Wednesday, April 6, 2022

10 Tips: How NOT to Get Lost

This recent story has dominated local media for the past week.  A couple from half way across the country came to rural Nevada in their RV and disappeared for more than a week.  After a massive search effort, the couple was found; unfortunately the husband had already passed away but the wife was found alive and is now recuperating.  While the details of the event are still sketchy, locals were pretty shocked that they managed to get a giant RV and towed car that far into the remote wilderness where they were found stuck and without a cell signal to contact anyone for help.  Here is how NOT to get stranded if you head out on a road trip this summer:

  1. Leave an itinerary with a trusted friend or relative and schedule regular check-ins with them.  If they don't hear from you at your regularly scheduled contact time, they should take immediate action to start looking for you.
  2. Leave all pertinent information with your emergency contact to make searching for you easier.  Include your full name, email, cell numbers, recent photos of everyone in the vehicle, vehicle info (license plate state/number), photos of your vehicle, etc.  You may also want to allow your emergency contact to access your services like 'Find My iPhone', Life360 tracking app, Find My Android, etc.
  3. Don't diverge from your itinerary unless you let your emergency contact know.  Taking "short cuts" down tiny back roads can end in disaster.
  4. Activate OnStar or other available telematics services for your vehicle(s).
  5. Carry a personal locator beacon with you such as the Garmin inReach which allows you to call for help even if there is no cell signal in your area.
  6. Carry a couple of sim cards with you for two separate cell networks (such as a sim for Verizon and a sim for the TMobile network).  This way if you can't call out on one network, you may still have coverage with the other network.
  7. Don't rely on Google maps exclusively.  There have been numerous articles about people who relied on Google and other GPS mapping services despite common sense telling them they are going the wrong direction (like seeing a lake right in front of them and driving straight in anyway because their GPS service told them to do so).
  8. Carry a map and compass with you (and know how to use them).  Every vehicle should have a road atlas in it for use in an emergency situation in case your GPS system decides to stop working.
  9. Download an offline map program to your cell phone to use if you can't reach your regular cell service.
  10. Consider multiple communication systems as well as back up power systems to use during an emergency.  In addition to your cell phone, keep a HAM radio in your vehicle.  Also, keep your backup batteries charged and maybe carry a solar powered or wind up powered battery charging system with you on your travels

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