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Tech how-to: How to automatically alert loved ones in an emergency

Uncertain times remind us that we’re not always prepared as we need to be.

In the digital world, no one is ever truly ready for the reality of getting hacked. Tap or click to see if someone is really watching what you do or if you’re being paranoid.

In the physical world, our tech can make a world of difference. Take the Apple Watch, which has been credited with saving lives. Tap or click for the emergency and health features you should set up now before you need them.

Don’t forget about your phone. Here’s how to set up emergency features that will alert your loved ones if something happens to you.

If you have an iPhone

When you make a call with Apple’s Emergency SOS feature, your iPhone does a few things. It will call the local emergency number and alert your emergency contacts via text message.

Your phone will also send your current location to your emergency contacts, along with changes to your location. That means they can follow along if you’re moving from place to place.

Here’s how to make an SOS call on an iPhone 8 or later:

  • Press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons. The Emergency SOS slider will appear.
  • Drag the slider to call emergency services. You can also continue to hold the side button and a volume button. Once the countdown ends, your phone will call emergency services.

Note: On an iPhone 7 or earlier, quickly press the side or top button five times to enable the emergency slider.

Now that you know how to use this feature, let’s run through how to add emergency contacts.

Remember, if you use the Emergency SOS feature, these contacts will receive a message indicating you are having an emergency.

  • Open the Health app and tap your profile picture > Medical ID.
  • Select Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  • Tap the Add button, then tap a contact. Add their relationship.
  • Hit Done to confirm your changes.

RELATED: Have kids in the family? This app from the FBI could help in an emergency

If you have an Android

Android’s version of Emergency SOS works similarly, though you need to set it up ahead of time.

  • Open the Settings app on your phone.
  • Tap Safety & emergency > Emergency SOS.

From here, you can customize what happens when you use Emergency SOS. You can sound an alarm or stay silent, call an emergency number of your choosing, share updates and location info with your emergency contacts, and record a video.

To access Emergency SOS on an Android phone, quickly press the power button five times.

On a Samsung phone, steps may vary slightly. If the method above does not work, open Settings, look for Advanced features, then tap Send SOS messages. From here, you can choose your emergency contacts.

On a Google Pixel and other versions of Android, here’s how to add emergency contacts:

  • Open the Safety app and sign in with your Google account.
  • You’ll be prompted to add emergency contacts. Scroll through or search for a contact and tap the name to continue.
  • Next, you can add medical information if you have not done so.
  • Tap Done to confirm.

Bonus Tip: How to boost your tax refund this year

The IRS has new changes, including the $600 rule, WFH deductions, child tax credits and more. In this episode, tax accountant Rachel Cheek and I dive into the many ways deductions, forms, social media, and rules will impact your 2021 tax return.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player. Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

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