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    People Are Saying Changing Your Voicemail Could Save Your Life If You're Lost — They're Wrong, And Here's What You Should Do Instead

    FYI: Changing your voicemail message still requires cell service.

    A viral post advising lost hikers to change their voicemail message has been making the rounds on social media — but rescuers say it's bad advice.

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    The post, which has been shared thousands of times across Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, encourages lost hikers without service to change their voicemails to include information about their location, their situation, the time, and the date.

    While this seems like a sound suggestion, police and rescue departments across the country are saying the action could do more harm than good.

    "Changing your voicemail should not be the sole means of communication if you have enough battery and signal," Cynthia Hernandez of the National Park Service told BuzzFeed.

    A man on his phone in a creek
    Westend61 / Getty Images

    The biggest issue with the hack is that changing your voicemail's outgoing message requires cell service. Several of the social media posts have wrongly claimed that people can change their voicemails without a signal.

    A hiker changing their outgoing voicemail in a forest
    Hxyume / Getty Images

    Rescuers say if you have some cell service, there are other, more effective measures to take. "The best-case scenario is that you talk on the phone directly with emergency services," Hernandez explained. "Another option would be to send a text message, try a phone call, email — anything to get that GPS location to someone who could help."

    A hiker on the phone on top of a mountain
    Viktorcap / Getty Images / iStockphoto

    These actions are also more likely to work because they require minimum cell service and can make someone actively aware of your situation. They would also be a better use of a waning battery.

    Another tip from rescuers is to maintain your battery life for as long as possible by only using your phone to contact help, putting your phone on airplane mode, and shutting off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.

    A hiker with a phone showing a low battery
    Manuel-f-o / Getty Images / iStockphoto

    In addition to contacting authorities and preserving phone battery, there are a few steps you can take to get rescued sooner.

    Two people looking at a map in a clearing
    Peter Cade / Getty Images

    "Stay calm and in a clearing where you will be most visible if there is no threat of dangerous weather. And attract searchers by making noise and signaling with colorful clothing or a mirror," Hernandez said. "If someone is injured, provide whatever treatment you can."

    The final piece of advice the National Park Service gave us is to be well-prepared before beginning a hike — starting with informing someone of your plan. "Visitors should communicate their travel plans to someone who will be waiting to hear from them at predetermined times/dates," Hernandez said.

    A layout of camping materials
    Skitti / Getty Images/iStockphoto

    "Visitors should also plan their trip with plenty of time to figure out exactly where they are going, what is the availability of potable water, how difficult the terrain is, etc. They should also make sure they have proper equipment, clothing, sufficient food and water, and printed or downloaded maps before heading out."

    For more tips and information on how to plan a hiking trip, click here, here, and here.