Officials debunk potentially harmful 'safety tip' shared on social media

·1 min read
Officials debunk potentially harmful 'safety tip' shared on social media
Officials debunk potentially harmful 'safety tip' shared on social media

Officials are debunking a viral social media post suggesting that stranded hikers who have no signal on their cell phone or who are low on battery use their last bit of power to change their voicemail message to indicate their location, the time and date, and their current situation.

The thought process behind the post, which has been shared hundreds of thousands of times across various social media sites, is that people calling a lost person's phone in search of them will hear the voice mail message and alert authorities.

Michael Coyle, a manager with Coquitlam Search and Rescue recently took to Facebook to debunk the safety "tip."

"DO NOT WASTE TIME trying to change your voicemail, call 911 immediately," he wrote, using all caps to emphasize his point.

"If you use up the last of your battery changing your voicemail, nobody is going to know you need help."

Experts are quick to point out that users without service or data won't have the ability to change their voicemail unless they have access to Wi-Fi or a landline.

Experts recommend people who are stranded call 911 immediately, even with a limited signal because phones can use any nearby network to dial emergency services, Coyle told the CBC.

Another way to mitigate a potential disaster is by making preparations well ahead of a hike.

That includes:

  • Letting others know where you will be going and when you plan on returning home.

  • Making sure you have dressed appropriately for the weather conditions and have a change of clothes in your backpack.

  • Bringing extra water, snacks, sunscreen, and a first aid kit along.

Get more hiking safety tips at Ontario Trails.

Thumbnail image courtesy: Oziel Gómez/Pexels.

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