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Monday, July 13, 2009

If You're Lost In the Outdoors - Part 1

If You're Lost In the Outdoors - Part 1

If you’ve ever been lost or turned around in the outdoors then you know what I mean about panic. And, if you haven’t been turned around and you spend any significant amount of time in the outdoors, then it’s only a matter of time before you do know wh
Blowdown Lake, Stein Valley Nlaka'pamux Herita...Image via Wikipedia
at I mean.
Psychologists have studied this mental state and found that in a survival situation without a known reference point the mind will begin to race in order to find one and if not found quickly then panic sets in.
So, if you’re ever lost in a survival situation, use the S.T.O.P. acronym (Sit, Think, Observe, Plan) and ask yourself these questions:
  • What was the last point you recognized?
  • Can you retrace your steps? (In most search and rescue case studies there was a point at the beginning or just prior to panic, when the victim could have retraced their steps, but they failed to do so.)
  • Is there a place, trail, landmark you can focus on that gives you direction?
  • If NO to all these questions, then begin a slow systematic approach…
Slow Systematic Approach
When lost in a survival situation, one of the survival skills to learn is the slow systematic approach. Here’s a break down:
  1. Analysis of the terrain around you:
  • Landmarks (peaks, fire towers, power lines, lakes, human structures, etc…)
  • Stream Flow (which way is it flowing, what side of the stream were you on)
  • Ridgelines (which side of the ridge were you on)
  1. Start a terrain feature search, by traveling short distances to locate landmarks or familiar terrain and/or trails.
  • Travel 10 minutes in the best guess direction, marking your trail back.
  • Return to your original position and try another direction.
  • In a dense forest use the prominent object method: Walk to a prominent object, marking direction of travel or the trail along the way and then repeat. If, your efforts do not turn up a known location, then return to original starting place.
    Note: make sure to mark your trail with something that is easily seen and cannot be removed or washed away.
NOTE: Sometimes it’s just best to hunker-down and wait for a change in the weather, morning or a rescue. Having the survival skills to build a shelter and wait is one of the basic survival skills everyone who ventures into the outdoors should have. Also, remember that most trained searchers will assume that streams, roads, trails, power lines, and lakes are barriers. So, if an organized search is expected, stay at the barriers.

See you on the trail,

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