Are you planning on going on a big hike this year? If you were ever lost in the wild, would you know what to do? Many people don’t know what to do in these types of situations where critical clear-headed decisions need to be made at all times. Here are ten survival tips to make sure you’re safe and sound on your next trip.
10. Plan in Advance
Before you head out on your excursion, make sure you have everything you need in the event you do get lost. Here’s a short checklist:
–Check the weather forecast. If it calls for rain, snow or fog, think twice about going.
–Pack extra food, water, and clothes.
-If you’re on medication, take several days worth of it with you.
-Take a compass, map, blanket, flashlights, batteries and matches with you.
-Make sure your electronics are fully charged.
-Check with local rangers or the forestry office for special warnings (e.g. wildfires, bear sightings, road closures).
–Study your planned route so you know where you’re going.
–Prep your vehicle for the back country. Also, make sure you have a spare tire. And, get a tune-up while you’re at it.
9. Use the Buddy System
If possible, do not go any wilderness trip–hiking, camping, skiing, hunting, etc.–alone. As the saying goes, there is safety in numbers. If you do go alone, make sure you leave a detailed description of your plans, including when you expect to return home, with a family member or close friend. If you’re able to go with a partner, make sure you don’t separate from each other. And, if you take your dog with you, make sure not to let it run loose. You and your partner or pet can cuddle up and keep warm if need be.
8. Keep Warm and Dry
Speaking of keeping warm, there are other things you can do in addition to generating body heat. Here are some tips from the experts:
–Dress in layers.
-Wear clothing and shoes that are appropriate for the terrain and weather conditions you expect to encounter. Cotton, for example, is okay if the weather is going to be hot and dry. But, if there’s going to be cold weather and rain, it’s best to wear wool. That’s because wool retains warmth even when wet, unlike cotton which, when soaked, speeds up loss of body heat.
–Don’t take off any of your clothes, and make sure you cover any exposed skin.
-Always wear or carry headgear, especially if you expect to encounter cold weather conditions. That’s because more heat is lost through your head than through any other part of your body.
-Bring trash bags with you and put one on (you’ll need to cut a hole in the bottom of the bag for your face to poke through) to conserve body heat and stay dry. TIP: Wear a brightly colored trash bag so rescuers can see you better.
-Bring a tarp with you and use it to build a shelter.
–Build a fire. This will keep you warm plus it can dry your clothes if you happen to get wet.
7. Start a Fire
As we just mentioned, building a fire will keep you warm and dry. But, you can also use it to signal for help. Plus, it’ll keep predatory animals away from you. Here are some tips for starting a fire:
-Take a fire-starting kit with you. It should include matches or a lighter. And, make sure your kit is weatherproof.
-Know how to start a fire in all kinds of weather conditions.
–Build a fire on sand, earth or, gravel.
-Make sure you build a small fire so it won’t get out of hand.
-Don’t leave a fire unattended.
–Put the fire out when you’re done.
-You can start a fire using a camera lens, cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly, a bottle bottom, or non-plastic eyeglasses.
6. Stay Hydrated
Most people think they need to load up on food when going on an excursion. And, yes you do need to make sure you have extra food. But, it’s much more important to make sure you have adequate clean water. You can actually go a long time without food–weeks to be exact. But, you’ll only survive a few days without water. Therefore, make sure you bring water with you, preferably in something insulated (TIP: If you pack the water upside down, it’ll freeze on the surface only, making the top easy to open and ice-free). Also, bring a water filtration device with you or make sure you have some way to purify water, especially if you have to drink from a river or lake or melt some snow.
TIP: Dew is another source of water. It can be found on leaves.
5. Avoid Fatigue
Take it easy and don’t overexert yourself. You’ll use up calories and perspire–which wastes body fluids–when you don’t take the time to rest. A lack of food and fluids will cause hypothermia to set in faster and decrease your chances of surviving. Here are some tips to make sure you don’t get tired:
–Stop and rest when you start feeling tired. Do NOT wait until you’re exhausted before stopping and resting.
–Work efficiently and multitask only when it’s practical.
–Avoid hiking during hot times, typically between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
4. Stay Put
If you want to be found, then the best thing to do is stay where you are–especially if you’re injured or exhausted or if nightfall is near. Find a warm, dry waiting place (like under a tree, for example), but don’t hide. Make sure you’re near an open space you can run out into it when you hear someone coming or hear a plane overhead. And, put something bright out, like coins or white paper, to draw attention to yourself. Lastly, make sure you spell out the word “help” or “SOS” on the ground using sticks and rocks.
TIP: If you decide to wander off, make sure you have a plan in place first. And, start walking downhill. This will often lead you to a trail or road. Do NOT walk downhill in canyon country, however.
3. Don’t Panic
Whatever you do, try to remain calm. If you do start to panic, just give it time to pass. Then, find ways to boost your morale. Outdoor Life magazine suggests you take some time out to plan for the future. “In some cases, all it took was the idea of something they would do after being rescued to give a survivor the will to keep fighting. People who were starving have made detailed menus of the first meal they plan to eat. Lost family members have daydreamed about their reunion. Make plans for the reward at the end of the journey, and it can help you push through the trials along the way,” the magazine wrote on its website.
2. Don’t Rely Too Much on Technology
In this day and time, we rely on technology for just about every aspect of our lives. But, that might not be such a good idea when trying to find your way around the wilderness. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t rely on them at all. By all means, charge your cell phone and bring it with you. Bring that GPS device, too. But, keep in mind that batteries fail, and sometimes cell phones lose signals. That being said, a compass and map are your best bet. Just make sure you know how to read them.
1. Watch What You Eat
The last thing you want to do is follow all the tips in this article to a tee, only to end up eating some poisonous berries. To make sure this doesn’t happen, don’t eat anything unless you’re absolutely certain it’s safe to consume. It’s no fun being hungry, but it’s even less fun getting food poisoning–not to mention it could be deadly. We know you’ll be tempted to eat something, especially if your food supply has run out. But, as we mentioned earlier, you can survive for a few weeks without food. It won’t be enjoyable, but at least you’ll be able to eat all you want once you’re rescued.
So, there you have it. Now, you’re prepared to go on your next great excursion. Have fun, and be safe! Thanks for reading.