Now is the time to plan your spring or summer vacation – one thing to plan is what to do if you get lost in the wilderness!

Should you end up being lost in the wilderness this spring or summer, here are a few pieces of advice on how to survive.

  1. Stay put as soon as you realize you’re lost. Rescue crews will find you faster if you stay in one spot. If you have no idea where you are or how to get back to where you started, further movement is just wasted energy.
  2. Make yourself visible. Move to a clear area and do whatever you can to make a signal. Flags or markers can be made from food wrappers, clothing or anything that is colorful. If you’re in the snow, stomp out a large X. In the desert, form an X with rocks.
  3. Stay dry. Avoid crossing streams unless absolutely necessary. If you get warm, take off excess clothing before you become sweaty. Build a fire and dry wet clothes if possible. Getting wet can quickly lead to hypothermia, the inability of your body to warm itself. Don’t wear cotton clothes in cold weather. Cotton retains water, providing little or no insulation when wet.
  4. Stay hydrated. It’s harder for your body to maintain the proper temperature if you’re low on fluids. This is also very important if you’re injured and have lost some blood: You need liquids in order to maintain normal blood pressure.
  5. Make a shelter. Where it’s hot, find shade. Where it’s cold, create warmth. Tree branches, snow, sheets of plastic or cloth — almost anything can be fashioned into a basic shelter.
  6. Treat any injuries. Dislocations, such as to a shoulder, should be replaced at the earliest opportunity. This will be extremely painful but will reduce overall trauma. Severe bleeding to an arm or a leg can be reduced with a tourniquet, a tight wrap of cloth around the limb above the wound. Study basic first aid before embarking on any potentially hazardous adventures.
  7. Carry extra food. Energy bars and candy bars are easy to stash in pockets and provide many needed calories.
  8. Avoid the most common cause of delayed rescue: forgetting to tell anyone where you’re going. Always leave a detailed description of your trip route and schedule with a responsible person. Direct that person to call the authorities if you don’t return by a specific time or date.
  9. Carry fire-starting equipment such as a cigarette lighter and toilet paper. In wet weather, your best bet for finding dry wood is to look for small dead branches at the base of evergreen trees.
  10. You need to consume more calories in a cold climate than you do in a warm one.

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