Should you change your voicemail if you get lost?

Amy Christie

A nonprofit rescue team from Colorado decided to address the post that got thousands of views on social media after advising people who got lost to change their voicemail.

The purported reason is that if their voicemail gives their location, they have higher hopes of being found.

What are the details?

The post advised stranded people who got lost while hiking or who had car issues and who have a phone with a low battery to immediately change their voicemail to reflect their current location.

It is also said that the person needs to include “the time, the date, your situation (lost, out of gas, car broken down, injured, etc) and any special instructions such as you are staying with the car, you are walking toward a town, etc," as Fox News reports.

What was the take from the experts?

While this may seem like good advice, the Alpine Rescue Team did not approve of it.

"Let’s talk about the viral post advising folks to change their voicemail when lost and low on cell phone battery power or their phone is dead. Posts like this get your attention, get liked by people who don't know better, are shared by folks trying to be helpful, and the algorithm spreads it like wildfire," they posted on social media.

The explanation the team gave was that it’s basically impossible to change your voicemail while you are lost. The organization pointed out that you need a signal to do that, so if there is none, you have no way to change your voicemail to let other people know where you are.

"If your battery is low, do not waste its power by calling your voice mail — or a friend or relative. Call 9-1-1 for help," they added in their post.

On top of that, if a person has a low battery and their signal isn’t too strong, the first thing they have to do is call 9-1-1. The call centers can also receive text messages now.

"Text takes much less power, is far more likely to get through, will automatically retry many times if you have spotty service, leaves record others can see, and can give you an indication that it got thru. Because of the automatic retries, you can compose and hit send on a text and then get your phone as high as possible to improve the chances of getting the message out," the team went on to explain.

Another piece of advice for people who get lost is that they should stay in the same place. If they can make a phone call, it’s essential to keep their current location unless they are forced to move due to safety concerns.

"Changing your location makes our job more difficult. Trying to reach someone whose GPS location we have (within a circle, of course) is faster for us than trying to nail down a moving target. Stay put," the post added.

In the post, it is also clarified that the best way to make your battery last longer is to turn off Bluetooth and Wifi, avoid using GPS or maps features, and close all apps. The compass on your phone can also drain your battery fast, so don’t open it when you get lost.

The initial post sparked the response from the Alpine Rescue Team because they wanted to set things right and avoid unnecessary risks to anyone who gets stranded.

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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX
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