On the default lock screen, whether using pattern or pin, there is a button at the bottom which says "Emergency Call". But if I try to call my home number or anything it tells me "That is not an emergency call." What does it let through? Is it only 911?

Is there any way to tell it to allow a certain set of numbers from the emergency button, like to set a list of emergency numbers such as: 911, Home and Wife? This would seem like it would be very useful, so if someone finds you smooshed on the road, they know these certain people should be called.

  • 7
    As an interesting and mostly on-topic point, you should always keep a spare cell phone charged in your glovebox, even if it isn't attached to a carrier contract. Every cell phone with a charge (in the US at least) is capable of dialing 911 even without a service contract. If your main phone dies and you get stuck somewhere you can still dial 911 this way.
    – newuser
    Mar 30, 2011 at 16:28
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    What might be a better idea rather than modifying the Emergency Call button (which after all isn't there for you, but is there for someone else to use in a hurry, who may not even speak your language natively, so should be kept as simple as possible) would be to find if any homescreen replacements let you put extra, custom buttons on the screen in addition to the Emergency calls button.
    – GAThrawn
    Mar 30, 2011 at 16:30
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    @GAThrawn, I know there are ICE apps in the market... I do kinda get a little worried with 3rd party apps modifying the lock screen though, just for the same security reasons you didn't want apps modifying the GINA dll in Windows. Having anything mess around with the lock screen just doesn't sit comfortably with me. That's why I was curious if there was any in-built way to adjust the numbers allowed from this screen. Thanks for the input on the thread! :)
    – eidylon
    Mar 30, 2011 at 16:47
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    like everything else in Android, the lock screen is just another app, except with the policy that it cannot be closed involuntarily (e.g. through the Back/Home key). Replacing the home screen is a regular business in Android; it does not even require root. There are many lock screen replacement apps on the Market, some had a few additional features, some allows you to put any widget/shortcut on the lockscreen, others experiments with unusual unlocking methods (or even no lock). Don't fear hacking an Android, (almost) nothing in Android is off limits.
    – Lie Ryan
    Mar 30, 2011 at 18:25
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    Have a look at the Medical ID app goo.gl/FKdt6N
    – Laurent
    Jul 3, 2014 at 18:44

5 Answers 5


The purpose of that feature is so that if there is an emergency you can dial an emergency number (911) without having to unlock the phone. Its not so that someone else can use it to call your wife/mother/ICE number. It's not a bad idea since if you were hurt then someone else could inform those people but as I understand its just for emergency numbers (although to be honest I don't know of any other emergency numbers other than 911).

Edit: I just realized that if you lost your phone you wouldn't want others to be able to make calls from the phone (another reason why it only allows emergency numbers). However if, as you suggested, it only allowed certain numbers... that would be cool.

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    How about 999 in the UK and 112 anywhere in Europe, including the UK, for other emergency numbers ;)
    – GAThrawn
    Mar 30, 2011 at 16:17
  • 112 support is slightly patchy in Europe, but at least its a standard number now. You can use it in the UK too (Directive 2002/22/EC): ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/112/ms/index_en.htm
    – gbjbaanb
    Mar 31, 2011 at 10:08
  • In India, its 112. And, dialing it always returns network busy status.. :)
    – iOS
    Sep 4, 2011 at 23:00
  • As far as the city of Madras(India) the numbers 999, 911, 112 all are redirected to number 100 (city police control room emergency number).
    – Narayanan
    Sep 26, 2012 at 8:32

Yes, it's limited to emergency numbers. It depends on your region and probably your carrier which ones specifically.

There's no easy way to change it. While it's probably possible to hack that mode, I would advise against it. First because it defeats the purpose of having your phone locked (do you really want someone to steal your phone and call your wife?), second because it might screw things up when you really need it (and you can't exactly test whether 911 is working beforehand), and third because you should have ID with you anyways if you're concerned about this.

