Apple’s Fall Detection Saved This Cyclist’s Life—Here’s How You Can Stay Safe, Too

Jordan Smith
Photo credit: Apple

From Bicycling

Recently, a man’s Facebook post showing how his dad’s Apple watch may have saved his life went viral.

On September 15, Gabe Burdett was on his way to meet his dad for mountain biking in Riverside State Park in Spokane, Washington, when his phone pinged with a text: His dad’s watch had detected a hard fall, and after it received no response from the wearer, called 911 and texted Burdett, who was his father’s emergency contact.

His dad had actually flipped his bike at the bottom of a trail, and the fall had rendered him unconscious, according to the post.

After the watch alerted emergency services with his location, an ambulance was dispersed to find him and bring him to the hospital, where, according to Burdett’s post, the X-rays and a CT scan came back clear.

His dad came away from his fall with just some bumps, bruises, and a broken watch, prompting Burdett to take to social media to urge others with the device to turn their hard fall detection on. To date, his post has been shared over 594,000 times on Facebook.

There are a number of devices that can help you out if you take a serious spill alone. Here’s what you need to know.

Apple Watch

If you track your rides with an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, and want to have this extra layer of protection in place, you’ll have to make sure the Hard Fall detection feature is turned on in the Watch app on your phone.

You should also set up your emergency contacts in your phone, and you can also elect to have them alerted if the SOS feature is used to call emergency services.

If the watch detects a hard fall, it will prompt you to respond that you are okay. If you don’t respond, it will vibrate, sound an alarm, and then call emergency services. It will also alert your emergency contact it has done so, and drop a pin at your location.

Garmin Watch

If you’ve got a Garmin Vívoactive 4, Fēnix 6, or Forerunner 45 or 245 Music, and the device senses “incident detection” after a tough fall, it will send an alert to your emergency contact. It will offer you the option to dismiss the alert, but if you don’t respond right away, a message will be sent.

For this feature to activate, you’ll have to set up emergency contacts in Garmin Connect, which will also turn the incident detection on.

Additionally, if you get in a sticky situation, you can activate the assistance feature, which will send a message to your emergency contact with your location. You’ll also have to be sure you’re carrying your smartphone with you, and that the Garmin Connect app is running.

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Specialized Helmet

Go watch free? No problem. Specialized’s helmet ANGi sensor can detect a crash via the small device that attaches to the fit system.

When a fall is detected, it will trigger your phone to sound an alarm and display a notification.

If the alert is not cleared in time, a message—with your GPS location—is sent to your emergency contact, set up through the Specialized Ride app.

You’ll need to have your smartphone with you, as all the alerts come through the app. You can also set it up to notify your contacts when you start and end a ride, and even send an expected ride duration if you know you’ll be out of cell range.


If you prefer the peace of mind knowing your loved ones can track your ride, you can share your real-time location using Strava with up to three people with the Beacon feature in Strava Summit. To activate the feature, you’ll need to subscribe, then be sure the Beacon is turned on when you start your ride. Your emergency contacts can follow your on your quest for a KOM, and see where you are if for some reason you don’t make it home in time.

Strava Safety Pack

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