How to use Fall Detection on Apple Watch

Get started with the smartwatch's safety feature
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The Apple Watch is increasingly a smartwatch designed to log the user's every move - and that's epitomized in the Fall Detection feature, first unveiled through the Series 4 last September.

Essentially, Fall Detection is what it says on the tin; if you take a fall, the Apple Watch should be able to register this. However, there's plenty to know about the next steps, including making calls to emergency services and linking up your Apple Medical ID.

Essential reading: Apple Watch tips for beginners

Want to know everything there is to know about Apple Watch Fall Detection? Read on for our step-by-step overview.

Enable Apple Watch Fall Detection

How to use Fall Detection on Apple Watch

Below, we'll detail exactly what the feature is and how it works, but first you need to be able to know how to turn Fall Detection on or off. Now, if you've entered your age when you set up the Apple Watch or Apple Health, and it's over 65, Fall Detection will automatically enabled.

Note: The more active you are, the more likely you are to trigger a false Fall Detection notification, since the Apple Watch will react to high impact activity that can appear to be a fall.

Turn Fall Detection on or off

1. Open the Apple Watch app on the iPhone and tap the My Watch tab.

2. Tap Emergency SOS.

3. Scroll to the bottom and toggle the switch for Fall Detection on or off.

How Fall Detection actually works

Before you decide whether to enable or disable Fall Detection, it's important to know what to expect from the feature. If enabled, the Watch will (hopefully) detect a hard fall, notify you on the wrist and sound an alarm. From here, you can either choose to contact the emergency services or dismiss the alert.

That's not the end of the story, though. If the smartwatch registers movement, it'll wait for you to respond and won't automatically emergency services. However, if the device detects no movement for a minute after the registered fall, it will call the emergency services automatically.

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Then, once a call has ended, the Watch is able to send a message to pre-designated emergency contacts from your Medical ID with location information, noting that a fall has been detected and the emergency services have been called.

Naturally, different countries have different emergency service numbers, and some have multiple. In any case, the Apple Watch will dial the ambulance services and play an audio message informing them of the fall and sharing your latitude and longitude co-ordinates.

Note: Fall Detection will only work with the Apple Watch Series 4, as older models as don't have the next-gen accelerometer and gyroscope required.

Setting up your Medical ID

Contacting the emergency services is all well and good, but your emergency contacts won't be notified of your fall unless you've already set them up in Apple Health. Here's how to do so:

1. Open the Health app on the iPhone, tap the Medical ID tab and then Edit.

2. Enter your date of birth and other health information.

3. Adding an emergency contact can be done through the plus icon - tap a contact you want to register and then add their relationship to you. To de-register a contact tap the minus icon next to the contact.

4. In order to make your Medical ID available from the lock screen, turn on 'Show When Locked'. In the case of an emergency, this will then provide your information to those who want to help.

5. Once you're happy, tap Done.

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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