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How to use the emergency and safety features on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch doesn't make you invincible, though.
By
October 25, 2022
An Apple Watch Ultra on a user's wrist displays the device's app library.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

As well as being your 24/7 on-call doctor, your Apple Watch can also serve as your guardian angel and protector. Whether it’s the need to call emergency services, detecting you’ve had a bad fall or been in a car crash, or providing your vital medical stats to doctors in a time of crisis, your Apple Watch and its paired iPhone are constantly watching your back. Here’s an overview of the emergency and safety features of the Apple Watch.

Read more: Apple Watch buyer’s guide — everything you need to know

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The emergency and safety features of the Apple Watch include having access to your Medical ID containing your vital stats. The Watch will also alert the emergency services if it detects you've had a bad fall or been in a car crash. You can also call emergency services yourself by swiping on the screen (this feature is not supported in all countries, though.)

How to Use Apple Watch emergency and safety features

People using an Apple iPhone stock photo 20
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Here are the following safety and emergency features currently available on the iPhone (and its paired iPhone). Each feature may vary slightly, depending on where you live.

iOS Medical ID

The iPhone’s Health app has a section called Medical ID, which can store vital medical information, should it be needed by doctors, nurses, or paramedics. You can specify if you are an organ donor, your height, weight, your medical conditions, prescribed medications, allergies, and a list of your emergency contacts.

Once this has been completed, your Medical ID can be accessed on your Apple Watch by holding down the side button. A screen will appear with two options — one of which will be Medical ID. Swipe that to access your details.

 

Contacting Emergency Services

medical ID slider emergency safety apple watch

If you are incapacitated and unable to get to your phone, you can instead contact the emergency services the same way you can access your Medical ID. Hold down the side button until the sliders appear, and select Emergency Call.

As we said, this feature is not available in all countries, including some European countries. It does work in North America. But if it does work in your region, using the Emergency Call feature on your watch can quite likely mean the difference between survival and….well, not surviving.

Fall Detection

As the name implies, Fall Detection will show an alert when your watch is confident that you have taken a bad fall. It will ask you if you want to call the emergency services and will place the call for you on your behalf. If you don’t respond, it will assume you are unable to respond and will make the call for you anyway.

The emergency services will then get an automated message from Apple and your approximate location. You should, however, check that Fall Detection is on (your watch may have it disabled.) On your Watch, go to Settings > SOS. If Fall Detection is disabled, tap it and toggle it on.

You should also note that there have been documented instances where Apple has wrongly determined that people have had a fall when they have been doing things like being on a roller-coaster. So if you are doing anything which could give a false-positive like this, maybe consider disabling Fall Detection or taking your watch off.

Car Crash Detection

car crash detection apple iphone emergency safety apple watch

Car Crash Detection is similar to Fall Detection in that the Watch determines if you have been in a crash by the sudden brutal movements experienced in such a crash. Like Fall Detection, you can place a call to Emergency Services, or the Watch will make the call if you are unable to reply. Again, the emergency services get an automated message and your approximate location.


Read more: Apple Watch Series 7 vs. Series 8 — should you upgrade?

FAQs

The Apple Watch does not detect heart attacks and will not send out an alert if your heart stops. It only alerts you to heartbeat readings that are lower or higher than normal.

There is no built-in blood pressure app on the Apple Watch. But the App Store has paid third-party options available for download.

There is no built-in stress app for the Apple Watch, but you can install a paid third-party option. But the ECG app can detect high heartbeat levels, which can indicate stress.

The Apple Watch has an app called Mindfulness, which helps you breathe better and also helps with meditation.

Fall detection was introduced with the Apple Watch Series 4 and Apple Watch SE.