Social networks could save your life

2013-05-16 11:21

Twitter. (Lionel Bonaventure, AFP)

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Cape Town – By making use of Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp while you are on a mountain your life could be saved.

Tim Lundy, member of the Cape Town Hiking Hikers network and Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) came up with this concept last year to track people while using social media.

Lundy said they encourage everyone who makes use of the mountains like hikers, cyclists and runners to check in with a message stating their starting time, route, how many members they have in their group and the expected time when they will be back. 

According to him cellphone reception on the mountains is good enough to be effective most of the time. He also encouraged people to send pictures via the social networks so that they can have an idea where they are.

“If a group has not checked in by the time they gave us we will send them a message and ask them to do so. After some time has passed and they still haven’t checked in, we will try and call them. If there is however no answer we will make search and rescue teams aware to be on standby,” Lundy said.

According to him they have not had a situation where people have not checked in with them after their hike.

He said this pass Sunday he tracked 54 people who were in six different groups hiking in Robertson, Langebaan and the Cape Peninsula.

Currently Lundy and and Anwaaz Bent, also a member of WSAR and convener of a group named Hikers Network, take turns to keep track of all the messages and tweets they receive from people making use of mountains.

They are however thinking of setting up a call centre where one person can track all the calls, tweets and messages that come through. They are still in the process to get funds for their concept.

People who make use of the mountain and are on Twitter can tweet Bent, under the handle @SafetyMountain, and Lundy, @hikingcapetown.

People can also send messages via Whatsapp and the number they must use is 079 384 6949. Lundy also encouraged everyone to save the emergency number 021 937 0300 on their phone as well as Table Mountain National Park’s number 0861 106 417.

He said if this concept proves to be successful they would like to expand it and liase with other rescue teams in other provinces as well as the rest of the world if they are interested.

“There were 352 mountain rescues last year. If this concept takes off we can minimise mountain rescues and use the time to educate the public about mountain safety and to wear appropriate gear,” Lundy said. 

They are hoping to have the call centre up and running before the end of the year.

Nearly 700 people were following the @SafetyMountain account.

– Follow Chantelle on Twitter.

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