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Using Technology to Stay Safe in theWild


es, technology makes spending time

outdoors more convenient. More

importantly, it can also help you stay

safe. Here are a few ways technology

can help keep your wilderness adventure

from turning into a wilderness disaster.

Mobile Phones

Cell phone service in the backcountry is

inconsistent, so you might want to con-

sider using a satellite phone. Like a cell

phone, it’s portable, but you can get

service virtually anywhere. You can use

a satellite phone to make calls or send

text messages in an emergency situation.


Getting lost in the wilderness is less of a

concern with a global positioning system

(GPS), which can be used to chart your

course, track your miles, and determine

how much altitude you’ve gained or lost.

If you lose your way, it can help you get

back on your intended route and find your

way back. To make the most of a GPS,

learn how to use it before you set out.


Pocket-sized personal locator beacons

(PLBs) allow you to notify rescue per-

sonnel of an emergency. It works by

emitting a distress signal to satellites

that send the information to government

stations (though they can’t communicate

back). Because you have to register the

device in advance, personnel will know

who you are. As with a GPS, learn how

the PLB works before you embark on

your adventure.

Just remember that

no amount of

technology can guarantee your safety


Know and understand the dangers you’ll

face when you camp, hike, bike, ski,

surf, or embark on any other activity in

the great outdoors. Always have backup

methods (such as bear spray, a map and

compass, or extra food) ready in case

your technology fails.


According to

Yellowstone National Park, the

chances of being injured by a

bear are about 1 in 2.1 million.

Caring for Your Devices Outside

When you bring technology into outdoor environments, anything can happen:

• Leave your tablet out on the picnic table at your campsite, and it could get rained on.

• Drop your cell phone while on a trail, and it could fall down a mountainside.

• Put your GPS in a loosely zippered backpack pocket, and it could fall into a stream.

To prevent these mishaps, take special precautions when using your technology outdoors.

Use protective coverings, wrist loops, and waterproof cases. Each evening, take an inven-

tory of all your devices to make sure they’re safe from the elements.