iPhone SOS to Make 911 Emergency Calls

With Emergency SOS in iOS 11, you can quickly and easily call for help and alert your emergency contacts.   The action will perform two functions:

  1.  Your phone will make a 911 Emergency Call.
  2. A text message will be send to your emergency contacts in your medical ID.

Caution:  Don’t Make an Accidental 911 Call


It is possible for your iPhone to be set up so that the SOS button action below will immediately dial 911 without giving you a chance to confirm.  We recommend that you use a two step process where you 1) press the button(s) and 2) swipe to dial 911.

Here are the steps to make this setup:

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap Emergency SOS
  3. Turn off Auto Call (not green)

Now you can proceed to explore the SOS process below without accidentally dialing 911.


Make the Emergency Call

You will want to practice the action a few times so that it is remembered when you need it.  There are two different actions depending on the iPhone that you have.


iPhone 8 or iPhone X or later

  1. Press and hold the side button and one of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears.  Think of this as holding the iPhone in your hand and pressing buttons on both sides of your phone.  It’s a simple action.
  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.



iPhone 7 or earlier:

  1. Rapidly press the side sleep/wake button five times. The Emergency SOS slider will appear.
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.

Some people have difficulty pressing the Sleep/wake button fast enough.  You want to press the button as fast as you can count 1-2-3-4-5.


Emergency Contacts

After your call to Emergency Services ends, the SOS function will send a text with your location to your Emergency contacts that are set up in the Health app. The message will say,

Emergency SOS

[Your name] has made an emergency call from this approximate location.  You are receiving this message because [Your name] has listed you as an emergency contact.

The text will also include a link to an Apple maps location.

A step-by-step description of Emergency Contacts can be found in Senior Tech Recipe #118 – How to Use the iPhone Health App — It could Save your Life!



No Setup necessary


Requires IOS: 11+


Additional Information

The Senior Tech Club recommends the following additional resources for members that wish to pursue additional and/or advanced information on this recipe:

iPhone User Guide – Emergency Call

Apple Support Doc – Use Emergency SOS on your Phone