When parents are experiencing a true emergency with their child, the last thing they want to do is waste precious time frantically trying to unlock their phone to dial 911. Moreover, 911 may work in the United States, but when you're abroad, travelers are often unlikely to know how to dial for emergency help. And spending minutes trying to find the right number to dial could possibly be a case of life or death.
In the hopefully unlikely case you may need to call for help immediately, your iPhone has a feature called Emergency SOS that you can set up to quickly trigger a call to emergency services wherever you are in the world. It will also immediately notify everyone under your Emergency Contacts that you set up in the Health app.
Once you've turned on Emergency SOS, you'll be able to call local emergency services by rapidly pressing the sleep/wake button (located on the upper right side of your iPhone) five times. That's it. No fumbling to have the phone read your fingerprint or frantically entering in your passcode. You don't even have to turn the screen on.
So, how do you turn on Emergency SOS?
First, you'll need to make sure your iPhone is running on iOS 11. (You can go to Settings > General > Software Update to check.)
Next, go into Settings and scroll down until you see "Emergency SOS" (it's located below "Touch ID and Passcode").
Switch the toggle to "Auto Call."
Toggle "Countdown Sound" on or off.
If you leave the countdown sound on, your iPhone will issue an audible 3-second countdown warning—which is your chance to cancel the emergency call in case you activated it by accident. If you turn it off, you will get no such audio warning. Some people argue that the audible sound may alert criminals to your location if you are hiding, so you really have to weigh the risks and decide whether you think you (or your child) will be accidentally hitting the wake/sleep five times a lot, or whether you'd rather not alert anyone to the fact that you enabled the service.
Finally, fill out any personal medical information and enter emergency contacts within the Health app. This is how the Emergency SOS feature knows who to text once its been activated.
The text sent to your emergency contacts will read: "Emergency SOS I have made an emergency call. You are receiving this message because I have listed you as an emergency contact" and include a map of your location.
So, there you have it! Not only is this feature awesome to have on hand for parents or the elderly, but anyone who may be walking alone in the dark or an unfamiliar place. It's just extra peace of mind for the possibility of any situation occurring beyond your control.
And, while it may go without saying, please don't test out the feature to make sure it's working. Toronto police recently tweeted that their emergency lines have been tied up due to the high volume of people testing out this feature when real emergency assistance was not needed.
The Essential Emergency Prep Kit for Home, Car and Office
No one wants to think about that 8.7 earthquake or another Hurricane Katrina. But the reality is that natural disasters happen. And when they do, being prepared will hopefully make it a little easier to overcome and get your family back to normal. While we hope you never have to use it, here are several items to get you started in assembling a DIY emergency kit for your home, car and office.