of the screen. Next, you can choose whether you want to include photos from the front and rear cameras of your phone and audio when the SOS is activated.
  3. Activate the feature: Now that SOS is setup, you are ready to activate it. To do so, quickly press your power button three times. If you elected to send photos and audio, the phone will now take pictures with your front and rear cameras and record an ambient audio clip. These will be sent with a map of your location and the words “I need help” to the contacts that you selected.

Whether you have an iPhone or Android, you now have a better way to quickly get help when face to face with a dangerous situation.