Smartphones are spectacular to snap photos, scan the news and send messages, but they can also be literal lifesavers if you take the time to set them up before the need arises.
Both Android and iOS have easy-to-use systems to share your location with a friend, family member or other trusted contact in an emergency. You can even create connections that let you check your loved ones to see if their phone has detected the movement lately and then request an automatic site update if you can't reach them.
The key to all this is to configure your emergency system before time so it will be available if an actual emergency occurs. Now take two minutes and then wait until you know that the phone is ready.
The Simple Option for iOS
If you have an iPhone, Apple offers a built-in emergency system that gives you a quick way to call 911 (or equivalent emergency service provider) and then warn a group of predefined emergency contacts – all in one case.
To begin with, tell your phone what your emergency contacts are:
- Open the Health app.
- Touch the "Medical ID" tab.
- Tap "Edit". (If you have not created a medical ID, you first need to do so.)
- Find the "Add emergency contact" option and add as many people as you want.
Apple's iOS Health app has the key to configuring emergency sharing on an iPhone.
If you are ever in an emergency with an iPhone 8 or later:
- Press and hold the power button along either the volume button and you will see a "SOS Emergency" countdown on your screen.
- Hold down both buttons until the countdown ends.
- Your iPhone automatically dials 911 and as soon as the call is disconnected, the phone will text your emergency contacts with your current location.
If you have an iPhone 7 or earlier, press the power button five times quickly, then drag your finger across the Emergency SOS screen that appears on the screen to initiate the same process.
The simple option for Android
Android has no similar all-in-one feature, but it provides a way to provide emergency services information about a predetermined emergency contact from the lock screen. While the installation may differ slightly depending on which phone you have and which version of Android it is running, the basics should be the same.
- Go to the phone's lock screen. (You do not have a screen lock set? Why not?)
- Look for the word "Emergency" at the bottom of the lock screen. Press it.
- Touch "Emergency Information" and then the pen icon (or, depending on your phone, on "Add"). You will be asked to enter your PIN or lock pattern.
- This takes you to the Emergency Information screen, where you can add personal information (such as blood type or any existing medical condition) and any contacts you want to be
The Advanced Option for Android or iOS
For One more robust setting where you can share and request sites with trusted contacts – without having to call 911 – download Google's trusted contacts app for Android or iOS. Once you have logged in, create your list of connections.
- Click the Add Contacts box on the app's main screen.
- Find and tap the name of everyone you want to add.
- Once that person has approved your request (and installed the app on their phone) you can always see if they have been active recently and even if their phone battery is critically low.