In the wake of the awful news of Sarah Everard's suspected murder, conversation around women and safety has been at the forefront this week. Women regularly take numerous precautions when out on their own - especially in the dark - including walking busier routes, wearing shoes they can run in, and avoiding listening to music so they can have their senses about them.
It's sad that this is the reality, but regardless it's just what many women feel they need to do. If you're feeling more wary about your safety than ever before right now, you might want to ensure your smartphone is equipped to assist you if an emergency were ever to arise. Both iPhones and Android phones - as well as the Apple Watch - have useful 'Emergency SOS' and 'Safety Check' functions which enable you to store certain contacts who may be quickly and easily alerted in times of need. Here, we run through how to set these functions up so they're easily accessible from your lockscreen.
How to use Emergency SOS on your iPhone:
The iPhone has an SOS function which, once the mode is switched on (details on how to do that below), will automatically call your local emergency services number, and will then notify your emergency contacts via text message your current location. It will go on to send updates to your contacts if your location changes.
How to add emergency contacts on iPhone:
Open the Health app and tap your profile picture.
Tap 'Medical ID'.
Tap 'Edit' and then scroll to 'Emergency Contacts'.
Tap the add button to add an emergency contact.
Tap a contact, then add their relationship.
Tap 'Done' to save your changes.
Emergency contacts can also be removed - you can find out how to do that here.
How to call emergency services via SOS mode on iPhone:
Instructions for iPhone 8 or later:
Press and hold the side button and one of the Volume buttons until the 'Emergency SOS' slider appears.
Drag the 'Emergency SOS' slider to call emergency services.
Alternatively, if you continue to hold down the side button and Volume button instead of dragging the slider, a countdown will start and an alert will sound. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown has finished, your iPhone will automatically call the emergency services.
Instructions for iPhone 7 or earlier:
Rapidly press the side (or top) button five times. The 'Emergency SOS' slider will appear.
Drag the 'Emergency SOS' slider to call emergency services.
In all iPhones, after the call to emergency services has finished, your iPhone will send your emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel this option. If Location Services is off, it will temporarily turn on. If your location changes, your contacts will get an update and you'll get a notification about 10 minutes later.
If you use the Emergency SOS function shortcut (even if you don't call emergency services), you will need to enter your passcode to re-enable Touch ID.
How to use Emergency SOS on your Apple Watch:
The Apple Watch's Emergency SOS function works in exactly the same way as it does on your phone, and your emergency contacts will automatically be the same as the ones on your iPhone if you're using the same Apple ID. However, if you want to make an Emergency SOS call on an Apple Watch that doesn't have cellular, your iPhone needs to be nearby. If your iPhone isn't nearby, you'll need to make sure Wi-Fi Calling is set up (find out how here) and your Apple Watch will need to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network.
How to call emergency services via SOS mode on Apple Watch:
Press and hold the side button on your watch until the 'Emergency SOS' slider appears.
Continue to hold down the side button. Wait for a countdown to begin and an alert to sound. Alternatively, you can also drag the 'Emergency' SOS slider across.
When the countdown ends, your watch automatically calls emergency services.
After the call ends, your Apple Watch sends your emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel. If your location changes, your contacts will get an update, and you'll get a notification about 10 minutes later.
How to access emergency help on Android, on a Google Pixel:
You'll need to make sure you have the Personal Safety app (which is called the Personal Safety App in the Play Store but in your list of apps, only shows as the Safety app) on your Google Pixel. It's automatically downloaded on Pixel 4 and later, but you'll need to download it yourself on a Pixel 3a or any earlier models.
How to schedule a Safety Check on Google Pixel:
Google Pixels have a useful function called Safety Check, which you can implement if you're in an environment you're not sure about, such as walking in an unfamiliar party or getting into a taxi alone. It involves your phone popping up every so often with a 'safety check' which you then respond to letting it know you're okay - if you're not, your emergency contacts are notified and they'll be informed of your location. To make it work, you’ll need to give background location permissions to Google Maps and the Safety app.
Open the Safety app .
Tap 'Safety check'.
Select your 'Reason' and 'Duration'. You can set the check for 15 minutes to 8 hours into the future.
Then tap 'Next'.
Select your contacts. Tap 'Turn on'. If you turn on notifications for your emergency contacts, they’ll be notified when a safety check is scheduled and has ended, and will also be notified if you do not respond when your phone issues a safety check.
When it’s time for you to check in, you’ll get an alert for 60 seconds before emergency location sharing begins. If you mark yourself safe, the emergency share will be cancelled. You can stop the safety check at any time through the notification. If you don’t choose one of the options within 60 seconds, emergency sharing will begin. If your phone turns off or loses signal, the safety check will remain active and will start an emergency share with your last known location at the scheduled check-in time.
How to add emergency contacts on Google Pixel:
You can add emergency contacts, as well as other personal emergency information such as your blood type, allergies and medications, in the Safety app.
Open your phone's 'Safety' app.
If asked, sign in to your Google Account.
To add medical information, tap the item in the list that you'd like to update.
To add emergency contacts, tap 'emergency contacts', then 'add contact', and then tap on the existing contact that you would like to add.
Make sure your emergency info is available to view when your screen is locked, by tapping 'Show when device is locked' and then 'Show when locked'.
How to call emergency services via the lockscreen on Google Pixel:
On a locked screen, swipe up.
A keypad will come up where you can dial 999.
When you dial an emergency number on a Pixel phone (like 999 in the UK), you'll find an 'emergency number' screen with info and features to help during the emergency that needs no setup and no Internet connection.
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