Skip to main content

How to set up Emergency SOS and fall detection on your Apple Watch

How to set up Emergency SOS and fall detection on your Apple Watch

/

Get help in an emergency

Share this story

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Step counting is all well and good, but the Apple Watch offers a number of important emergency- and health-related features that could keep you alive and are worth utilizing.

The Emergency SOS function is designed to notify people that you’re in trouble and what your location is, so that someone can come to the rescue. “Show When Locked” will allow important medical conditions to be seen on your home screen even if your phone is locked. You can also set up emergency contacts, and instruct the phone to detect falls.

Setting up Show When Locked

“Show When Locked” can be important if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or an allergy that could trigger a health crisis; it means that if you need help, the information will be available to someone without having to unlock your phone. On your Apple Watch, the info will be available on a slider that appears when you press and hold the side button.

  • On your iPhone, find and open the Health app. 
  • Tap the person icon on the upper right corner of the Summary screen.
  • In the “Medical Details” part of the profile screen, tap “Medical ID.” If this is the first time you’ve used the app, you’ll find that most of the page is taken up with a form that contains places for information about allergies, medications, blood type, etc. If you’ve already used the app, you’ll just see the info you’ve already entered; in that case, tap “Edit” in the screen’s upper right corner to see the full page.
  • At the top of this screen (which is labeled “Medical ID”), activate “Show When Locked.”
Apple Watch Show When Locked

1/4

Setting up an emergency contact

Setting up your watch to call a specific person when there’s an emergency is a little convoluted, but it’s worth the effort. 

  • On the same Medical ID page, scroll to the bottom of the screen to find the “Emergency Contacts” section and tap on “add emergency contact.” You’ll get a list of your contacts. 
  • Select the contacts who’ll get a message with your location informing them that you’ve called emergency services. Tap “Done,” then “Back,” then “Done” to return to the Health app’s Summary page.

Summoning help

If you want to take advantage of the Emergency SOS feature on your Apple Watch, you first have to toggle this feature in your phone’s Watch app:

  • Select the Emergency SOS screen.
  • Toggle “Hold Side Button” on.

To start an Emergency SOS call on your watch, hold down the side button until the Emergency SOS slider appears (you’ll also see “Power Off” and “Medical ID” sliders). Either drag the slider or keep holding the side button down; emergency services will be called, followed by a notification to people in your emergency contact list. If you’ve activated the feature by mistake, you can tap a few times to cancel the call and the notifications.

This is not bulletproof. If your watch doesn’t have cellular service, your phone will need to be nearby, or your watch will have to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network with Apple’s Wi-Fi Calling feature. (You can set up Wi-Fi Calling by using your iPhone’s Settings app and going to “Phone” > “Wi-Fi Calling,” and then turning on “Wi-Fi Calling on This iPhone” and “Add Wi-Fi Calling For Other Devices.” )

Keep in mind that if you travel (or live) outside the United States, the service could work differently. You may have to select which service you need; for example, police, fire, or ambulance. If you have the Watch’s fifth edition along with a cellular service, you can summon local help in most countries (there are exceptions), but the watch won’t notify your emergency contacts.

Fall detection

Your watch can also detect serious falls. If it thinks you’ve taken a tumble and can’t move, the watch will send an alert to ask if you’re okay. If you don’t respond, the watch will tap your wrist, then send an alarm, and then call emergency services. You can toggle this feature in your phone’s Watch app:

  • Select the Emergency SOS screen (see above).
  • Toggle “Fall Detection” on. You’ll get a warning that if you’re physically active, you’re more likely to accidentally trigger fall detection. Tap “Confirm.”

Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 40 minutes ago Not just you

T
Thomas Ricker40 minutes ago
The Simpsons pays tribute to Chrome’s dino game.

Season 34 of The Simpsons kicked off on Sunday night with an opening credits “couch gag” based on the offline dino game from Google’s Chrome browser. Cactus, cactus, couch, d’oh! Perfect.


T
Youtube
Thomas Ricker7:29 AM UTC
Table breaks before Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire glass.

”It’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Apple at the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra (read The Verge review here). YouTuber TechRax put that claim to the test with a series of drop, scratch, and hammer tests. Takeaways: the titanium case will scratch with enough abuse, and that flat sapphire front crystal is tough — tougher than the table which cracks before the Ultra fails — but not indestructible.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.