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#207160 - 08/28/23 01:09 AM Emergency phone......or radio?
rabbitearscarver Offline
member

Registered: 06/10/11
Posts: 27
Loc: Steamboat Springs, CO
I have been told in no uncertain terms that traipsing around the backcountry alone with a full pack at age 70 is no longer a good idea. Maybe it never was, but I've been doing it since I was 19!

So what's out there for emergency phones or radios when there's no cell service? What are my choices?
Thanks in advance!
_________________________
I before E except after C....Weird!

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#207161 - 08/28/23 10:23 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: rabbitearscarver]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1193
Loc: Madison, AL
Personal Location Beacons (PLBs) and satellite messengers have really been expanding lately. Lots of options out there. I'll mention a few but I am not suggesting these are the best.

The cheapest option is a PLB with no 2-way communication option. If you are in an emergency you activate the device and it sends your distress call along with position to emergency management system. You cannot send anything else with these devices and the emergency response cannot send you any information. ACR ResQLink is a popular option.

Garmin inReach is a popular messenger. It has the functionality of a PLB but adds the option of messaging. You can communicate with friends and family in non-emergency situations, too, including sending your coordinates. Such that if you became incapacitated they could communicate your last known location to potential rescuers. That additional capacity comes with, not just upfront costs, but access costs, too. The plans have been coming down in price but are not cheap for the occasional trip (most require an annual fee): https://www.garmin.com/en-US/p/837461

Satellite phones are the next step up both in terms of communication ability and cost. The latest in this front is the iPhone14 has built in capability to place satellite calls. I consider it more of a luxury item than a safety item particularly in terms of battery life. The inReach will last two weeks on a single charge. If you are bringing your iPhone you better have an awful lot of battery chargers (lighter than solar panel in most situations).


Edited by BZH (08/28/23 10:24 AM)

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#207162 - 08/28/23 10:40 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: rabbitearscarver]
DustinV Offline
member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 190
Loc: Lakewood, CO
Well, as long as you don't traipse too hard --or maybe slow it down to an amble-- keep moving until something stops you!
It is safer to take someone with you, but if you can't or won't drag someone along, bringing a gadget along so you can let loved-ones know you're okay, or not, is fairly easy. The hard part is deciding what to bring.

Your question is very pertinent, as there are several options nowadays and there's a lot of recent innovation in this area, built around hiking and backpacking.
1. Personal Locator Beacons have been around for years and are very durable SOS-only gadgets. Press a button and emergency personnel come get you.
2. A few years ago, several companies started making what they call Satellite Messengers. With those, you can do an SOS, plus have the gadget send your location and text messages. All this is done via satellite so you don't have to rely on cell service. This is the most popular option currently, since it can be a backup to your phone for communicating with loved-ones and emergency personnel. Also useful for road trips and other situations where you may be out of cell range.
3. Apple's latest iPhone has some of the Satellite Messenger functions, so if you're already comfortable with iPhones, that can be a option if you don't want to deal with two gadgets.
4. A radio or walkie-talkie can work too, but only if someone else is also using one too and is listening. Everyone uses cell phones, so this tech has largely fallen out of favor.

I need to decide on this kind of thing myself, even though I usually go with the same guy for every trip. Eventually, he's going to get tired of me.

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#207163 - 08/28/23 12:01 PM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: DustinV]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2236
Loc: Napa, CA
I've been using a Zoleo for the last couple of years, since as a volunteer doing work in the backcountry, we're recommended to carry some kind of messaging device

Seems to work fine, but it does require a phone to operate. The Zoleo makes the connection, the phone manages the texts.
_________________________
Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963

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#207164 - 08/29/23 10:09 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: rabbitearscarver]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 301
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
My iPhone 14 Pro Max has satellite connectivity that is free for two years. It works when cellular service doesn’t. I’m talking it for intensive photography purposes anyway and do use the gps feature with detailed maps and plant guide books so the communication features don’t add any weight.

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#207165 - 08/31/23 01:33 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: BZH]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 293
Loc: PNW
"The latest in this front is the iPhone14 has built in capability to place satellite calls."

I don't think this is correct (but I might be incorrect myself!). I think the iPhone 14 will let you TEXT emergency services if you have no cell service, not place calls. It will, I believe, also let you send your current coordinates via satellite to family/friends.

But I don't believe you can text family/friends out of cell service, only emergency services.

I think Apple will expand the usefulness in future updates, but for now it doesn't really replace something like the Zoleo or the inReach.


