How To Make Emergency SOS Calls on iPhone and Apple Watch

How To Make Emergency Calls on iPhone and Apple Watch

We can all benefit from knowing how to use Apple’s Emergency SOS feature on iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. With Emergency SOS, you can make emergency calls for help quickly and easily, as well as alert your emergency contacts. 

Also, if you share your Medical ID, your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch can send your medical information to emergency services when you call or text 911 or use Emergency SOS (U.S. only).

Note: For emergency help in the United States, you can send a text message to 911 (not available in all locations). 

What is Emergency SOS?

Emergency SOS (Save Our Soul) is a feature that you need to make an emergency call on your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch and you can’t access your screen to dial – and even if it’s locked – you can call emergency services just by pressing the side button five times.

It’s one of those features you never expect to need to use, but it could be the difference between life and death.

Use Emergency SOS on your iPhone
Image Credit: Apple

It’s also a feature that you might trigger in error, so we’ll explain what to do if you accidentally press emergency SOS on your iPhone or Apple Watch.

How Does Emergency SOS on iPhone Work?

When you make an emergency call with SOS, your iPhone will automatically call the local emergency number for where you are. In some countries and regions, you may need to choose the service that you need. For example, in China Mainland, you can select the fire, police, or ambulance service.

You can also add emergency contacts on your iOS device. After an emergency call has ended, your iPhone can alert your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel this option.

Your iPhone will send your current location, and for a period of time, after you’ve entered SOS mode, your emergency contacts will be sent updates when your location changes. 

How To Use Emergency SOS on iPhone (All Countries or Regions Except India)

In order to use an emergency SOS call for all countries or regions except India, follow the below steps:

On an iPhone With Face ID, iPhone SE (2nd Gen and later), iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus: 

  1. Press and hold the side button and either volume button.
  2. Continue to hold the buttons when the Emergency SOS slider appears, until iPhone plays a warning sound and starts a countdown. (To skip the countdown, drag the Emergency SOS slider.)
  3. When the countdown ends, iPhone calls emergency services.
  4. Or, you can enable iPhone to start Emergency SOS when you click the side button five times. Go to Settings > Emergency SOS, then turn on Call with 5 Presses.

On Other iPhone Models: 

  1. Click the side button or Sleep/Wake button (depending on your model) five times.
  2. Now drag the Emergency SOS slider. 
How To Use Emergency SOS on iPhone - All Countries or Regions Except India
Image Credit: Apple

After the emergency call ends, iPhone alerts your emergency contacts that you made a call and sends them your current location (if available).

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

How To Use Emergency SOS on iPhone in India

  • On an iPhone with Face ID: Triple-click the side button. Or, if Accessibility Shortcut is turned on, press and hold the side button and either volume button until the sliders appear, then drag Emergency SOS.
  • On an iPhone with a Home button: Triple-click the side button or Sleep/Wake button (depending on your model).

By default, iPhone plays a warning sound, starts a countdown, then calls the emergency services. After the emergency call ends, iPhone alerts your emergency contacts that you made a call and sends them your current location (if available).

How To Change Emergency SOS Settings on iPhone

  1. Go to Settings > Emergency SOS.
  2. Do any of the following:
    • Turn Auto Call on or off: When Auto Call is on and you start Emergency SOS, iPhone plays a warning sound, starts a countdown, then calls the emergency services in your region.
    • Turn the countdown sound on or off: When Countdown Sound is on, iPhone plays a warning sound even in silent mode or when Do Not Disturb is turned on.
    • Manage your emergency contacts: Tap Set Up Emergency Contacts in Health or Edit Emergency Contacts in Health. See Create a Medical ID.

Change How You Call Emergency SOS

On iPhone 8 or later, your iPhone can automatically call the emergency services. When Call with Hold or Call with 5 Presses is turned on and you try to make an emergency call, your iPhone will start a countdown and sound an alert. After the countdown has finished, your iPhone will call the emergency services automatically.

To turn these settings on:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS
  3. Turn Call with Hold or Call with 5 Presses on.
Change How You Call Emergency SOS
Image Credit: Apple

If you’ve turned off Call with Hold or Call with 5 Presses, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call.

How TO Dial Emergency Number When iPhone is Locked

  1. On the Passcode screen, tap Emergency.
  2. Dial the emergency number (for example, 911 in the U.S.), then tap the Call button.

How To Stop Sharing Your Location After Emergency SOS Call

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

How To End A Call If You Accidentally Press Emergency SOS Call

If you start the emergency SOS call countdown by accident, you can cancel it. 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 call the emergency services by accident, you can end the call. Tap the End Call button, then confirm you want to end the call.

What is The Emergency Option on Apple Watch?

Alike iPhone and iPad, there is a similar feature on Apple Watch and this will be even easier to access if you are wearing one, so it’s well worth knowing.

Press and hold the side button until the Apple Watch beeps

Note that if you use this method the Apple Watch will make a beep. If you want to make the call silently then you can do the following:

Press and hold the side button until the sliders appear and drag the Emergency SOS slider to the right.

How To Turn On Emergency SOS on Apple Watch

As with the iPhone, the Emergency SOS call feature will be set by default on Apple Watch, but if you want to check:

  1. Open Settings on the Apple Watch.
  2. Tap SOS.
  3. Tap Hold Side Button.
  4. Make sure Hold Side Button is selected.

You can also turn off the Hold Side Button option here if you are finding you are accidentally triggering it. You will still be able to make emergency calls using the slider, as per the second method mentioned above. 

Important Information About Emergency Calls on iPhone and Apple Watch

  • You can use iPhone to make an emergency call in many locations, but you should not rely on it for emergencies. Some cellular networks may not accept an emergency call from iPhone if iPhone isn’t activated, if iPhone isn’t compatible with or configured to operate on a particular cellular network, or (when applicable) if iPhone doesn’t have a SIM card or the SIM card is PIN-locked.
  • In some countries or regions, your location information (if determinable) may be accessed by emergency service providers when you make an emergency call.
  • Review your carrier’s emergency calling information to understand the limits of emergency calling over Wi-Fi.
  • With CDMA, when an emergency call ends, iPhone enters emergency call mode for a few minutes to allow a call back from emergency services. During this time, data transmission and text messages are blocked.
  • After making an emergency call, certain call features that block or silence incoming calls may be disabled for a short period of time to allow a callback from emergency services. These include Do Not Disturb, Silence Unknown Callers, and Screen Time.
  • On an iPhone with Dual SIM, if you don’t turn on Wi-Fi Calling for a line, any incoming phone calls on that line (including calls from emergency services) go directly to voicemail (if available from your carrier) when the other line is in use; you won’t receive missed call notifications.
  • If you set up conditional call forwarding (if available from your carrier) from one line to another when a line is busy or not in service, the calls don’t go to voicemail; contact your carrier for setup information.

Set Up Other Emergency Features


I hope that this article on how to make Emergency SOS Calls on iPhone has provided you with some useful insights into resolving your iPhone dilemma.

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About Nikhil Agrawal 143 Articles
Nikhil is an avid reader, technology enthusiast, web geek, and solo entrepreneur who loves making things on the Internet. He has been a tech blogger since before the word was invented, and will never log off.

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