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Alexa is Amazon’s smart assistant, can can be used with many Amazon devices, including Echo smart speakers, for a variety of things, from controlling your smart home, to making videos calls, to ordering items from Amazon (though you probably don’t do that).
But you can also use Alexa to get help in the event of an emergency. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds: You can’t simply ask Alexa to dial 911 or another emergency service directly unless you’ve already set them up with Echo Connect. Here’s how to do that now, so Alexa will be there if you need to call on it when something goes wrong.
How to use Echo Connect to call 911
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So, you can’t use an Echo speaker to ask Alexa to dial 911. This is partially due to FCC rules that require devices that can dial 911 include location data and a callback number. Amazon used to sell the Echo Connect, which let you place calls from your landline number with an Echo speaker. The company has discontinued the Echo Connect, but you can find some for sale on secondhand websites like eBay.
If you do get your hands on an Echo Connect, here’s how to set it up. First, plug the device into the power and to your phone jack. Next, open the Alexa app and tap on the + icon in the top right. Then tap on Device and tap Amazon Echo. You should see an option for Echo Connect: Tap that, and you should be set up.
However, as Amazon discontinued the Echo Connect, you might run into setup issues. That said, there are workarounds discovered by current Connect users. This one seems to be the best approach if you can’t set yours up using Amazon’s official instructions:
Start by getting your Echo Connect in setup mode (the wifi light should flash orange).
Open the Alexa app and add your device as normal, but say Yes to the orange light pop-up. It will fail, which is fine: Tap Try again.
You’ll get the same message once it fails again, but now you’ll have the option to choose Manual setup for first-gen devices.
From here, allow access to your local network, hit Continue, then go to your wifi settings and connect to the Amazon-XYZ network. (If you’re running an iPhone on iOS 16 or newer, you’ll need to hit the (i) next to the network name and disable private wifi address.
Head back to the Alexa app and finish setup. Choose your wifi network and enter your password.
Now, you can say, “Alexa, call 911” when there’s an emergency, and the device will route through your phone.
Products to consider:
Looking for an Alexa-compatible smart speaker? Here are your best options.
How to set up an emergency Alexa contact
If you don’t have an Echo Connect (or even a landline), creating emergency Alexa contacts is your best bet. To set them up, go to the Alexa app and tap on the More tab. Next, tap on Communicate, then tap on the contacts icon in the top right. The Alexa app will ask for access to your contacts, and from there, select one of your contacts. You should see an option to add them as an emergency contact.
You’ll be given a prompt requiring you to agree that you permit Alexa to attempt to call and message your contact if you or anyone in your household calls for help via Alexa.
How to use Alexa Emergency Assist
If you’re in the U.S., Amazon has also introduced a subscription service called Alexa Emergency Assist. When you call for help on your Echo speaker, you’ll be put in touch with an Urgent Response agent who can dispatch emergency services. The Urgent Response agent will be able to pass along essential pre-saved info like allergies or gate codes. The subscription also includes Smart Alerts, where if a compatible Echo device detects smoke or a CO alarm, it can contact Urgent Response for you.
To get started with Alexa Emergency Assist, head to Amazon’s webpage for the service and subscribe ($5.99/month or $59/year). You can also say “Alexa, buy Alexa Emergency Assist” to your smart speaker. Once you’re subscribed, you should see an option in the More tab of the Alexa app for Alexa Emergency Assist. There, you’ll also be able to set up emergency contacts who will be notified when you contact Urgent Response.