Wilderness Safety 101

Every day you can find an article where someone has gone missing in a wilderness area. Some are lucky and are found alive while others aren’t so lucky. Is it just luck or is there something that separates the survivors from those who perish?

Being prepared may be one thing that helps those who survive through ordeals of being lost.   Here’s a release from the Minnesota DNR that might just help you be a survivor.

Learn wilderness survival basics before going afield

A missing duck hunter near Mille Lacs Lake forced to spend the night in the woods is a good reminder that anyone spending time outdoors should know wilderness survival basics, said an official with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A recent news release from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office said that 76-year-old Glenn Huff of Garrison had become disoriented while hunting and was unsure of his whereabouts. Rather than wander aimlessly, Huff then “hunkered down with his dog for the night, and at first light started to make his way back to his vehicle.” The following morning Huff and the dog met up with sheriff’s office deputies who reported Huff in excellent condition following the incident.

“That incident is a good reminder that anyone can get lost in the woods, including hunters,” said acting Capt. John Paurus, DNR enforcement education program coordinator.

Panic is an enemy for those who get lost. They should remember the acronym S.T.O.P.

SIT: They should collect their thoughts and realize they are not lost; they just can’t find camp or vehicle.
THINK: What do they have at their disposal both physical and mental that can help them in this situation? Inventory survival kit and start to develop a plan.
OBSERVE: Look around, is there shelter, water, an open area where searchers could see them?
PLAN: Create a plan of action. Pick a spot that to build a fire for heat and signaling. In addition, can the spot provide basic shelter?
A basic survival kit can be packed into a quart zip-lock bag and should contain the following:

Basic shelter materials: Two 55 gallon garbage bags and 30 feet of braided mason’s line.
Means to start a fire: Disposable lighter, waterproof matches or matches stored in a waterproof container, or 10 feet of toilet paper or Petroleum Jelly soaked cotton balls in a waterproof container.
Means of signaling: Whistle, signal mirror (could be an old CD). A fire is also a signal.
Means of knowing direction: A compass.
Comfort food: Food bar, nuts or trail mix.
Anytime people head outdoors they should plan for the unexpected and be prepared to spend the night in the woods. Here are some musts before heading out.

Always let someone know the destination and return plan.
Carry a compass or GPS and know how to use it.
Carry a basic survival and first-aid kit.
Carry a cell phone.
Check the weather and dress for it.
These outdoor safety tips are part of the DNR hunter education firearms safety program. An online study guide for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts is on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/firearms/index.html . Click on HunterCourse.


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