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Staying safe solo

Miriam Richardson

Walking alone along the water race path had me worried. Read Walking the Race

I had quite a few thoughts about the staying safe aspect of this walk. I was just lucky I didn’t slip or get vertigo and fall. Travelling alone and walking alone has risks and being in places with no mobile coverage has its risks. The hydro scheme site had no internet or mobile coverage when I was there.

Personal locator beacon (PLB)

Some people invest in a locator beacon, whch is useful not only when walking, but also when in your motorhome. They cost $300–500. When you get into trouble you trigger the alarm and wait for rescue. More: DOC: Rescue Coordinanation Centre:

Personal safety phone app

There are a variety of apps that work in different ways. Some are designed for walking to your car in the dark — hold the button down: if you take your finger off a distress message and your location is sent to bring help.

I settled on the Get Home Safe Personal app, a NZ-made app with a good funding model.

With this app, you set a time when you will check back in, and tell it what to do if you don’t. It can send a text (costs) or a message. You tell it who to send the message to, and what to say. You can buy 10 texts for 3.99, and you buy more when you need them. Emails are free.

While it is in action, the app monitors your location, sending to its server every 2 mins, or, if you are out of coverage, storing the data for when it next can send it.

When it helps:

  • if I feel really unwell at night (will I be capable in the morning?) with a morning check in;

  • are those people a threat to me? with a 10 minute check in;

  • if i am not back from my walk in 1/2/3 hours;

  • driving in snow/ice/weather where there is no coverage: if I dont check in in 2/3/4 hours; 

  • travelling out of mobile coverage, if I am not back in contact in 2/3 days.

My message can say what my plans are, where I am located and / or travelling, and whether or when emergency services should be involved.

Parked up a valley with no coverage, its a bit late: you have to plan in advance.

You need a reliable person to receive your messages and act on them. I ask them to try to contact me first (did I just forget to check in?) and take action if they are unable to reach me. 

Which to use?

The PLB is not tied to mobile coverage and has official, automatic responders, while an app requires preplanning and relies on others, but has more permutations and more general uses. Use both!


More on Get Home Safe Personal
  1. Set up an account, so that your phone is connected and safe with their server. Log in if you already have an account.

  2. Set up notifications, and purchase some SMS messages if email would be too slow.

  3. Create an activity or set a timer. You can create a custom activity like Health concern, if the standard list does not fit.

  4. Tell it what to do if you dont check in on time.

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