Update your new iPhone and watch, urges Apple and B.C. search volunteers

Update to stop false alarms

The BC Search and Rescue Association and technology giant Apple are encouraging owners of new iPhones and Apple Watches to update their devices to prevent more false alarms to emergency crews.

RCMP in the Kootenays says they suspect a skier at Red Mountain ski resort in Rossland triggered a false report of a car crash last week. Golden and District Search and Rescue says they recently received three calls in two days for reports of car crashes that were actually snowmobilers and skiers.

Apple’s latest smart watch and iPhones includes a feature called “crash detection,” that uses on-device sensors to determine when an owner was involved in a car crash.

“When a car crash is detected, there is a 10-second delay followed by a 10-second countdown where your iPhone or Apple Watch sounds an alarm — characterized by loud whoops and haptics to notify the user — and displays an alert,” Apple said in a statement to Castanet. “After receiving the alert, you can choose to expedite the call to emergency services or dismiss the alert, if you’re able.”

If the alert is not dismissed, emergency crews are alerted.

Apple says the sensors used in crash detection were developed and tested with over “one million hours of crash data, real-world driving, and crash test labs.”

“We also tested on thousands of iPhone and Apple Watch devices in real passenger vehicles.”

Apple says they have introduced a firmware update this week to optimize the crash detection feature and users are strongly encouraged to download it.

The BC Search and Rescue issued a statement Wednesday explaining they have been in contact with Apple about the false crash alerts.

“Please help us by updating your Apple device firmware to prevent unnecessary search and rescue callouts,” they said.

Crash detection is available on the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro, Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Ultra.

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