Wilderness survival for kids: What to do when you get lost in a forest

Forests and woodlands are places where the possibility of getting lost is relatively high. This is due in part to the confusing trails and thick vegetation that hikers and adventurers may encounter along the way. In fact, thousands of people get lost in a forest each year. In Oregon alone, up to 189 men and 51 women have been missing since 1997, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

“Oregon is still a pretty primitive state. We have a lot of national forest and U.S. Bureau of Land Management land. A lot of it is heavy second-growth and old-growth. That keeps us from bringing closure to the families when their loved ones go missing…People who make mistakes out there and are by themselves sometimes don’t survive. And sometimes they aren’t found. There are not enough people in the world to put eyes on every bit of that ground out there. Those things make all the difference,” search and rescue coordinator John Miller has told The Oregonian online.

In this article, we will list a few tips in order to boost survival if you get lost in a forest.

Survive being lost in a forest with these tips

An article posted on the Little Things website has enumerated a few important pointers to keep in mind before the forest trip and during the event of getting lost in the area. These tips include:

  • Informing people of the trip. — According to the article, it is important that people planning for a forest trip inform their loved ones and friends of the activity. At the event of being lost, these people will be able to coordinate with the authorities and help speed up the search and rescue efforts.
  • Carry trip essentials. — The New York State Department of Environment Conservation has stressed the importance of preparing survival equipment prior to the trip. The agency recommends bringing essentials such as food, a knife, and a full water bottle as well as waterproof matches, a watch, and a small flashlight. The agency also suggests packing a fully charged cell phone, a watch, and a garbage bag with dry clothes. Likewise, the U.S. Forest Service recommends bringing a compass, a GPS device or a map to improve your knowledge of the area.
  • Sit down and think. — It is advisable to remain calm at the event of being lost. Instead of going into a panic mode, the article suggests the people who get lost sit down, take a deep breath, and calm themselves as making rash decisions during times of confusion may result in anxiety. It is also advisable that people take time to think about more important factors such as the trail that lead them to the location or the time left before it gets dark.
  • Determine your location. — Once the nerves have been calmed down, people may be able to pinpoint their location by taking note of specific landmarks in the forest. Visual cues like mountains and trees, or sounds such as traffic and running water may help people get back on track and return to safety. (Related: Amazing discovery resembling Stonehenge found in Amazon rain forest)
  • Plan your survival. — Upon getting lost, it is important to consider whether trying to go home or staying the night. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recommends that people consider how easy it is to gather firewood when making such a decision. The agency suggests collecting as much firewood as needed to stoke the fire throughout the night. The agency has also stressed on the importance of finding a water source and building a shelter.
  • Getting the rescuers’ attention. — The most important pointer to remember is getting people’s attention so that a rescue operation can eventually take place. “Make noise (blow a whistle, bang rocks together, shout), make your location visible from the air, use a signal mirror, or build a fire,” says Robert Koester, a search and rescue expert.

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