King County Search and Rescue says "Be phone smart"

Saturday, October 23, 2021

From King County Search and Rescue

A viral message is going around advising people to update their voicemail if lost with a low battery/poor cell reception.
A few things to consider:

  • THE ABSOLUTE BEST THING TO DO, IF LOST OR INJURED, IS TO CALL 911. Often, GPS coordinates can be obtained off your call.
  • Compose a text message to a trusted contact one at a time. Let them know where you are as best you can, what gear you have, and if you have any injuries.
  • Updating your voicemail will take more battery/cell reception than if you send a text/SMS. If/when your phone finds a moment of reception it will push through, voice calls or transmissions demand a stronger reception and are less likely to push through.
  • On occasion, photos posted to social media sites can also provide a clue about a person’s location. Search and rescue crews have been tipped off from friends/family members when a photo has pushed through to the cloud or social media and clues about terrain features can help narrow down a search area.
Another option to consider is a smartphone app such as CAIRN ( which can direct you to the closest point of cell reception, or notify your contacts if you are overdue with breadcrumbs of your tracks.
Lastly, remember that cold weather can easily draw down battery life. Turn off your phone, or put it on airplane mode to conserve battery.


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