Just recently, two young girls got lost and survived 19 hours in bushland in central-west New South Wales, Australia. They were praised for their survival skills and ability to stay calm. The two girls made a bed of sand and leaves and “hugged up” to stay warm in their freezing overnight adventure.
Ms. Ryan, a search manager with the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad, says that anyone who heads out into the bush has to be prepared before going and needs to talk to their children about what to do if they get lost. Here, she shares her tips with us about surviving in the bush if your plans go awry.
Use the TREK acronym to remember the following:
- T – Take enough food, water, a first aid kit, and navigation tools
- R – Register your route; tell friends and family where you are going
- E – Emergency beacons save lives; these are available free or for rent
- K – Keep to your plans; follow the maps and walking trails
Emergency beacons are especially useful, as they help rescuers pinpoint your positions and let people know you are in trouble. Try to find higher ground and keep trying your cell phone, though in most places out in the wilderness they won’t work.
Find a spot and stay put, and don’t wander around – it makes it harder to find you.
Wear bright clothing and layer your clothing. It is better to wear multiple layers that you can remove or add as and when needed.
Also, pack a windproof and waterproof jacket – it can rain without warning and the afternoons can be chilly.
Carry some extra lightweight essentials to ensure your safety if you get lost. In a waterproof bag take some matches, a spare emergency blanket, and a map.
Carry a compass if you know how to use one, and a camera. A flash from a camera is a good way to attract the attention of someone flying overhead. Carry a small torch and a couple of extra batteries.
Before night falls, gather materials such as bracken ferns and pile them up. These give good insulation from the ground and will keep you warmer. They snap off easily and can be in plentiful supply.
Most of all, don’t panic. It can be scary being lost in the bush, so explore the area around you for a few meters to keep calm by being busy.
Make a camp as best you can. Tell stories, even if you are alone. There will be a search party looking if you have told someone where you were going.
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