Hey, Hikers: Your Smartphone Can’t Start a Fire

As people depend more and more on their smartphones, they're forgetting to take some basic equipment -- like maps and flashlights.

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Father and son stand on rock pinnacle above valley.

Who needs a who needs a flashlight when you have a flashlight app? Actually, tough guy, you do.

Across the U.S., park rangers are dealing with the increasingly common problem of finding lost hikers who set off without maps, compasses and basic survival gear — instead planning to depend on their smartphones’ maps, GPS and high-speed voice and data service for all their outdoors needs. According to a Boston Globe article, rangers in the hills of New Hampshire have seen an uptick in hikers getting stranded without much more than a mobile phone on them. “Being prepared for a hike does not mean having your cellphone charged,” Major Kevin Jordan from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department told the newspaper.

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Phones may seem like magical, do-anything devices, but many see to forget the fact that they depend on two things to operate: a mobile phone network and a power source. If you have trouble getting cellphone reception anywhere in your hometown, don’t think it gets any better on a remote mountainside. And good luck finding an outlet when your phone’s short-lived battery runs dry.

While some government agencies once recommended leaving your phone at home, they’re now on a list of approved items — as long as hikers remember to stow them away for emergency use and don’t forget to pack the things that have real hiking value, such as a map — or a real flashlight.

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