Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

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

Alexa can not directly call 911 on its own, but it can also use external hardware and third-party skills to help you during a crisis. Equipment such as Amazon’s own Echo Connect can connect your Alexa device directly to a landline, making a call for 911 possible. Alternatively, some Alexa skills enable you to send alerts through various applications, including Ask My Buddy and My SOS Family. However, it is critical to note that these skills do not directly contact 911.

Call 911 with Echo Connect

Amazon Echo Connect
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Amazon’s Echo Connect is a seemingly failed product in the Alexa devices family that the company no longer sells. However, if you have one tucked away or you fancy purchasing one from a secondhand website such as eBay, it could be the perfect solution. Echo Connect was initially introduced as a small box that could be connected to your landline, allowing you to use your Echo devices as a speakerphone.

To set up Echo Connect, follow these steps:

  1. Plug your Echo Connect into an outlet near your modem or phone jack.
  2. If you need to plug in a standard telephone handset alongside Echo Connect, use a splitter adapter on the telephone jack to create two connections.
  3. Next, on your smartphone, open the Alexa app.
  4. Choose the Settings menu.
  5. Select Add Device, followed by Amazon Echo.
  6. Select Echo Connect to finalize the setup.

Once the above steps are completed, you can request that your Echo devices call any landline or mobile telephone number, including emergency service numbers such as 911. To place a call with 911 when Echo Connect is in place, say, “Alexa, call 911.”

Obtain assistance with Alexa Skills

Amazon Echo Input Portable buttons
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You can use alternative methods to obtain help, but they don’t call emergency services directly. Alexa skills such as Ask My Buddy and My SOS Family allow you to effortlessly contact other individuals in the event of an emergency. In this example, we will show you how to set up the Ask My Buddy skill for use with your Alexa device. Please remember this will not contact 911 or emergency services directly.

To set up your Ask My Buddy account:

  1. Visit to begin setup.
  2. If you do not already have an account, click the Register button.
  3. Fill out the requested information to register, including your first name, last name, email address, cell phone number, and password.
  4. Once registered, you will be prompted for your login information. Enter your email address and password to sign in.
  5. At the top of the page, select the Contacts tab.
  6. Enter any new contacts who you want to receive an alert. Press the Save Changes button when you are finished.
  7. You can now log out of the service or close your web browser.

Now that your Ask My Buddy account is created, we can add the skill to your Alexa device for easy access. Please note that the free version of Ask My Buddy will only alert up to five contacts in English, and you are limited to sending out 10 alert messages per month.

Ask My Buddy
Image used with permission by copyright holder

To set up Ask My Buddy with Alexa:

  1. Ask Alexa the following: “Alexa, open the Ask My Buddy skill.”
  2. Alexa will say she has sent a notification to your Alexa app, so proceed to your smartphone and open the Alexa app.
  3. On the Home tab, there should be a card that says Action Needed — Ask My Buddy. Tap it to continue.
  4. You will be prompted to sign in to your Ask My Buddy account.
  5. Once you have linked your account, Alexa will note that the link was successful. Click the Done button in the upper left of the screen.

Now that Ask My Buddy has been set up, you can ask Alexa for help by saying something like, “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help,” or, “Alexa, ask my buddy to contact Michael.” The service will now send a text message and call the contact on your list to alert them of trouble. It’s best to discuss a system such as this with a few individuals in advance so your contacts know what to do when they receive the alert.

Ask Alexa to call non-emergency numbers

Image used with permission by copyright holder

As another option, Alexa can call non-emergency numbers by merely asking. Again, Alexa will not be able to call 911 or emergency services, but it can reach out to one of your contacts and connect you via voice. If your Alexa app has access to your contacts, you can say something like, “Alexa, call James.” You can also ask Alexa to call a full number, such as, “Alexa, call 201-867-5309.”

