Tim Robberts / Getty Images
Natalia Lusinski
January 15, 2018 8:49 am

Our cell phones do so much for us. They help us get in touch with people quickly, put the news at our fingertips, and keep us entertained. And now, they have another extremely useful purpose too. Lifesaving, even. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, there is a hidden iPhone feature that could help save your life.

Whatever the situation may be — perhaps you are being followed or you were just mugged — you can use Emergency SOS in iOS 11 to come to your rescue. Your iPhone will then automatically call a local emergency number. You may remember when Daniel Radcliffe helped a tourist after they were mugged in West London in July of 2017. But since not all of us have Radcliffe around to help save the day, that’s where this hidden iPhone feature comes in.

Yes, some people take self-defense classes so they feel safer when walking down the street. But the more tools at our disposal, the better, right? Especially when such tools can come from the press of a button on our phones. So you need to know about this hidden iPhone feature. All it takes is using the Emergency SOS feature in iOS 11, and we’ll show you exactly how to do so.

Here’s how to enable Emergency SOS on your iPhone 7 or earlier.

If you have an iPhone 7 or earlier, quickly press the “sleep/wake” button on the side of your phone five times. It will bring up this screen, which gives you the option to turn off your phone, access your Medical ID profile, or make an emergency call with Emergency SOS. If you swipe the Emergency SOS slider, it will call emergency services.

And here’s how to enable Emergency SOS on your iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus.

With an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus, you’ll need to press and hold the side button, as well as one of the volume buttons, until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Then, you drag it to call emergency services. If you continue holding down the side button and volume button, and you don’t drag the slider, a countdown starts. An alert sounds, too. You can hold the buttons until the countdown ends, at which point your iPhone will automatically call emergency services.

What happens after you call emergency services?

Your iPhone will send your emergency contacts — another feature that we’ll get to in a minute — a text with your current location. (You also have the option to cancel that step.) And if your location changes, your emergency contacts will also be notified of that too.

ICYMI, you can customize your Emergency SOS settings.

Open “Settings” and tap “Emergency SOS.” There, you can turn Auto Call on or off. If you leave Auto Call on and try to make an emergency call, your iPhone will start a countdown and sound an alert, but once the countdown ends, your phone automatically calls emergency services. If you turn Auto Call off, you can still make an emergency call using the Emergency SOS slider.

You can also add emergency contacts.

As we mentioned, your emergency contacts will be notified if you call emergency services. While you’re there, you can also add other helpful information, like allergies, medications, and your blood type.

Hopefully, you’ll never have to use the Emergency SOS feature. But knowledge is power, right?

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