Apple Watch’s fall detection triggers false emergency calls at ski areas

“It’s a feature on the new Apple Watch that is designed to save lives,” Matt Kroschel reports for CBS Denver. “However, the smart watch is creating some frustration among emergency dispatch centers in ski resort towns across Colorado.”

“Dozens of false, accidental Apple Watch fall calls are being cataloged, according to information obtained exclusively by CBS4,” Kroschel reports. “The new Apple Watch Series 4 offers users a free equipped technology capable of detecting when someone has fallen. The problem is when skiers hit the slopes they forget to turn off the service. ”

“Vail and Summit County first responders treat the 911 calls from the watch as a real emergency each time, sending crews to GPS locations provided by the watch,” Kroschel reports. “But many users fail to realize the call has been made. While this person continues skiing, emergency responders are on a ‘wild goose chase to find them.’ …Summit County Dispatch says they received 10 to 12 false fall calls in recent weeks, but one call was for an actual victim who did need medical assistance.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So, obviously it would be best if Apple Watch could attempt to detect skiing motions (or perhaps the pretty unique swaying and gentle rise and fall of riding a ski lift) and then ask any user who has fall detection enabled, “It looks like you’re skiing. Would you like to turn off fall detection too could trigger 911 calls?”


  1. what is needed is simply an option that allows the emergency call that is done after it detects a fall is for that call to go to a designated spouse or child or S.O., instead of automatically going to law enforcement / rescue services.
    a loved one will not mind being inconvenienced by false positives.
    let the designated called person call emergency services.

    1. I think all that’s really needed is for the Watch to tell you “You’re over 65. As a result, fall detection will be turned on….” with an explanation about calls to emergency responders. It should even give an update on your birthday when you turn 65. I have to believe that Apple just isn’t communicating this feature clearly as I’m assuming all of the Over 65 folks in this thread aren’t ignoring the setup.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.