How Apple Watch Fall Detection Works: Set Up Guide

By Richard Goodwin •  Updated: 02/18/22 •  4 min read

Apple has released a new feature for Apple Watch called Fall Detection. The potentially life-saving feature is one of the company’s latest health-facing updates to its Watch. Here’s how you set it up…


Millions of people use and wear an Apple Watch every day. With respect to age, Apple’s Apple Watch demographic knows no bounds; it is worn by adults, teenagers, and plenty of people over 60 and even those in their 80s. But it is for these latter demographics that Fall Detection was created.

What is Apple Watch Fall Protection

Apple Watch Fall Protection is enabled automatically for anyone over the age of 55. If you’re over 18, you too can enable the feature, providing you have a compatible Apple Watch. Fall Protection is available on all Apple Watch models from the Apple Watch Series 4 and up, as well as the Apple Watch SE.

Fall Protection is designed to detect when the user experiences a heavy fall. When the wearer falls over, and Apple Watch detects it, and notification will appear on the screen to contact emergency services. All the user then has to do is click the Digital Crown and an EMT will be called. For older users, this feature could be a lifesaver.

Apple Watch Fall Detection
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Here’s the official line via Apple on its new Fall Detection feature:

If Apple Watch SE or Apple Watch Series 4 or later detects a hard fall while you’re wearing your watch, it taps you on the wrist, sounds an alarm, and displays an alert. You can choose to contact emergency services or dismiss the alert by pressing the Digital Crown, tapping Close in the upper-left corner, or tapping “I’m OK.”

Apple

One thing to keep in mind is that Fall Detection isn’t infallible; Apple even admits as much in its official release. According to Apple, it is not possible for Fall Detection to pick up every possible fall. And it can also confuse high-impact sports for heavy falls; these are classed as “false alerts”. If you’re younger and play lots of contact sports, it might not be worth having Fall Detection switched on.

Does Fall Detection Call Emergency Services?

The entire point of Fall Protection is to call emergency services when you’ve had a bad fall. But it doesn’t do it without your prior consent – this would result in plenty of unnecessary call-outs. Apple has designed Fall Detection with a failsafe that is designed to ensure you ONLY call the emergency services when it is necessary.


If your Apple Watch detects that you’re moving, it waits for you to respond to the alert and won’t automatically call emergency services. If your watch detects that you’ve been immobile for about a minute, it will make the call automatically.

After the call ends, your watch sends a message to your emergency contacts with your location letting them know that your watch detected a hard fall and dialed emergency services. Your watch gets your emergency contacts from your Medical ID.

Apple

How To Turn on Apple Watch Fall Detection

Apple has also updated its Health app, with reference to Fall Detection. You can now log the number of times you have fallen inside Health by doing the following: go to Health app on iPhone > Browse tab > Other data > Number of Times Fallen.

And check out Will Apple Ever Make A Round Apple Watch? Also, check out all the new watchOS 9 features!

Apple Watch Fall Detection
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Richard Goodwin

Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.

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