Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones

Maximise your mobile

Your mobile phone may not be the most reliable way of calling for help. Batteries can very quickly run flat and signal coverage in the hills is still a hit and miss affair. That said, the use of mobiles has grown enormously in the last ten years and the majority of calls for mountain rescue help are made by mobile. The days of running down the hill to the nearest telephone box to summon help – it would appear – are well and truly over.

So, how do you make the most of your mobile phone and maximise your chances of maintaining contact once you've called for help?

  • Keep your mobile in a plastic bag  somewhere warm and accessible, where you can hear it in the prevailing conditions. And pack a spare battery in a separate plastic bag.
  • If the signal is poor, stand still! Keep the phone in one position to maintain the connection.
  • Shelter the microphone from the wind and increase the receive volume settings as necessary.
  • Fully charge the battery (and the spare!) before setting off.
  • Minimise your call time to conserve battery power.
  • Schedule your point of contact calls and switch off by arrangement, when not required.
  • The police or coastguard may establish a calling schedule with you - for example, every 20 minutes or so – between which you may arrange to turn off your mobile phone.
  • Check for coverage with every phone in the party. Use one phone at a time to preserve batteries – or swap batteries.
  • If there's only one phone and it shows no coverage, disconnect the battery for one minute and reconnect. Switch on and try again.
  • Consider taking all the available phones to a more prominent location to get network coverage. Take care not to get lost in the process and remember that sometimes a ten minute walk up the hill is sufficient to get you a signal, rather than running down the valley for an hour.
  • If you cannot move and/or have insufficient network coverage to make a voice call, try sending a text message from all the available mobile phones in your party, to your point of contact.
  • In a number of mountain areas, the deaf, hearing and speech impaired can now send an emergency 999 text message to a dedicated number. In Cumbria, for example, this is 07786 208999. Refer to the appropriate police authority for more details – before you set out!