In an emergency, the faster you can dial 911, the better. To help you connect with emergency services as quickly as possible, the iPhone provides several emergency call shortcuts. However, they also increase your chances of dialling 911 accidentally. For example, you might let your child play mobile games on your iPhone, and they may accidentally activate it.
In this article we cover all of iOS’s emergency call shortcuts. We also show how to tweak or disable these emergency call settings to reduce your chances of dialling 911 by accident.
How to automatically call 911 on your iPhone
To help you avoid accidentally calling 911, you first need to know all the different ways that you can trigger an emergency call. The iPhone provides several shortcuts for contacting 911.
On iPhone 8 or later, either:
- Press the Power button and one of the volume buttons. The “Emergency” page will now appear, which includes the SOS slider. From here, you can dial 911 by swiping to the right.
- If you press and hold the Power and volume buttons, your iPhone will display a countdown. When this countdown hits 0, an alert will sound, and iOS will dial 911.
On iPhone 7 or earlier, rapidly press the Power button five times in a row and then drag the Emergency SOS slider when it appears. Note that in India you only need to press the Power button three times, and your iPhone will then automatically call emergency services.
How to disable the emergency call feature in iOS
You can prevent iOS from calling 911 when you press the external buttons only. This means it’s still possible to dial 911 by pressing the external buttons and then swiping the “SOS” slider that appears. This additional step makes it more difficult to call the emergency services by accident, while also helping you dial 911 quickly in case of an actual emergency.
To make this change to your emergency settings:
1. Launch your iPhone’s “Settings” app.
2. Tap “Emergency SOS.”
3. If you want to prevent your iPhone from calling 911 when you press the Power button five times, disable the “Call with Side Button” slider.
4. To prevent iOS from automatically calling 911 when you hold the Power and Volume buttons, disable the “Auto Call” slider.
You’ll need to press the external buttons and drag the onscreen slider in order to call 911 after deactivating the automatic features.
Naming an emergency contact
While you’re editing your SOS settings, you may also want to add an emergency contact to your iPhone. After you call 911, iOS will automatically alert your emergency contact with a message that contains your current location.
You can name an emergency contact by navigating to “Settings -> Emergency SOS -> Set Up Emergency Contacts in Health.” The Health application will now guide you through the process of creating your emergency contact.
If you’re worried about triggering these shortcuts accidentally, we have shown you how to disable the emergency call feature in iOS. If you can’t dial 911 for some reasons, know how to text 911 in emergency.