How does Garmin incident detection work?

In this guide, we will talk about how Garmin incident detection works, how you can enable the incident detection and how to set it up in the first place, how you can activate assistance, and how you can activate incident detection on edge devices (only the compatible ones). In other words, we will mainly talk about what incident detection is, how it works, how you could set it up and some considerations on why it may fail under certain circumstances.

How does Garmin incident detection work?

You may wonder, how does Garmin incident detection work? Well, the incident detection will automatically send a message with your real-time location to the contacts you have chosen when an incident is detected during your workout, outdoor walk, run, hike, etc.

We know how some smartphones have a safety feature incorporated where you can make an emergency call when needed, even if the phone is locked and some others have a button specifically designed for this purpose. Garmin has designed the incident detection as a safety measure but it is only available on select Garmin watches. 

These safety and tracking features, incident detection and assistance, are available on the vívoactive 3 Music, fēnix 5 Plus Series and Forerunner 645 Music wearables. This means, if anything happens while you are on the go, you can activate the assistance feature and it will discreetly send a message with your real-time location to your preloaded chosen emergency contacts.

However, incident detection doesn’t need Wi-Fi to work, but your smartphone will have to be with you for Garmin Connect to activate the safety features.

How can I enable Incident Detection?

After adding your emergency contacts to Garmin Connect, incident detection will automatically be enabled and the contacts will sync to the watch. There is no need for any extra steps to enable this feature. However, you can manually toggle the feature on/off for a specific activity.

For instance, if you have the Forerunner 645 Music or the Fenix 5 Plus Series, you can hold the up button on the device, press settings, press safety and press incident detection. For the vivoactive 3 Music series, instructions differ a bit. With this type of device, press and hold the watch face, scroll down to settings and then scroll down to Safety and Tracking. Finally, press Incident Detection. 

Setting up Incident Detection

We may think about the possibilities of needing incident detection and chances are we won’t be needing this feature every day but it could make the difference between life and death is a little bit dramatic but I guess we will never know unless we face an emergency. However, with this, we are not saying it is 100% accurate or reliable because many factors could influence how this feature works, so consider those.

For instance, if you have left your phone at home by mistake, this feature will not work or if you have your phone with you but it is off because the battery just died. 

Finally, if you would like to load your emergency contacts on Garmin Connect, here are the steps:

  1. Open Garmin Connect on your smartphone
  2. Press More (iPhone: bottom right corner; Android smartphone: upper left corner)
  3. Press Contacts
  4. Press the three dots on the top right corner and then choose contacts from your address book or enter their contact information manually
  5. Once you have chosen your contacts, press the back arrow in the top left corner
  6. Go to Safety & Tracking
  7. Click Incident Detection & Assistance
  8. Click Add Emergency Contacts
  9. Your contact list should show up, and you can select up to three emergency contacts
  10. Be sure to sync your watch when you are finished

Activating Assistance

To activate assistance, on Edge Devices you just need to hold the power button on the top left for 5 seconds to activate the assistance feature. The device will beep and send a message after a five-second countdown is complete. However not all Edge devices support this feature, please refer to your owner’s manual to verify if it does.

For devices such as the Forerunner 45/45S, 245/245 Music, tactix Delta, Fenix 5 Plus series, here are the instructions on how to activate assistance:

  • To activate, hold down the top-left button (power button) for approximately 7 seconds until the watch vibrates three times. This action will discreetly send a message with your real-time location to your preloaded emergency contacts.
  • Another option is to hold down the top left button for 2 seconds, scroll through the icons and select the Assistance icon

However, here is a reminder from Garmin support: “note that incident detection and assistance setting is not designed to work in conjunction with a paired inReach device. The SOS feature and functionality of that setup does not go through the Garmin Connect app”. 

Incident Detection on Edge Devices

As we have mentioned, when your Garmin is paired with a compatible smartphone, the incident detection feature can send an alert to your designated emergency contacts in the event of an accident. 

As indicated by Garmin Support, “Sensors embedded within the device are used to determine if there is an impact. Any paired sensors such as a speed sensor or cadence sensor will be used as well. All of this information is combined and the device will determine if an incident has taken place”. 

Moreover, in the event of triggered incident detection, your device will display a screen notification giving indications to the user that an incident has been detected. If there is no incident and it was triggered by accident, you have up to 30 seconds to dismiss this notification to avoid sending a false report. But if an accident occurred, your device will use your connected smartphone to send a message and your real-time location to your emergency contacts.  

Why is this blog about How does Garmin incident detection work important?

As discussed on how Garmin incident detection works, we have to say that it is a very clever and useful feature that Garmin has included for user’s safety. The incident detection will automatically send a message with your real-time location to the contacts you have chosen when an incident is detected during your workout, outdoor walk, run, hike, etc. 

However, incident detection doesn’t need Wi-Fi to work, but your smartphone will have to be with you for Garmin Connect to activate the safety features. Also, if you have left your phone at home or the battery died, it won’t work. This seems to be a pretty useful feature under emergency circumstances but remembers that Garmi incident won’t contact any emergency services, only the ones previously selected.  

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How does Garmin incident detection work

What triggers Garmin incident detection?

The incident detection can be activated during an outdoor walk, run, hike or cycle, where your Garmin will automatically send your designated emergency contact a message. This will include your real-time location. Moreover, it can be triggered through the sensors if you have suffered an accident, so it will display a notification where you will have 30 seconds to dismiss it if it was a mistake or it will send the alert if it wasn’t.

How do I activate Garmin incident detection?

To activate Garmin incident detection go to the app store on your smartphone, install and open the Garmin Connect Mobile app and pair your smartphone with your device by following the ‘Pairing your smartphone’ instructions. From the app settings in the Garmin Connect Mobile App, select Emergency contacts and enter your rider information and your emergency contact details.

How does Garmin assistance work?

As Garmin indicates, “When an incident is detected or you request assistance from your device, Garmin Connect will send your name and location to your emergency contacts. Your location is determined using our LiveTrack location tracking feature. LiveTrack creates a real-time feed of your location during an activity”.

Can Garmin watches be tracked?

Garmin watches have a free mobile app that allows users to see your location and your Garmin tracking device’s location on a map. This makes it easier to track and locate it while you are on the go.

How do I turn off Garmin incident detection?

If you want to turn off Garmin incident detection, from the watch face, hold UP. Then select> safety and then Incident Detection. Finally, select an activity but note that incident detection is only available for outdoor walk, run and bike activities.


Setting Up Incident Detection and Assistance Features on a Garmin Fitness Device 

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