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Outdoor Gadgets Put Visitors, Rangers and Others in Danger

Grand Canyon
Usually, when we talk about the union of gadgets and the outdoors, we're discussing how the latest tech can make your excursions into the wild safer or more comfortable. It turns out, though, that our gadgets are just as adept at putting us in harm's way. The New York Times spoke with park rangers from around the nation, and compiled a list of anecdotes about cameras and cell phones putting visitors in danger -- or, put another way, visitors putting themselves in danger thanks to inattention to their surroundings, or over-reliance on a device's ability to save them.

A French teen suffered serious injuries when he fell 75 feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon while backing up to frame a photograph. Another woman was gored by a buffalo while she was attempting to record a video on her cell phone. More worrisome, though, are those who abuse or are overly reliant on gadgets, like inexperienced hikers who wander out with nothing but their GPS-equipped phone -- not even water. Others dial 911 or use the panic buttons on their SPOT GPS messenger devices for minor issues, like the group of Grand Canyon visitors who called in rangers via helicopter three times because their water "tasted salty."

Jackie Skaggs, a spokesperson for Grand Teton National Park, told the Times that, "because of having that electronic device, people have an expectation that they can do something stupid and be rescued." Adding to the problem is the popularity of shows like 'Man Vs. Wild' and 'Survivor Man,' which have romanticized the art of wilderness survival, and have inspired many unprepared fans to venture into the great outdoors. Common sense, it appears, is not a requisite for high-tech gadget ownership.

Tags: camping, gadgets, Grand Canyon, GrandCanyon, National Park Service, national parks, NationalParks, NationalParkService, nature, outdoor, outdoors, Rangers, top