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Your iPhone Could Save Your Life: 8 iPhone Emergency Features

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Being prepared can make a potentially terrible situation much more manageable. If you have an iPhone in your pocket, you’re already well-prepared for several different kinds of disasters.

Your phone has more survival tools than a Swiss Army knife, but you should know how to use them. Get yourself out of a jam with your iPhone and these life-saving features.


1. Use Emergency SOS

If you’re in a life-threatening situation, you can use your phone to call emergency services in your region. Without even taking your phone out of your pocket, you can dial 911 and inform your emergency contact of your location. The number your phone will call automatically adjusts to the local area.

This is how you can set Emergency SOS on:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select Emergency SOS.
  3. Choose if you want to Call with Hold or Call with 5 Presses.

If you choose Call with Hold, you can activate Emergency SOS by pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears, then drag the slider to make the call.

If you choose Call with 5 Presses, you can use Emergency SOS by should rapidly pressing the side button five times, and the same screen will appear.

If you have set an emergency contact, your iPhone will automatically send that contact a text message with your current location. Should your location change, your contact will receive an update.

No matter what situation you find yourself in, as long as you have one hand free, your iPhone lets you contact the appropriate authorities.

2. Set Up Your Medical ID

Medical ID stores your critical medical information for easy access if you become incapacitated. The same screen that displays Emergency SOS will also display your Medical ID, and you can display such information as your date of birth, weight, and height.

Additionally, you can list more medically critical information, such as your blood type, whether or not you’re an organ donor, and any medical conditions, allergies, or medications you might be taking.


You can set up your Medical ID on your iPhone like this:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and select Health.
  3. Tap Medical ID.
  4. Tap Edit in the top right corner of your screen.
  5. Update the information you want.
  6. Once you finish, tap Done.

Since you’re already editing your Medical ID, you can scroll down to the bottom and enable Show When Locked so anybody can access your Medical ID on your iPhone and even on your Apple Watch.

3. Use the Compass App

Your iPhone can be handy for backcountry emergencies as well as urban ones. Next time you’re lost in the woods, take out your phone and use Apple’s Compass app.

The Compass app has been a part of iOS for years, but it’s often forgotten among the other pre-installed apps on your iPhone. It uses a magnetometer chip to sense the Earth’s magnetic field. This is crucial because it means you can use it offline. However, accuracy might increase when it can utilize GPS.

Compass works best when you hold your phone flat while using it. Then utilize those elementary school orienteering lessons to get yourself out of the woods when you don’t have service.

You can only orient yourself via true north if you have Location Services enabled and are online. Without that, you’re using magnetic north, just like the pioneers did.

4. Track Your iPhone Even if It’s Turned Off

If your iPhone gets lost or stolen, you can keep tracking it, even if someone decided to turn it off—or your battery died. If you have iOS 15 or a later software update, your iPhone can still send its location. This is how you enable this feature:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your Apple ID. That is your name at the top of your settings.
  3. Select Find My.
  4. Tap Find My iPhone.
  5. Toggle Send Last Location on.


Using Find My is one of the best ways to find your lost iPhone, but remember that this feature won’t last long if your device is low on battery. Your iPhone saves energy to keep this feature working for a few hours. Afterward, you won’t be able to use Find My to locate your device.

5. Use Google Maps Offline

A map is essential when you’re on a road trip in an unfamiliar area. But physical maps these days are few and far between. Everyone uses Google Maps anyway, but what happens when you’re 50 miles out in the desert, hit a fork in the road, and then realize that you have no service?

Fortunately, you can download maps on Google Maps for offline use. Just do the following

  1. Open Google Maps and go to the area that you want to download.
  2. Tap your profile in the top right corner of your screen, next to the search bar, and then hit Offline Maps.
  3. Select Custom map.
  4. Highlight the area you want to save and choose Download.

You have to do this ahead of time while you still have service. But once you save an area, it’ll remain on your phone even if you are offline.

Because GPS doesn’t rely on cellular service, your iPhone can connect to GPS when you’re offline. As this tracks your location, this means that you don’t actually have to be able to find yourself on the map. Just put in your directions as normal.

6. Share Your Location With Friends and Family

If you’re heading into a dangerous situation, you can keep your friends and loved ones informed of your location. The Find My app has a feature that lets you share your location for one hour, one day, or indefinitely with friends or family members. Not only that, but you can also track your friends if they’re in a pinch.

To share your location, go to the Find My app, select People> Stat Sharing Location, and enter the names of your friends or family. After you hit Send, you can choose to share your location with your friends for One Hour, Until the End of the Day or Share Indefinitely. Use it to track your loved ones or let them track you, no matter where you go.

Your iPhone lets you add the people you trust the most as your emergency contacts in case of a dire situation. When you add an emergency contact, if you do an emergency call as we previously showed you from your iPhone, they’ll receive a message with your location saying that you made that call.

To set up emergency contacts on your iPhone, do the following:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and hit Health.
  3. Tap Medical ID.
  4. Select Edit in the top right corner of your screen.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom and select add emergency contact.
  6. Select the contact you want to add.
  7. Choose the relationship you have with that person.
  8. When you finish, tap Done in the top right corner.

8. Use Lockdown Mode

Apple introduced Lockdown Mode in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. This feature will help you stay safe if you feel like any cybercriminal is trying to attack any of your Apple devices.

With Lockdown Mode, your iPhone will block certain apps and features. For instance, the Messages apps will block most attachments, people won’t be able to start a FaceTime call with you, and your iPhone will block any wired connections with another device or accessories.

To turn on Lockdown Mode, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Scroll down and go to Privacy & Security.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom and tap Lockdown Mode.
  4. Tap Turn On Lockdown Mode.
  5. Scroll to the bottom and select Turn On Lockdown Mode.
  6. Tap Turn On & Restart.

Needless to say, you should only consider using this feature if you’re worried you might be a target of a digital threat or cyber attack.

Survive in Any Emergency

With these apps, you’ll have a leg up against different emergencies. Keep them in mind so you’re prepared ahead of time.

You never know when you might be in a tough situation, so having your iPhone, Apple Watch, and other Apple devices ready for emergencies will help significantly.

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