Before you enter the wilderness, notify a friend or family member. Tell them where you are going and when you will return. Make plans to speak when you return to prevent a search when you have already returned. If you become lost in the wilderness and nobody knows, search crews will not respond.
Stay put once you realize you are lost. People who continue to move are harder to locate for search and rescue crews. Staying in place will give the opportunity to build a survival shelter and fire and it will save you valuable energy.
Building a simple shelter is a valuable survival tool. Shelter will keep you out of the wind and you can stay dry and warm. First, look for a natural shelter that will save the time and energy of building. Rock overhangs, cliffs and dense woods all have potential as natural shelters. If you are forced to build a shelter, use dead wood and sticks to construct a lean-to. Cover the lean-to with branches and leaves to insulate and prevent moisture and wind from entering.
Carry fire starting tools every time you enter the wilderness. Carry waterproof matches, fire starting squares and a flint strike fire starter. Build a fire close to your shelter and keep the fire burning as long as possible. A small fire is much easier to tend and requires less energy in collecting materials. The fire can be used to purify water and signal for help and the coals can be buried beneath dirt for a warm bed.
Find a water source. Look for running water and collect as much as possible before returning to the shelter. Do not drink the water directly from the stream as it must be purified. Carry iodine tablets or water treatment drops in your pack for water purification. You should also have a water bottle or bladder. You can purify the water and stay hydrated if you are prepared. If you do not carry a water purification system, you must use the fire to boil the water before drinking.
Eventually you are going to need food in a survival situation. If you are an expert on plants you can find the edible plants and ingest some calories. Most people are not plant experts and should be very careful when considering plants as a food source. Most of the insects you will encounter are edible and have a high caloric content. Grubs, ants and grasshoppers are all good options. Be weary of spiked insect legs and stinging insects. You can also build dead falls and fish traps for food sources.
If help is not on the way you will be forced to walk out on your own. Use the north star to get your bearings and look for moving water. Follow a stream or river downstream until it enters civilization. Most streams will eventually lead you out of the wilderness. You can also search for phone lines or rail tracks to lead the way.
Avoid the Heat
If you are walking out on your own, avoid the heat of the day. Pace yourself and stop for water whenever possible. Stay hydrated and remain calm while navigating the wilderness.
Basic knowledge of wilderness first aid is extremely valuable. You or someone in your group may become injured and require first aid. Carry a basic first aid kit in your pack with bandages, antiseptic ointment and antibiotic ointment. Cuts must be cleaned and bandaged to avoid infection. Also know how to make a splint and crutches using tree branches and duct tape.
You must maintain a positive attitude and remain calm when in a survival situation. Panic causes you to become disoriented and limits your ability to think rationally. Panic also burns energy and creates a negative atmosphere in a group. Stay positive and focus on surviving.