The family camp is abandoned when a child wanders off. A hunter chases a big buck, but gets lost. A storm unexpectedly strikes and leaves a family camping in the wilderness. A vehicle crashes on a lonely trail, miles from civilization. There are many ways to survive in the outdoors, but the end result is often devastating.
It is easy to forget that when we pack our car with sleeping bags and tents, we are leaving home. We are heading into an unpredictable environment and things can get outof control. Sometimes, what starts out as an unfortunate event can quickly turn into a full-blown survival situation.
There are several steps that can be taken to minimize or prevent any potential problems. It is important to bring along safety equipment and provide training for all members of the group. This will make outdoor adventures more enjoyable.
Camp accidents can be minor: bumps and bruises; slivers or scrapes; a burn from a campfire. Outdoor enthusiasts need to have the knowledge and equipment to handle minor medical emergencies. If you want to be fully prepared, a Red Cross first aid course is a great place to start. A well-stocked first-aid kit should be kept on hand at all times. You can purchase a complete kit or make your own to cater for any medical emergencies. You might opt to purchase a larger expedition kit depending on the group size. However, you should at least have a small kit that you can assemble yourself and stash in a baggie.
The large, comprehensive first-aid kit in the top left corner is ideal for use as the main emergency medical kit for camp. Below is a list of first-aid supplies you can carry in your cargo pocket. The smaller kit in the lower left can be worn on a belt
The most dangerous situation is when one of the family members wanders off camp and gets lost. This can be especially frightening if the lost person is a child. Every child should learn that it is forbidden to wander away from camp. A family can take a hike around the campground together, pointing out landmarks that relate to the camp. If your children are allowed to explore the area, encourage them to look back at their tent to ensure they don’t wander out of sight.
SHOW children around the campsite. Point out landmarks that can be used to locate them in relation to the tent. Also, indicate the boundaries that they should not cross.
Each member of the group must be equipped with both visual and audible signal devices. The Storm Safety Whistle, a lightweight but powerful whistle that outdoor equipment retailers sell, is said to be louder than U.S. military whistles. The whistle can be used to summon help if someone is lost in camp or is unable to find their way back. It’s great that audible signalling devices can be used at any time of the day. A small, unbreakable signal mirrored can be used to visual signal during daylight hours. They are available at sporting goods stores for as low as $10 A properly directed mirror can flash in bright sunlight to indicate the location of a lost person many miles away. This is far more than what an audible signal can carry.
Each child should be equipped with a signal whistle. Explain when it is appropriate to use it. The signal whistle is an essential piece of survival gear and should only be used when an emergency occurs.
These lightweight, small and inexpensive devices can be a great help in finding lost persons. It is important that people who own these devices know how to use them. You could organize a fun family event around a simulation survival situation in which everyone must use the visual and audible signal devices to “rescue” the other person. This is similar to running fire drills at your home to ensure that each person can react quickly in an emergency.
A small, clear plastic mirror is another piece of potentially lifesaving signal equipment children can use. To attract attention, children should be taught how the mirror works.
When you go into the backcountry, think about how it might be if you have to stay longer than expected. What are the essential survival skills? This is an important concept because you never know what could happen. It is best to hope it doesn’t happen, but be prepared for the worst.
Here are some basics to remember if a trip suddenly becomes a survival situation:
- Human existence is at risk from being exposed to the elements. Maintaining a healthy body temperature is crucial in a survival situation. Shelter from the elements (rain, wind, sun and insects) is essential. Shelter is essential. When it comes to shelter, clothing is the first line. In hot or cold weather, long sleeves and long pants are important because they help regulate body temperature and prevent dehydration. Long sleeves and long pants can help prevent minor injuries like sunburns, scrapes, bites, or sunburn. Everyone should have windproof, waterproof and insulating clothing. A pocket poncho is a good option.
Always have an emergency shelter with you. Pocket ponchos are lightweight and compact and will provide protection from wind and precipitation, which can lead to hypothermia.
- Food is essential. A healthy person can live for long periods without eating. However, if they don’t eat enough food, they will run out of fuel and become unable to function effectively. Although it may take several weeks for a victim to die from starvation, they will still be functioning at a low level both mentally and physically. You should always bring enough high-calorie, compact emergency food to last for a few more days, no matter how long the trip is. It’s a good form of insurance.
