Karen Klein's family had traveled from Pennsylvania for a vacation out west. While in Las Vegas they rented a car and were driving to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Following their GPS on more remote roads caused them to drive down a closed forest road. Their vehicle became trapped and with no cell phone service they were forced to effect self rescue.
Karen walked approximately 26 miles finding a guard shack where she sought shelter. The father and child also began walking and managed to find a location where they could get cell phone service. After placing a phone call for help, search and rescue found the family and all were saved. The family suffered from cold exposure and frostbite.
In one article Karen credited their survival to her wilderness abilities. She stated that when she ran out of water she began to drink her own urine. She said that she knew that eating snow would hasten hypothermia. I personally could not help but to shake my head at these statements. People survive in spite of drinking urine, and a body that is in motion generating heat is in no danger of hypothermia when eating snow.
While each of the family members did survive this incident could have been avoided altogether. Road and trail closures are readily available from Parks Services. The road the family went down was a seasonal road which is closed every winter. Trust in technology should be limited especially when instinct should tell you otherwise.
In this case it was technology in the end that did save them. Hiking to where they could get a cell phone signal made the difference and prevented what could have been a far more tragic event. While in this instance technology created the issue as well as the solution there are other notes to be taken. The family was ill prepared for extended exposure within this climate. Their clothing was not suitable in the event an emergency did happen. There was no emergency bag containing simple items such as additional clothing, a basic pot, lighter or ferro rod or tools which would have been of aid.
When we take off with our families on a vacation and visit beautiful places how many people bring these basic tools with them? Very few in fact ever stop to think about these simple things. We may purchase life insurance, medical insurance, home owners insurance, vehicle insurance, in fact we insure just about everything one could name. Despite this we often fail to insure our own safety with the most basic of necessities for a scenario that could happen as easily as having a flat tire.
We trust our GPS, vehicles, cell phones, and all the modern tools we interact with each day. Any number of these things can fail us and often a failure happens at the worst of moments. In fact when technology fails it is never a good moment, much less if one is miles away from civilization. Preparation of the basics such as a self made first aid kit is left behind while the Ipads become the priority.
Often enough GPS issues can simply cause an inconvenience. A cell phone being dead, or not being able to obtain a signal, means displeasure at not being able to post every five minutes on Facebook. A vehicle breakdown at the parking lot at work while a major event in your day is not devastating. The further away we physically are from the support services of civilization the more prepared one must be. If one finds themselves as the family of Karen Klein attempting to effect self rescue and unprepared it may become a devastating to life rather than an inconvenience.