If you need to make an emergency call without someone knowing, there's a quick way to do it. But first, you need to make sure the feature is set up properly in your settings.
There are a three options for Emergency SOS calling: Call with Hold and Release, Call with 5 Button Presses, and Call Quietly. To access the features, go to Settings > Emergency SOS.
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Call with Hold and Release
When Call with Hold and Release is turned on, you can hold the side button along with either of the volume buttons to make an emergency call. Your iPhone will then begin an 8-second countdown and an alert will sound. When you release the buttons after the countdown ends, your iPhone will automatically call emergency services. You can cancel the call by tapping the Stop button. The alert can be silenced. See the Call Quietly section below for instructions.
The Call with 5 Button Presses feature allows you to press the side button five times to call 911. An 8-second countdown will begin and an alarm will sound, which can again be turned off in the Call Quietly section. Once the countdown ends, emergency services will be called. You can cancel the call by tapping Stop.
Using one of the two features above will call emergency services, but it's possible to do it secretly so anyone who is around you won't know you've called. Toggle on the Call Quietly feature to silence warning alarms and flashes.
When you use Emergency SOS to call emergency services, a message will be sent to each of your emergency contacts with your current location. Your emergency contacts appear on the Emergency SOS page on your iPhone but can be edited in the Health app.