What to Do In an Emergency When Your Phone Is Dying

You should call for help if you get lost on a hike or your car breaks down, and you are stranded at the side of the road. What if your battery is dead? Do not listen to anyone who says you need to change your voicemail. Instead, text a friend.


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The change your voicemail messages, which appear during hurricane season, or simply circulate as advice to hikers, state that voicemail can be accessed from anywhere and anytime. You can also leave a message with safety information and your location so that you can get the word out to anyone who calls you. These assumptions are not entirely true. In any case, it is important to prioritize a number of other items before you change your voicemail.

Safety experts may be begging you to ignore their advice. I have been in similar situations and know what the best options are. As I mentioned before, I was lost while hiking. It was dark and I was almost out of battery. Even worse, I had very little cell signal. I can see that I did everything right. However, changing my voicemail wasn't one of them.

Send a message

Texts take very little battery and very little signal to transmit. They will keep trying again for a few more minutes even if there was no signal at the moment you hit send.

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You should send a text message to a friend immediately if you are concerned that your battery might die. Include your location and any other pertinent information. Include your GPS coordinates if you have them. You don't need to attach images or attachments if you are trying to send text-only messages.

Text 911 is also possible in some areas but it's not always available. You should always call 911 if you need more information or faster help.

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Please note that I mean a text. This does not include a Signal message, DM on social media or an iMessage. If you are trying to send a message from the iPhones Messages App and it shows up in blue, long press your message and choose send as text message.

Battery savings

You might not need to be in an emergency situation, but you may want to focus your attention on your battery. Otherwise, you can skip to the next step by calling 911. Turn on power-saving mode while you wait for a reply to your text. You can turn your screen brightness down to save battery, or, if you have the option, put your phone in airplane mode temporarily. Don't answer unneeded calls.

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You can power off your phone for a while and then switch it on to check your messages.

You can also charge your phone if you are stuck with your car. Charge your phone

If you can, dial 911

Call 911 if you are in a situation that would allow for a 911 call to be made. Because cell providers are required by law to route 911 calls, this call could go through regardless of whether other calls do not. Your carrier might not have coverage in this area, but another carrier may have coverage nearby.

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In case you are cut off, be sure to give the most important information when you call. This includes your location (as precise as possible), your reason for calling, and your name. You can then let them know that your phone is dead.

Keep your distance

In an emergency, the worst thing you can do is to try to travel or move. Keep where you are even if you have just told 911 or your girlfriend where you are. It's not worth sending the search-and rescue team to where you were.

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You can also change your voicemail.

I followed all of the above steps except calling 911 when I got lost in the woods. I turned down the brightness, located GPS coordinates on my phone and texted my husband saying I was lost but I'm right here. I didn't like the location where I found reception, but I stayed there until he returned. He was able tell me the way to the road and I agreed to follow his instructions while he drove to meet me. Disaster averted.

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Would I have changed my voicemail if that didn't work? Hell no! It takes more battery power to call voicemail than it does to send a message, so I'd rather save the juice. It is also a question of who will listen to my voicemail. A message is only valuable if someone can act on it. My husband does not listen to voicemail messages. He texts me if he doesn't pick up his phone. This is likely true for your family and friends. Robots trying to reach me about my extended warranty on my car are the only ones who get my voicemail.

You won't be able change your voicemail if there is no signal. Although voicemail messages are stored with the carrier so that people can hear them even if their phone is not working, it doesn't mean that you won't be able to change your voicemail if you don't have signal.

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You can update your voicemail on some carriers from a different phone or landline. This is a good idea in theory, but it's not something that you would use. Perhaps your phone is dead and you have found someone else with a phone that can charge it. You can't text or call your emergency contacts, but you are okay with waiting for someone to hear your voicemail. This is getting ridiculous. Instead, text your contacts and call 911 if it's an emergency.

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