Tell Someone Where You Are Going Before You Step Outside

Mrs.J and I have a policy that if either of us are going outside, we let the other know…

Why? Because accidents can, and do happen. For example, a fall can easily become debilitating to the extent of not being able to make it back to the house. This becomes especially important if the weather outside is not conducive to easy survival (winter, or raining outside, or scorching hot sun, etc..).

A few thoughts as it relates to situational awareness:

One morning last week, Mrs.J must have forgotten about the policy – however she fessed up afterwards because given the conditions outside she realized what could have happened… The day before there had been a moderate partial snow melt coupled with some freezing rain. But that night the outside temperature plunged below zero, turning all the snow into a solid mass of ‘slippery’. While she didn’t fall, she realized while walking some deer food over to the feeder (she’s a softy that way – feeding them early in the morning – and evening ;) ) that she could have fallen and possibly not made it back to the house. It was also -12F that morning! I was still sleeping! (6:30AM – although I’m normally up at that hour)

Another example is from someone here on the blog who had commented last week,

Four years or so ago I was grinding some wheat in the kitchen and watching TV at the same time. I didn’t notice that my food hound dog had quietly came in and settled right next to my foot. I pivoted to turn off the grinder and went down. Broke my knee cap crosswise and the bottom half broke into several pieces. I didn’t have a cell phone and found something to knock the phone off the wall phone hook. At least I was inside and nice and warm! Since then I got a $5 flip phone and try to keep it on me.

It can even happen inside your house!

Here’s what we do for preparedness and situational awareness in this regard…

Whenever we’re going outside (for whatever reason) we tell the other that we’re going outside to do ‘this’ or ‘that’. This will give the other an idea of not only being outside alone, but WHERE you will be too.

Here’s a hypothetical that I sometimes think about whenever I go outside over to the ‘shipping container’ to get something or put something inside… When I unlatch and open the very heavy steel door, and as it slowly swings open as I walk inside… I think to myself, “What if that door were to swing back closed and somehow partially latch itself!!” I’ve actually had the wind blow it back while inside but fortunately the latching fingers didn’t set in enough to prohibit opening it. If that ever happened, and Mrs.J had no clue I was outside or where I was, it might be awhile before I’m found ;)

Here’s another example. Earlier this year I seriously twisted my ankle while simply walking out on the property. My foot went into an uneven portion of ground which appeared smooth due to the grass growing there. The twist wasn’t bad enough to keep me from hobbling back home, but it could easily have been worse! What if I couldn’t walk back? How long till Mrs.J comes a looking? (don’t answer that…)

So whenever either of us are out on the property beyond being able to see from the house, we ‘usually’ take a 2-way radio. Whoever is in the house leaves it on, and whoever is outside has a radio with them. I have found that our Midland FRS/GMRS handheld radios to be great for this. Even through the wooded areas the range is adequate for a decent mile or so (more or less depending on hills, terrain, etc..). Our property is about 1/4 mile square so that’s plenty good enough for us. In mostly open terrain these radios will go for miles (further with GMRS channels due to higher power options).

Obviously a cell phone (with adequate reception) will do the trick too…

Okay, point being to recognize that it’s easier than one may think to injure one’s-self, so let your spouse (or whomever) know when you’re heading out to the ‘back 40’! You’ve likely heard that it’s not a good idea to hike alone. But if you must, then let someone know…

Have any of your own ‘horror stories’ in this regard?


  1. All good points Ken. This is something that I think about often. There may be times when you are out doing something and you see something that needs attention right away, but it is too far to walk back to the house to inform your better half that you will be in a different location. So you think “I’ll just run over there and take care of it real quick”. That is the time when something is likely to happen. Murphy likes those kinds of situations. Another option is to carry a whistle with you at all times, or if you carry, fire off a shot.

