Top iPhone Features and Apps That Can Save Your Life

Top iPhone Features and Apps That Can Save Your Life

Last September a story about a teen's life being saved by his Apple Watch made national news. After he finished football practice he began having back and chest pain. He assumed it was just soreness that would be better the next day. But then he saw on his Apple Watch that his heart rate was 145 — twice what it should be. He told the athletic trainer, who took him to the hospital, where he was immediately taken to the emergency room. They found that he had a medical condition that could have been fatal.

And in August a teen working underneath his truck when the jack slipped. His arms were pinned, and as he was screaming for help he heard Siri talking. He had inadvertently butt-pressed the Home button on his iPhone, which was in his back pocket. He discovered that by moving his hips he could get Siri's attention, and used it to call 911. The service was able to pinpoint his location — and save his life.

We love our gadgets for all the things we can do with them — and sometimes they can even save our lives. Here are some top iPhone features and apps that could help save your life.

Use your iPhone's Medical ID feature

Beginning with iOS 8, Apple's Health app has had a feature called Medical ID that contains emergency information accessible from the lock screen on your iPhone. Depending on what you choose, that information can include a list of medical conditions, allergies, reactions, medications, blood type, height, and weight, as well as emergency contacts with name, telephone number, and relationship.

To enable Medical ID, open the Health app and tap Medical ID at bottom right. Then fill out the form with the above information. By default, this information will be available from the lock screen by tapping "Emergency" in the lower left corner.  Tapping this brings up the phone's keypad with the phrase "Medical ID" in the lower left corner. Tapping that brings up the Medical ID information you've entered. Having this information available in an emergency could save your life.


Enable iPhone's "Send Last Location" feature

Suppose someone were in an accident in a rural area, and people are out looking for him. But several days have passed, and his phone's battery has died, so Find My iPhone won't work. However, if he has Send Last Location enabled, searchers will be able to find out the phone's last location before the battery died. When your battery is critically low, this feature sends a message to Apple with the current GPS location. But you need to enable it. Go to Settings > iCloud > Find My Phone > Send Last Location, and toggle it on.

If you are using Family Sharing, the other members will be able to see the last location of your iPhone using the Find My iPhone app on their own iPhones. If you are not part of a Family Sharing group, you may want to consider giving someone you really trust the login information for your iCloud account so he or she can use Find My iPhone to locate you should you ever go missing.

Enable "Hey Siri"

Had the teen who was pinned under his truck had an iPhone 6s with "Hey Siri" enabled, that also would have been a lifesaver. Previous iPhones need to be plugged in to a power source for Hey Siri to work, but that's not the case with the iPhone 6s. Turn on that feature in case you're in a situation where you're unable to dial. Go to Settings > General > Siri > Allow "Hey Siri" and toggle it on.

Take advantage of the Health app

The iPhone's Health app could also be a life saver. Many people have found that it helps motivate them to get more exercise by setting up daily goals and tracking progress toward them. Research is clear that if you exercise regularly, you can expect to live longer.

Install an emergency app

A number of emergency apps are available that you can tap if you're in a high-risk, dangerous situation. Witness Livestream Emergencies (free) lets you alert others with a tap when you're in an emergency. It calls and texts your emergency contacts, broadcasts live video and audio to them, and lets them know your location. First your contacts receive a phone call saying you've activated the app, and then instructs them to follow the link in their text messages to track the situation in real-time. If you don't have an Internet connection, the app still records a 10-second video and stores it until your connection returns. 

Circle of 6 (free), targeted toward college students, lets you choose six trusted friends to add to your circle. If you get into a risky situation, you can use the app to automatically send your circle a pre-programmed SMS alert message that has your exact location. The app sends a "come and get me" message, with a map showing your location. Also, if you're on a date that turns uncomfortable and need a polite way to excuse yourself, the app lets you alert your circle to give you a call to interrupt the situation.

Download free natural disaster apps

This earlier  by iPhone Life blogger Paula Bostrom points to 9 life-saving apps, including five related to natural disasters. Four apps from the American Red Cross, Earthquake (free), Tornado (free), Hurricane (free), and Wildfires (free,) help you prepare for these natural disasters and tell you what to do if one strikes. In some cases, they also provide tracking and alerts. VisionLink OEM Shelter (free) directs you to shelters in your area in case a natural disaster strikes.

Use free first-aid and medical apps

You will also likely want to download a first-aid app. First Aid by American Red Cross (free) gives you step-by-step instructions for dealing with everyday first-aid situations. It's also integrated with emergency services such that you can dial 9-1-1 from within the app. Plus, it has a range of videos and animations to teach you first aid, and includes safety tips for situations ranging from blizzards to earthquakes to tornadoes. A nice feature of the app is that this crucial information is available to you even if you don't have an Internet connection.

iTriage (free) gives you information about thousands of symptoms, diseases, and medical conditions, and helps you identify the most appropriate treatment. It also directs you to nearby medical facilities and physicians. It includes emergency hotlines as well as physician and nurse advice lines. The app has a ton of other features, even allowing you to make appointments from within the app. Also check out WebMD (free), which includes a symptoms checker, information about medical conditions, first-aid information, a database for information on drugs, supplements, and vitamins, and local health listings.


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Author Details

Jim Karpen's picture

Author Details

Jim Karpen

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.