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How to use Emergency SOS on your Apple Watch

With the Emergency SOS feature on an Apple Watch, you can call for help and alert your emergency contacts. When you make a call with SOS, the smartwatch automatically calls the local emergency number. In some countries and regions, you might need to choose the service that you need. 

You can also add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your Apple Watch alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your smartwatch sends them your current location, and, for a period of time after you enter SOS mode, it sends your emergency contacts updates when your location changes. 

To use SOS, your iPhone needs to be nearby (hopefully, this will change with watchOS 5). If your iPhone isn’t nearby, your Apple Watch needs to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network and you must set up Wi-Fi Calling. On Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + Cellular), you can also use a cellular connection. Here’s how to make a call:

  • 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. You can also drag the Emergency SOS slider.
  • 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 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. To stop the updates, select Stop Sharing in the notification. If you keep sharing, you’ll get a reminder to stop every 4 hours for 24 hours.

(This how-to is based on my experiences and info on Apple’s support pages — where the images sometimes come from.)

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Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.