The Apple Watch probably just saved this hiker's life

Apple Watch
(Image credit: Future)

The Apple Watch isn't just one of the best smartwatches around – it's also a potential life saver.

Just ask James Prudenciano, who's recent hike in the New Jersey woods nearly cost him his life.

As first reported by News 12 New Jersey (H/T), James and his date Paige Paruso fell off a sharp cliff with light fading and landed in the river below.

While Paige emerged largely unscathed, James fractured his back in three places and feared for the worst.

“I was screaming that I’m going to die because I really felt I was going to die. There was no way out of this for me. I literally said my last goodbyes," he told News 12.

Enter his Apple Watch Series 4, which detected his fall and dialled 911 on behalf of the couple. They were then rescued by local emergency services and taken to hospital. 

How to enable Apple Watch fall detection

As Mr Prudenciano is just 28 year old, the Apple Watch's fall detection feature would have been turned off by default – so manually enabling it may well have saved his life.

If his cautionary tale has inspired you to do the same, here's how to activate fall detection on your Apple Watch.

  • On your iPhone, launch the Watch app
  • Find the My Watch icon, located in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen 
  • Tap it
  • Now, tap Emergency SOS
  • Scroll down to Fall Detection and enable it
  • Double-check the toggle button – it will be pushed to the right when Fall Detection is turned on

While the best fall detection sensors are hard to beat as standalone devices, the integration of the feature into mainstream gadgets like the Apple Watch has helped countless people like Mr Prudenciano get medical attention when they need it most.

The latest version of the product, the Apple Watch Series 5, was unveiled in September and is available now.

More health tech guides:

James Laird

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.