Australians Urged Not To Rely On iPhone 14 Emergency SOS When Exploring

May 16, 2023

Australia’s outdoor safety and communication brand, GME, stresses that the new iPhone feature should not replace life-saving devices, such as a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).

personal locator beaco

In an official statement released today, Australia’s leading outdoor safety and communication brand, GME, urged users not to rely on the Emergency SOS feature of the recently released iPhone 14 when venturing into remote or unfamiliar areas.

Recently Apple Inc announced that iPhone14 users within Australia and New Zealand will now be able to contact emergency services outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.

GME, stresses that the new iPhone feature should not replace life-saving devices, such as a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) even though the iphone 14 phone satellite connectivity.

PLBs are purpose-built devices designed specifically for emergency situations. These devices, often worn or carried by individuals venturing into remote or challenging environments, use satellite technology to transmit distress signals to rescue coordination centers around the world.

Unlike smartphones, PLBs are not reliant on mobile phone coverage or battery life, making them a reliable and resilient choice in emergency scenarios.

There are issues that come with relying on your mobile phone when exploring. iPhones notoriously have a short battery life as well as the ability to overheat. They’re also not fully waterproof, and can become easily damaged in harsh conditions.

In scenarios where accidents occur at sea or near bodies of water, the iPhone 14’s inability to stay buoyant withstand prolonged exposure to water hinders its effectiveness in aiding rescue efforts.

Additionally, there’s also an issue surrounding activation, as the iPhone user will need to have free hands to text emergency services.

Battery life emerges as a critical consideration when evaluating the suitability of smartphones as PLB replacements. PLBs are equipped with long-lasting batteries capable of powering the device for days, if not weeks, during emergency situations.

Conversely, smartphones, including the iPhone 14, typically have limited battery life and may not sustain a satellite connection for extended periods. This drawback becomes particularly significant in scenarios where power sources are unavailable or inaccessible.

The Emergency SOS feature, introduced with the latest iteration of Apple’s flagship smartphone, allows users to quickly contact emergency services and share their location in critical situations.

Exploring the vast and diverse Australian landscapes, from the rugged outback to the dense rainforests, can present a range of challenges and risks. Mobile phone coverage can be unreliable or non-existent in remote areas, leaving individuals without the means to establish communication during emergencies.

A GME spokesperson told Tech Business News “At GME, we encourage Aussies to explore their own backyard, while also ensuring they have the right equipment with them when they do,” 

personal locator beaco

“Our number one message for Aussies is to not rely on your phone when exploring the Australian terrain. It’s vital to carry an emergency locator beacon if you’re planning to hit the road or adventure out into the bush,”

Australia’s minister of communications, Michelle Rowland says Australians know full well the importance of remaining connected in regional, rural, and remote areas, particularly when they need emergency services.

“The ability to contact Triple Zero with Emergency SOS via satellite when there is no mobile coverage is a strong backup to keep Australians connected in an emergency.”

The Satellite Emergency SOS feature on the iPhone can be activated by a long press on the power and volume buttons or by rapidly pressing the power button five times.

The user interface provides guidance on optimsing the signal by pointing the iPhone in the right direction. Once connected, users can access a message interface to communicate with emergency service providers, and the phone will automatically share their location.

If the process is successful, a message will confirm that responders have been notified and advise the user to remain in their current location.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website advises if you’re visiting a national park area in NSW, it’s a good idea to buy or hire your own PLB and bring it with you in case of emergency

“There are many ways technology can help keep you safe in national parks. But it’s still important to plan and prepare for all conditions,”

“Many national parks don’t have mobile phone coverage. If you’re planning a walk in a remote area, bring a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) as an added safety precaution,”

Emergency services across the country will continue to work closely with technology providers to enhance emergency response capabilities. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of individuals to prioritise their safety by adopting comprehensive safety measures when venturing into remote areas.

A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) has a 7 year battery life, is waterproof and can float if submerged in water. These life saving devices are designed so it’s activated in one swift movement, which will then alert rescue authorities of the user’s precise location and contact information.

GME emphasised the critical role of PLBs in emergency situations and cautioned individuals against relying solely on the new iPhone feature for their safety.

While the latest iPhone 14 boasts innovative features, including an emergency SOS function with satellite connectivity, GME highlights the irreplaceable value of dedicated life-saving devices like PLBs due to being able to float on water, be water resistant and not limited to battery life

Since it’s launch last year Apple reported that the Emergency SOS via satellite has already helped save lives across 12 countries.

The Emergency SOS via satellite is enabled by default for iPhones with iOS 16.4 or later, and is currently exclusive to the latest models in the iPhone 14 line-up.

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