  2. I love that picture.

    My brother and I both live alone. We call each other every morning just to check in. We also let each other know what we are going to be doing that day (grocery shopping, doctor’s appointment, etc.) and we let each other know when we get back safely. Text messaging is wonderful for that follow up call. We live 500 miles apart, but we each have a list of numbers to call if the other one doesn’t answer.

    In the 1990’s I was horseback riding at the stable where I boarded my horse. I was the last one there and somehow hit my head on something in the dark. It was February and I was lightly dressed. I guess I was unconscious for about a half hour when someone noticed my car still there and stopped to make sure I was all right. If she hadn’t found me, I assume my mother would have eventually called someone to have them check on me, but she didn’t drive and wouldn’t have known the number to call someone at the stables. I remember they took my temperature at the hospital and it was 95. But it could have been much worse if I had been out there any longer.

  3. I hear and understand what you are saying – However, my personal credo was always, as I traveled:
    ‘Light & Alone.’

    Always worked best for me.

    1. I needed to add to:
      1. Light
      2. Alone
      This allows me to enact No. 3, which is ‘Fast’, when needed. Very important.

    2. Third that idea I blew my hand off with nitro 15 miles outside mora nm when i was 20………drove myself into mora in order to get a state trooper to drive me los Vegas nm to a hospital and in turn had to transported to Santa fe for surgery, I was conscious and they tried to put me in a wheelchair at the hospitals both, which I laughed and walked instead. You find out in times like that what you are made out of…..I would not have it any other way.

  4. I subscribed to Traveler’s saying for many years, then came a series of heart attacks. After #3, I still went about my business and without telling others a general idea of when I would return. Heart attack #5, my life changed forever; I never travel alone, and when I go anywhere, the pesky cellphone is in my pocket. My attitude and zest for life hasn’t changed….just how I go about it!

    Merry Xmas to all and Happy New Year.

  5. Ken, all good thoughts. We extend this practice to include things like going on errands.

  6. I, much like Traveler tend to go about my business alone. It does occasionally cross my mind about “What if” scenarios, and it does concern me. But no one I know is interested in the hiking/camping in the mountains I enjoy so much. I do tell my son approximately where I am going, but finding someone in a wilderness area 3/4 the size of Rhode island… LOL.

    1. Well if you turn up missing he can at least send hem to a smaller area than somewhere in the united states

  7. Being a newer widow I have been thinking about this for a while. It bothers me that if I should have some kind of accident etc. I would be stuck. Its a bit scary. No one has a key to my house, and I have no one close enough to me that I trust to give a spare key really. I could drop dead in the house or lay incapacitated for God knows who long. In any emergency they would have to bust the door down to get to me which of course would cause major damage and I gave bars on all my windows. I have been thinking of getting that monthly monitoring system (I have fallen and I can’t get up) and it also comes with a key lock box you can attach outside so emergency crews can get to you if need be. The service has the key code to the key box. Only thing is I don’t think those key boxes are completely safe, I have read they can be broken into. So I don’t like that. But I also have an alarm on my house so even if someone was able to break into the keyboard the alarm would go off if they opened the door.
    Oy…. Maybe I worry too much. I am 58 and gave no health issues but I still worry about no one being able to get to me if the need should arise.

    1. Hi Ghost, posting from my cell so we’ll see how this goes. When my late Mom became a widow we got her a push button alarm as you describe, as all of us lived 20-90 miles from her. She slipped getting out of the shower, broke her leg, and pushed the button for help.

    2. Belle Starr:

      I have been burned trusting people I thought I could trust. If you don’t have someone to trust with your key, then hide your key outside and let the police department know where it is. Or let an out-of town relative know where your key is.

      I previously hid my key taped to the back of my “No Trespassing” sign, but I let the wrong person know where it was. So now it is in a little plastic bag inside one of my clothes-line poles.

      If you decide to hire one of those monthly monitoring services, you could tell them all your concerns. They have probably heard them before and have some solutions. For instance, maybe you could give the code to your alarm to the monitoring service or to the police or fire department.

