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Coast Guard says Apple Watch SOS feature helped to save kayakers

Apple Watch emergency SOS
Apple Watch emergency SOS (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple Watch appears to have potentially saved more lives.
  • This time it was two kayakers in Puerto Rico.
  • Their kayaks sank and they weren't wearing lifejackets .

Apple Watch already has a reputation for being instrumental in saving lives, and it appears that it's been at it again. This time it was two kayakers off the coast of Puerto Rico whose kayaks unfortunately sank. To make matters worse they didn't have any lifejackets. But one of them did have an Apple Watch.

After using the Emergency SOS feature to contact local emergency services, the Coast Guard (via 9to5Mac) and local police were deployed. The pair were then rescued via helicopter and rescue basket. Both men were lucky to survive the ordeal, especially considering the lack of lifejackets. But the whole rescue was possible thanks to Apple Watch.

"The kayakers are very fortunate to have survived," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Austin Hornbruch, an Air Station Borinquen aviation survival technician. "The survivors were able to use a smart watch to communicate with 911 and Coast Guard watchstanders. After their kayaks sank, they were treading water in unfavorable sea conditions due to not having lifejackets. We commend our Sector San Juan watchstanders and the Puerto Rico Police aircrew, who did an excellent job assisting our crew with the rescue effort."

The Emergency SOS feature makes it easy for wearers to contact emergency services via the Side button. Apple also added functionality to Apple Watch Series 5 that enables the feature to be used in most countries, regardless of the watch's origin.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.