Group stranded in flood sends phone up on drone to transmit SOS message

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For these kinds of trips its always good to check the weather. Do not go out hiking or driving in remote areas that could potentially get flash floods, a downpour miles away can bring a flood as tall as a house in nearly an instant and could end up killing you. If you want to be extra cautious bring a GPS beacon made for hiking that will allow you to send out an SOS. It’s more reliable and preferred over cellphones.


I’m glad everyone made it out ok, but living in an area that floods every year, I am still just flabbergasted by people thinking they can ford flood waters. And doing it badly enough to flood your engine’s air intake is just mind numbingly stupid.


Riiiiiight. Clever. That’s the word for it.


These folks also had an infant/toddler with them so the behavior is all the more egregious. I’ve been hiking before in a national park (Zion Natl Park) that had a trail where you wade upstream of a river, and it was well known for intense flooding since it was a slot canyon. The park also extensively made sure to alert people about the flooding, and that hiking the river was ok as long as you understood the risks. The second we saw sprinkling we turned around and got out as fast as possible and i was really concerned that about a hundred people were still happily going up the river, most people really under estimate truly how dangerous and fast things can change.


Came her to comment and found that @Grey_Devil and @cannibalpeas pretty much got the whole thing summed up nicely. Electronics like gps and cell phones are giving people a false sense of security in the wild. Add now drones to that list.


It’s an interesting idea, though. Suppose you are in the wilds and you can’t get a good signal. There are things like Iridum handsets, but they are not cheap. Something that could fly up a thousand feet to relay a text, and return might be a better solution for hikers.

I suspect there is probably a smarter way where the phone does not leave the ground, but transmits a long, repeating signal which could be detected even when the signal to noise ratio is low.



However, evaluating the cost of a satellite messenger is not as simple as looking at the device price tag. Each one also requires purchasing a satellite subscription from Garmin or SPOT.

Ooo. I didn’t;t know about personal locator beacons. But they aren’t cheap, and you have to navigate the contrast…

SPOT plans require a 12-month contract, billed monthly or annually, plus a $19.99 activation fee. The basic SPOT plan ($199.99/year) provides tracking options of 5-, 10-, 30- or 60-minute intervals. Upgrading to 2.5-minute tracking intervals costs an additional $99.99/year. Notably, unlike Garmin, SPOT also offers a Gen3 device rental program for one-time uses, or if you want to try the product out before buying.

Ouch. I was thinking of something that you could buy snd keep in the packet along with the other emergency stuff until it was needed.

The personal beacons are likely a better fit for most people despite the cost considering it doesn’t need a subscription. The other one that does require a sub is likely for people that either work in remote areas or people who are very serious about their hobbies in the wild so the cost should be worthwhile to them.

You can occasionally find the personal beacons for a deal, especially if you get them 2nd hand :slight_smile: one of my cousins’ husband loves to go off roading and he has one, and considering he likes to take my cousin and their kids with them having that beacon is kind of necessary.


A satellite messenger device is the hot ticket. They’re used by folks that plan to end up well outside cell phone coverage areas. About the size of a pack of cigarettes (but much better for your health) they send a distress signal with your location to what is essentially “International Rescue”. Press the big red button, and Thunderbirds are Go.

From the REI description - Satellite messengers are devices that rely on GPS satellites for location information and commercial satellite networks for communication. Emergency distress signals are routed to the privately run GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center headquartered near Houston. The center coordinates with local search and rescue agencies and can communicate with you via text as your emergency response progresses.


The Narrows is amazing, but yes – you feel a drop, get the hell out.

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That’s a very high tech solution to some very low tech stupidity.

Understand the risks of where you’re hiking in to and FFS don’t ford rivers in a vehicle if you have no experience in doing that (or are driving the wrong vehicle for it). Never go into the wilderness without being prepared to stay a while should something go wrong. Blankets, food, candles, matches, etc. Easy to pack in a car.

I’ve swamped my Jeep halfway across a river that I underestimated (estimating river depth is very difficult so err on the side of extreme caution). We pulled the air filter and ignition (working on your engine standing in a mountain river is “fun”), waded to the bank with them and dried them out. Reinstalled, Jeep started up and we drove home. As penance for my stupidity, I got to repack all my wheel bearings and change the oil in the transmission and both differentials because the water got in everywhere from it sitting in the drink too long. All three gearboxes were milkshakes inside.

Another time my dad was driving his Blazer and we got in so deep the water was threatening to wash us down stream. We opened all the doors to let the river run through. Kept it stationary and upright while we rigged the winch cable to pull it out. When we got home, we got to pay for a new interior, but we made it home because we were prepared and understood the dangers of river fording.

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