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Safety tip: How to use Siri to call 911

Technology’s accessibility and assistance features can come in handy. Sometimes it can even be life-saving, as a hiker in 2019 found out. After falling off a cliff, his Apple Watch detected the incident and promptly dialed 911.

Last year, a new app was launched that allows you to contact fire, police, or EMTs in just two taps. You can use it in an emergency and dispatch help to family and loved ones.  

Emergency services can be reached on Android and iOS devices by pressing the power button five times. But read on to see how one Apple user credits the tech giant for saving her life. Changing one setting could help save yours someday, too.

Here’s the backstory

New Jersey resident and florist Susan Putman was recently busy working on a wreath in her garage. Stepping back to get a better view of her creation, she didn’t notice a box behind her and tripped.

During the fall, Putman smacked her head on a metal pole. She’s not clear on the event but remembers that she was bleeding profusely. Unable to reach her phone or call out for help, she didn’t know what to do.

As she felt around her wound to assess the severity, she realized that she was still wearing Apple AirPods. Using the Bluetooth connection and the voice-activated virtual assistant Siri, Putman was able to contact 911.

“The only thing I remember is the two police guys getting there and one is holding a towel to my head, and he says to the other one to tell the ambulance to get there right now because I was losing a lot of blood,” she told People.

Putman is convinced that if she didn’t have her AirPods in, she might not be alive today. All ended well, though, as she didn’t suffer any long-term injuries. She did end up receiving seven staples in her head and a concussion.

What you can do about it

You never know if you will ever find yourself in a similar situation. Having the ability to call for help quickly can be a life-saver, so make sure that your Apple devices are set up for that.

The “Hey Siri” function is available for iPhones, Apple Watch, HomePod, Mac and AirPods. But there is a catch: you must ensure that it is activated.

To enable it on your iOS device:

  • Open the Settings app
  • Scroll down and tap on Siri & Search

For the virtual assistant to respond to you, toggle the slider next to Listen for “Hey Siri” to the right to enable the feature. Also, slide the toggle next to Allow Siri When Locked to the right to allow Siri to respond when your device is locked.

Don’t forget to share this article with family and friends so they can change these potentially life-saving settings, too.

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