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‘Know your phone’: B.C. search and rescue group attends 3 false crash-detection calls

Heading out into the great outdoors for some fun? If so, please adjust your iPhone before leaving.

This week, Revelstoke Search and Rescue said it was called out three times in the last month for what turned out to be false cellphone crash detections.

“In all three cases, the subjects were either completely unaware of this feature on their iPhone,” said RevSAR, “or the phone was stored in a location where they did not hear the countdown alarms going off prior to the activation being completed.”

The search and rescue agency noted there’s a difference between a ‘fall detection’ and a ‘crash detection’ being activated. Crash detection is available only on iPhones 14 and newer.

“The crash detection is sensing a sudden deceleration as would occur in (a motor-vehicle injury),” it said, “and is often triggered by snowmobiles that are riding fast then stop quickly while still in control.”

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According to BC AdventureSmart, it also received a lot of callouts two winters ago from false fall detections.

To help outdoor enthusiasts, AdventureSmart noted that if you’ve entered data into your phone that says you’re 55 and older, fall detection is turned on automatically. Those between the ages of 18 and 54 can turn on fall detection manually.

If enabled, fall detection connects to emergency services.

AdventureSmart says outdoor enthusiasts should know their gear and know what to do before and during an emergency.

Last year, Kelowna RCMP issued a release saying they attended six false SOS calls during the ski season.

Police say many smartwatch wearers don’t realize the feature is functioning, and they asked them to turn off the fall-detection function when on ski hills or doing other sporting activities.

“Kelowna RCMP responds to all calls,” said Const. Mike Della-Paolera, “but this potentially could cause police, fire or ambulance the inability to respond to a real emergency in a timely manner.”

More information about the SOS function on Apple smartwatches, including how to disable it, is available online.

More information about the crash-detection feature, including how to disable it, is also available on the Apple website.

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