Search and rescue leader debunks viral hiking voicemail advice

Oct 26 2021, 5:59 pm

A leader with a prominent Search and Rescue group in Metro Vancouver is warning hikers to be wary of dubious safety advice about updating once’s voicemail that’s making rounds on social media.

A notes screenshot that’s been shared by some very popular Instagram accounts suggests hikers, or people who are otherwise stranded, update their voicemail to include their last known location and what happened.

The advice suggests it could be useful to rescuers who can hear the voicemail message even after the phone runs out of battery or loses service.


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But Michael Coyle, search manager with Coquitlam Search and Rescue, has dubbed the advice misinformation.

You need cell signal to change the voicemail, and by the time a hiker is lost in the wilderness it’s probably too late for that.

Instead, Coyle advises hikers to use the battery they have left and call 911 to tell rescuers where they are.

“Wasting time changing your voicemail could be the last thing you do,” Coyle said in a Facebook post.

“If you don’t call for help, nobody is coming to get you.”

Coyle’s advice is echoed by other search and rescue groups across Canada and the US.


Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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