What the Tech: How smartphones can help in an emergency

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Imagine being out and finding someone who needs immediate medical help. A little-known feature on most smartphones makes it possible to call 911 from any phone, whether it’s connected to a phone plan or not.

Here’s the scenario: you come across someone who needs emergency medical attention. You can call 911 from your phone but it’s best to use their phone and you can, even if it’s locked.

If they have an iPhone, just swipe up. You’ll see “emergency” at the bottom of the screen. Tap it to open the phone keypad. You won’t be able to call anyone else, but you can dial 911.

swipe up again and tap emergency. You’ll see “medical ID” at the bottom of the screen. Tapping it should show the person’s name, medications they take, and their emergency contacts.

If they’re wearing an Apple Watch it’s probably unlocked. Even if it isn’t press and hold the bottom button. Swipe to make an SOS call which dials 911 and sends a message to their emergency contacts saying you’ve called for help and shows your precise location.

This works if they’ve set up Emergency contacts. If you haven’t done this, you should. Open the Health app on an iPhone and tap your picture at the top right. Fill in as much as you think is necessary, especially any medication information that would be important in an emergency. Add your emergency contacts and phone numbers.

Make sure “Show when locked” and “Share during emergency call” are turned on. On Android devices, swipe up on the screen. Tap Emergency Call to see their name, call 911 and view their medical information and emergency contacts. Android phone owners should enter that information. be aware this could be different depending on which Android device you have.

If you have young kids, teach them how to do it. take an old phone, it doesn’t matter if it’s connected to a phone plan or not. Plug it into a charger, connect it to wifi, and teach them how to use it. It could be the only way they can call for help if they can’t unlock Mom or Dad’s phone.

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