How to Use the Emergency SOS Feature on iPhone

  • The Emergency SOS feature on iPhone lets you quickly call local emergency services.
  • The iPhone 14 series introduced two new emergency features, Crash Detection, which automatically places emergency calls, and a coming Emergency SOS via Satellite feature.
  • When you make an Emergency SOS call, anyone set as an “emergency contact” will receive a text message.

Modern smartphones put in a surprising amount of work to make sure that you can always call emergency services, no matter the situation.

For example: If you own an iPhone, you have access to the Emergency SOS feature, which can automatically call local emergency services, even if you’re not able to move.

Here’s how Emergency SOS works, how to use it, and how to make it easier to access.

How to use Emergency SOS on your iPhone

When activated, the Emergency SOS feature immediately calls local emergency services (usually 911 if you’re in the US). You don’t need to have a SIM card in your iPhone, and in most cases, you don’t even need to have a cell signal.

The easiest way to activate Emergency SOS is to hold down your iPhone’s Lock button and one of the Volume buttons. After a moment, three sliders will appear — swipe your finger to the right across the Emergency Call slider to make a call.

The “Emergency Call” slider on an iPhone.

Swipe the “Emergency Call” slider to the right.

Apple; William Antonelli/Insider



If you have an iPhone 8 or newer, there are two other ways to activate Emergency SOS. But before you can use them, you’ll need to enable them.

Open the Settings app and scroll down to tap Emergency SOS. Here you can toggle on Call with Hold and Call with 5 Presses.

  • Call with Hold lets you activate Emergency SOS by holding down the Lock and Volume buttons. When you do this, the sliders will appear like before, but you can just keep holding the buttons to call emergency services.
  • Call with 5 Presses lets you activate Emergency SOS by quickly pressing the Lock button five times.

If you use either of these two extra Emergency SOS triggers, your iPhone will ring and flash for a few seconds before making the call to let you know it’s happening. If you activated it by mistake, you can use these few seconds to cancel the call.

The “Emergency SOS” settings menu on an iPhone, with the “Call with Hold” and “Call with 5 Presses” options highlighted.

You can choose how you want to access Emergency SOS.

Apple; William Antonelli/Insider



The iPhone 14 has two extra Emergency SOS features

The iPhone 14 series (including the iPhone 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max) adds two new ways to use Emergency SOS.

The first is Crash Detection. If your iPhone detects that you’ve been in a car crash — you come to a sudden stop, there’s a loud sound, the air pressure changes — it’ll offer to activate Emergency SOS. If you don’t or can’t respond, it’ll automatically make the call.

The second is Emergency SOS via Satellite. Later this year, Apple is launching a system that lets iPhone 14 owners contact emergency responders even when they’re completely out of cell signal range. This system works by connecting you to satellites above the Earth, which will then relay your messages and location to responders back on Earth.

The Emergency SOS via Satellite system will be free for two years. Apple hasn’t announced how much it will cost after that.

Emergency SOS can text your emergency contacts

Emergency SOS calls go to whatever the local emergency service phone number is — usually 911 if you’re living in the US. But you can set Emergency SOS to notify any of your friends and family members when you contact emergency services.

To add an emergency contact, open the Health app and tap your profile picture in the top-right corner. Select Medical IDthen edit in the top-right corner, and then scroll down to select Add emergency contact.

The “Medical ID” menu on an iPhone, with the “Add emergency contact” option highlighted.

You can add multiple emergency contacts.

Apple; William Antonelli/Insider



When you activate Emergency SOS and contact emergency services, your iPhone will send a text message to every emergency contact to alert them. The text will also include your current location.

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