- Water is vital for survival. Every person should drink at least two quarts of water per day. If you are exerting yourself or the temperature is high, then more. You will need three times the amount of water you think you need to go on an outing. A portable water purifier system is recommended to be part of the equipment inventory for maximum safety. These can be purchased at outdoor equipment mail-order catalogs or in backpacking shops. This system should do much more than improve water flavor with a carbon filter. You want one that actually kills harmful waterborne microorganisms (e.g. Giardia) by using a high-quality filter.
- Keep redundant methods for starting a fire in your jacket, pants, or fanny pack. It’s not a good idea to go without a way to start a fire if you forget your jacket or bag in camp. You can use fire to signal people, heat up, dry out, or warm up in the darkest hours. Children of the appropriate age and maturity should be taught how to use fire safely and properly.
Always have multiple ways to light a fire. Keep them all in your bag, jacket, pants, and shirt pockets. You will never run out of one.
Tell them where you are going and when you will be back. Also, tell them about any side trips that you might have. In the new_paragraph, include information about your travel companions and vehicles. Include information about the type and color of your equipment and how it was used. If you are unable to return home within a reasonable time, it is possible to start a search. You must notify your family back home by calling and notifying them that you have changed the plan. Although this may seem like a lot, it is not as bad as being left alone.
You should not just leave camp without telling someone where you are going and when you will return. Talk to a responsible adult about your plans. They can arrange a search for you if that happens.
Discuss camp’s rules with everyone. Children who are with you should make sure that they know where everyone is at all times.
This should also be related to the agreement regarding when to call the search-and rescue personnel. Steve, my friend, and I love to go on long hikes, mountain biking rides, and ski trips. These trips often last until the early hours of the morning. We advise our wives to not call Search and Rescue until 10:00 a.m. Tomorrow. We are naturally curious. We know that there’s a good chance that we won’t be able to return home in time. It is what everyone expects.
If the children are fishing and one of them goes missing, immediately search for the footprints and call the child. Don’t waste time calling for reinforcements if your efforts fail to find the missing child. While you wait for the search-and rescue team to arrive, keep searching actively.
- Provide basic survival skills and knowledge for each person in the wild. A kit should be prepared for each age group. It could include a bag containing emergency rations, water, a whistle and a way to light a fire. Children of responsible age can learn how to start an emergency campfire, add moist fire to it to create smoke, and use a pocketponcho to shelter. Searchers can also be made aware of their location using audible and visible signals.
Worst case scenario: Your car is so far back that you can’t remember where civilization is. Your vehicle suddenly stops breathing, and you are left stranded. This is what headlines in tomorrow’s newspaper are made of.
The headlines in the newspapers carried exactly such a story in 2006 when the James Kim family was stranded in Oregon’s mountains after their car got stuck in the snow along a lonely forest road. James, Kati and their two daughters, Sabine, seven months, and Penelope, four years old, waited nine days for help. James Kim clearly wanted to do the right things and, despite being sick for more than a week, he decided to make the most difficult decision in his life: to leave his wife and children behind and go to help. James died from exposure. The good news is that Kati, and the children, were saved in remarkably good health. This story can only be a learning opportunity for all of us. I will talk more about this incident later so that we can learn from the mistakes and successes.
It doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle you use to move around the back-country, it can be both an advantage and a curse. Our wheels have the advantage of allowing us to travel further in a shorter time and be able to carry more camping, hunting and fishing gear. We can also take our passengers along with us.
However, we are able to travel a lot and get into serious trouble quickly. Many of us are so dependent on our vehicle that we expect it to work flawlessly all the time. If the vehicle is damaged or becomes stuck, it can be a very difficult situation for the driver and passengers. They may need to spend a lot of time in the wilderness or have to hike long distances to seek help. Survival in the wild is all about preparation. However, if the vehicle breaks down, there are many things to consider before making any final decisions about whether to hike out to get help.
It is crucial to let someone know where you are going and where you plan to stay each night. Also, when you return home, it is important to prepare for your trip. You will not be able to tell your family and friends about the details of your trip. They won’t know where you are or when you should activate a rescue operation. You must adhere to your “flight plan” when planning your trip. If you fail to return home on time, chaos can ensue and you may end up somewhere you didn’t expect. This causes chaos in search-and rescue efforts, and time and energy is wasted searching for you. Notify everyone who was on your original itinerary if you have to change your plans.
