Friday, June 2, 2023


iPhone SOS feature saves trapped hikers

As a trained Search and Rescue volunteer and someone that spends much of his free time in the back country, this headline recently caught my attention: “10 missing hikers rescued from California canyon thanks to Apple SOS feature.” Of special interest was the part where the hikers summoned help using the Apple SOS feature.

“Members of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team were first alerted to the hikers at around 8 p.m. local time on May 12, according to a news release. The hikers, who were in the Santa Paula Canyon, had used Apple’s Emergency SOS feature on an iPhone to send a text message which contained what the search and rescue team described as “valuable information,” including their possible location. Read the complete article here.

What is the Apple SOS feature?

The SOS feature enables iPhone users to contact a local emergency number and share location information at the push of a button (actually two buttons on some iPhones). What is impressive is that the iPhone determines the appropriate local number to call along with automatically sharing your location. On iPhone 14 models, the feature works via satellite to text emergency services when cell service or Wi-Fi is unavailable. After contact has been established with emergency services, the Apple SOS feature will also give you the option to reach out to a predetermined list of friends and family members.

Learn more about the Apple SOS feature and how to access it on your phone in a video here.

Another great safety feature on iPhone 14 models is an option to share “My location” with friends and family via satellite when you are hiking or camping in the backcountry where there is no cell service. This feature allows you to check in regularly with friends and family. If something does happen while you are in the backcountry, others will be able to share your last known location with first responders. This is one of the prime reasons I carry a SpotX satellite messenger.

Learn more about the Apple SOS satellite feature on iPhone 14 models in a video from CNET here, including the ability to share your location with friends and family.

If you are an iPhone user, I encourage you to learn how to access the SOS feature as it may save your life or the lives of others in an emergency.


Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson has been around travel trailers his entire life. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership long before the term “RV” had been coined. He has served in every position of an RV dealership with the exception of bookkeeping. Dave served as President of a local chapter of the RVDA (Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association), was on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college and was a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. He and his wife Cheri operated their own RV dealership for many years and for the past 29 years have managed RV shows. Dave presents seminars at RV shows across the country and was referred to as "The foremost expert on boondocking" by the late Gary Bunzer, "The RV Doctor". Dave and his wife are currently on their fifth travel trailer with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications on his own unit.


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Thomas D
12 days ago

Ill be wait ing for the police to call ( in person) when I’m fiddling with my phone. I’ve had that before quite by mistake but they have to check. I don’t need more stuff on y phone that I dont need or understand. That sos has come up and I hope it hadn’t sent a call out for my stupidity. I liked my old fliphone.

Turtle Terry
12 days ago

I have an older model iPhone and use a Garmin in reach for emergencies and to be in touch with family. When it comes to time up grade I’ll be looking for this feature in a phone.

Larry L
12 days ago

That’s a great feature. We love to camp in the mountains of Colorado and cell service is often not available.

12 days ago

Android phones have this feature too. Usually pushing the power button repeatedly or you can activate it in settings. Beware, it WILL send a message if you activate it!

Kathy Matzka
12 days ago

What strikes me most in the linked CBS article is the comment by the rescue team that most of the hikers were “not prepared for the hike”. We are seniors and we do a lot of day hiking. Every time we are out, we see hikers who are not prepared. They will be hiking in the desert (where we carry several litres of water) and have a single small water bottle, or even a bottle of soda. They wear shoes and clothes that are not appropriate to the terrain (notice the pics of the rescued hikers in the article and you can see what I mean.) People who do this put, not only their own lives and health, but those of the rescue team, at risk.

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