It takes More than Technology to Venture Out in Nature

Now there’s one more item to add to the list of internet safety topics; technology doesn’t cure stupidity when spending time in the great outdoors.

An article in the New York Times outlines the struggle National Parks are facing as technology leads more park visitors into trouble.

Experienced hikers know to bring the gear, clothing, food, first aid kit, and water needed for any outdoor adventure, but with record numbers of visitors in our National Parks, rangers say that technology often figures into the trouble ill prepared, or inattentive people get themselves into.

While technology can benefit hikers who can call when they are really in trouble, the role of technology in accidents inside national parks has become so prevalent that the park service recently added “inattention to surroundings” to their list of common causes of injury.

The Times article provides several examples:

  • The woman who wanted close-up footage of a buffalo, but who got more than she bargained for as the buffalo charged.
  • The hiking party that called in rescue helicopters three times by pressing the emergency button on their satellite location device. When rangers arrived the second time, the hikers explained that their water supply “tasted salty.”
  • The French teenager who was injured after plunging 75 feet this month from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon when he backed up while taking pictures.
  • People with cell phones who call rangers from mountaintops to request refreshments or a guide – or hot chocolate.
  • The hikers who rely solely on GPS, failing to use common sense, maps, or compasses – sometimes failing to even bring water with them.

Providing help is expensive. Flying a helicopter into the park for a rescue can cost as much as $3,400 an hour, said Maureen Oltrogge, a spokeswoman for Grand Canyon National Park. I sure hope the gentlemen who felt compelled to call in the choppers 3 times, are footing that bill.

The lessons to learn?

  • Hiking distracted can be as fatal as driving distracted.
  • You can’t pull water, food, or shelter, out of your cell phone or GPS device, any more than you can pull it out of your ear. If you want to eat, drink or have shelter, bring it with you.
  • There aren’t cell towers in the National Parks – or in most of our wilderness areas – so expect coverage to be spotty at best, if carrying your cell phone is your whole survival plan, expect to find yourself up a creek.
  • Technology can’t beat out common sense and preparedness, if you don’t have these, stay home.

Click here to read the full NYT article.



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