  • 14
    If you're attempting to hack that mode, then I highly recommend not to. A call with the emergency dialer will put the phone into a special "Emergency Callback Mode" (I'd confirmed this from source code); I don't know what precisely the mode does, but hearsay on the net says it allows emergency dispatcher to call you back, track your GPS location, get a caller ID even when caller ID is disabled, make cell towers prioritizes your call, etc. The exact list of things that this mode enable probably depends on local regulation. Basically, calls made in Emergency dialer is not a regular call.
    – Lie Ryan
    Mar 30, 2011 at 17:58
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    From what I know its a legal requirement to make emergency calls from all telephony equipment (they're extending this to VoIP now), so hacking it to 'call mom' might get you into quite a lot of trouble, especially if someone needed to call the cops and found they couldn't. And don't think you'd get away with it - they'd have your mom's number after all :)
    – gbjbaanb
    Mar 31, 2011 at 10:14
  • Well, I was thinking more like if you clicked the "Emergency Call" button, it would pop up a list of allowed numbers (which would have 911 hard-coded, and they could click on one of the numbers.
    – eidylon
    Mar 31, 2011 at 19:29

Some versions of Android make it possible to add additional emergency call numbers. The functionality for doing so has been removed in the latest versions of Android. These instructions only work for pre-Jelly-Bean version phones.

The instructions for doing so come from this AndroidCentral forum

  1. Go to your contacts
  2. Select the "Groups" tab
  3. Select "ICE - emergency contacts"
  4. Use the icon to the right of "Find contacts" (a silouette with a plus sign) to add an emergency contact.
  5. Select an existing contact from your contact list, or enter the details of a new contact.
  6. All the contacts in this "ICE" group will be available from the lock screen, so you can call them without unlocking the phone.

While you can add emergency contacts, there is no easy way to remove or alter the default (911 in the USA) emergency contact.

emergency contacts http://img.tapatalk.com/add8089c-98c8-5e08.jpg

  • 1
    [...] there is no easy way to remove. I can remove them fine but I cannot remove them from the Emergency screen once added with the "+". Nov 13, 2013 at 11:33
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    Can anyone confirm this works on any phones other than Samsung? The image provided looks different from the stock Android Contacts app on my phone, and I don't have an ICE group.
    – mklauber
    Jul 31, 2015 at 16:16
  • @mklauber Seconded. From my Contacts (Android 6.0) I don't even have a "Groups" tab, only "Favorites" and "All Contacts"
    – Michael
    Dec 7, 2015 at 18:35
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    From what I've read, ICE contacts were removed from the lock screen with the Jelly Bean update. Any phone with Android Jelly Bean or later does not have the feature. Dec 7, 2015 at 18:48

As of Android 7.x (Nougat), you can now set contacts and other information on the lock screen, using a new feature named 'Emergency Information'. In the event of a personal emergency, a person can tap the Emergency button and have access to emergency medical information (allergies, medications, etc), and contacts designated by you.

A good summary can be found at http://www.droid-life.com/2016/03/09/android-n-lets-you-add-personal-emergency-info-to-your-lock-screen/ . My phone's settings menu does not have a “Users” section as mentioned in the article, but I was able to add information by viewing the "Emergency Information" screen and hitting the "Edit" button in the upper right hand corner.

Here are some images, courtesy of Droid Life.

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  • Do you know off hand... information you put in there, is that device specific? Or if you upgrade to a new phone, will it carry over from device to device? I had tried to google that a while ago, but couldn't find an answer really.
    – eidylon
    Aug 15, 2018 at 17:26
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    I assume it's device specific and won't be transferred to a new device. But I don't know for certain. Aug 15, 2018 at 22:23

I am not in favour of having to select which number to call - keep it simple as you might not have time to select a second key. But maybe there would be some point to having two emergency buttons on the screen. One for the emergency services. One for a friend etc. One important reason for phoning a friend - they might know who you are, where you are likely to be, and what illness you have - important information missing on a call to the emergency services. Alternatively with a modern phone, surely it cant be too difficult when presenting caller line identity to also present a friends number (or maybe also send a text "I am X. I have diabetes. I am at home or wherevrer" - preset but changeable). How often do the services get calls they cannot help or prioritise because this info is missing?

One alternative that may help the original poster - Fixed Dialling Numbers allow (selected?) Numbers in memory to be dialled. No new numbers. But maybe not from a lock screen.

  • 1
    Emergency calls are only possible to predefined numbers when the SIM card is not unlocked.
    – Flow
    Sep 2, 2012 at 10:09

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