Experts Say if Lost, Don’t Change Your Voicemail – Call or Text 9-1-1

In response to a viral post advising people to change their voicemail if they get lost somewhere to inform the caller of their location and time, a nonprofit rescue team from Colorado is telling people to use better alternatives.

The post made on October 21st went viral for suggesting that people who get stranded or lost while hiking, having car troubles or have simply run out of gas to change their voicemail to reveal their exact location. The person should provide “the time, the date, your situation and any special instructions such as you are staying with your car, you are walking toward a town, etc.”

The Alpine Rescue Team says otherwise. “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 shared on their Facebook page.

The chances of one having service to successfully change their voicemail is unlikely. “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,” said the post. Additionally, texting 9-1-1 is probably the most effective option as call centers can now receive text messages, and they “[take] much less power, [are] far more likely to get through, will automatically retry many times if you have spotty service, [leave] record that others can see and can give you an indication that it got thru.”

Additionally, one “can compose and hit send on a text and then get [their] phone as high as possible to improve the chances of getting the message out,” according to the Alpine Rescue Team.

If lost, it should be noted that people are strongly suggested to stay put unless they have to move for their safety. “Changing your location makes our job more difficult. Trying to reach someone whose GPS location we have is faster for us than trying to nail down a moving target. STAY PUT,” read the post.

In order to maximize your phone’s battery life, close all your apps, turn off Bluetooth and WiFi, and refrain from using GPS/map features built into the phone. The compass feature on the phone also drains the battery.

The post suggesting people change their voicemail has since been flagged by Facebook to denote that it contains “partly false information.”

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