4 Cell Phone Emergency Tricks You Probably Didn't Know

You never know if one of these tricks might come to your aid in a time of crisis.

Most of us own a cell phone, right? But do most of us know how to use our cell phones in urgent crisis situations? Probably not. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it helps to stay very informed and ready to use every tool we have available. Here are five easy and oft-overlooked tips for how to use your cell phone in the case of an emergency.

iPhones have special alert signals.

slide to unlock text apple phone

If you have an iPhone 7 or earlier, rapidly pressing the side (or top) button five times in a row will initiate a call to emergency services. If you have an iPhone 8 or later, press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears, then drag the Emergency SOS slider to call 911. If you continue to hold down the side button and volume button and don't drag the slider, a countdown begins and an alert will sound. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

And Androids will send messages to four emergency contacts.

woman using android phone from behind

For Android devices, the service is different. The Android SOS functionality will not call 911 for you, but the phone will capture photos and audio and send text messages to up to four people whom you designate. The only thing is, you have to set all of this up before the emergency happens.

You can test your phone's signal without those bars.

Wireless phone tower

The bars are showing up, but you can't get through a text or call? Well, you can see specifically how strong your signal is with this easy tip: Call *3001#12345#*, which will launch something called the Field Test tool. At the top on the lefthand side of your screen, you will then see a '-' sign followed by a number, which indicates if you have a signal where you are. A score of -50 is ideal, with a -120 being very poor.

Always keep your phone on in an emergency.

Timer function on iPhone

Can't make a call? Keep your phone on! If you are in an emergency situation, there is a chance that someone will come looking for you. Smartphones all come with GPS services, which can be relatively easily tracked by authorities seeking your location.

Want to learn more about how to be ready in the case of an emergency? Check out Prepared Not Scared: Your Go-To Guide for Staying Safe in an Unsafe World by Bill Stanton.

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