It’s every hikers worst nightmare: being hopelessly lost in the woods. Before you let panic set in, follow this guide to increase your chances of being found safe and sound as quickly as possible.
First, let’s review what you should do before setting out on any excursion, even a day hike.
Always tell your planned route and your estimated time of return to a trusted family or friend who is not on the hike with you. Texting a picture of your route and a quick “I should be home in four hours” will suffice. This speeds up the timeline of how soon someone will search for you if you’re lost, and let them know where to look.
In addition, pack sufficiently. You’ll need your ten hiking essentials: navigation (compass and a trail map), matches, a flashlight or headlamp, extra layers of clothing, sunscreen, shelter, first-aid supplies, food, water, and a repair kit. We also recommend water purification tablets and a reliable pair of hiking boots. Go with lightweight Pursuit Shadow Ankle boots for extreme comfort, waterproof technology, and a design intended for rigorous outdoor performance.
But now you’re lost! What to do? Follow these survival tips:
STOP. Do not go anywhere else. Staying in place will increase your chance of being rescued quickly. Many hikers are tempted to keep walking in an effort to remain in control. Do not think this way - if you walk the wrong direction you will be farther from where rescuers will search. If your current area is unsafe walk to a safer location and then stop.
Stay put. Seriously, you can survive for several days without water, and a couple of weeks without food. Remember that it is always smarter to wait it out than to trek off on your own.
Fuel up by eating some trail mix and drinking some water.
Think about your current situation and take time to assess what you have and where you are. Don’t rush - be deliberate.
Signal for help. During the day build a small fire and use green leaves for kindling to make the fire as smoky as you can. At night build a bright fire if you are able to do so safely in your area. You can also set up a signal mirror and spread out bright clothing items or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue pilots.
Build a shelter. Exposure to the elements will jeopardize your health and safety. If you cannot build a tent or construct a teepee search for a cave or a rock overhang to limit your exposure to wind and rain. If you are near a mountain peak climb higher to avoid the cold winds near the base.
Layer up at night and protect yourself from the cold. If you brought blankets or garbage bags use them to insulate your body. Other than dehydration your greatest enemy is hypothermia.
Sooner or later rescue will arrive - follow this guide to survive being lost in the wilderness.