'Do not do this': Widely-shared post on what to do if lost while hiking is wrong, safety group says

(BC AdventureSmart / Instagram)

A B.C. agency that provides outdoor safety training is concerned about a social media post that’s spreading misinformation.

A post on social media, which has been widely shared on social media recently, instructs people to change their voicemail greeting to include information on their coordinates should they be stranded and have very little battery life left in their phone.

But emergency experts say that’s not the way to go – and people should instead try to reach a 911 operator immediately.

“Every once in a while we see trends going around social media that we need to address, this was definitely one of those,” reads a statement from BC AdventureSmart, a search-and-rescue association.

“The latest is the idea about changing your voicemail if you’re lost,” it continues.

The viral, misleading post claims that changing your voicemail is the best thing to do particuarly if you don't have cell reception. But many people on social media have replied to the post and pointed out that you need reception to change your voicemail anyway.

And if you have any reception, BC AdvenureSmart wants you to call emergency responders.

“If your battery is low, and you are lost or need rescue, dial 911 and tell dispatchers where you are and ask for police.”

“This call will initiate the process to dispatch police and the local ground search and rescue,” the BC AdventureSmart statement reads.

The agency also recommends planning ahead and making contingency plans. Specifically, it recommends people follow the “3 Ts” of trip planning, training and taking the essentials.

“Every educated effort towards personal preparedness made by enthusiasts before their adventure and during an emergency will make a difference.”

BC AdventureSmart also details some of the finer points of cell phone use in an emergency situation.

“Conserve your cell battery, if your battery is low, remember that text messages take far less battery to transmit.”

It also says that search and rescue crews may try and connect with you by text if they know your phone battery is low. And, even if your phone battery isn’t low, it recommends not using your phone except to speak with rescue crews or police.

“Don’t call your friends and family while you’re waiting for rescue,” it says.
 

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