How To Set Up Emergency Contact Info on Your Phone

By Tracey Dowdy

A friend of mine was recently involved in a traffic accident overseas. One of the other drivers involved was seriously injured, and it was necessary for my friend to contact the driver’s family back home in Canada. Because the driver had set up an Emergency Contact in his iPhone and enabled it to be seen even while the phone was locked, it made a traumatic situation somewhat less difficult.

The feature is called Medical ID and is available for iPhones and iPod Touches. To activate the feature, open the Health app. From here, enter your full name, birth date, any medical conditions and medications you’re taking, your blood type, an emergency contact and other details including height and weight, and whether you’re an organ donor.

Once you’ve completed the information, enable “show when locked,” so the data will be accessible to others such as emergency responders or, as in my friend’s case, a bystander who would otherwise be unable to unlock your device.

Android phones also feature an emergency contact function but because there are so many different manufacturers there’s no uniform software feature across all devices. Back in 2016, Google announced a feature with Android Nougat called “Emergency Information,” which according to Google should be under the “Users” tab in settings. However, some phones using Nougat, namely the LG V20 and  Samsung Galaxy S8, don’t have the setting but emergency information was editable in the Contacts app on both phones.

To set up your emergency information on an Android, go to “Contacts” and then “Groups” located next to the Search bar — the icon with the silhouette of two people. Tap “ICE – emergency contacts,” then choose which of your contacts you want to add to the list. You can assign more than one.

Now, when the “Emergency Call” button is chosen, from the lock screen, a red button on the upper right will bring up your emergency contacts, and the red icon on the lower left will bring up your emergency medical information. To set up emergency medical information, go to Contacts>My Profile. Tap “More,” and a screen will display a fillable form for you to input your emergency medical information including medical conditions, allergies, blood type and more.

Whatever device you’re using, it’s important to complete this information. Having access to information such as current medical conditions and allergies is critical when first responders deal with emergencies. It’s not an overstatement to say it could save your life or the life of someone you love.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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