It’s a smartphone feature that could (and has) save a life.

Earlier this week a snowboarder in Switzerland credited a little-known feature in the iPhone’s operating system for saving his life.

Tim Blakey said he fell while making a run on a glacier at around 10,000 feet. Grabbing his iPhone he used “Emergency SOS” to call for help.

Not many people know about Emergency SOS or how to set it up and use it. It can be lifesaving in almost any scary situation.

Press power button quickly 5 times

On an iPhone quickly press the side power button 5 times, or simultaneously hold down the side button and a volume button. You don’t need to do anything else. When the timer hits 3, the phone sounds an alarm that might scare away someone threatening you. When the timer hits zero, the phone dials the nearest 9-1-1 call center.

   It’ll also notify anyone in your emergency contacts that you’ve called for help and send them a map of your location. You’ll need to set that up beforehand. In settings select Emergency SOS, making sure the toggle “Call with 5 presses” is turned on.

 And add emergency contacts to your list in the iPhone’s Health app. They’ll receive your location on a map which will be updated if you move from that location.

Similar on Android

   On an Android phone, you’ll find the settings under Safety and Emergency. If not, since there are different Android models, look for it under “Advanced Features”. 

On Android devices press the power button 3 times quickly to contact 9-1-1 and message your emergency contacts. You can also choose to send photos and audio recordings when you activate the alert. I’ve had mixed results trying this on a Google Pixel and a Samsung Galaxy device. You should set up your emergency contacts in safety settings.

You can also use emergency SOS on an Apple Watch by holding down the power button.

Before testing this, remember after a few seconds it will dial a 9-1-1 operator automatically. So hang up before the countdown reaches zero. But tell everyone in your family about this. It could save their life.

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