Enable Alexa Guard

Image used with permission by copyright holder

To raise your home security levels and receive emergency notifications while you’re away from home, enable Guard with Alexa. Installing Guard is straightforward. In the Alexa app, go to Settings, and choose Guard. It will ask a few questions to outline which features you want, like identifying breaking glass noises or listening for other suspicious sounds. 

After customizing your Guard, Alexa will begin to send notifications to your smartphone whenever your smart system hears and identifies unusual noises. You can even pair Guard with other security systems that use Alexa for more complete coverage. Depending on the devices you link to your smart system, you can check out what the security camera is seeing, set off an alarm manually, contact the police, and do other things that will keep your home safe and secure.

Whether Guard doesn’t support your current home security system or you don’t have another available, you still have the option to use Alexa’s alarm feature. This option will give Alexa the ability to sound an alarm when an intruder is detected. You can opt for an air horn, police sirens, and tornado sirens within this feature. 

We have more information on Guard available right now— visit our full guide on the capability.

Editors' Recommendations

Erika Rawes
Smart Home Evergreen Coordinator
Erika became a professional writer in 2010, and her work is published all over the web on sites ranging from USA Today to…
How to adjust the sound settings on your Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo (4th Gen)

If you’ve recently purchased a new Amazon Echo speaker, you’re probably enjoying the overall sound and convenience of voice-controlled music, radio, podcasts and audio. But you may not know you’ve got myriad options when it comes to how your Echo device sounds. You can easily add bass or treble to the music, as well as adjust some other settings too to create a better overall user experience.

You can adjust a number of settings on your Amazon Echo speakers, including changing sound preferences, tweaking the equalizer or EQ settings, and pairing or grouping speakers all using the Alexa app, which is designed to make this process relatively simple and straightforward.
How to adjust equalizer settings on Amazon Echo
EQ settings will let you add more treble or bass or otherwise tweak your audio preferences. To adjust EQ settings:

Read more
How to get Alexa to answer a Ring Video Doorbell
Ring Video Doorbell Pro with two-way talk

A Ring Video Doorbell is ultra-convenient; it lets you receive packages or respond to deliveries from anywhere in your home -- or anywhere in the world using the built-in camera and the Ring app.

You may also know that you can have Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker devices alert you to a doorbell ring -- and even show you who’s there. But if you want to take this a step further, you can actually have Alexa respond for you if you’re too busy to run to the door from your home office, or if you’re on the phone and can’t respond to the Ring Doorbell notification. Here’s how to get Alexa to answer your Ring Video Doorbell.
Smart Responses include Alexa Greetings
Smart Responses are a feature of Ring Video Doorbells that let you respond in the right way to whoever’s at the door, when you can’t do it yourself. Quick Replies, for example, let you allow visitors to leave a video message on the Ring Video Doorbell that you can view later. Alexa Greetings are a relatively new Smart Response feature where Alexa greets your visitor, takes a message, or provides instructions on what to do with a package.
What to know about Alexa Greetings on Ring Video Doorbell
Alexa Greetings is optional on Ring Video Doorbells and for now is only available to customers in the U.S. with compatible versions of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. You also must be opted in to Ring’s Protect home security and cloud recording plan. They’ve been rolling it out in stages starting earlier on 2021 so it may or may not be available in your area.

Read more
Most common Amazon Echo and Alexa problems and how to solve them
The 2021 Amazon Echo Show 8 in an angled view.

Those of us with smart home equipment can attest to the many glories of web-connected hardware. One of the most popular Internet-of-Things (IoT) families is Amazon's Echo lineup. Comprising smart speakers, displays, and a host of other equipment, Echo products can act as smart hubs for the rest of your home's IoT gear, allowing you to control thermostats, lighting, and streaming devices with voice commands and the Alexa app.

Like all things tech (and especially all things web-connected), you're wont to run into bugs and glitches now and then, even with the best of hardware. The Echo lineup is certainly no exception.

Read more