Sunday, March 18, 2012

Use GPS to Help Rescuers Find You Faster

Ice-on-lake-small.jpg

Every winter, thousands of people get lost in the snow, or have an accident of some sort and end up in a ditch with snow everywhere. And, depending where you are, it can sometimes be hours before search and rescue crews can find your vehicle and lend aid. However, something that many people forget about is using GPS to speed things up a bit.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: if you’re already lost, how is a GPS going to help you? If your location had an address, then you wouldn’t be sitting in your car, waiting for rescue teams (or a tow truck or a friend) to find you and help get you back to safety. But, what most people don’t consider is that GPS relies on not only satellite signals, but latitude and longitude coordinates, which can help rescuers find you immediately.

While I dearly hope that no one needs any of this, here are some ways that you can find your latitude and longitude in an emergency:

Find your Latitude/Longitude on a GPS Device

Unfortunately, because there are so many different brands and even makers of GPS devices, they are all going to be slightly different. However, most automotive GPS devices will have this feature under the “Where am I?” screen, or someplace similar. Handhelds will usually have it located in one of the menus and it’s usually labeled “My position” or something similar—assuming it doesn’t just show it outright.

My suggestion is to play with your GPS device to make sure you know how to find the coordinates before heading out. Or, simply use your phone as you’ll have to send the coordinates via your phone anyway.

Find your Latitude/Longitude on a Phone

Assuming that you have a smartphone, finding the latitude and longitude is actually extremely simple:

  1. Open Google Maps or Apple Maps
  2. Wait for your phone to pinpoint your location
  3. Press and hold the blue dot showing your location

Depending on whether you have an Apple or Android, it will either show a pop-up with your coordinates, or display the coordinates in the search bar at the top.

Once you acquire your latitude/longitude, then you can send that along with the call for help and rest easy in knowing that rescue teams won’t be driving past your location in a blizzard, trying to find you.

Be safe out there, everyone!

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