First introduced back in 2018, Fall Detection is a life-saving feature of the Apple Watch, allowing the wearable to alert not only emergency contacts but the emergency services if you take a tumble and remain immobile. It’s designed for those that are unsteady on their feet, but it has been a life-saving function for those that enjoy lone hikes too.

The problem that, for most users, Fall Detection is disabled by default. Here, we show you how to activate the tech on your Apple Watch. 

What is Fall Detection?

Fall Detection is a feature aimed at older Apple Watch users, enabled by default if you’re 55 or older, and it does what it says on the tin: detects when you’ve fallen over. If you take a tumble, your Apple Watch will tap you on the wrist, make sounds and offer to alert your emergency contacts with a single swipe.

But what if you’re unconscious, or unable to move? If the Apple Watch detects that you’re immobile for longer than a minute, the wearable will not only notify your emergency contacts, but it’ll contact emergency services too - in countries where it’s supported, anyway. It’ll provide key information including your location data so emergency services and your emergency contacts can find you - perfect if you like to go on hikes. 

With no real effect on battery life or performance, it’s a feature that we’d recommend turning on, no matter how old you are. 

Is Fall Detection available on Apple Watch Series 3?

Considering the Apple Watch Series 3 is still officially on sale at the Apple Store, you’d assume it’d offer the Fall Detection functionality right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Fall Detection relies on hardware that was first introduced in the Apple Watch Series 4, meaning Series 3 and older wearables lack the Fall Detection functionality. 

If you want to use Fall Detection, you’ll have to either fork out for an Apple Watch Series 5 or pick up a refurbished Series 4 if you’re on the hunt for a bargain. 

How to enable Fall Detection

You can use either your iPhone or your Apple Watch to enable Fall Detection on an Apple Watch Series 4 or Series 5. 

On your iPhone

The easiest way to enable Fall Detection is via your iPhone:

  1. Open the Watch app.
  2. On the My Watch menu, scroll down and tap Emergency SOS. 
  3. Tap the Fall Detection toggle to enable the functionality. 
  4. Tap Confirm after reading the Fall Detection notice. 

On your Apple Watch

Of course, being a feature of the Apple Watch, you can enable Fall Detection via the wearable itself. 

  1. Open the Settings app. 
  2. Scroll down and tap SOS.
  3. Tap Fall Detection. 
  4. Toggle Fall Detection on. 
  5. Read the Fall Detection notice and tap Confirm to enable the functionality. 

Don’t forget to set up your Medical ID

Enabling Fall Detection is only half the job - you’ll want to make sure your Medical ID is up to date if you want your Apple Watch to alert your emergency contacts when you fall and remain unresponsive. 

To do this on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Health.
  3. Tap Edit in the top-right corner.
  4. Scroll down to Emergency Contacts.
  5. Tap the green + icon and select your emergency contact. 
  6. Tap Done to save your preferences. 

For more top Apple tips and tricks, here’s how to use WhatsApp on an iPad, and how to cool down a hot iPhone too.