Can Alexa Call 911? (YES!) Here Are The 2 Ways

Updated: July 29, 2021

This guide provides a thorough answer to a common Alexa question:

“Will Alexa call 911?”

The short answer is easy.  Alexa cannot dial 911 out-of-the-box (for data privacy reasons we’ll explain below).

But that’s not the end of the story.

In this guide, we’ll look at 3 ways you can use Alexa to get help in an emergency.  Two of these are workarounds that DO allow you to reach 911 via Alexa.

Summary: 3 Ways To Use Alexa For Emergency Help

For those in a hurry, here’s a quick overview of all three methods.

Note that the second column is an estimate of set-up difficulty for a non-techie (i.e., someone comfortable using a smartphone but having no voice assistant or smart home experience).

Method Diff? 911? How It Works
1. Wi-Fi Calling Very Low No + Make voice calls to your cell phone contacts (e.g,. "Alexa, call Bill"), even when 30+ feet from speaker

+ Push-button set-up within the Alexa app​​
2. "OnStar"-Like Alexa Skill​ Medium YES + Single voice command and loved one(s) are alerted by phone call, text, and email (simultaneously)

+ Paid tier ($5/mo) routes you to 911 as well
3. Echo Connect Add-On Device High YES + Amazon Alexa accessory that allows you to link your Alexa speaker to your landline phone

+ Great option BUT requires landline phone service

Why Alexa Cannot Call 911

As mentioned at the outset, Alexa cannot call 911 out-of-the-box.

Why?

According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines, all devices permitted to make 911 calls must be able to send the caller’s location info to emergency services.

Your mobile phone, for example, can call 911 because your carrier collects your location data and attaches it to any emergency calls you make.

Amazon Echo (Alexa) devices, however, do not collect your location by default, so they are not permitted to make 911 calls.

What Alexa Can Do By Herself

So what can your virtual assistant do for you in an emergency?

Wi-Fi calls, for one.  With just a simple voice command, Alexa can connect you to a doctor, loved one, caretaker, or anyone else in your phone’s contacts (more on that below).

And other than swapping your voice for your fingers when making the call, there’s nothing real different about Wi-Fi calls.

Voice calls over a wi-fi network function and sound the same as traditional phone calls over a cellular network.

The person you’re calling won’t notice the difference, as your mobile number will show up on their caller ID (no matter which Echo speaker you call them from). 

How To Make A Wi-Fi Call With Alexa

To make a voice call with Alexa, you can use either type of voice command below:

  1. Contact name (“Alexa, call Bob”)
  2. Ten-digit phone number (“Alexa, call 123-456-7890“)

To use the first option, you need to give Alexa access to your phone’s contacts.  The Alexa app makes this a breeze thankfully.

See below step-by-step instructions: 

How To Import Your Contacts To The Alexa App

Total time needed: 2 minutes

Step 1: Navigate to Your Alexa Contacts
Open the Alexa app and tap the Communicate tab at the bottom. Next, tap the Contact icon at the top right to access your Alexa Contacts.
Alexa Contacts How To 1
Step 2: Enter Settings
Tap the three dots in the top right to enter the settings for Alexa Contacts.
How To Sync Contacts With Alexa 2
Step 3: Add or Import Contacts
At this point, you can either add a contact manually (by tapping the first option) or import your contacts by tapping the fourth option.
How To Sync Contacts With Alexa 2
Step 4: Allow Access
Finally, tap the toggle button to allow access to your phone's contacts and begin the importing. This should take no longer than a minute.
Alexa Contacts How To 1

Sample Use Case: Elderly Family Members

The ability to make long-range, hands-free calls can be great for seniors who live alone

I myself have an elderly parent who lives alone.

And it’s comforting (for both of us) to know that if she has a fall, she can reach me or another family member hands-free from anywhere in her home.

Using A "Souped-Up" Alexa To Call 911

To call 911 with Alexa, you must use one of the two workarounds below:

  1.  An Alexa skill called “Ask My Buddy” (similar to OnStar)
  2.  An add-on device called the Amazon Echo Connect

1. The "Ask My Buddy" Alexa Skill

First up is an Alexa skill called “Ask My Buddy.”

I’ll explain how it works in Part A below.

