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Use the Samsung Galaxy S5's emergency contact feature

Editor Jessica Dolcourt shows you how to set up an emergency Galaxy S5 tool you'll hopefully never have to use.

Jessica Dolcourt Editorial Director, Content Operations
Jessica Dolcourt's career with CNET began in 2006, and spans reviews, reporting, analysis and commentary for desktop software; mobile software, including the very first Android and iPhone apps and operating systems; and mobile hardware, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds. Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of practical advice on expansive topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
Expertise Team leadership, audience engagement, iPhone, Android, iOS, tips and FAQs.
Jessica Dolcourt
2 min read
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Watch this: Send an SOS to the world on Galaxy S5

There are those features on your phone that you'll probably never use, and then the ones you'll never want to use. Such is the case with Safety Assistance, an emergency tool that will alert up to four predetermined contacts when you sound the alarm.

Here's how it works: In time of need, you would press the power/lock button three times in quick succession. This action sends a series of text messages with your approximate mapped location, a photo from the front and rear-facing cameras, and a short voice recording.

This isn't to replace a call to 911, 999, 000, or other emergency services. Samsung's lengthy disclaimer also states that, since the tool is based on text messaging, it "may not work accurately, continuously, or error-free" depending on network conditions.

Still, for a little peace of mind, Samsung's twist on ICE, or In Case of Emergency, numbers, is easy to set up. Here's how you do it.

1.) Turn it on

Navigate to the Settings menu, then press Quick Settings. Select Safety Assistance from the list of choices, then tap Send help messages, and swipe the toggle to On.

Hop into the settings menu to get started with Safety Assistance. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

You'll be asked to read through and sign off on a lengthy terms of service that reminds you that this feature won't summon an ambulance, and that also absolves Samsung of personal liability.

2.) Check the boxes

If you want to scale back on the service to keep from inundating your contact with so many texts, you can uncheck the boxes to deselect sending a recording, and photos from the Galaxy S5's two cameras. In that case, triggering the emergency response would send an SOS text with your location.

3.) Set up your contacts

Back out of the help messages window and tap Manage primary contacts to select your emergency recipients. You can have up to four.

You can have up to four contacts on your list. You'll see a notification that the GS5 has sent your SOS. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

It isn't a good idea to include emergency services here, since most government agencies won't accept texts, or even know who you are in the first place. (This is changing in some places in the US, but isn't widespread by far.)

4.) Test it out

It's worth letting your contacts know that you've added them. I'd also recommend a dry-run test so both sides understand what to expect in the event of the real deal -- may it never occur.

Your recipient sees a series of texts, including a short voice recording, and a map with your coordinates. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET