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If You've Ever Called 911 by Accident on Your iPhone, You Need to Read This

You really don't want to accidentally call emergency services. Here's what you can do to prevent that from happening.

911 on an iPhone
Here's how to stop accidentally calling 911 on your iPhone.
Nelson Aguilar/CNET

In the case of an emergency, you can press the side button on your iPhone several times to quickly get you in contact with 911. The feature is called Emergency SOS, and it's useful to have in case of a severe car accident or a home invasion -- in which you may be incapacitated or need to be discreet -- but unfortunately it's also easy to trigger the feature by accident. 

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If you've got kids or have a tendency to fidget with your iPhone, it's quite common to call emergency services by mistake. All it takes is a few clicks or a long press, and suddenly you're not only calling 911, but you're also sending out text messages to your loved ones, telling them that you might possibly be in danger. And that's a problem if you're not actually in trouble.

Fortunately, it's pretty easy to prevent the Emergency SOS feature from accidentally activating, while still keeping the feature available in case of an actual emergency. In this guide, we'll show you how to toggle off a few settings so that you no longer misdial 911 on your iPhone.

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While you're here, check out these 2 iOS 16 settings which you should disable right now to help preserve your battery.

How Emergency SOS is accidentally activated on iOS

You can enable Emergency SOS to call emergency services in three ways:

  • Press and hold the side and volume buttons
  • Rapidly press the side button five times
  • Slide the Emergency SOS slider

It's the first two options that are easy to trigger and can accidentally call emergency services, so we're going to disable those two and leave only the third one enabled.

Emergency SOS settings on iOS

Disable these two settings to help prevent your iPhone from accidentally calling 911.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

How to prevent your iPhone from accidentally calling 911

To disable the two quick-access options, launch the Settings application and go into Emergency SOS. Next, toggle off the following two options:

  • Call with Hold: Press and hold down the side and volume button for several seconds.
  • Call with 5 Presses: Quickly press down fives times on the side button.

If you're running an older version of iOS, you may have different setting options, but they're the same as the ones above, just named differently. If you see Call with Side Button, that's the same as Call with 5 Presses, and Auto Call is the same as Call with Hold.

And although these settings will be disabled once you toggle them off, don't worry -- you can still trigger Emergency SOS by holding down the volume and the side button for a couple seconds and then sliding the Emergency SOS slider to the right. It takes a few seconds longer, but still provides an easy way to contact emergency services in a pinch.

You might also want to disable the new Crash Detection feature on the iPhone 14

If you have an iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Pro model running iOS 16, there's a new Crash Detection feature that detects if you're in a severe car accident and calls emergency services. After it's triggered, you have 20 seconds to cancel the call or else emergency services are dialed.

Reportedly, the Crash Detection feature has accidentally gone off during roller coaster rides and other wild movements for some people, so you can choose to disable this feature if you don't want to risk accidentally calling 911. To disable Crash Detection, go to Settings > Emergency SOS and toggle off Call After Severe Crash.

Crash Detection Feature on the iPhone 14

This feature is only available on the iPhone 14 series.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Don't like other iPhone settings? If so, check out these annoying iOS 16 settings and how to fix them and how to move the browser bar back to the top of Safari.