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Apple Watch fall detection feature helped save a man’s life

Updated Nov 18th, 2022 7:17AM EST
Apple Watch Fall Detection
Image: Apple

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One of the more novel health features Apple added to the Apple Watch in recent years is “fall detection.” Apple originally introduced the feature on the Apple Watch Series 4 back in 2018. As the name suggests, the feature is designed to automatically call 911 when it detects a hard fall. A call will be triggered when the wearer remains immobile for 45 seconds.

Since its debut, we’ve seen several stories involving the feature being used to save lives. The most recent story comes to us out of Summerfield, North Carolina, and was recently brought to light by Fox8 News.

How Apple Watch fall detection works

As a quick refresher, an Apple Watch with fall detection enabled relies upon an accelerometer and gyroscope to detect when a user endures a hard fall. Following that, the Apple Watch will sound an alarm and display an alert with two options. Users can either opt to contact 911, or an equivalent emergency service, or dismiss the alert altogether by pressing the Digital Crown or tapping “I’m OK.”

If, however, an Apple Watch wearer remains immobile for more than 45 seconds, the device will call 911 automatically. Additionally, the Apple Watch fall detection feature will send a message to individuals you’ve designated as emergency contacts. Along with a message, the Apple Watch will also send your location information to your emergency contacts.

How Apple Watch fall detection saved Mike Yager’s life

Earlier this month, 78-year old Mike Yager passed out on his driveway and suffered a hard fall as a result. After not moving for 45 seconds, his Apple Watch alerted 911 that there was an emergency. When the Summerfield Fire Department showed up on the scene, Yager was somewhat startled.

Yager asked the rescue personnel how they knew to show up and they said they received a message.

“The Summerfield Fire Department showed me his log thing and it said, if I remember correctly, male, possibly unconscious,” Yager’s wife said. “Then it gave the location and then it said reported by Apple Watch. Whenever he showed that to me, I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say.”

Yager’s fall happened when he was alone. Notably, he believes that the Apple Watch fall detection feature helped save his life. Yager of course didn’t emerge unscathed and suffered a broken nose and cuts as a result of his fall.

Fall detection has saved many lives

Though there are many similar stories to the one above, one particularly noteworthy story involved the fall detection feature saving the life of a hiker who fell down a cliff and fractured several bones. You might also recall that the Apple Watch fall detection feature helped save the life of a 68-year old Norweigan man after he collapsed in his bathroom and became unconscious.

How to enable Apple Watch fall detection

Setting up fall detection on the Apple Watch is simple. All you have to do is open up the Settings app on your Apple Watch and go to SOS. Next, select Fall Detection and toggle it on. Note that Apple automatically turns the feature on for anyone above the age of 55.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.