When searching for a missing kindergarten teacher in Memphis, Tennessee, many people wonder what they would or could do if they were in a dangerous situation and unable to call for help.
If you have a smartphone with you, there are features that allow someone to call 9-1-1 without dialing the numbers and send your exact location to the police and family members.
Not many people know about Emergency SOS or how to set it up and use it. It can be life saving in almost any scary situation.
On an iPhone, quickly press the side power button 5 times or press and hold the side button and a volume button at the same time. You don’t have to do anything else. When the timer reaches 3, the phone will sound an alarm, which could deter someone threatening you. When the timer reaches zero, the phone dials the nearest 9-1-1 call center.
It also notifies each of your emergency contacts that you called for help and sends them a map of your location. You have to set that up beforehand. In Settings, select Emergency SOS and make sure the 5-press call switch is on.
You can also turn off the alarm sound if you don’t want to alert people around you that you’re calling for help or have a smartphone with you.
If you haven’t already, add emergency contacts to your list in the iPhone’s Health app. Enter the name and contact information, which you probably already have on your phone. When you use Emergency SOS, those emergency contacts will receive a message that you called 9-1-1 and may need immediate assistance. You also get your location on a map that updates as you move away from that location. When I tried it out, the Apple Map showed a friend’s location live and even showed which side of the road they were on and which direction they were going.
All of this happens discreetly if you turn off the setting that triggers the alarm before dialing 9-1-1.
On an Android phone, you can find the settings under Security and Emergency. If not, as there are different Android models, look for it under “Advanced Features”.
On Android devices, quickly press the power button three times to contact 9-1-1 and alert your emergency contacts. You can also send photos and audio recordings when you turn on notification. I’ve had mixed results trying this on a Google Pixel and a Samsung Galaxy device. You should set up your emergency contacts in security settings.
You can also use Emergency SOS on an Apple Watch by pressing and holding the power button, but you’ll have to swipe a slider at the bottom of the screen to call 9-1-1.
Another security option is to carry an Apple AirTag that shows your location wherever you go as long as there is another iPhone nearby.
Before you test this, remember that it will automatically dial a 9-1-1 operator after a few seconds. So end the call before the countdown reaches zero. But tell everyone in your family about it. It could save her life.