Amazon's Alexa smart assistant lets you place phone and video calls across its lineup of Echo smart speakers and smart displays. This makes Amazon's Echos some of the best smart home devices for staying connected to both the internet and friends each day. Unfortunately, Alexa devices cannot call out or connect you directly with emergency services such as 911. Read on to see the alternative ways you can use your Echo device to call for help in emergencies.
Set Up Emergency Contacts
Alexa allows you to set up an emergency contact from the Alexa app. To set this up you just open the Alexa app, head over to the "Communicate" section, click on the Contacts button, and then select the Emergency Contacts option. Alexa attempts to call and text your emergency contact when you use any of the following phrases; "help", "I need help", "call for help", "call my emergency contact', or "call my help contact".
Alternatively, AskMyBuddy is our pick for one of the best Alexa skills because it streamlines this process so you can say "Alexa, Ask My Buddy to send help, I fell" to provide even more detail for your contact.
Subscribe to Alexa Emergency Assist
Alexa's Emergency Assist service allows any generation of Echo speakers or smart displays to call a trained emergency services agent 24/7 if you request it with the command "Alexa, call for help". This professional can assess the situation and dispatch local emergency services such as the local police, fire department, or ambulance to your address depending on the issue.
Alexa Emergency Assist also passively listens for dangers like the sound of breaking glass or smoke alarms to send you a notification and connect you with a professional monitoring service immediately. This service works in any room with an Echo device as long as you have Wi-Fi. Alexa Emergency Assist costs $5.99 per month, or $59 for the entire year. It's currently available only in the United States.
Although these agents have access to your home address and the room from which you made the call, they are not dispatchers. Since they work for a third-party helpline this adds a short wait time as this extra step assesses and requests help. You can share household medical information (such as medications or allergies), up to 25 emergency contacts, and passcodes with this service through the Alexa app to streamline first responder efforts and keep family members aware of your emergency though.
Alexa emergency help relies on an internet connection
While Amazon Alexa may not directly call 911, there are still ways to leverage its capabilities in emergencies. It is important to remember that these Alexa features are cloud-based and will not work if your device loses power or internet connectivity. That means if criminals cut power to your house or your router is destroyed in a flood or fire, you will no longer be able to call for help. Alexa provides a supplementary way to bolster your home safety. Traditional emergency procedures should be employed when you need assistance immediately, however, this is helpful information to have in case you find yourself without a phone.
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Hunter Fenollol is a Senior Editor for Tom’s Guide. He specializes in smart home gadgets and appliances. Prior to joining the team, Hunter reviewed computers, wearables, and mixed reality gear for publications that include CNN Underscored, Popular Mechanics, and Laptop Magazine. When he’s not testing out the latest cooking gadgets, you can likely find him playing a round of golf or out with friends feeding his paycheck to a QuickHit slot machine.
Hunter started his career as an intern at Tom’s Guide back in 2019 while in college. He graduated from Long Island University Post with a degree in Communications and minor in Advertising. He has been vlogging ever since the iPhone 4 took front-facing cameras mainstream.