We all know that we can’t believe everything we read on the internet or see on social media. That’s why, when an Instagram post went viral a couple of years back, it warranted being fact-checked. The post contained some (possibly) life-saving advice but many critics wondered if it was, in fact, true. RELATED: 10 Items I Have in Case of Emergency

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Karensinsane posted on Instagram: “EMERGENCY TIP!!!! If you ever find yourself in a dire situation and your phone is about to die or you have no service CHANGE YOUR VOICEMAIL!!! You don’t need data or service to do so. Change it and state the time and your location!!!”

On the surface this is a great tip. It was timely when it was shared, in light of the tragic news about the California family that perished in Sierra National Forest and sadly it’s still timely, in light of the British actor Julian Sands, who went missing in the Mt. Baldy area in California. And those are just two examples of the many people who go missing or perish in the wilderness.

But is this advice entirely true? It’s good to know whether it will work or not, especially if you’re a hiker or ever find yourself in a dangerous situation and don’t have cell reception. USA Today did a good job fact-checking this information and here’s what they had to say: “There are some exceptions, but in general, cellphone users cannot change voicemail greetings from their devices if they don’t have service.”

Steve Van Dinter, a spokesperson for Verizon, said in an email to USA Today, “While you could dial *86 or change your voicemail greeting with visual voicemail if your battery was dying … you would still need cell service or a data connection of some sort.”

Van Dinter and spokespeople for AT&T and T-Mobile also told USA Today that “their customers can update voicemail greetings over Wi-Fi. If they don’t have any internet access, calling from a landline can work, too.”

I still think it’s a brilliant idea to leave an outgoing voicemail as well as contacting your loved ones if you know you’re going into an area that might not have cell service and/or your battery is running low.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a quick refresher on how to change your voicemail greeting, in the event that you need to do it quickly.

Here’s how to change your voicemail on an iPhone:

YouTube video

And here’s how to change your voicemail on an Android phone:

YouTube video

Also, be sure to always have a portable charger on hand or better yet, rent or buy a satellite phone.


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