Social Media Got it Wrong – Viral Hack Exposed as Bad Advice
Social media can be a great resource. It can also be so full of crap you could plant fresh tomatoes all year round. I do think most people have the intention of posting information that will be perceived as useful or helpful to their "friends" online.
The problem with a lot of these "tips" is that they often aren't completely vetted by experts. And much of the advice doesn't come from first-hand experience. Many times you'll read a tip that was presented by someone who has a friend or relative that has used the tip but not the person passing along the information.
The recent Gabby Petito search has prompted a lot of chatter on social media concerning being lost. Many people have shared through social media some of their favorite tips and hints on how to stay safe on the trail and more importantly how to get found if you're lost.
One of those "how to get found" tips has to do with the voicemail on your cellphone. The tip reads like this. "If you're lost and your cellphone is almost out of battery or you have no signal, then change your voice mail message. Include in the message your approximate location and the direction you'll be walking." In theory, it sounds pretty sound.
You are leaving a recent record of your whereabouts and where you're most likely to be found. And your voicemail will relay that information to anyone who calls it. That way your information will be spread easily among friends, family, and the authorities.
However, those who do search and rescue for a living say, this really isn't sound advice for those that might find themselves lost in the wilderness or swamp. The people who get paid to come and find your butt would rather you did this, it will make their lives easier and facilitate getting you home faster.
If You're About Out of Battery Power Call 911, Not Your Voicemail
If you know your battery is about to die but you still have some cell service professional rescuers suggest that you dial 911. That way you can speak to a live person who might be able to better ascertain your exact location. 911 will always be a better option in an emergency.
What If There Is No Cell Service?
Then it's kind of a moot point. With no service, you couldn't call to change your voicemail anyway. However, you might still get a text to go through. Texting doesn't take the battery power or the signal strength to be completed that voice communication does. Also, your smartphone will automatically attempt to resend a text message that doesn't go through. So, if you eventually walk close enough to a cell tower your message might just go through.
If You're Lost, Get High
For users of cannabis, no this isn't for you. This means high as in elevation. The higher you can get your cellphone the more likely that phone is to be able to connect with a tower. Sometimes just a few feet can make all the difference in the world in being able to complete a text or a voice call. Now, in Louisiana or other places where the lay of the land is low, you might climb a tree, if you can do so safely. However, that kind of activity opens your up to even more danger.
Kill All Those Unnecessary Apps and Services
If you find yourself lost, which is not a good place to be found, and battery power on your phone is an issue you can extend the life of that battery by lightening its load. Your phone probably has a lot of other apps and services that are using battery power. It would be a great idea to shut as many of those down as you can. Especially your GPS. Since you don't need to be going anywhere, you won't really need it.
Stay Where You Are
Unbeknownst to you, your cellphone may have been able to "ping" a tower or even send out a message. Rescuers will use that cell data to try and pinpoint a general area where you might be located. Granted their circle of uncertainty might not be that specific, it is still a smaller area than all of the outdoors. So, stay put unless you need to move for safety reasons.
Obviously one of the best things you can do to keep yourself safe when on the road, on a hike, or just on a walk around the neighborhood is to let someone know your plans. Let them know your anticipated route and anticipated time of return. Despite what you might have learned from TV cop shows, you don't have to wait 24 hours to file a missing person report. Especially if that person is believed to be lost in the wilderness or a swamp.
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