Social Media Users Share 'Emergency SOS' Feature on iPhones in Light of Sarah Everard's Disappearance

Luckily, there's a similar trick for Android phones, too.

Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, disappeared on March 3 after leaving a friend's house in London to walk home to another part of the city. Following social media appeals and extensive searches in the local area, a police officer was arrested on suspicion of murder in nearby Kent on March 9. The following day, human remains were found in woodland in Kent, and on March 12, the body was confirmed to be Everard's.

Speaking outside New Scotland Yard, the headquarters building of London's Metropolitan Police, Assistant Commissioner Nick Ephgrave confirmed the news, reported the BBC.

"As you know, on Wednesday evening detectives investigating the disappearance of Sarah Everard discovered a body secreted in woodland in Kent," he said. "The body has now been recovered and formal identification procedure has now been undertaken."

Design by Jo Imperio

Ephgrave said hundreds of officers were working "round the clock" to establish the full circumstances of her disappearance.

"I know that the public feel deeply hurt and angry and I speak on behalf of all my colleagues when I say that we too are horrified," he said.

Everard's family released a statement, paying tribute to her as a "kind, thoughtful, caring and dependable" person.

"She always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour," she said. "She was strong and principled and a shining example to us all. We are very proud of her and she brought so much joy to our lives."

The tragedy has put women's safety under the spotlight, and social media has been awash with tips to give women more protection when they're out in public. An emergency SOS feature is one every iPhone user needs to be aware of. It lets you call for help quickly and easily and alert your emergency contacts at the same time. Here's how it works.

On iPhone 8 and later

To make the SOS call, press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Then drag the slider to call emergency services. If you continue to hold down the side button and volume button, instead of dragging the slider, a countdown will start and a loud siren alert will sound.

If you hold down the buttons until the countdown has finished, your iPhone will automatically call the emergency services. Note: When you make a call with SOS, your iPhone will call the local emergency number automatically. In some countries and regions, you might need to choose the service that you need—for example, police, fire, or ambulance in mainland China.

On iPhone 7 or earlier

The process is a little different on earlier iPhones. To make the call, you rapidly press the side or top button five times to bring up the Emergency SOS slider. The exception is in India, where you only need to press the button three times and your iPhone will call emergency services automatically.

On all iPhone models, after the call has finished, your emergency contacts will receive a text message with your current location, unless you deactivate this option. And you don't have to worry about Location Services—if it's off, it will temporarily turn on. If your location changes, your contacts get sent an update, and you'll get a notification about 10 minutes later.

Obviously, you need to have your emergency contacts in place to take advantage of this feature. To do this, open the Health app and tap your profile picture, then Medical ID. Tap edit, scroll to emergency contacts section, and tap the add button to add an emergency contact. Tap a contact, add their relationship, then save your changes.

What about Android phones?

Don't worry if you're not in the Apple club—this isn't just a feature for iPhone users. Several people have taken to social media to share instructions for how to access comparable features on Android phones. Whatever make and model of phone you have, searching for emergency settings in your general settings will take you through the setup.

For instance, to make an emergency call on the Samsung Galaxy, simply swipe up your phone's screen to be taken to the lock screen, and then select Emergency Call. A dial pad will appear where you can enter your desired number. Your registered emergency contacts will also appear at the top of the screen. (You can add your emergency contacts by opening up your phone's settings menu, selecting Advanced Features, then selecting SOS Messages.) Finally, a medical info icon will appear at the bottom of the screen.

The Galaxy also has an emergency mode that lets you access important emergency features and helps conserve the handset's battery power and limits the device's functionality to extend its standby time for as long as possible. To activate this mode, press the phone's power key until the menu appears, then tap Emergency Mode. (You may have to enter your lock screen credentials.) Next, tap the checkbox to confirm you have read the terms and conditions, and then tap agree, then turn on.

If your phone doesn't have a dedicated power key, you can swipe down from the top of the screen to open quick settings, then tap the power icon, and then Emergency Mode.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation, and you aren't able to swipe on your phone or enter a phone number, you can press the side key or power key three or four times rapidly to send an SOS message to your chosen contacts. In your settings, you can choose how many times you need to press the side or power key before an alert is sent, and also decide whether you want to attach images or an audio recording to the SOS message.

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