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Can Alexa call 911? How to set up Alexa for emergencies

Can Alexa call 911 for you? Sort of. Here's how to get help from Alexa in an emergency, whether through 911 or otherwise.
By
April 13, 2022

Amazon likes people to think of Alexa devices as a one-stop-shop for communication. You can make many outgoing phone calls on its Echo speakers, and if you have an Echo Show, there are multiple video calling options. But will Alexa dial 911 for you in an emergency?

Read more: Best emergency apps for Android

QUICK ANSWER

You can't ask Alexa to dial 911 or other emergency services directly, unless you have an Echo Connect hooked to a landline phone. You can, however, set up a personal emergency contact and turn on Alexa Guard for home security.


JUMP TO KEY QUESTIONS

Can Alexa dial 911?

Amazon Echo 4th gen desk
Adam Molina / Android Authority

Unfortunately, you can’t ask Alexa to call emergency services in most cases. In the US, this is due to regulatory compliance FCC rules require that 911-capable devices provide both location data and a callback number, which is theoretically feasible for Alexa, but something Amazon has opted not to implement. You should use a cellular or landline phone in a serious emergency whenever possible.

Using an Echo Connect to call 911

Amazon's Echo Connect landline phone accessory.

Amazon’s Echo Connect accessory is a workaround for these limitations, which links an Echo speaker to a landline, effectively turning it into an unrestricted speakerphone. The Connect has technically been discontinued, but you can occasionally find preowned units on sites like eBay. Setup remains supported within the Alexa app for Android, iPhone/iPad, and the web.

You’ll need a splitter adapter for your phone jack if you intend to make calls from a regular phone alongside your Echo speaker. But once everything is configured, all you’ll need to do is say, “Alexa, call 911.” Be careful about enabling this in homes with small children — prank or accidental 911 calls could land you in trouble.

How to set up an emergency Alexa contact

If you don’t have a landline and an Echo Connect, the simplest alternative is to ensure you have an emergency contact attached to your Alexa account, such as a doctor, a loved one, or even your neighbor. In a pinch, that person can call emergency services and/or come to your aid until authorities arrive.

To add and use an emergency contact in Alexa, do the following:

  • Open the Alexa app for Android, iPhone, or iPad.
  • Tap on the Communicate tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap on the contacts icon (two people) in the upper-right corner.
  • Open the triple-dot menu in the upper-right.
  • Select Emergency Contact.
  • Follow prompts to select an existing contact or create a new one. Note that you can’t add emergency services like 911, and anyone you select will receive a message informing them of your choice.
  • If you ever need help, ask Alexa to “call for help” or “call my emergency contact.”

What is Alexa Guard, and how do I set it up?

Promo art for Amazon's Alexa Guard service.
Amazon

Alexa Guard is a US-only service and won’t call 911 or other emergency services directly. But it does provide a layer of home security, and for a fee, it can indirectly get you in touch with those services. When Guard is enabled, then set to Away mode by saying, “Alexa, I’m leaving,” your Echo speakers will start listening for the sounds of breaking glass and smoke/carbon monoxide alarms.

You’ll receive alerts on your phone, and linked smart lighting can be set to turn on and off to simulate your presence. If you’ve got a security system from ADT, Ring, or Scout, that can also be linked.

Related: The best wireless security cameras

Amazon sells an upgraded service called Alexa Guard Plus, which costs $4.99 per month or $49 per year unless you’re already subscribed to Ring Protect Pro. This enhances audio detection to include options like footsteps, talking, and closing doors, and can use outdoor security cameras to trigger lighting. It can even play dog barking sounds if motion is detected outside, and a siren sound if activity is indoors.

Most importantly, for our purposes, Guard Plus can call Amazon’s Emergency Helpline when you say “Alexa, call for help” instead of a personal emergency contact. A Helpline representative will talk to the appropriate emergency department once they have your information.

Here’s how to get started with either version of Alexa Guard.

  • Open the Alexa app for Android, iPhone, or iPad.
  • Tap the More tab at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Select Guard. You’ll have to scroll down the list a bit.
  • Pick Set Up Sound Detection, then follow prompts.
  • If you want Guard Plus but already have the basic Guard active, go back to the Guard dashboard, then tap Finish Guard Plus Setup.

A final caution: you’ll want at least one Echo speaker within range of each alarm and entry point if you want Guard to be effective. The good news is that the technology is compatible with every dedicated speaker in the Echo lineup, including the Echo Dot, which costs $50 or less.


Read more: The best smart security cameras you can buy