Apple Watch Saves Life by Summoning Help as User’s Health Declines

What you should know

  • The Apple Watch’s SOS button saved the life of a student named Natalie Nasatka, who was being poisoned by carbon monoxide in her apartment. She was able to use the feature to call 911 before losing consciousness.
  • Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that kills 400 people a year. It has no odor, smell, or taste and the only way to detect it is to monitor how you feel. Early warning symptoms include dizziness, confusion, and vomiting.
  • Many states require carbon monoxide detectors in homes and apartments, but there was no detector in Nasatka’s apartment. Space heaters are a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Apple Watch and iPhone users should familiarize themselves with how to activate the Emergency SOS feature on their devices. This feature allows users to immediately call emergency services and share their location.

Full Story

The Apple Watch has been a lifesaver for many, thanks to its heart rate sensor, fall detection feature, SP02 blood oxygen scanner, and ECG reader. But did you know about the SOS button? A report from CBS News in Philadelphia (via 9to5Mac) recently highlighted how this little feature saved the life of a Delaware student, Natalie Nasatka.

Nasatka’s apartment in Smyrna, Delaware, was slowly filling with carbon monoxide due to a faulty heater. This deadly gas is odorless, tasteless, and invisible. It’s a silent killer, claiming about 400 lives annually. The only way to detect it? Monitor how you feel.

Nasatka recalls feeling extremely exhausted. Her vision was getting blurry. Just before she passed out, she managed to slide the SOS button on her Apple Watch. This immediately dialed 911 and gave the emergency responders her location. “When I heard the firefighters yell out ‘fire department’ and they yanked me out of bed, I just started crying and saying ‘I want to live. I want to live’,” she said.

Dr. Lynn Farrugia, an ER physician, explains why carbon monoxide is so dangerous. “It is a lack of oxygen that affects the body. Certain things become irreversible, like heart damage. Once the brain has been without oxygen for too long, there can be irreversible symptoms.” Early warning signs include dizziness, confusion, and vomiting.

Nasatka has been “riding waves of emotions” since the incident. She noted that “The carbon monoxide was confirmed because the fire department monitor read 80 parts per million in the apartment, which is extremely high.” Despite regulations requiring carbon monoxide detectors in homes and apartments, Nasatka’s apartment didn’t have one. Space heaters, like the one in Nasatka’s apartment, are a major cause of carbon monoxide poisoning. As the cold weather sets in, be careful if you use one.

If you own an Apple Watch, here’s how to activate the Emergency SOS feature: Press and hold the side button (under the Digital Crown). Drag the Emergency Call slider to make the call immediately. Or continue to hold the side button down to set off a countdown. Once the countdown is completed, the emergency call is made. When the Apple Watch calls emergency services, it also gives your location. After the call, the watch will text your emergency contacts and give them your location.

For iPhone 8 or later users, you can use the Emergency SOS feature by pressing and holding the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears. Drag the Emergency Call slider to call emergency services. If you continue to hold down the side button and volume button, a countdown begins and an alert sounds. If you release the buttons after the countdown, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

For iPhone 7 or earlier users, rapidly press the side (or top) button five times. The Emergency Call slider will appear. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this feature. But it’s always good to be prepared, right?

Derrick Flynn
Derrick Flynn
With over four years of experience in tech journalism, Derrick has honed his skills and knowledge to become a vital part of the PhonesInsights team. His intuitive reviews and insightful commentary on the latest smartphones and wearable technology consistently provide our readers with valuable information.


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