07 January 2015

FInally: An Actual Use for Selfies

Alaska State Troopers encourage lifesaving selfies for backcountry travelers

Alaska State Troopers are looking for your selfies -- those ubiquitous self-portraits, usually snapped with smartphone cameras, that make up countless Facebook profile pictures and online avatars.

But they don't want selfies snapped in bedrooms or bathrooms, in the privacy of your own home. They're suggesting Alaskans take a selfie right before heading out into the backcountry, as a way to account for their whereabouts.

Such a photo, troopers say, could save your life.

Troopers spokesperson Beth Ipsen said that although the advice to snap a selfie is new, it's actually part of a larger push to encourage those venturing into the backcountry to fill out a "wilderness trip plan," a form that she said has been around for "quite a while." The form can be found on the Department of Public Safety website.

Ipsen suggested Alaskans leave a printout of the wilderness plan on the dashboard of their vehicle, on their kitchen counter, or with someone reliable who can notify authorities if the traveler hasn't returned at a planned time. It asks for basic information -- birthdate, address, expected departure and arrival dates, method of travel and the type of gear being carried.

The selfie is an added tool, Ipsen said, and the snapshot should be taken and texted right before you head into the woods. It can show details the form can't: the design of a helmet or jacket, decals on a snowmachine or other identifiers.

"What is nice about the selfie is that it can be taken at the beginning of an outing and it is a recent photograph," Ipsen said. "If I don't show up to work on Monday, there's a picture of the clothes I was wearing, the machine I was riding, and any tiny bit of information can help."


Chickenmom said...

That is an excellent idea - Sorta like filing a flight plan!

Rev. Paul said...


Sandy said...

Rev. Paul,

Great idea!

Rev. Paul said...

Sandy, since a lot of searches here are conducted by light plane or chopper, imagine the advantage of knowing the colors & types of clothing to look for. :) It's fantastic.

On a Wing and a Whim said...


While I would be very wary of putting "this car will not notice it's been rifled/stolen until this date" on my dashboard, a flight plan when headed out is a good idea. I hope that it'll take years before this is useful - but when that times comes, this could be very, very useful indeed.

Rev. Paul said...

Wing, that's a good point you make: don't put your "return" date on display - but make sure your contacts have a current description & license # for your vehicle.