Anyone who’s been in a car crash or any other emergency situation knows your brain goes into survival mode. Getting yourself and those around you to safety becomes your top priority, so you may forget things like letting your family know what happened or documenting the event in case you need the information later.
If you’re an Android user navigating such an ordeal, Google’s Safety app can assist. In the moment, you can share your location, and use the power button to trigger a suite of automated actions bundled within its Emergency SOS mode. You can also prepare for any future emergencies by adding medical data that may be vital for first responders.
Setting up this potentially lifesaving mode is simple and will let you focus on what’s important while knowing help is on the way.
How to set up Emergency SOS on Android
You can get to Android’s safety features by opening Settings and then tapping on Safety & Emergency. However, you can also find these tools through the Safety app, which is built into any stock Android device (Pixel phones, for example) but can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.
No matter which path you choose, you’ll end up having to tap on Emergency SOS to get started. If you open the app, you’ll encounter a wizard that will walk you through a few actions that will automatically occur when you quickly press the power button on your phone five times. If you set things up through the Settings menu, you’ll see a list of all those actions and will be able to adjust them individually.
The first thing you’ll need to decide is whether you want your device to play an alarm sound when you trigger Emergency SOS. This can be useful if you’re in a situation where you need to draw attention to yourself and will also help you avoid activating Emergency SOS by accident. The alarm option is an on-off toggle switch next to Play alarm sound, and even though you can listen to a test of the noise your system will use, you cannot change it.
Right after the alarm goes off, Emergency SOS will trigger the first action: a call for help. You can turn this feature on by tapping the toggle switch next to Call emergency services. If you live in the US, your phone will call 911 by default, but if you move to another country or want to use your local emergency service, you can change this manually by tapping on Call emergency services and then Number to call. On that same menu, you can activate Use assisted calling, which will share your name and location with first responders in case you’re unable to talk. If you have a Pixel phone and have car crash detection on, your device will also share this information if it detects a collision. Keep in mind that the ability to do this depends on your device and your carrier, so it may not be an option for you.
While you’re on the phone, Emergency SOS will text your loved ones. To turn on this feature, toggle the switch next to Share info with emergency contacts, then tap on it to go to the Emergency sharing menu. Here, you can set up exactly what the platform will share and with whom. If you haven’t set up a list of emergency contacts, you can do so from here by tapping Emergency contacts and adding the people you want to notify in case something happens to you.
Back on the Emergency sharing menu, you can allow your phone to share real-time information about when you start and end a call with anyone (toggle the switch next to Phone call), or a first responder (toggle Emergency call), and when your device is running low on juice (turn on the Low battery switch). One thing you won’t be able to toggle is location sharing, which will always be on if you activate Emergency SOS.
Finally, you can set up your phone to register everything that happens around you as soon as Emergency SOS kicks in. Do this by toggling the switch next to Record emergency video, which will take you to the Recording settings menu. If you activate this action, your phone will continuously shoot a video for up to 45 minutes. This will all happen in the background, which means you’ll be able to use your phone normally while the camera rolls.
Once the time is up or you stop the recording, your device will automatically compress the video and, if you have an internet connection, back it up to the cloud. Once the file is finished uploading, Emergency SOS can send a download link to your emergency contacts in case you lose access to your device. This setting is optional, and you can activate it by toggling the switch next to Auto share in the recording settings.
Hopefully, Emergency SOS is a feature you’ll never have to use. But it’s good to know that you can set your phone to act on its own so you can focus on caring for yourself and the people around you.