Apple’s Emergency SOS feature, like many other iOS features, is a pretty handy feature and can actually save your life.
When setup, Emergency SOS on iPhone doesn’t just give you a quick option to call emergency services if you’re in trouble, but it will also automatically alert your emergency contacts to your location.
In case you ever need to use the Emergency SOS feature, we’ll show you how to set it up in this article.
How To Use Emergency SOS
In order to use Emergency SOS, you’ll need to access the slider from the Power menu. This is the screen where you swipe the bar to turn off your iPhone.
To access the emergency slider on newer iPhones ( iPhone 8 or later ), follow the following steps.
- Press and hold the Side button and either Volume button.
- Slide the Emergency SOS slider to the right of the screen and this will make the call.
On an older iPhone ( iPhone 7 or earlier ) follow the following steps.
- Press the Sleep/Wake button five times and the menu will appear.
- Then slide the Emergency SOS slider to the right of the screen to make the call.
If you’re still stuck on this step, Apple has a guide on its support pages to help you further.
What Is The Emergency SOS Feature?
Emergency SOS is an iOS feature that allows users to contact emergency services in a crisis from the power screen. The feature appears below the power slider, which you can swipe to activate Emergency SOS.
Once you use this slider, your iPhone will automatically call the local emergency services without you needing to dial the local number.
This means that you can use this feature while abroad, and it will automatically call the emergency services for the country you’re in.
Emergency calls initiated through the feature are placed like a normal emergency call. This means that the call will connect through other networks if your iPhone can’t connect to your own provider.
You will still need to be in an area with cell service (even if it’s not for your own provider) to make use of Emergency SOS.
You can also enable an option to place the call if you hold down the Power button (or the Power combination) for five seconds.
This will not require you to use the slider or interact with the screen in any way; perfect for if you need to make the call discreetly or can’t reach your phone.
After a finished call with the emergency services, your emergency contacts will be alerted via text message, unless you cancel this option.
If your emergency contacts are alerted, your iPhone will also share your location with those contacts for as long as your iPhone is powered on and in SOS mode. You can stop sharing your location using the option in the status bar.
A similar feature to Emergency SOS is automatically activated when you’re in a car crash, on certain iPhone or Apple Watch devices from 2022 onwards.
Dubbed Car Crash Detection, the feature will bring up the emergency slider and auto-call the authorities after ten seconds if it detects a serious car accident.
How To Ensure Auto Call Is Set Up
Auto Call allows you to make the Emergency SOS call on your iPhone without needing to touch the screen or the slider.
If you keep holding down the same buttons you’d use for Emergency SOS for five seconds, an emergency call will automatically start.
To make sure Auto Call is toggled on, or toggled off if you don’t want to use it, follow the following steps.
- open the Settings app.
- From here, tap on Emergency SOS, and then you’ll see the toggle for Auto Call.
- If Auto Call is switched on, the toggle will be green and for off, it will be greyed out.
You’ll be able to tell if Auto Call is working when you try to use the feature. Your iPhone will vibrate, rather violently each second of the countdown before it makes the call.
A siren will also sound in the final three seconds.
How To Set Up And Edit Emergency Contacts On iPhone
If you don’t already have emergency contacts set up on your iPhone, this is another useful feature for an emergency.
As the name suggests, it lets you set up a list of emergency contacts, just in case.
Once you’ve set up your Medical ID, you’ll find your list of emergency contacts there. Your emergency contacts are also notified if you use Emergency SOS, so they’re useful to set up in advance.
To add an emergency contact, follow the following steps:
- Open the Health app
- Tap on your profile in the top right corner
- Tap on Medical ID
- Press on ‘Edit‘ in the top right corner
- Tap on ‘Add Emergency Contact’
- Choose the contact
- Choose the number if they have more than one
- Select their relationship to you
- Tap ‘Done‘ in the top right corner
Now, you’ll find your emergency contacts alongside your Medical ID. You can access this at any time from the Health app, and can change the contacts at any point too.
What If You Have No Signal?
If you’re in an emergency situation without any signal, there’s still a way for you to seek help.
Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature can connect you to emergency services using satellites, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a signal.
Note: This feature is only available on the iPhone 14 series onwards.
When you’re in an area with no service and attempt to call emergency services, your iPhone will guide you through the process of connecting to a satellite.
You’ll likely need to adjust your own position, as well as your iPhone’s to ensure a solid connection.
From there, you’ll be able to send SMS-like messages to the authorities.
And for emergency service centers that don’t support this technology, you’ll be patched through via an Apple relay center.
It’s all rather clever, but your iPhone will guide you through the entire process.
You can demo the satellite feature in iOS 16.2 onwards, so you’ll be familiar with the feature should you ever need it.