What if you are lost in the woods?

If you were lost in the woods while on a walk or taking a scenic trip through the backwoods in your vehicle and became lost or stranded would you know how to survive for a day or two if needed?

Being lost can be a frightening experience but survival is a matter of common sense in most cases and, using resources that are available to you. The most important things you will need are food, water and shelter.

By following the following simple guidelines you will be well on your way to surviving this frightening experience.

  • Before setting out, plan ahead. Know the area you will be hiking in or traveling through. If possible, obtain maps of the area and become familiar with them first. Educate yourself about the natural surroundings and what they can provide you in the way of food, water and shelter. Know which natural plants are edible and which are not. Learn how to disinfect water and make sure you have the proper supplies with you to do so.
  • Make sure someone knows where you are headed, your intended route and how long you expect to be gone. Don't deviate from your plan without letting someone know first. This way, someone will know if you are over due and will know where to direct the search and rescue efforts to start looking for you. We hear every winter about some travelers that decide to take what they think is a short cut through the woods on an unknown road and become lost or stuck. Without having filed a "flight plan" with someone else, no one would even know where to start looking for you.
  • Be prepared by always having basic survival equipment with you including some food, water, warm blankets, fire starting material and other items that you will find in a basic survival kit.
  • You should have some type of communications available to you. A cell phone with a spare battery or way to charge it is a good idea to have. Although cell phones are great to have, their coverage tends to be more limited to well traveled routes and populated areas. Searchers can try to locate you by the signals being sent by your cell phone. Try to keep it on and have additional sources of power available for it. Consider carrying a FRS or GMRS radio with you so that you can contact others in the area and possible rescuers. You may also even consider having a Citizen's Band radio available. If you are serious about your outdoor activities and are out often, you may even want to consider becoming a licensed amateur radio operator. You may want to consider purchasing a personal locating device if your activities take you into the wild on a regular basis.

Ok, so now you have done all you can do to prepare and you are on your way to Grandma's house for Christmas. You decided to take a short cut off the main highway that your friend told you about. The road starts out great and then suddenly the snow gets deeper and you slide off the edge and become stuck on the side of the road. What do you do now?

First of all, don't panic. You spent time preparing for just this event. Now you need to start putting your plan into action. Remember that others have survived in the same situation in the past and you can survive as well if you keep your head.

Stay in one place and look around your immediate surroundings. Do not leave the immediate area of your vehicle or where you are. You will increase your chances of being found if you stay in place. Signal for help either with one of your communication devices, bang rocks yell or make other noise. Try to draw attention to your situation. There just might be someone else near by that can help.

Start scouting your area but do not lose track of your location and keep in visual contact with the rest of your party. Start looking for sources of food and water. Your vehicle is going to be your best source of shelter. Hopefully, you will have nearly a full tank of fuel and you can run your vehicles engine sparingly to keep warm. Use the blankets you packed just for this occasion and try to stay dry. You will stay a lot warmer and you will not have to expend as much fuel trying to keep warm.

One of your most important needs will be water. You can melt snow for water but you should look for other sources as well. Setting a metal or other heat resistant container full of snow on your engine while running the vehicle for warmth will melt the snow so you can drink it. You should consider filtering the water and also purifying it before drinking. You can find tips here on how to do that.

Fire is another aspect of your survival. You can use fire to cook and preserve food, signal for help, dry your wet clothing, and to stay warm.

As a signal to search parties a smokey fire will be easier to see especially from the air. Burning your spare tire when you know searchers are nearby can make a very good signal fire. It will burn a long time and can be started by removing the air from the tire and putting it in an established fire. Do not try to light gasoline on fire. It is dangerous and has a low flash point. The fumes when exposed to flame will explode and can cause injuries. Burning green brush will also make a smokey fire that can be seen for miles. Be cautious with fire at all times; it can do more harm to your survival chances if not handled properly. Find out more about how to build a fire and keep it going here. You can survive a long time if you follow the above guide lines. The most important thing is don't panic, stay calm and put your survival plan into action. You can and will survive if you keep your wits about you.