How to add emergency contacts to your iPhone or Apple Watch

Resetting Apple Watch
Resetting Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

If you ever find yourself in trouble — medically or otherwise — Apple has built a feature into both the iPhone and Apple Watch to get you help as quickly as possible. It's called SOS (named after the morse code distress signal), and when triggered, it will call your area's emergency services department and automatically notify your emergency contacts. (Obviously, you'll only want to use this feature in a true emergency — most EMS departments don't take prank calls lightly.)

Your iPhone or Apple Watch can automatically find the number for your local emergency services department by triangulating your current location, but it can't automatically pick your emergency contacts: If you want to alert any members of your family or friends in an emergency, you'll have to designate them yourself. Here's how to do it!

How to add emergency contacts to your iPhone or Apple Watch

If you have added emergency contacts to your Health app, they will automatically be contacted when you trigger Emergency SOS on your iPhone. They will also continue to be notified of your current location every time you move.

  1. Launch the Health app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the Medical ID tab.
  3. Tap Edit in the upper right corner.
  4. Tap Edit Medical ID.

  1. Under Emergency Contacts tap Add emergency contact.
  2. Select a contact from your list.
  3. Select a Relationship.

Repeat the process until all of your emergency contacts have been added.


Let us know below.

Updated January 2018: Updated for iOS 11 and watchOS 4.

Serenity Caldwell

Serenity was formerly the Managing Editor at iMore, and now works for Apple. She's been talking, writing about, and tinkering with Apple products since she was old enough to double-click. In her spare time, she sketches, sings, and in her secret superhero life, plays roller derby. Follow her on Twitter @settern.

  • Hi Ren... I can't add my father on my contact list.. He's grayed out (an many others from the contacts list)... He's gotta a phone # and an email in his contact card, so I don't get why watchOS won't alloy his name.. Will look in the communities for a solution...
  • Did you discover why, JohnnyGoodFace?
  • Yes: I had his name 3 times from 3 different sources - Apple Contacts, Exchange Contacts and contacts! I kill Exchange and Outlook contacts and it wasn't greyed out anymore
  • On my iPhone watch app I do not have the add a contact feature , just shows about Open Health and About Emergency SOS and privacy. I have a iPhone 6s Plus with the latest updates and the watch is a first generation that has been updates to 3.1 OS. Any ideas?
  • watchOS is on 4.2, not 3.1
  • Well I am stymied as well I'm trying to add my wife from contacts (outlook) and she's listed twice in her contact in the health app and it wont go any further ie I can't do or get to relationship and get her added she's in limbo. Ideas anyone?