If it appeals to you, you can read set-up instructions in Parts B and C (otherwise, feel free to skip them).

For those unfamiliar with Alexa skills, think of them as “apps” for Alexa.  (They can be enabled in the Alexa in the Alexa Skills Store)

A. How It Works

You add 5 emergency contacts to your account (name, phone, email)

When you need help, you give Alexa a single command (one of the two below)

  1.  Alert one contact: “Alexa, ask my buddy to contact Michael”
  2.  Alert all contacts: “Alexa, ask my buddy for help”

Alexa then alerts your contact(s) via all available methods simultaneously (phone call, email, and SMS)

Sample Alert

Here is what the alert would look like:

"Bob has sent you an alert via AskMyBuddy.net on Amazon Echo. This alert is sent when this person has asked for help. Please check on them now. Once again, please check on Bob now! Thank you."

B. How To Set Up Your Account

If this option intrigues you, here’s how to set it up.  It shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

  1. Create an account on Ask My Buddy registration page
  2. Fill out the registration form (shown below)
  3. Finally, sign-in and select the Contacts tab. You can then choose up to 5 emergency contacts to receive your alerts
Ask My Buddy Registration Form

After this, you will have the option of joining their Premium tier ($5.99 per month).

The key benefit of the Premium tier is an added service called “Buddy Assist.”

Buddy Assist is exactly like OnStar.  When you give her the command, Alexa will connect you to 24/7 emergency operators (in addition to alerting your contacts).  These operators will quickly collect information about your emergency before patching in 911.

See below a comparison of the Free and Premium tiers:

Free Tier
  • Price: $0

  • Alerts: 10 per month

  • Contacts: 5

  • Language(s): English
Premium Tier
  • Price: $5.99 per month

  • Alerts: 400 per month

  • Contacts: 10

  • “Send Help” with Reason: You can let contacts know the type of help you need.  E.g., “Alexa, Ask My Buddy to send help. I have fallen and am on the floor

  • Buddy Assist: Alexa will also dial emergency dispatchers who can route your call to 911 (available in the U.S. only)

C. How To Enable The Skill

The final step is to enable the “Ask My Buddy” Alexa skill.  To do so:

  1. Say, “Alexa, open the Ask My Buddy skill
  2. Alexa will then send a notification to your Alexa app
  3. On the Home screen of your app, tap the card that says “Link Ask My Buddy account”
Ask My Buddy 1

4.  Finally, sign in with your “Ask My Buddy” login details and tap submit.  If successful, you should see the below screen.

And that’s it!  Feel free to test “Ask My Buddy” to confirm that the process works.

Ask My Buddy 2

2. Alexa + Echo Connect + Landline

The second workaround involves using an add-on device, the Amazon Echo Connect, with a landline phone.

This add-on device connects to your phone jack and allows you to make phone calls on your landline phone through your Amazon Echo (Alexa) speaker.

Echo Connect Linked To Landline Phone

Essentially, the Echo Connect makes your Alexa device the speakerphone for your landline.

By using your landline to make the call, you avoid the restrictions introduced by your Echo device.

I.e., you will have no issue calling 911 (to do so, you would simply say, “Alexa, call 911”).

(Note: Amazon no longer sells this product, but as of March 2021, there are a number of new and used models available on eBay and on Amazon Marketplace.)

[Bonus #3.] Using "Hey Siri" To Call 911

At the risk of alienating die-hard Alexa fans, it’s worth noting that you can also use Siri to call 911 hands-free.

To do so, enable “Hey Siri” (within your iPhone’s settings, under “Siri & Search,” as shown below).

Hey Siri Setup 1
Hey Siri Setup 2

Once enabled, you can activate Siri from a distance by using the “Hey Siri” voice command.  Keep in mind that:

1. Hey Siri’s range is not as long as Alexa’s (roughly, 10 feet vs. 30 feet).

2. However,  “Hey Siri” can be an excellent way to increase your safety on the road by helping you keep your hands off your phone

Conclusion

And that should do it for this guide.

Before you go, make sure to reward your A+ emergency preparedness with some equally high-tech laughs.  For example, check out our guides to:

Otherwise, make sure to spread the word about staying safe with Alexa, and we hope to see you back here soon!
 
Warm Regards,
The Commands Guru
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