How to set up fall detection on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch fall detection feature was introduced with the Apple Watch Series 4 as part of Apple’s commitment to your health and well-being. Tightly integrated with your iPhone, it allows the Apple Watch to detect a hard fall, notify you with a vibration tap on the wrist, and sound an alarm. You can choose to contact local emergency services or dismiss the alert by pressing the watch’s digital crown, tapping Close in the upper-left corner, or tapping the I’m OK button. Fall detection works only with the Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 5.

Watch OS emergency fall alert

If the watch registers movement after a fall, it waits for you to respond and won’t automatically summon emergency services. After one minute, if the device detects no movement after your fall, it will call an ambulance automatically. The watch dials your local ambulance service and plays an audio message informing them of the fall while sharing your location.

Once a call ends, the watch can send a message to your designated emergency contacts from your Medical ID, alongside location information to inform friends or family of the fall and its call for help. For places with multiple emergency services, the watch will call the ambulance number.

Since this feature is especially useful to seniors or frail individuals who may be alone for significant periods of time, anyone who is 55 years old or over — and this is reflected in the Apple Health app — automatically has the fall detection feature enabled. While folks younger than 55 must manually enable it, fall detection is a handy feature for kids and adults of all ages. You can turn the feature on or off at will. Here’s how to use it.

Enable fall detection

  • Open the Apple Watch app on the iPhone and tap the My Watch tab.
  • Tap Emergency SOS.
  • Scroll to the bottom, and toggle the switch for Fall Detection on or off.

Set up Medical ID on your iPhone

Make sure your emergency contacts are notified about your fall by setting them up in the Apple Health app. Here’s how to do it.

  • Open the Health app on the iPhone, tap Summary at the bottom of the window, and locate Set Up Medical ID.
  • Tap Get Started.
  • Enter your date of birth and other health information.
  • Scroll to the bottom to find the Add Emergency Contact button and tap.
  • That tap takes you to your contacts, where you can just tap the contact you want to register and designate their relationship to you. To change your contact or deregister the one you set up, tap the minus icon next to the contact. Apple Watch derives your emergency contact from your Medical ID.
  • To make your Medical ID available from the lock screen, enable Show When Locked at the top of the window. In an emergency, this provides your information to first responders so they know basic things about any medical conditions you may have.
  • Tap Done.

The Summary page also lets you do other things like set up the watch for an ECG to record your heartbeat, register as an organ donor, access your medical records, and download various health and fitness apps.

On your Watch

If you enable fall detection on your phone, you must also enable it on your Apple Watch for it to work properly.

  • Open Settings on your Apple Watch.
  • Tap SOS.
  • Tap Fall Detection.
  • Tap the Fall Detection switch to enable it.
  • Tap Confirm.
  • Tap Medical ID to make sure your contact information is correctly synced.

To call emergency services, drag the Emergency SOS slider within the alert. If you call emergency services, just end the call when you’re finished. If you decide it’s not an emergency, tap the End Call button and Yes on the End Call screen.

The iPhone automatically logs falls in the Health app. To check your fall history, open the Health app on your iPhone, tap the Browse tab, then tap Other Data > Number of Times Fallen.

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