Getting lost while outdoors is a scary thing; a bad situation can turn worse when it is coupled with the feeling of fear, loneliness, and confusion.  Before setting out on your adventure whether it be a camping trip or a hike you need to start with a few precautionary measures.

  • Always tell someone where you are going. Let that person know when you are going, where you are going, and when you will be back. If possible try to check in with them from time to time.
  • If possible try to never go alone but if that isn’t feasible you MUST tell someone about your plans.
  • Before setting out make a plan so you know where you are going and have knowledge of your surroundings. For example nearest water source or Ranger hut.
  • Check the weather to make sure you have the right equipment and clothing for the conditions.

Now you are ready for your trip.  Here are a few guidelines to follow when you are out on the trails.

  • Stick to clearly marked trails and designated areas.
  • Take plenty of breaks.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Give wild animals their space.

Allow me be blunt. Hiking can be dangerous. Sprained ankles, bad cuts and bruises, serious falls, broken limbs and even death are possible on almost any trail, but the risk of death or serious injury is real so be prepared for any situation. In these situations there are many things you can do to survive till helps arrives.

  • Stay calm. This is hard to do when things look bleak but it is vital if you want to make it out.
  • Try to stay in one place. If you can signal for help do so.
  • Find a good water source.
  • If it looks like you will be staying overnight, find or build a makeshift shelter.
  • Build a fire.
  • Hopefully you have enough food in your pack but if not, find some.
    • When forging remember these guidelines:
      • Avoid White or Yellow Berries
      • Avoid plants with Thorns
      • Do not eat mushrooms
      • Spit out anything with a Bitter or Soapy Taste
      • Stay away from plants with Clear/Shiny Leaves
      • Stay away from plants with leaves of three
      • Avoid Umbrella Shaped Flowers
      • Do not eat beans or plants with seeds inside a pod, just stay away
      • Milky or discolored sap is a warning sign
    • Don’t be afraid to eat insects and other bugs. While it may be disgusting to eat a few grasshoppers, they do provide useful nutrition. All insects should be cooked as they can harbor parasites that can kill you. Do not eat any caterpillars, brightly colored insects, or any insect that can bite or sting you. Remove the legs, head and wings of any insect before eating.
    • If you are near water, fish are a good choice. Minnows can be eaten whole
    • Know the edible wild plants in your area some may include
      • Wild Asparagus
      • Clover
      • Dandelions
      • Cattails
      • Chickweed
      • Green Seaweed
      • Kelp
      • Plantain
    • There are several types of wild berries that are safe but if you are not sure whether an item is truly safe to eat then don’t bother with it.

The instructions above are in the event that you are alone and lost but hang in there.  If your friends and family know roughly where you are, then the rescue party will be looking for you.

If days have gone by and you are still not rescued, then your other option is to find a stream and make your way back to civilization.

Now that you know what to do, be prepared, and be safe the next time you are headed outdoors.

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