      Since you have both (a door lock and an alarm) you could give the key to one person or agency and the alarm code to someone else.

      I am lucky to live in Wyoming. No one locks their doors here; almost every household has guns; no burglar wants to walk into the pointy end of a gun. We have burglaries in Wyoming, but mostly burglaries of businesses that are closed nights or homes where the “burglar” is a former spouse or roommate who knows the homeowner’s schedule and is just trying to get their stuff back.

  8. I’ve always had the habit of going fishing,hunting and hikeing alone.Sometimes I’d let someone know and sometimes not.In my late 50’s I was hunting and slipped in the snow and fell backwards and broke 2 ribs.No one knew where I was.Luckley it wasn’t too bad and I got out O.K.Hurt a little though.Since then,I always let someone know where I’m going.

  9. Great advice..stay vigilant;let someone know where you are.
    I have sprained my ankle once, and broken toes once and luckily Gene was home both times.
    A cell wouldn’t have helped…I never had it with me around the house doing errands or repairs.
    I have no cell now. A lot to think about.

    1. The only cell-phones we have are cheap Dollar Store phones that cost $5.00 each. The only reason we have those is because—and a lot of people don’t know this—ANY cell phone has cost-free 911 Emergency Services, without a service contract or minutes. Meaning, buy it, bring it home, charge it, do the required start-up stuff—and you have immediate free, unlimited access to 911.

      We keep one by the back door, one by the front door, one by my purse, one by DH’s “pocket stuff,” and one on the key holder shelf. All for the amazing price of less than $30.00. No excuse to ever leave home without it!

      Hurt outside the house, auto accident, bad people trouble—whatever may come our way—if at all possible, we will at least be able to all 911.

  10. We keep cell phones in our pockets at the farm and group text (DH, DD, SIL and me) when we need help. Whoever has the granddaughter sends pictures of her doing something cute. I also text everyone when it’s supper time!

  11. I go it alone. If I could afford a cell I would use it, but I would have to crawl to find reception if any in my remote area if it didn’t break in a fall or a crash. I live in a blackout area.

    So far I had broken bones around people who did more harm than good, refusing to take me to the hospital and had to drive myself, or passing me by and laughing at me as I was in severe pain. Either way I have to suck it up or get to safety on my own.

    1. Sad to hear that, but inspiring on your part.

      PS: Your name, Rogue One reference?

  12. @Ghost

    Had a friend who used Life Alert till she had to go to
    assisted living. However, she set it off twice inadvertently
    and would forget to wear it as she had other issues besides

    It was a good service as are others but be aware that there are
    strict rules for cancelling. I remember death and not being able
    to live in her own home to be two valid reasons the contract could
    be cancelled. Check carefully. They are all probably similar.

    As for access, a key to the front door was put into a little magnetic
    tin and attached to the bottom of the barbeque in the back yard. The
    emergency folks would go through the side gate (unlocked) to the backyard
    to get the key. No problem with that. The office had the location of
    the key to let the emergency folks know where to find it.

    Now that my friend is home with nurses, a lock box was put on the
    front gate for access to the house. So, the third time it was used
    it jammed and can’t be opened. Would have to drill it to get it off
    the gate. We’re on the second lock box. The head nurse and I have a
    key and it’s only mentioned because anything made by man can break.

    Life Alert and others like it have been life savers for many people
    and it’s not a bad way to go. Read any contract carefully before you sign it. Carrying a cell phone with you at all times, even the home, will
    probably serve the same purpose – just be sure to carry it. And just
    like Anonymous said above you can buy a cheap one just for emergency

    I myself would feel trapped by bars on the windows and would worry
    more about me not getting out in case of a fire than anyone getting
    in through them but that’s just a personal issue.

    Good luck.

    1. Two good friends of ours are firefighters, in different departments. BOTH say that when there are bars on the windows everyone is much more hesitant to go inside the structure for fear of being trapped and unable to get out.

