Do not change your answering machine: Rescue teams warn against misleading posts on social media

DENVER (KDVR) – Colorado search and rescue teams are responding to a viral post on social media that they say carries misleading information that could complicate their missions.

mail, which has been shared thousands of times across Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, among other platforms, encourages people who are stranded or lost while hiking to change their voicemail message to include their location, time, date and their situation.

The Colorado Alpine Rescue Team responded to the post on its own Facebook page, pointing to a handful of issues with the information.

“The message that went viral was just not the best message to send out,” said Howard Paul, public information officer at the Alpine Rescue Team. “If you find yourself in trouble somewhere in the hinterland, we do not want you wasting battery power, we do not want you wasting time calling your answering machine, calling a friend or relative.”

Paul added that lost walkers are likely to be without a cell phone signal in the hinterland, and yet they will not be able to change their voicemail messages.

What to do if you are in trouble in the hinterland

If a person is in trouble, Paul says they should only use their battery to make a call to 911. He encourages people to use text messaging whenever possible.

“You can very well get a text message directly back from the 911 exchange. You can get an SMS back from the search and rescue teamsaid Paul.

Charles Pitman with the Summit County Rescue Group agrees that wasting cell phone battery in the hinterland can be a costly mistake.

“I can not tell you how many times I talk to the reporting party, and the very first words out of their mouths will be something along the lines of ‘I only have 3% on my cell phone battery, so I have to talk fast.’ , “Pitman said.

This can of course make it much harder for rescue crews to locate a missing person.

Safety tips for backcountry, as recommended by rescue teams

When heading out into the countryside, rescuers recommend the following safety tips:

  • Use text messages
  • Turn off other apps
  • Keep your mobile phone warm to conserve battery power
  • Bring a satellite communications device that allows bidirectional messaging
  • Let someone know about your plans before you head out into the hinterland

“The most important thing is to let someone know where you are going and when you are coming back,” Paul said.

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