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How to: Survive the outdoors

Updated on April 25, 2016

Problem Solving: Lost in the Wilderness

How to Avoid Getting Lost

Before, getting into the details of surviving in the wilderness, let me first explain how to set yourself up for success if you do find yourself in this situation. First, always let someone know (family and/or friends) exactly where you are going and how long it will take you. Give them a time and date where if you don't check up with them, they will call emergency services. I've heard countless stories about other people doing this, getting lost or injured in the wilderness, and being rescued because they let someone know of their whereabouts. Please, before embarking on your epic backpacking adventure, take this simple step to ensure rescue in case you need it. Better safe than sorry!

Step 1: Take Note of the SituationAccording to Rich from OffTheGridNews, these are the thoughts that should be going through your head if you were to lose your way in the wilderness. I will elaborate on these points more myself. You can read more of this article at: Lost In The Woods? Here’s What To Do.

  • Where do I think I am? How far away from the trail have you wandered? Do you remember the exact moment you got lost? If yes, then try to think backwards carefully and slowly. If not, then attempt to track your past self. Look for prints you may have left or disturbances that only you could have caused in the environment. The important part is to take your time and not to panic. This is one of the most important parts in guaranteeing your survival.
  • What do I have with me? Take into inventory what foods you have on you, how much water you are carrying, and what kind of materials you have with you to help you survive. If possible, identify a source of water you can purify for drinking. If you have a source of water, your odds of making it out alive will increase dramatically. Think about how your supplies can help outside of their intended purposes.
  • What’s available around me? What water sources are near by? Is there any sort of food around is there anything edible that would give you nutritional value. It is considered a good practice to think ahead regards to food. You do not want to be unprepared if you run out of food you brought along for the trip. Is there shelter that you can take advantage of? Are there materials around that I can use to construct a shelter?
  • What’s the weather like? Will you have to worry about the sun and dehydration? Will you be really cold at night? Will the weather be bearable during the time you are lost in the wilderness? Aside from food and water, the weather is equally as likely to hurt your survival chances. This factor depends entirely on the context of your trip. When planning a backpacking trip, make sure to take the weather into account if you were to be lost or stranded.
  • How long will it be until they realize I’m lost? If you didn't read the first paragraph of this article, I would strongly recommend it. Give your family and/or friends a time and date where if you don't check up with them, they will call emergency services. I've heard countless stories about other people doing this, getting lost or injured in the wilderness, and being rescued because they let someone know of their whereabouts.
  • What kind of condition am I in? Are you injured in any way? Are you hydrated properly? Are you hungry? You should assess yourself and make sure nothing is wring with you before continuing trying to survive. Check yourself in regards to you mental health also. Avoid panicking, don't become overly anxious, and most importantly breathe deeply and slowly. You must have full confidence that you can survive and get yourself out of the wilderness to live another day.

Step 2: Build Shelter
A well built shelter will increase your odds of surviving your outing in the wild. There are some simply steps that help you build a warm, reliable, and safe shelter. You can read more about some of these tips here.

  1. Dry Shelter, happy shelter. Make sure your shelter doesn't have any moisture or a possibility of water leaking into it. If you have cover from the elements, it will make you much more comfortable and give you a positive attitude with respect to your rescue. You can ensure this by making sure it is located on flat ground.
  2. Choose a good location. Avoid building your survival shelter too close to water. Doing this may cause a problem with insects, other animals, and depending on your location, predators. Avoid the bottom of valleys. These areas collect the cold air during night and will be more uncomfortable compared to places other than valley bottoms.

Step 3: Wait for Rescue

This part depends a lot on whether you told friends/family. Again, I'd recommend reading the first paragraph before continuing...

"First, always let someone know (family and/or friends) exactly where you are going and how long it will take you. Give them a time and date where if you don't check up with them, they will call emergency services."


If you did this step, all you have to do it worry about how long rescue may take to arrive. Besides that, avoid injuring yourself, poisoning yourself with bad water and/or food, and running into any hungry predators.

Final note, remember that your supplies can be used in other ways than their designed purposes. Get creative and make a use of everything you have in your possession. Mindsets like these is why humans have managed to survive for so long and successfully. Or species learns to adapt quickly by taking full advantage of the resources around us. If stuck in this situation, you must find it funny our current state of the world. Instead of surrounding ourselves with devices and technology, we take periods of time to return to the wild where our species originated.

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