  13. I have tried many times to drill this into some folks heads. Early in our marriage, it amused my wife that I always told her where I was going and what I intended to do; now that we have moved to our bug-in location in the country, it’s a constant thing for both of us.

    Not trying to fear porn it, but facts are facts, and even the simplest task that one has done a thousand times without incident can suddenly put life and limb at risk.

    If you’re a “loner”, or just live alone, try getting a small magnetic white board and sticking it on the fridge. Sometimes mobile phones just don’t get signal, radios can break in a fall. We use post it style notes, always in the same place on the counter.

    Heading to the back of your property? Going hunting/fishing on WMA land or a friend’s property? Write it on the white board. A small chance is better than no chance, and if you’re hurt you want to have as much chance of being found as possible!

  14. Also widowed. Unless I am really going somewhere out of the way (not on regular roads – local) I don’t bug the kids with where I’m going. However, I DO let them know if I’m going horseback riding (even sitting still your head is a long way from the ground) or using a ladder. They know if say “going up the ladder” that I am using it and, no matter how many times I go up and down, when I say “I’m off the ladder” it means I’m done with it for a while or the day.

    Our family joke regarding telling someone else where we were going (even worked well with teenagers) was, “I’m not trying to limit where you go, I just need to know where to look for the body.” ;)

  15. This what happened to a couple(friends of the family), he was out spraying weeds along the highway preparing for the summer. Larry did not take a walkie-talkie with him(no cellphone service area), he was spraying the road getting rid of the weeds, spraying while on a quad.

    The Sheriff’s department was not sure if he was distracted, hit a bump, which dumped him down in the deep ditch. His wife only knew he was out spraying. She did not check up on him, nor did he have a way to contact her that he was in trouble. The quad rolled over him, we were never told if died instantly or suffered under the weight of the machine.

    She finally called a friend to go look for him, the friend found him, he had died. That will be one year come this April, so it can happen anywhere, anytime.
    When I am outside I tell dh where I will be on the property, so if he gets worried he will know where to check for me(or call on cellphone). Should I be driving into town, he gets an itinerary of which routes I shall using along with the stores that I have to do business with while there. Then I call him just before I leave to let him know I am on my way home, and if I have to stop at the boat shop(bil) or pick up mail, and give an eta of when I should be home. Peace of mind, is such a treasure.

    Sad thing about this he had health issues yet they never once thought anything would happen to him.

  16. We don’t tell each other what we are doing every time we go outside, but we also live on a small piece of property.

    One thing that we always do, is let someone know when we are going into the backcountry. Skiing, backpacking, climbing, river trips… There are risks associated with all of these fun things. So we let someone know where we are going and when we are expected back.

    Letting someone know when you are expecting to be back gives them a timeframe so they don’t start worrying too early or too late. Living where I do, I have heard countless stories from Search and Rescue volunteers about the timing of phone calls to rescue people.

  17. It is not always about YOUR safety. True story.

    A cousin had gone for a two week deer hunt on his lease some two hundred miles from home. No one in the family knew the location of his lease, not even what county it was in. This was before cell phones were common, and, of course he did not have one.

    His 73 year old father, my uncle, was killed in a tragic automobile accident two days into my cousin’s two week hunt. No one had a clue how to contact/locate him. After three days of fruitless attempts to locate his deer lease by contacting game wardens, county by county, he, purely by chance called a family member from a pay phone in town, receiving the bad news.

    That was in 1992, the year I got my first cell phone, based on this helpless experience. I also made a detailed map for family members showing the exact location of my own deer lease.

    I respect the rugged individualism of some of those commenting, but, if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones.