Edited by JustWalking (08/31/23 01:35 AM)

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#207168 - 08/31/23 02:45 PM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: JustWalking]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 301
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
At present the iPhone 14 pro satellite connectivity works with texting. You dial 911 and if there is no cellular it prompts you to use emergency services where you answer a few questions. It sends your information and location and they send the information to responders. So it’s limited but sounds very useful if you’re in a jam and not in the bottom of a deep, narrow canyon with limited satellite views. Perhaps this will expand into something more. Tech is moving fast.
We try to use common sense and due care to keep us out of trouble but when it comes down to it one really doesn’t know what is going to happen in the next five minutes so it sure doesn’t hurt to have a little something extra up your sleeve.


Edited by Arizona (08/31/23 02:46 PM)

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#207169 - 09/01/23 11:10 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: Arizona]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1193
Loc: Madison, AL
Thanks for the clarification JustWalking and Arizona. So it is a free service only available when you dial 911 and don't have a cell phone signal? That makes it pretty useful because you don't need to plan ahead. I'm too cheap to buy iPhones I hope some of the cheaper Android devices pick up on this technology soon.

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#207170 - 09/03/23 01:48 PM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: BZH]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 301
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
It’s free for now if you bought one of the iPhone 14 pro models. They say free for two years and don’t say after that. I replace my iPhone every two years so I’m wondering if the clock starts over after that. Lol
I’m not sure if there’s anything else one can use the satellite connectivity for that doesn’t have to do with 911 emergencies. Doesn’t sound like it.

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#207175 - 09/11/23 03:28 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: rabbitearscarver]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 333
Loc: Portland, Oregon
In a related story, Dixie had to be evacuated due
to a health issue:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WuCMCNFH36I
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#207176 - 09/11/23 10:34 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: Bill Kennedy]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2236
Loc: Napa, CA
Just had this experience in the Sierra--related to phone battery life:
https://www.backpackthesierra.com/post/phone-battery-life-and-zoleo
_________________________
Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963

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#207177 - 09/11/23 09:35 PM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: balzaccom]
Arizona Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/02
Posts: 301
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
You were well backed up and the battery saver procedures worked very well. You could certainly do a little more without fear of running out of battery.

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#207178 - 09/12/23 12:47 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: Arizona]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2236
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By Arizona
You were well backed up and the battery saver procedures worked very well. You could certainly do a little more without fear of running out of battery.


My thoughts exactly. And that felt pretty good!
_________________________
Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/

Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963

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#207179 - 09/12/23 07:20 PM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: Arizona]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 293
Loc: PNW
"I’m not sure if there’s anything else one can use the satellite connectivity for that doesn’t have to do with 911 emergencies. Doesn’t sound like it."

It's my understanding that you can also use the satellite connectivity to share your location with others (friends/family), not just emergency responders or for emergency situations.

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#207181 - 09/14/23 08:47 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: JustWalking]
DustinV Offline
member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 190
Loc: Lakewood, CO
The new satellite communicators are just that; you can communicate via satellite signal. Basically you can send and receive text messages, but I'm told it's slower. Oh, and some services offer weather and forest fire reports.

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#207192 - 09/25/23 03:45 AM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: Bill Kennedy]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 333
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Following up on Dixie's helicopter
evacuation, she was billed over $59,000, not including the medical expenses at the hospital. Fortunately, she had insurance through Garmin that may cover up to $50k.

Seems like way too much, to me.
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#207196 - 09/29/23 02:50 PM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: DustinV]
JustWalking Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/16
Posts: 293
Loc: PNW
Originally Posted By DustinV
The new satellite communicators are just that; you can communicate via satellite signal. Basically you can send and receive text messages, but I'm told it's slower. Oh, and some services offer weather and forest fire reports.


Yes (though they're not new, they've been around for a number of years now) but I was talking about the iPhone, not inReach or the others on the market. The iPhone isn't a true satellite communicator, but newer versions do allow contact with emergency personnel or roadside assistance personnel in case of an emergency out of cell range. You can't, however, text back and forth with anyone.

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#207198 - 10/05/23 12:29 PM Re: Emergency phone......or radio? [Re: JustWalking]
DustinV Offline
member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 190
Loc: Lakewood, CO
OIC what you meant.

I'm keeping an eye on the new iPhones too, now that I know they can send SOS or location. I was a little disappointed the newest models don't do satellite messaging, but at least they're USB-C.

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