Tech Guide

How the iPhone and Apple Watch can save your life

An ambulance transports Ebola victim Ashoka Mukpo to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Oct. 6, 2014.
Sait Serkan Gurbuz | Reuters

Your iPhone and Apple Watch might just save your life this summer.

Apple has emergency features built right into the Apple Watch, iPad and iPhone, and they can easily contact 911 or help you get out of trouble. We have a few tips that might help keep you alive, and they're particularly important as we head into the summer and start to spend more time outdoors hiking, heading to the beach and into the mountains.

Here's how to prepare your iOS devices for emergency.

SOS Apple Watch

Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you own an Apple Watch, there's an SOS feature you need to know about. It's kind of like the modern "I've fallen and I can't get up" alert that you can send out. So long as your iPhone is nearby (it needs to place the call) you can press and hold the side button on the watch until a menu pops up.

The bottom option is "Emergency SOS." Slide it and you'll call emergency services. Or, if you can't slide it, continue holding down the side button and it'll call for you. Emergency responders will get your current location and your iPhone will automatically reach out to SOS contacts stored in Medical ID, a section of the built-in iPhone Health app.

Medical ID inside Health app on iPhone


If you don't know what Medical ID is, it's time to learn.

First, open the Health app on your iPhone. Next, tap "Medical ID" on the bottom right. You'll be able to fill out medical conditions, add notes about allergies and reactions and enter in emergency contacts like your significant other or parents. There's even a section where you can say whether or not you're an organ donor.

More importantly, you should know to look for this in case you ever see someone in distress. Grab their iPhone, swipe on the home screen, tap emergency, and you'll see what sort of information is in their Medical ID.

Use Siri to call 911

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Finally, Siri can help you call 911 -- all you need to do is say "Hey Siri, call 911" And since Siri doesn't need you to touch the phone at all, this could be particularly useful if you've fallen, or cut yourself and aren't able to pick up the phone.

Siri will begin a countdown before dialing your local 911 center, so you have some time to think about the situation, or bail in case it was a false alarm. If the situation is really dire, just tap "call," for a quicker connection.