1.) Getting yourself prepared to become lost or stranded is one of the most important things you can do.
Too many people naturally assume that their plans will work out – so a planned four-hour day hike is just that until it turns into a nightmare of days wandering lost
You simply do not know what might happen. An unexpected weather event, an injury or an encounter with a wild animal can leave you stranded or lost for days.
Make sure, regardless of how long you expect to be gone, that you plan to be gone for longer. Instead of just enough food and water for the four hours you planned for, plan on 48 hours of food and water or even for 72 hours.
My top five tips for venturing out into the wilderness and enjoying it is based on one simple premise – avoid getting lost in the first place and that will eliminate the need to get rescued…..
Anyone can get lost but if you prepare to get lost, you can survive it.
Knowing that you are prepared to spend the night if need be will make the hike that much more enjoyable.
Remember this phrase: Failing to prepare is Preparing to fail.
2.) Let others know of your plans or at least give them the general location of where you will be
Some may feel they want to slip away announced to enjoy a few hours alone but what happens if you do become lost. If no one knows you are missing they will not alert the authorities.
Give someone an approximate time that you expect to be back, let them know the number and ages of people in your party – remember it is very unwise to venture into the wilderness alone – in fact it is down right dangerous and irresponsible [even more so if you are not highly trained and familiar with survival].
If you miss your planned deadline someone can call for help on your behalf. Friends and/or family should know the general areas you will be hunting, camping or hiking in as well.
Knowing others are aware of your plans, and they will be able to call rescuers if you fail to return or become lost will reduce your stress level and will help prevent panic attacks.
3.) Study the Area You Plan To Be In before You Get There & ensure you can get help when needed.
Ideally, you would have a topographical map that shows terrain features such as elevation and shows prominent landmarks. If you are confident the area you are venturing into will have a signal, then take your cell phone, ideally loaded with maps and gps, that will make your life a lots easier, but without a signal for gps or to make a call its not a lot of use.
If you are really serious about your wilderness venture and the fear of getting lost or into a real survival situation worries you, then consider a PLB [personal locator beacon] – but remember this – learn basic navigation first. Learn how to read a map and use a compass as a PLB is, in effect, a distress signal.
- The 1st choice is to carry an emergency PLB
- Then simply work down the list of sensible equipment that will help lead rescuers to you location, these would be:
- A whistle – on a lanyard and preferably ‘pea-less’ (this will give an audible signal to rescuers) – these are one of your best “value for money” investments, in fact you can buy two survival whistles for for under $10 + postage on Amazon right now – don’t think you can get much better than that.
- Flares – will give a very good visual signal and the smoke will rise above any tree canopy – (mainly for daytime use)
- High intensity light – a light with SOS or strobe is ideal – (mainly for night-time use)
- Signalling mirror – another great “value for money” survival tool – you can’t go far wrong with one of these and technology makes it even easier with signalling mirrors like the Ultimate Survival Technologies Signal Mirror, it has even been designed so aim precisely and signal to rescuers.
Consider this, always carry rescue signalling equipment, it’s a last resort in a real emergency – but being able to navigate yourself out of danger must be your first priority – you should be aware of your terrain, landmarks and any water sources in the area – sizeable bodies of water would be depicted on a topographical map.
Keep in mind any gently flowing streams and brooks can turn into raging rivers because of heavy rains upstream so you may find you cannot cross some of them so prepare for this. Carry a map of the area as well as a compass.
4.) Prepare For Weather Changes
It may be warm and sunny as you depart for your adventure but things can change in a hurry. Changes in elevation will effect temperature and weather conditions rather quickly.
Some hikers and others tend not to notice changes in elevation because it is gradual, especially in forest areas where it is not possible to see a horizon. Be aware of these possibility and make sure you have the proper clothes packed for wet and/or colder conditions even if the weather is temperate as you leave for your adventure.
Never underestimate the speed at which the weather can close in, leaving you cold, wet and at risk of exposure to the elements – always carry an Emergency Bivvy – you can be warm and retain body heat while you rest and hunker down and ride out a storm
5.) Make Sure You Are Physically Capable
Too many people assume that because they can carry a pack around their home or neighborhood for a few hours they can do the same in a wilderness situation.
Make sure you know what you are in for physically. For those that could not wait for spring to arrive to begin trekking off to the wilds may not be ready for it after a long winter.
Get your body ready before you head out for your outdoor adventure, and anyone unsure should have their health care provider do a routine physical.
*point to remember –
Every bit of equipment that has a survival use also has a downside, namely its weight.
You have to be in good enough shape to carry all the equipment on your back without injury – and remember it is far easier and more painful to slip and fall and twist an ankle with 40lbs of survival gear strapped to your back than 20lbs – so choose your survival gear wisely.
See the top 5 essential survival skills you must know before venturing out into the wilderness.