Last year, a runner’s Apple Watch detected a hard fall and sent notifications to his emergency contacts. Similarly, a mountain biker in Washington state crashed his bike, and his Apple Watch sent out destress notifications.
But it is not just your Apple Watch that can help. A New Jersey resident knocked her head on a metal pipe and, after regaining consciousness, used her Apple AirPods to call for help through Siri.
If you ever find yourself in a dire situation, you should use Apple’s Emergency SOS feature. Read on to see how it saved a snowboarder’s life and directions to enable it yourself.
Here’s the backstory
Trekking up mountains to reach the perfect launching spot for downhill snowboarding can be dangerous. Nobody knows this better than personal trainer Tim Blakey. He pushed off for a solo descent on a recent trip to Switzerland’s glaciers near Zermatt but quickly encountered trouble.
He fell into a hidden crevasse at around 10,000 feet above sea level, luckily landing on a snow bridge 16 feet from the surface. According to Australia’s 7 News, he only had 3% battery remaining on his iPhone and was running out of options.
In a lightbulb moment, he remembered that the iPhone has an Emergency SOS function which will send notifications to emergency contacts with his precise location. First responders showed up not long after, treated his broken ankle and airlifted him to a hospital.
What you can do about it
You must set up the Emergency SOS function ASAP if you have an iPhone. Make sure that your contacts are up to date.
Emergency SOS will call the local emergency number and alert your emergency contacts via text message when activated. The messages include your current location and updates when you move. But first, here’s how you add emergency contacts:
- Open the Health app and tap your profile picture > Medical ID.
- Select Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
- Tap the Add emergency contact button, then select a contact. Add their relationship.
- Hit Done to confirm your changes.
These people will get notifications when you experience an emergency. Here’s how to use the feature.
How to call emergency services
All you need to do is press a few buttons. Set this feature up ahead of time so you aren’t panicking in an emergency. The exact steps depend on how new your iPhone is.
If you have an iPhone 8 or later, do this
- Press the side button and one of the volume buttons.
- Hold the two buttons until the Emergency SOS slider pops up.
- To call emergency services, drag the slider.
You can also continue to hold the side button and a volume button. Once the countdown ends, your phone will contact emergency services.
If you have an iPhone 7 or an earlier model, do this
- Press the side or top button five times. Make sure you’re quick, or else the Emergency SOS slider won’t appear.
- Drag the slider to call emergency services.
Once the call ends, your phone sends text messages to your emergency contacts. It includes your current location, so they know how to find you.
The ability to call emergency services through a few button presses isn’t exclusive to iOS. For example, you can also quickly press the power button five times if you have an Android device.
Android users, here’s how to call emergency services
First, turn the feature on by going to Settings > Safety & emergency > Emergency SOS. From there, you can select your preferred emergency SOS settings.
Now that you set up this feature, you can use the emergency SOS button during times of crisis. When you need help, press the power button five or more times. Make sure you do it quickly, so your phone registers the emergency.
Safety tip: How to use Siri to call 911