Doing this instead uses a lot less battery and might have a higher success rate if you’re really lost and stranded.
You may have seen a popular viral Facebook post from friends or groups with what sounds like a logical Life Pro Tip.
The post suggests that if you’re ever lost or stranded and your phone is close to running out of battery or has no signal, to change your voicemail with your exact location, the date, and the situation you’re in.
While it sounds like a good idea, even though your phone dies, someone trying to call you will reach your voicemail with your information, it’s actually really bad advice.
So much so that an actual Search and Rescue Team from Skamania County, Washington went out of there way to debunk it with actual, real advice.
The original post came from Reddit.com from a random Redditor who posts more about Animal Crossing (a Nintendo Sim game) and her Dogs with no actual evidence of “Search and Rescue” experience.
If you’re lost or stranded with a enough battery and a strong signal, instead of changing your voicemail, call 911! If you have a near dead battery and spotty reception, compose and send a detailed text message with, as best as you can remember, where you are, your condition, and any info to locate you to as many trusted contacts as you can.
If reception is spotty, if it’s safe, move, within a short distance of shelter or your stranded car, to a location higher up, free of trees and low elevation, for better reception.
After you’ve sent your text, turn off Wifi and Bluetooth to conserve power.
Most importantly, stay with your vehicle and stay near a road and trail to increase the chances of search and rescue finding you.
Here’s the detailed Facebook post from Skamania County’s search and rescue below.
If you’re an avid driver or hiker, I suggest you read the post in its entirety for future reference. It might save your life.
Why a Compact satellite communicator SOS system might be a good idea, too.
If you go out hiking or out of cell phone reception a lot, consider buying a compact SOS satellite communication device from Garmin or an equivalent brand.
They cost around $350 and, with emergency service subscription fees for as low as $12 a month, they allow “2 way text messaging using the 100 percentage global satellite network” You aren’t reliant on cellphone tower coverage for emergency communication.
There’s also an SOS button that sends a help message to 24/7 monitored search and rescue teams.
A couple hundred dollars might be a lot at first but the peace of mind it provides might prove invaluable on the rare occasion when you’ll need it the most.