How to use Emergency SOS on iPhone

There are times when you might find yourself in a scary situation. Perhaps you have fallen or feel like you’re in danger. Maybe you’re with someone else who has become ill or had an accident, and you want to help. The best iPhones can actually come in handy in such situations thanks to a feature called Emergency SOS.

It’s important to note that you should only ever use Emergency SOS when it’s a true emergency since doing so will immediately contact your local emergency number. This is why it requires a specific set of button presses to activate, so it’s unlikely ever to be done by accident.

While you hope never to have to use Emergency SOS, it’s worthwhile to know exactly how to do it should the need ever arise.

How to use Emergency SOS on iPhone

  1. Press and hold the side button and either volume up or down until you see the Emergency SOS slider appear on the screen.
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  2. Drag the letters SOS on the Emergency Call slider to the right in order to immediately call emergency services OR;
    iphone emergency sos 2
  3. Alternatively, if you’re unable to reach the slider, you can continue to hold the side and volume buttons down simultaneously. If you do this long enough, a countdown will appear in the red circle where “SOS” is written, and an alert will sound to confirm. Release the buttons once the countdown is over, and emergency services will be contacted.
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  4. If you have Emergency Contacts set up in your phone, the iPhone will automatically send a text message to these individuals as well, including your location. Even if Location Services are off, the emergency trigger will temporarily turn the feature on to acquire your coordinates and send the information. Your emergency contacts will receive updated information about your location 10 minutes later in case you are moving.
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Note that the process is slightly different if you have been holding on to an iPhone 7 or older model iPhone. In this case, press the side or top button quickly, five times in succession. This will bring up the same Emergency Call slider, at which point you can proceed with step 2.

You can also actively choose to use this method, even on newer phones, if preferred to avoid accidental presses from yourself or a child.

How to change to a different method for emergency SOS

  1. Go to Settings, Emergency SOS.
  2. Go to Call with 5 Presses and move the slider to the right. This will now require that you use the old method to trigger Emergency SOS.

Using Emergency SOS to, first and foremost, contact emergency services is important. But it’s always a good idea to have an emergency contact person listed in your phone, so your family or friends can be notified. In the event of a car accident, for example, this will ensure your family knows right away and can head to the hospital instead of waiting to be contacted by hospital staff. For teenagers, having this feature can be useful as well in case they are in danger or in an uncomfortable situation and need an adult to arrive and help.

  1. Open the Health app, and tap Summary (if it isn’t already the default that opens).
  2. Select your Profile Photo.
  3. Tap Medical ID.
  4. Tap Edit at the top, right to add pertinent information like known medical conditions, allergies, and reactions, and if you’re an organ donor. You can also add your blood type as well as the medications you are taking or require.
  5. Scroll down to Emergency Contacts.
  6. Select Add Emergency Contact.
  7. From there, you can add someone right from your Contacts list and include their name, phone number, and their relationship to you.

With newer phones, including the iPhone 14 as well as the iPhone 14 Pro, there’s also a new feature called Crash Detection. This can detect a car crash like a front- or side-impact, rear-end collision, or even a rollover, then sound an alarm and display (and read aloud) an alert that Emergency SOS will be triggered if you don’t reply within a specified period of time. The alert shows the Emergency Slider at the bottom of the screen and also sends a message with your location to your emergency contacts.

You can then either proceed with calling emergency services if needed or dismiss the alert if it was received in error. (Some people, for example, have noted receiving the alert after riding a particularly bumpy roller coaster). The phone also shows the Medical ID slider with your pertinent medical information (if you added it), like known allergies, blood type, and more. Note that you can turn Crash Detection off in the Emergency SOS section of the Settings app by moving the Call After Severe Crash detection option to the left.

iphone emergency sos severe crash

With iPhone 14, you don’t even need cellular or Wi-Fi coverage to text emergency services: this can be done via satellite. Note, however, that the satellite feature is only free for the first two years after activating the new phone, after which it will incur a subscription fee.

It’s worthwhile to set up your Medical ID and Emergency Contact details in the iPhone, so they work in tandem with Emergency SOS. Together, these features could be a literal lifesaver, or at the very least, notify loved ones that something is amiss and you have alerted authorities.

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