man lost hiking

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET LOST HIKING

Despite all your navigation gear and your preparation, you still find yourself lost, with no idea how to get to your destination. There are ways of ensuring you give yourself the best possible chance of being found and returned to safety. Here are some tips to significantly improve your chances of getting out of the situation unharmed.

STAY CALM

Don’t panic. This might be difficult, but you want to think rationally and clearly. Panicking could cause you to act irrationally and get yourself into more trouble. Take a break and rest until you feel calmer if you need to. Once a cooler head has prevailed, look at your navigation equipment and maps again. Make sure there is nothing you missed and no mistakes were made. If you think you can locate your last known point then retrace your steps for a short distance, but don’t wander too far. This will disorientate you even more and could make things worse.

STAY WHERE YOU ARE

If these measures don’t work. Then the best thing to do is stay where you are. The further away you walk at this point, the longer it will take the emergency services to find you. If you are not in a safe location, then move to safety. Stay calm, sit down, have a drink and think.

THINK

How did you get to where you are? What direction were you walking in? Were there any distinguishing landmarks you passed, or should have passed but didn’t see. At this point, there is no reason to move unless you have a purpose or certainty to move.

Think about how long you have until dark. Do you need to begin thinking about making shelter? Did you tell anyone where you were going and your route? Are they likely to raise the alarm? Are there other hikers in your party who will raise the alarm? How much water do you have? Are you able to use any communication devices to call for help?

COME UP WITH A PLAN

If you are in a group stay together. You will need to prioritise your actions. Staying warm and dry are the top priorities, so making a shelter should be your immediate task. Try and use as much insulation as you can find. After that you will need to assess food and water supplies and begin rationing.

You will need to make yourself visible to potential search parties scouring the area. Start a fire to make your location more visible, but also for warmth at night. If you have any bright clothing, it might be a good idea to lay it out on the ground in a clearing or on elevated terrain. Keep an ear out for strafing planes that might be looking for you.

If you are lost for longer you will need to sleep. Fatigue builds up and can drain morale and hope. Take catnaps whenever you feel the need to sleep, especially if the idea of sleeping at night fills you with fear.

Maintaining your body temperature also becomes essential. Your body is likely to be fighting a constant battle to get warm or cool off. When it’s warm, remove unnecessary layers before you start sweating. When it gets cold put layers on before you start shivering. This will prevent your body from expending unnecessary energy on regulating your body temperature. Every available energy source could be needed If you find yourself lost for a significant period of time.

 


Do you have any tips for anyone who finds themselves lost when camping, hiking or fishing? Share your thoughts through the comments section below.

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Peter Hollingsworth
peterh@dinga.com.au

Peter has been fishing all around Australia since he was a boy. He loves camping, fishing and kayak fishing.