Consider the following scenario: you are in the middle of nowhere, your car has broken down, your phone is practically dead, and you have not had cell service in miles. Fortunately, you read social media before leaving, so you know what to do: take your phone, hit a few buttons, and… Alter your voicemail. It is a piece of Internet “advice” that has been around in various forms for a few years, but the most recent iteration to go viral goes like this: if you are in a bind, with low phone battery or no service, modify your voicemail to include the time and your approximate position. The notion is that anybody trying to contact you would hear the message and come to your aid – but experts say this is a horrible idea.
“Every now and again, we find patterns on social media that we need to address,” Halifax Search and Rescue in Nova Scotia posted on their Facebook page. “The most recent suggestion is to change your voicemail if you get lost.” As the group points out, there is an immediate flaw in the advice: updating your voicemail nearly always necessitates a cell signal. Because of the message saved on your carrier’s servers, you will not be able to change it if you cannot connect to those servers.
If you do not have a signal, you may utilize a landline “or a data connection of some type (like wi-fi),” according to AT&T and Verizon representatives. You are unlikely to have either if you are stuck or in an emergency.
“I’ll be honest with you.”Changing your voicemail may be the last thing you do,” Halifax Search and Rescue, cautioned. “NOBODY IS COMING TO GET YOU IF YOU DON’T CALL FOR HELP AND LEAVE A TRIP PLAN.”
So, what should you do in a life-or-death situation? The solution is straightforward: contact 911. This has many advantages: first, you can do it even if you do not have service, and second, it really launches a rescue right away, rather than just hoping someone would call you in the near future. You may even contact the emergency services if you are running low on charge, according to a Washington State Sheriff’s Office’s search and rescue department on Facebook.
“Send a text message if you have any battery life left.” They added, “It merely takes a fraction of a second of data receipt to send that message out.” “It’s a lot more likely that this will go through than refreshing your voice mail.”
Finally, experts advise that you attempt to save battery life while you wait – so no doomscrolling on social media. Many phones include a battery saver or even a super battery saving mode that turns off needless power drains, and if you are low on energy, you could requested to turn your phone off for a bit, Alpine Search and Rescue noted on Facebook.
“Use your mobile battery sparingly. If your battery is low, keep in mind that text messages use significantly less power to send,” Halifax Search and Rescue said. “If we know your battery is low, Halifax Search & Rescue may try to contact you by text.” “Stay offs your phone until you need to talk to the cops,” they urged. “While you’re waiting for help, don’t phone your friends and family.”