But stuff happens. Unexpected events can happen and draw us in a different direction. Murphy’s Law dictates that breakdowns can occur in inaccessible places, far from where we are supposed to be. For example, the Kim family did the right thing and informed their friends about their travel plans, including their planned routes and overnight destinations. They missed the exit to Interstate 5 in central Oregon, and that was when the trouble started. Instead of turning around to take the exit that would have taken them through the mountains to the coast safely, they kept going on the interstate and continued to the next off-ramp. They ended up on a different route than they had planned. The friends with the flight plan had no idea that a search for the route they were looking for would not lead them to the Kim family’s location.
You have to make decisions and do things when the worst happens. This scenario leaves you stranded, and the vehicle is not in a running condition.
Step 1: Take a deep breathe, relax, then evaluate the situation. It is probably not as bad as you think. Is there anyone in your group who is dead? Is anyone in your party at immediate risk? I’m referring to immediate danger, in that the jaws of an famished grizzly are firmly placed on your companion as he climbs up the tree. All likelihood, none of those conditions exists. Consider this a major blessing.
Step 2: Contemplate a few facts. You drove there and others can drive there. This could lead to you being accidentally saved by a passer-by. Recognize that your vehicle is more visible than you realize. This is crucial. This will allow you to make the most important decision of your life: whether you want to stay put or go for self-rescue. Self-rescue is a great option, and it’s as successful as do-it yourself dental surgery.
The brutal truth is that rescue crews on the ground and in the air will have a harder time finding you if your vehicle is abandoned. This is the level of difficulty that can make it difficult to find your vehicle. They’ll probably miss you but find the vehicle. This is especially true for those who hike cross-country instead of following the road.
James Kim, who had been away from his family for nine days, decided to leave the car and seek help. He started by doing the right thing, following the road the same way they came. The effects of hypothermia (from exhaustion after more than a week without food and the cold, wet weather) caused a breakdown in his ability make sound decisions. He decided to hike cross-country after he had driven a few miles from the car. This was his death sentence. Rescuers found the car, Kati and the girls within hours of James leaving his family. After extensive searching, they found James two days later. It was too late.
It is time to make a decision. It’s time to decide whether you want to stay or go. The following arguments are in favor of staying with your vehicle while you wait for rescue:
- The vehicle can be used as a shelter.
- All supplies are available at the vehicle location.
- Staying put helps conserve energy. This means you will need less food or water.
- Rescuers can see the vehicle better than a hiker.
- The vehicle acts as a psychological attachment to the civilization and helps with panic attacks.
- Staying right there can help the whole party work together to improve camp, maintain signal fires and gather firewood and water. It also helps boost each other’s spirits.
- From an injury standpoint, staying in camp is safer than hiking cross-country.
- You are less likely to get lost if you stay with your vehicle.
- Staying in the vehicle will allow you to take advantage of all the local resources, while a hiker cannot because he is always moving.
If you choose to stay at the vehicle site and set up camp, make sure it is visible to both aircraft and search parties. Do it if you think it will help make the truck more visible. Signal fires should be ready for ignition (smoke at night, flames at day). Clear away all brush from the vehicle. Brightly-colored items should be placed on the ground in order to draw attention. Use mirrors for signalling.
Only if you can meet all the requirements of the following list, then it is time to get out of your vehicle and try to find help.
- You know that no one will come looking for your at this place. James Kim has reached this point, and I believe him. I understand his decision to do so after nine days without any evidence of a rescue attempt.
- The rigorous journey is possible due to your health and fitness, as well as the health of your companions.
- You know the route and the distance you need to get help.
- Once you take inventory of all your supplies, you can determine that you have everything you need to make the hike.
It is vital that you leave a note notifying rescuers that you have decided to vacate the vehicle.
- Name, address, phone number, next of kin, and for each member of the group.
- All people are the same in terms of their age, health and fitness.
- A description of your equipment and clothing.
- A detailed hiking plan that includes the date and time you left your vehicle, the destination and direction you are traveling, as well as the campsites and accommodations along the way.
It is not an easy decision to get out of a vehicle with a disability and go hiking. Sometimes, the wrong decision can mean the difference between a sim- ple stay in the wilderness or a true survival situation.
If there are no compelling reasons to leave the camp, it is best to remain with the vehicle and signal until help arrives. The vehicle that was cursed may be the one that draws the attention of search teams. Even a disabled vehicle can still be a blessing for the backcountry. Learn more about surviving the elements in the next post.