    1. Dennis I don’t really think that some of those commenters are rugged individualist as much as just BS artist. I also spend a lot of time in some very remote country and have almost always been a loner, I can go when I want and travel at my own pace, that being said, I hunt, fish and hike in areas that have millions of acres of forest and wilderness, and even though I travel alone I usually let someone know which direction or road that I am going to be traveling on. When or if you should fall out of a tree stand and break your back or get totally lost or mauled by a grizzly, you won’t be laying there on your back looking at the stars singing “What Ever Will Be Will Be” while it takes 3 or 4 days to die. So if possible give someone a general idea of where to start looking if you don’t show up by bedtime. Trekker Out.

      1. Mountain Trekker, I agree. Having spent much time alone in rough country myself, instead of seeing myself as a cross between Rambo and Jeremiah Johnson, I have gained a healthy respect for my shortcomings and Mr. Murphy. I, too, suspect that many of those who tout their invincibility on-line spend more time thinking about it than doing it.

  18. I go about daily life alone… I too have been burned. If something is REALLY important – I will let my sibling know. She however is 5 hours drive away. So, its rather pointless unless I’m traveling across the country.

  19. I tell my wife I am going out as I have many replacement parts starting with my heart parts and working my way to my knees and one foot. Thus I hobble around more than walk. I also don’t find much wrong with wearing tshirts and cut offs year around, so if I had a problem I would get in trouble fast.
    When she goes out I go along, or drive, makes me feel like I’m earning my keep.

    Hope all had a Merry Christmas and the New Year goes well for you and yours.

  20. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Informing someone where you are going is a great example of that, though not applicable to all.

  21. Yes..very good advice, and something one should strive to make a habit.

    I too carry a cheap phone, especially if I am going outside (and even inside). At that point, I figured it was enough “security” as I could phone whoever was in the house for help if needed…Not so much.

    I stepped wrong as I was stepping into a garden box, and twisted something, and nearly passed out. In terrible pain, I phoned and phoned hubby in the house, who (sigh) was sleeping with door shut, and paid no attention to (if even noticed) house phone ringing. Took me many dialings before it roused him.

    Another thing, we do, when someone of us comes into the house (from outside or out on errands) we always announce ourselves and say “hi, am home” or such. It lets those at home you are not a burglar…etc

  22. The cul-de-sac where I used to live had a neighborhood watch with meetings about 1x/month. Many of us were employees at the nearby hospital in various capacities: (nurses and janitors, cooks and police officers) We had a phone network that was optional.

    Over the years, we called each other in order to check on some one within our group or we would get calls from some one within our group that needed assistance. (flu with loose bowels) Sometimes you do not need the full court press of activating 911 system. In the case of the flu with loose bowels, that person just needed some soup, ginger ale, immodium and TP brought over. They were too sick to go to the grocery store and they just needed us to run the errand and make some chicken soup with rice for the day. The children of the person we helped were very grateful. Not really dramatic. just being a good neighbor.

    Not everybody was prepared for the worst and my wife and I were among the better prepared. It was a small neighborhood so we all saw and knew each other. we taped notes on the mailbox for lost dogs and kitties.

    Over the 10+ years we lived there, a few people lived alone and passed away within their homes. They were mostly older with known and chronic conditions. My wife worked Hospice within our community so we knew what was to come. If you live alone, check in with a neighbor and stay part of your neighborhood. If you do not check in, you will be missed.

  23. Very good idea! I don’t know how many times I have run around the house hollering for the hubby and couldn’t find him. Then he is way on the other side of the property.

    CaliRefugee I especially like your idea. I have my hubby to lean on now, but what if I didn’t? Things to think about it. I have been very, very sick with pneumonia. What if I was alone? I would def love to have neighbors that would check in on me and maybe not mind going to the store. I literally can’t hardly move nor breathe. I am not elderly either! Think of the elderly that have no relatives.

    That is something to get started in the neighborhood. It doesn’t take much to make a few phone calls.

    1. Texasgirl,

      So sorry to hear about the pneumonia….

