Your iPhone goes with you everywhere – it’s the most versatile tool in your arsenal because it keeps you connected, entertained and helps you navigate, but did you know it could also save your life?
Apple bundles several options on the iPhone that can come in handy in an emergency. Your iPhone can automatically alert your nearest contacts (or call the local emergency hotline) when you’re in trouble, and can even give first responders access to your medical history without unlocking the phone. But for these features to work, you need to set them up. Here’s how to prepare your iPhone for emergencies.
Create a Medical ID on your iPhone
In the event of an accident, it is vital that first responders are familiar with the patient’s medical history so that they can treat it accordingly. However, this information is not always readily available at the scene of an incident – unless you have set up a “Medical ID” on your iPhone.
With “Medical ID” you can let anyone read your essential medical information like your blood type, allergies and medications right from the lock screen without unlocking your phone. It may also include your emergency contacts and their relationship with you.
To set up a medical ID on your iPhone, go to Settings > Health > Medical ID and tap Create Medical ID. On the next page, you will find a series of text fields to add the information you want to appear in your Medical ID. Stock up on the fields you think will be helpful to first responders in an emergency, such as your family contacts and health concerns. If there is information you would like to enter, but you cannot find the relevant entry field for it, please submit it under ‘Medical Notes’.
Finally, turn on the “Show when locked” switch to allow people to access this information from your iPhone’s lock screen. Hit “Next” in the top right corner and then “Done” to save.
Once a person can’t unlock your iPhone through Face ID and Touch ID, they can access your medical information under Emergency > Medical ID on the PIN prompt.
Activate SOS on your iPhone
Your iPhone can also send an SOS to the local emergency number and your emergency contacts. You don’t have to mess with menus to use it, and you can activate it by pressing your iPhone’s lock button three times. When you do, your phone not only alerts the emergency hotline, but even sends your location to your contacts and tells them when it changes.
To enable SOS on your iPhone, go to Settings > Emergency SOS.
There are two ways you can send an emergency SOS from your iPhone. You can quickly press the power button three times to start an 8-second countdown; this will prompt your iPhone to automatically call emergency services. Enable this with the “Call with 3 people” option. Alternatively, with the “Call on hold” switch, you can press and hold the power button and any volume buttons for a few seconds to broadcast an SOS message. You can keep them both on or stick with the one that works best for you.
When you activate SOS on your iPhone, it can also play a loud warning sound to attract the attention of a passerby. You can choose to enable this with the “Countdown Sound” toggle at the bottom of the page.
The emergency number your iPhone calls depends on where you live. For example, in the United States, it calls 911, but in some regions, such as China, you are asked to choose between police, fire, or ambulance.
Share your iPhone’s location with friends and families
Another quick method to make sure someone can always look over you is to share your iPhone’s live location with your closest friends and family indefinitely. You can easily do this with the Find My app on your iPhone.
Open Find My and on the ‘People’ tab and tap ‘Start sharing location’. Find the contact’s profile, touch it and select ‘Send’ in the top right corner. Tap “Share indefinitely” on the next prompt, and you’re all set.
Keep your iPhone traceable after it’s turned off
If you have an iPhone 11 or later running iOS 15, your phone can remain discoverable even when turned off. This can come in handy when the battery runs out in unfamiliar territory, as your loved one can still see where you are.
Navigate to Settings > [Your Apple ID Name at the top] > Find My > Find My iPhone. Enable all three options on this page.
Check if your iPhone can be found when it is turned off by pressing and holding the Power and Volume Down keys. You should have a note “iPhone discoverable after power off” under the power slider.
Prepare your iPhone for emergencies with apps
Aside from your iPhone’s built-in tools, you should have a number of apps in your arsenal to be better prepared in an emergency.
American Red Cross First Aid App provides simple step-by-step instructions on what to do in the event of a range of incidents, such as an asthma attack, stroke, and more, even without an internet connection. It is also integrated with the 911 system so you can call emergency medical services directly from the app.
Apple’s iPhones are not yet equipped with the car accident detection capability like Google’s Android phones. GMs OnStar Guardian App patches that hole, and it works for all types of vehicles. Once up and running, the app will call for help as soon as it detects a car accident. It costs $15 per month after a 3-month trial and is only available in the United States and Canada at the time of writing.