Wilderness Survival

Apr 05,2016

Every year people get lost in the wilderness for one reason or the other. Once they realize it, that's when they panic. They wander aimlessly throughout the mountains and then unfortunately die, because they don't know what to do. If you know what to do, you will survive in most situations. Planning before you head out to the wilderness is Very Important. The more you are prepared, the better off you will be. It will also give you a better attitude towards your trip. You must always carry a Survival Kit and a First Aid Kit when visiting the outdoors. Without them, you will be at risk if something happens. Make sure you know how to use both of them.

I always say, Knowledge is Power.First, you need a plan. Get an updated map and review it before your trip. Call local Rangers and the Sheriff's department if there is anything you should know about the area you are going to visit. Get an updated weather report to determine what clothing and equipment you should take for your trip. If the weather is bad, either postpone your trip or have an alternate trip planned. Brief your relatives or friends on your plan with all the information that you have before you depart. Where you are going, where you are parking and when you will return. I also provide a copy of my map marked with everything about my trip. It includes the phone numbers for the Rangers and Sheriff in the area I will be in. Always give yourself some extra time for your trip, because it might take longer than you think. Let your relatives or friends know to call for help if you are not back by a specific time. Once you brief your relatives or friends, DO NOT change your plans when you get to your destination.

You are out in the wilderness enjoying the great outdoors and then you realize that you are lost. Whatever you do, DO NOT PANIC!! You should know the following acronym STOP.

S means STOP.

Sit down, relax and take a deep breath. Take a sip of water and maybe eat a small snack. There is no reason to panic. If you are not safe where you are, then move to someplace safe and stop there. The further you walk, the longer it will take rescuers to find you. You need to stay where you are at.

T stands for THINK.

Think about how you got to where you are at. Look at your map and compare it to any landmarks around you. Which way was you heading; North, South? Sit down and do not walk around while trying to figure out where you are at.

O stands for OBSERVE.

Get your compass and determine the directions from where you are currently sitting. Using your map and the general area where you are, identify landmarks that you are able to see. This step is often enough to get re-oriented and sure of where you need to go, to get back on the trail. Consider your situation: Estimate how long you have until it gets dark. Check the weather and determine if it will get better or worse. Check your water and decide how long it will last.

P stands for PLAN.

Based on your thinking and observations, come up with some possible plans and then act on them. Prioritize your needs and deal with them in turn. If you are confident that you have determined the way to go and have time before dark to reach a known spot, then go carefully and mark your route with stacked rocks or sticks in the ground. If you are not confident in your route, then it is better to stay where you are at.

If you decide to stay where you are at, you need to control your panic and prioritize your efforts. This is where the Rule of 3's comes in. Simply stated they are:

3 minutes without AIR

3 hours without SHELTER (extreme conditions)

3 days without WATER

3 weeks without FOOD

This basically tells us where our priorities are in a survival situation. First, you need to focus on any life threatening condition by making sure you will still be breathing in the near future. Next, you should worry about shelter, because more people die of exposure than any other incident in the wilderness. Water is your next priority, and then food. Food is always last.

If you briefed your relatives and or friends on your plan, before you departed, then Search and Rescue will probably find you within 72 hours. As long as you take care of the first 2 priorities, you're probably going to make it.Surviving until found is now your priority. To fight off loneliness and fear you need to stay busy. Construct a shelter and gather insulation material for your bed. When you have completed your temporary living quarters, gather firewood and start a fire.

A fire will increase your morale and make you more confident in what you are doing. Gather enough firewood that will keep your fire going throughout the night. Also, gather materials for some kind of signal to help rescuers find you. Research how to signal before you go on your trip.Water is your next priority. Hopefully, you will have enough to hold you for a day or so. If not, look around your area to see what is available, keeping your camp in close proximity. If you find water and have no means to purify it, then drink it. It is better to be sick from drinking it weeks later, than to be found dead in 3 days. Get some rest now and try to sleep. Eating a small snack will generate some body heat when you try to sleep. Even getting some exercise (jumping jacks) will get your blood pumping and generate some heat. Some people can't sleep at night, because they are cold and afraid of the wild animals that might be out there. If you are in that category, sleep during the day and stay awake at night. Keeping the fire lit all night will keep animals away. Animals are afraid of you just as you are of them. Always keep that in mind.

Food is your last priority. Hopefully, you have a lunch or some snacks with you for your trip. I always bring extra, just in case. I know it adds more weight to your pack, but that's ok with me. Everybody is different. Use it sparingly, so it will last. The outdoors has many edible plants, animals and insects as a backup. If you do not know what plants are edible, then do not eat them. You could poison yourself. If you have some snare wire in your survival kit, then set it up when you need too, for a small meal like a rodent or bird. If you have fishing line and hooks in your survival kit and you found a water source, then try your luck. The last thing on our mind is eating some insects. They are rich in fat, protein and carbohydrates. The most common will be grasshoppers, locust, crickets, snails, worms, grubs and ants.

Colorado Mountain Man