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Experts Contradict Viral Post About Changing Voicemail If Lost or Stranded

In a now-viral post published to social media, readers are instructed that if they ever find themselves lost or stranded with minimal cell phone battery remaining, they should change their voicemail greeting to indicate where they are and whether they plan to move locations so that rescue workers know where to find them.

The information seems logical enough, and I’ll admit I found myself thinking, “Oh, what a great idea. I never would have thought of that.” But experts are warning against this advice.

A repost of the message, pictured below, which is allegedly years old and is making the social media rounds once again, states lost or stranded motorists or hikers, for example, should “change the voicemail on your phone to a message that gives your approximate location, the time, the date, your situation (lost, out of gas, car broken down, injured, etc) and any special instructions such as you are staying with the car, you are walking toward a town, etc….:

The post now contains a Facebook warning stating the information is “partly false.”

post advising people lost or stranded to change voicemail labeled partly false


The “partly false” warning comes after rescue workers have weighed in on the advice with some considerations of their own.

According to Alpine Rescue Workers, one of the most glaring problems with this information is that changing one’s voicemail while lost without reception is “virtually impossible.”

Without a signal, users are unable to change their outgoing voicemail message. And then there is the issue of draining precious battery life trying to get a signal, potentially winding up having accomplished nothing once the battery does die.

Rather than following the misguided advice in the “partly false” PSA, experts instead advise lost or stranded individuals to use their remaining battery life to call or text 911, stating if reception is poor, texting is the way to go as most call centers are now equipped to handle text messages.

One might ask what the purpose of this is if you have no reception anyway. Rescue workers state that a cell phone will continue trying to send a text message until there is reception, and sending text messages takes up far less battery than calling. This gives users the opportunity to lift their cell phones up in the air for a better chance of finding a connection and thus making sure their text message makes it to authorities before the battery gives out.

Rescue workers also advise against moving locations if lost or stranded. Instead, they advise people to stay put, as moving makes their job of finding people even harder.

Let’s hope none of us ever find ourselves lost or stranded in the first place. But if we do, it’s probably best to heed the advice of the people whose job it is to make sure we make it home safely.