A search and rescue team have warned members of the public to be extra careful when using the app What3words to share their location with emergency services.

What3words is an app which divides the world into three-metre squares and gives each one a unique three-word address.

The app can be used to help people be easily found in emergencies and is particularly helpful when an incident happens in a rural location that does not have a fixed address.

People in need of help can give the three words provided to them by the app to emergency responders, instead of working out grid coordinates.

However, according to the Search and Rescue team, issues with the app not refreshing have caused emergency resources in Wiltshire to be sent to the wrong location during a serious incident.

This newest revelation comes after the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team shared their own horror story of a search gone wrong.

The Teesdale team were called out to a walker with an ankle injury on Saturday, December 2, 2023, and were given an incorrect location through the What3words app.

“On arrival at the What3words location on Yad Moss at a height of 650m there was no sign of the casualties,” a spokesperson said.

“We asked for assistance from our neighbouring Team, Penrith Mountain Rescue Team who had just been informed of the same incident on Cross Fell some 10km away.

“This highlights a problem we sometimes encounter with What3words.”

Speaking about the issues within Wiltshire, a spokesperson for Wiltshire Search and Rescue added:

“There have been similar occurrences in Wiltshire, including where lots of resources have been sent to the wrong location (8km away) of a very serious incident due to the app not refreshing.

“A really good example of why we prefer OS grid references and paper maps to What3words.”

Now the Wiltshire team are urging the public to be careful when using the What3words app.

To make sure that the correct location is given, make sure that you spell out each letter or put the word in a sentence when communicating with emergency services.

It is also important to emphasise if the word is plural. You can also give a verbal description of your location (e.g. near a lake) to help emergency responders spot if there is an error.