Image source: Garmin

2023 in SOS: The year hikers led in Garmin inReach alerts

2023 was quite the year for Garmin inReach gadgets, standing by as the unsung heroes for countless adventurers and road trippers. From the deep woods where hikers tread to the open roads frequented by the rest of us, these nifty devices were busy sending out SOS signals and proving why they can be a useful part of your travel kit. Hikers led in the number of alerts, while driving related incidents saw a significant rise.

A year in numbers: The SOS breakdown

Garmin’s inReach satellite technology, a trusted ally since 2011, has continued to enable users worldwide to stay connected, navigate, and, when necessary, send SOS signals to the Garmin Response emergency coordination center. This year, the stats reveal a significant shift, with driving-related incidents marking the largest increase in SOS activations. Meanwhile, hikers and backpackers led in the overall number of SOS calls, underscoring the diverse applications of inReach devices across activities.

Garmin SOS

Global reach, diverse emergencies

With the Iridium satellite network’s global coverage, an SOS can be initiated from virtually anywhere on Earth. The Garmin Response team, equipped with a sophisticated emergency monitoring platform, has coordinated rescue efforts in over 200 countries and territories, supporting more than 210 languages. From major highways to Mount Everest, this year’s rescues have spanned a wide range of scenarios, including encounters with wildlife, natural disasters, and various accidents.

What were people doing when they triggered an SOS in 2023?

Garmin SOS

Injuries remained the top reason for SOS activations in 2023, ranging from falls to medical emergencies. The increase in driving-related incidents, however, highlights the evolving nature of emergency calls, emphasizing the importance of having an inReach device handy not just for extreme adventures but for everyday situations too.

Why were people triggering an SOS in 2023?

Garmin SOS

Interestingly, more than half of the SOS incidents were initiated on behalf of someone other than the inReach device holder. This demonstrates the device’s role in broader emergency situations, offering peace of mind to both adventurers and their loved ones.

The power of self-rescue and support

The Garmin Response team’s expertise has been crucial in facilitating timely rescues, whether involving helicopters, ambulances, or search and rescue teams. Notably, in 2023, about 10% of incidents were resolved through self-rescue, aided by the inReach’s communication capabilities. For those situations beyond self-rescue, Garmin also offers insurance plans to cover search and rescue expenses, providing an extra layer of security.

The success stories behind each SOS call are a testament to the dedication of emergency responders worldwide. As we reflect on the past year, we extend our gratitude to these heroes who have made countless rescues possible, ensuring safety for inReach users in their moments of need.

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As we look forward to more safe adventures in 2024, Garmin inReach remains a vital tool for anyone venturing into the great outdoors or simply navigating the uncertainties of everyday travel. Apple, along with several other companies, offers similar services. If you’re venturing into the backcountry, considering something like this is highly recommended.


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Ivan Jovin

Ivan has been a tech journalist for over 7 years now, covering all kinds of technology issues. He is the guy who gets to dive deep into the latest wearable tech news.

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