      I am praying for you right now….
      that you have very deep rest, very good nourishment, plenteous hydration, and clear and healthy lungs….may every need you have be met in perfect measure…

      PS I had a bad respiratory infection in October, I am convinced the homemade chicken broth with fresh minced garlic helped me heal….
      I also juiced veggies too: carrots, garlic, radish, celery, cucumber

      Rest well Texasgirl…

      Peace be to you and healing hugs :)

      Good Shepherd bless you mightily friend…

  24. Vindicated at last! We always tell each other where we’re going just in case it goes south. He even tells me when he’s leaving work. Having had some bad falls at home when I was alone and unable to contact anyone, makes me way more careful these days.
    I save ladder climbing for when he’s at home.


  25. Hey Ken!

    I had a thought about your shipping container. Maybe keep one of those air-horns-in-a-can next to the door there so you can blast it if you get locked in! And maybe a crowbar…

    And if y’all aren’t too paranoid, keep “find my iphone” turned on.

    Merry Christmas!

  26. regarding bars on the windows. i have bars on my city home windows. i plan on moving to the country in a shipping container home. i plan on putting bars on these windows too because i may be away for days at a time at my city home. so….i want the bars on my country home to be on a hinge that i can lower the bars and lock them down when i am home. and raise the bars and lock them up when i am away. get it?

  27. Texasgirl,

    Only time and experience will tell whether or not you can trust your neighbor. The person with the flu and loose bowels was a coworker of mine and I knew her son. He would sometimes ask me to check on his mom as he lived in a town about 20 miles away with his wife and son.

    As the former cop and ambulance driver, I was frequently the one that had preps in place when something went bad or unexpected within the cul-de-sac. I was also on good terms with the local PD and many within our complex were corrections officers with their families. We did not have a designated leader within our neighborhood association. Nobody had that kind of time.

    In the end, I would say about 1/2 of the residents stayed connected enough to swap phone numbers and check on each other and their homes. The others ranged from sketchy renters to young drug dealers with a handful of obnoxious drunks thrown in for good measure. Good people have the advantage when they band together and communicate with each other. (whether it be small unit tactics or pooling of resources)

  28. Shepherdess…Thanks again, I can’t seem to shake this. Been very weak and the coughing is horrible. Going to get the hubby to go get me some chicken soup makings.

    CaliRefugee….yeah we live a “subdivision” on one acre lots outside of town. I mean right outside of town. On our side we only have 4 or so neighbors. One is kinda sketchy, don’t know them too well, the others we have known for awhile. The city is talking about incorporating us. Not to happy about that. We are thinking of moving further out in the country. Pros and Cons to having neighbors. lol. haha

  29. My husband and I let each other know when we are leaving work and if we are running errands or taking a different route home. It’s an hour of country roads from work to home with less than 50% of it having cell service. we also have If SHTF route designated.
    DH lets me know what part of the farm he is going to. We even created a simple code for our grown children in case they visit while we are out of the farm. We made 6″x6″ signs with a letter on them. Each letter corresponds to a location on the farm. For instance , the “C” means we are at the creek, etc.
    About two years ago I bought a 10 set of handheld 2 mile radioes for the family. It is very hilly here so they don’t work everywhere but they are good for most of the property. We gave each family 2 of them to use. I keep the base on all the time.

  30. In the military it is called a “5 point”
    1. Where you are going
    2. Who is going with you
    3. How long you will be gone
    4. Who is in charge while you are gone and what to do if you don’t come back
    5. What you plan to do if something goes wrong while you are gone


  31. One thing that scares me is outhouses in remote areas. Years ago I was hiking on a tourist trail that was fairly remote with few people around. Instead of using the outhouse and getting stuck in it and dying, I just took a leak in the bushes. There was noone around. The story about the shipping container was scary. I also hate elevators and if creepy, isolated, etc. I try to avoid them. Some elderly people with home elevators have died in them because nobody knew they were stuck inside. If mobility issues affect you, go for a bungalow with an outside ramp. How long do people have to remain in stuck elevators? In an apartment or condo I would live on a low floor. I am claustrophobic at the best of times.

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