I bet almost every backpacker, hunter or any other outdoor person has been lost in the bush, at least for a short time. Most won’t admit it, but will agree that they were, “temporarily unsure of their location” or “I got turned around.”
It’s a blow to your ego to come clean and admit you were lost.
It is extremely common, but most people manage to find their way out and their secret is safe because no search party was involved. Human beings are control freaks and being lost or even uncertain which direction to go puts us out of control and we find that very hard to deal with.
In a “being lost” situation most injuries happen in the first day and often in the first few hours. This is because “Panic” often results from the realization that you don’t know where you are or which way to go. Unless some basic rules are followed, this panic situation takes over completely and the person starts to run. This running results in tripping, falling down hills, bumping into trees and rocks and generally completely exhausting the victim. The person gets exhausted, gets wet from perspiration and manages to get nothing done to make their situation better.
What a person should do in this situation, and it is not easy, is think logically and put a survival plan to work. First of all when lost, a person should admit it. Even by yourself, say it out loud, stay in one place and light a fire. Doing these things keeps your mind in a positive vibe and keeps panic from taking over. You may well have to force yourself to stay with your survival plan, but positive thinking will get you through the situation. Positive activities such as getting enough water and firewood to last the night and planning a shelter are essential to your well-being.
Fire does five things for us in a situation like this. It keeps us warm, dries our clothes, cooks our food, acts as a signal to searchers and most important fire makes us feel better about whatever situation we are in. Who hasn’t felt the calming influence of standing by a fire?
Staying put is vital as search and rescue people have quite often found where the lost person was, but is there no longer because they decided it was better to keep moving.
While staying put, go through your gear to see what you have to make the situation a little better for you. If you were smart enough to pack and carry a survival kit you’ll have plenty of fire-lighting ability, some shelter building material, a tin cup to heat water for your tea, or hot chocolate and maybe even some GORP to munch on while you wile away the hours waiting for someone to arrive and lead you home.
Getting lost can happen to any of us but staying safe in that situation depends on our ability to stay calm and follow some basic rules.