Being lost in the woods is a common theme in fairy tales and fantasy adventure books. However, as anyone who has realized they are honesty, truly lost will tell you, it can be a harrowing experience. As a rule, stick to the trail unless you are being chased by Sasquatch. You’ll be far less likely to be lost if you never create the opportunity. However, if you find yourself lost follow these tips to help you make it through.
This is the standard rule for any emergency situation for a reason. Panicking literally makes it impossible to think or act rationally and the consequences can be dire. To help avoid panicking go to Rule #2.
Don’t move another muscle. As long as it is safe to do so, i.e. above mentioned Sasquatch has stopped chasing you, you should simply stop where you are. This will keep you from wandering and getting yourself even more lost. Move on to Rule #3
Take several minutes to observe your surroundings and calm down. Take stock of where you are and check yourself for any injuries. Use all of your senses and notice everything around you. What do you see, smell and hear? Make note of any landmarks. These will be useful later if you establish contact with rescuers.
Finding or making a shelter from the elements will improve your chance for survival. Look for low overhanging branches or rocks. Caves also serve as a natural shelter. If nothing is in the immediate area is available move on to rule #5.
Clear an area (you don’t want to burn down the forest after all), and gather sticks or twigs for your fire. Use those matches you brought with you and build a fire. A fire will not only keep you warm and other animals at bay but smoky fires will help rescuers find you. Green leaves will produce a thick, white smoke. One word of warning, if you are thinking of ringing your fire with river rocks don’t! Rocks in or near water can have moisture inside which will turn to steam and cause the them to explode!
Even on warm summer days, nights can get very cold very fast. With the extra clothes you brought with you, the shelter you made or found, and the fire you made, you should wait until rescuers find you. Make their jobs easier by announcing where you are. Use a rescue whistle, shout, and make lots of smoke with your fire.