Emergency “SoS” Features on Your Mobile Devices

Calling for help can be a challenge. There are no shortage of “panic button’ type devices that you can buy, most of which require a monthly subscription. With the press of a button, these devices can call 911 and text a message and your location to a list of contacts. If you already own a capable device, there is no extra cost for this feature.

Using your mobile device as a panic button to call for help and notify loved ones can be an effective tool in your self-defense plan. Furthermore, emergency features on mobile devices can be used by the elderly and those with medical conditions who may need to call for help.

Although there are many apps that offer panic button features, this article will only deal with devices that have the features built-in. For example, rather than launching an app and tapping on the screen to active a call for help, you will simple depress hardware buttons on the device with no dedicated app needed.

The Apple iPhone and Watch probably have the most robust “SoS” feature set. The Samsung Galaxy has this capability as well. Below is information you need to configure and use “SoS” features on these mobile devices.

How It Works

Apple iPhone SoS Emergency Call

When you make a call with SOS, your iPhone automatically calls the local emergency number. In some countries and regions, you might need to choose the service that you need. For example, in China you can choose police, fire, or ambulance.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Call Emergency Services

Here’s how to make the call on iPhone 8 or later:

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

Here’s how to make the call on iPhone 7 or earlier:

  1. Rapidly press the side (or top) button five times. The Emergency SOS slider will appear. (In India, you only need to press the button three times, then your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.)
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.

After the call ends, your iPhone sends your Emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel. 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.

If you use the Emergency SOS shortcut, you need to enter your passcode to re-enable Touch ID, even if you don’t complete a call to emergency services. 

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Stop Sharing Your Location

When your location is being shared, you’ll get a reminder to stop every 4 hours for 24 hours. To stop the updates, tap the status bar and select “Stop Sharing Emergency Location.”

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

End a Call

If you start the countdown by accident, you can cancel. 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 emergency services, you can end the call. Tap the red end call icon, then confirm that you want to stop calling.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Add/Remove Emergency Contacts

You can add emergency contacts from the Health app on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap the Plus icon to add an emergency contact.
  4. Tap a contact, then add their relationship.
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

Here’s how to remove emergency contacts:

  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap the Minus icon next to a contact, then tap Delete.
  4. Tap Done to save your changes.

You can’t set emergency services as an SOS contact.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Turn Off Auto Call

When Auto Call is on and you try to make an emergency call, your iPhone begins a countdown and sounds an alert. After the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

Here’s how to change the setting:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Turn Auto Call on or off.

If you turn off this setting, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Change How You Call

On iPhone 8 or later, you can choose to call by pressing the side button five times. Here’s how to change the setting:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Turn Call with Side Button on or off. Pressing and holding the side button along with the Volume button will continue to work when this is on.

How It Works

When you make a call with SOS, your Apple Watch automatically calls the local emergency number. In some countries and regions, you might need to choose the service that you need. For example, in China you can choose police, fire, or ambulance.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your Apple Watch alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your Apple Watch sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends your emergency contacts updates when your location changes.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Call Emergency Services

To use SOS, your iPhone needs to be nearby. If your iPhone isn’t nearby, your Apple Watch needs to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network and you must set up Wi-Fi Calling. On cellular models of Apple Watch, you can also use a cellular connection.

Here’s how to make a call:

  1. Press and hold the side button on your watch until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
  2. Continue to hold down the side button. Wait for a countdown to begin and an alert to sound. You can also drag the Emergency SOS slider.
  3. When the countdown ends, your watch automatically calls emergency services.

After the call ends, your Apple Watch sends your emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel. 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.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Stop Sharing Your Location

When your location is being shared, you’ll get a reminder to stop every 4 hours for 24 hours. To stop the updates, select Stop Sharing in the notification.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

End a Call

If you start the countdown by accident, release the side button.

If you start an emergency call by accident, firmly press the display, then tap End Call.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Add or Remove Contacts

You can add emergency contacts from the Health app on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap the plus icon to add an emergency contact.
  4. Tap a contact, then add their relationship.
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

Here’s how to remove emergency contacts:

  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap the minus icon next to a contact, then tap Delete.
  4. Tap Done to save your changes.

You can’t set emergency services as an emergency contact.

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your iPhone sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends updates to your emergency contacts when your location changes.

Turn Off Automatic Dialing

You can change your settings so that holding the side button won’t call emergency services automatically:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap the My Watch tab.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS.
  3. Turn off Hold Side Button.

If you turn off this setting, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call.

Enable SOS messages

  1. Open ‘Settings’.
  2. Select ‘Advanced features’.
  3. Select ‘Send SOS messages’ and turn on.
  4. Tap ‘Select from contacts’ to choose a contact to send messages.
  5. Select an existing contact or create a new one.
  6. Tap ‘Done’.
  7. Press the power button three times quickly to auto send an SOS message.

Setting up emergency features on mobile devices is as easy as using them. Configure and get familiar with activating your device, as it could summon help when you need it most.

By |2018-10-11T14:08:14+00:00October 11th, 2018|Cyber Safety, Self-Defense|0 Comments

About the Author:

Founder of Mindful Defense™, an effective system of self-defense for all skill levels regardless of age, gender or physical ability. David is a full-time martial arts and self-defense instructor at his studio, Overland Park Karate, in Overland Park, KS.

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