Tips on Surviving in the Wilderness

Tips on Surviving in the Wilderness
Wilderness survival relies in part on coming prepared for any outdoor activity that takes you away from civilization, and in part on knowing what kind of trouble you are likely to encounter. While it may be impossible to anticipate every eventuality, a few simple considerations and tools are sure to put you in control of many situations that could crop up. Preparation includes anticipating weather conditions, preparing for emergency navigation, having supplies for medical emergencies, and also learning how to read the terrain.

Anticipate Weather Conditions

Prior to leaving for your camping trip or day hike, find out what the anticipated weather conditions might be. For example, if you plan on hiking in higher elevations, there are good chances of afternoon thunderstorms with lightning. Being aware of this weather pattern allows you to turn around and leave early enough to not get caught up in the weather, or you may expect the impending storm and set up a shelter. Lightning, the potential for flash floods, and also unanticipated blizzards in winter create some of the dangers you may be able to foresee when you familiarize yourself with the weather patterns of the area you are visiting.

Prepare for Emergency Navigation

Even if you have a great sense of direction, it is easy to get lost after nightfall, in a sandstorm or during a blizzard. Map out your route before taking off on your hike, and also mark any intersecting trails, lakes, streams and roads you should cross. Come prepared with a compass, chalk and GPS. Use the compass if you just need to orient yourself, and make chalk marks on prominent rocks or trees to avoid passing the same place twice. If all else fails, a GPS---like the Trails' Garmin GPS eTrex Legend Cx---comes in handy during the initial day of getting lost. Thereafter, unless you bring additional batteries along, it will gradually lose its usefulness.

Come Prepared for Medical Emergencies

Falls or cuts can happen at any time, and most first aid kits come equipped with the proper hardware to immobilize a weakened limb or bandage even a deeper wound. Do not forget about the kinds of medical emergencies that may stem from your own pre-existing medical conditions. For example, if you have had a heart attack in the past, come prepared with your pills and also baby aspirin to stave off the potential of a recurrence. Moreover, if you are a diabetic who needs injections to control the disease, bring along sufficient insulin to last you for a couple of days. Do not forget an allergy medicine, if you are allergic to bee stings and other naturally occurring substances you might encounter on your hike. The U.S. Army suggests as part of its survival training to pack a survival kit that contains, among other things, medical supplies germane to your health.

Read the Topography

Think carefully before you take your steps. For example, if you go bouldering, you may encounter some loose gravel on some of the bigger boulders. Unless you understand that this gravel has the potential to act like marbles under your feet and cause you to fall and potentially injure yourself, you might be likely to discount it as a hazard. Algae-covered rocks are another danger you might not think off when crossing a river in your high-quality hiking boots, but if you consider that the rubberized sole will have no traction on the slimy rock, you quickly recognize that this kind of footing can lead to a painful and potentially dangerous fall.

Article Written By Sylvia Cochran

Based in the Los Angeles area, Sylvia Cochran is a seasoned freelance writer focusing on home and garden, travel and parenting articles. Her work has appeared in "Families Online Magazine" and assorted print and Internet publications.

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