The most important thing you can do to insure your survival in a wilderness setting is not to get lost in the first place. Unfortunately, people still get lost and put themselves in serious jeopardy when it happens. When you do get lost, you will be on your own until rescued or you can find your way back. Here are a few common sense techniques to help you increase your chances of survival if you do get lost.
Common Sense Tips to Avoid Getting Lost in the Wilderness
1. Make sure someone knows where you're going and how long you'll be gone.- One of the mistakes people often make is to fail to properly inform someone of their activities. If you get lost on the first day of a three day trip, you will have to be able to survive on your own for at least two days and probably longer before rescue efforts may begin.
2. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the area where you will be camping and hiking. - Get a good map of the area and study it carefully. Learn all the major landmarks in the area where you will be staying. Keep the map with you at all times and make notes on it to indicate the area you will be camping and hiking and mark any trails in the area for future reference.
3. Make sure you take your survival gear with you when hiking. - Survival gear is of no use if it is left in your camp. Make sure you have the minimum requirements to survive - a good knife, fire starting equipment, a means to purify water, a compass, a signal whistle, a flashlight and a good first aid kit.
4. Make sure you carry extra water and food on your hike. - Realize that if you do get lost, having extra water and food will keep you ahead of the game and will save you time that may otherwise be spent searching for water or food.
5. Mark the location of your camp so you can find it. - Mark the location of your camp with markers at different intervals around the perimeter to help you find your way back. Use “line of sight” markers when possible to help you easily see your camp’s location. You don’t want to return from a hike and wind up getting lost when you are only a few hundred feet from the safety and security of your camp.
6. Make sure you stay in the same general area and move only when necessary for safety or security reasons. - Generally your best option is to stay put when you become lost and let them find you. This may not always be possible depending upon the circumstances. If you are in a low area that may be subject to flooding, you need to seek higher ground. If you are out of water, you may need to look for a water source. If the weather is a factor, you may need to search for adequate shelter or the resources to make one.
7. Make sure to avoid traveling at night if at all possible. - If you got lost in the daylight, you won’t find your way back in the dark. You will also put yourself at risk for a serious injury if you are stumbling around in the dark. Always allow sufficient time to return to camp before it gets dark. It is a lot easier to become disoriented in your surroundings when it starts to get dark.
8. Make sure to leave plenty of tracks, trail markers or signs to indicate your direction of travel when hiking and remember to use these to help you return to camp. - Use whatever resources you have or can find and take the time to leave as many indicators for your direction of travel as possible. These may be the only thing you need to find your way back.
Got that lost feeling?
Staying above the water line!