I understand that not everyone is looking to fortify their home against zombie hoards, ravaging looters, or some other threat marking the end of the world as we know it. With that in mind, I thought it might be beneficial to address the concerns of the weekend adventurer before the grass gets too deep with drawn-out details on booby traps and bug eating.
There is no national data base to keep track of how many people get lost in the woods every year, but estimates are anywhere from a few hundred to well over a thousand. Thankfully, most people rejoin society without coming to grave harm within 48 hours, but sadly, some do not. A little preparation can save you from becoming one of the unfortunate statistics.
Ways you can better your odds of surviving a weekend disaster-
-Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to be back. If you’re worried about sounding paranoid by asking someone to check up on you, you might want to rethink your perspective and instead, consider relying on a friend to be the responsible thing to do. When pride comes before a fall off a cliff it’s usually too late to rethink anything.
-Every time you step into the wilderness, have some basic supplies on you as if you’re going to be lost in the wilderness.
-Bring water, as much as you can comfortably carry, and water treatment tablets to treat wild water in case you need more. Chlorine Dioxide tablets are cheap and can be found in the camping section of most local retailers. Refer to my post "Survival Water Workshop" for more details on wild sources and purification methods.
-Buy a small First-Aid Kit, but know what’s in it. Particularly useful item include a roll of gauze, anti-bacterial ointment, pain reliever and alcohol prep pads. Alcohol prep pads can not only be used to clean wounds, but they can also help you start a fire, and if you become over heated, you can rub them on your skin to draw heat out of your body.
-Invest in an emergency blanket -foil-like, fits in your pocket, cost less than two dollars and just may save your life.
-Emergency Food. There are many good products out there to choose from, but keep in mind, in water shortage situations you want to avoid foods high in protein, sugar and sodium. My preferred option is “Mayday” emergency food bars. Not readily found at your local retailer, but fairly inexpensive and available at many on-line, survival food suppliers. They’re high in calories, 100% essential vitamins, 5 year shelf life, U.S. Coast Guard approved, non-thirst provoking and actually tasty.
-Fire isn’t essential for short term survival, unless it’s bitterly cold, but it can sure lift your spirit through a dark night alone in the woods. Keep water-proof matches in your pack and the alcohol prep pads will help you get tinder started. If everything looks wet, look under fallen leaves and brush, everything’s usually not. Refer to my post "The Quest for Fire" for more info.
If you realize you’re lost, don’t panic, and don’t waste calories tromping further into the bush in denial. Before it gets dark, find some shelter and make preparations to spend the night. If you let someone know what you’re up to, help will soon be on the way. If you forgot to leave word on when someone should call in the troops, still don’t panic, find shelter and make preparations to spend the night. Set out again at first light. If you can’t find recognizable landmarks on your way, just follow your feet; you may not remember the way out, but your feet just might. Move slowly to not over-burn calories and hydrate as often as you can. If you’re forced to drink wild water, don’t panic, go ahead and drink the questionable water. There’s no guarantee you’ll get sick, but you’re guaranteed to be in serious trouble if you get dehydrated. Even if drinking from a questionable water source is going to make you sick, it will still give you a better chance of making it to safety where you can be treated for the nasty water you drank.
A little preparation goes a long way, and with a level head and a strong heart you can overcome any weekend disaster.