Not to get too spooky, but fall can be a dangerous time to go hiking. Between fallen leaves, fresh snowfall, and shorter daylight hours, the chances of folks getting lost on a casual day hike go up, and so do the consequences. So, we think that the app ‘what3words’ could be a literal lifesaver in Canada over the next few months. Here’s what to know about it.

Founded 8 years ago in London, what3words has become a global touchpoint for hikers and search and rescue teams alike. Basically, the app breaks down the entire world into 3-metre grids, then uses three words (hence the name) to distinguish them. As long as you have cell service, you can use the app to figure out exactly where you are.

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According to one emergency dispatcher in BC, the app saves time in both getting the caller’s location, as well as getting to their exact location (coordinates can be up to 500m in radius from the basic location). This becomes especially important in backcountry locations, with dense tree coverage and difficult terrain.

So, it’s been out for 8 years… why talk about it now? Well, more and more emergency response services are using what3words across Canada have started using it, with areas in BC, Ontario and Alberta all receiving coverage.

If you’re thinking of a late fall hike, or exploring the backcountry this ski season, we highly recommend downloading this app. Just make sure the local service uses it as well before you go using ‘tangerine-wildebeest-mole’ or something as your location.