How do you survive a hike or when you are alone and lost in the woods? What to do alone in the woods and how to find your way back? Detailed instructions on how to survive in the woods and get back unharmed. Have you ever been hiking, admiring the forest flowers, looking up at the treetops – and suddenly realize that you are all alone and lost? What would happen to you if you didn’t find your way back and make it back in one piece? While getting lost in the woods can be a terrible ordeal, surviving alone in the wilderness is generally a matter of common sense, patience, and wise use of nature’s gifts. If you want to know how to survive in the woods, follow these instructions.
1. Preparing for a hike
1.1 Do your research first. Don’t rush headfirst into the wilderness; thoroughly scout your environment. Study a map of the area you’ll be heading to and be sure to bring one with you, all of which will greatly reduce the risk of going astray. Become familiar with the flora and fauna of the area you are exploring. Knowledge of the local plants and animals can save your life. One of the most accurate books on this subject is “Bushcraft – Wilderness Survival Course and Skills” by Morse Kochansky.
1.2 Make sure someone in your family knows where you are going and for how long. Don’t make the James Franco mistake at 127, a survival movie based on true events – make sure someone knows exactly where and when you are going. That way, that person will realize you’re missing, quickly call rescue and let you know where to start your search from.
1.3 Take rescue equipment with you. The basic safety equipment is: knife, flintlock (metal match), regular matches (in a waterproof box), rope (550 paracord best), whistle, spare blanket, signal mirror, water purification tablets and compass, which can be crucial. If you are going on a day hike, take everything you need with you. Having all this equipment means exactly nothing if you don’t know how to use it for its intended purpose. Practice many times in a safe environment before you go into the wilderness. Don’t forget to bring your first aid kit. It should contain band-aids, antiseptic, and tweezers to remove splinters that could introduce infection. If you need any medication or injections, put them in your first aid kit, even if you’re not going away for long. Learn how to use a compass before you leave. If you have a map and are able to distinguish known landscapes on it, you can use the compass to match your location and decide where you want to go next.
When you choose a spare bedspread (made of light, thin, reflective mylar fabric), spend a little more money to buy a wider, more durable model. The blanket protects you from wind, rain, and hypothermia. If a fire is burning behind you, cover your back with a blanket to reflect the heat of the fire. However, if the fabric is too small or torn as soon as you unpack it, do not expect such protective properties from the blanket.
1.4 Take your communication equipment with you. A cell phone with a spare battery or a portable CB radio are the quickest ways to escape if you are lost or injured. A cell signal is only available from an elevated position or a tree, but it’s still better than nothing. Experienced hikers buy personal location beacons like SPOT Messenger for long, dangerous and long-distance travel. SPOT Messenger is a satellite communicator that allows you to contact emergency services, maintain personal contact to help in non-emergency situations, or simply check in with your friends and family while you’re camping. There is a maintenance fee and it doesn’t come cheap.
2. Surviving in the woods
2.1 Don’t panic if you get lost. Panic is far more dangerous than anything else because it eclipses reason, which is the single best, most useful and versatile means of escape. The moment you realize you are lost, stop. Take a deep breath and remain calm. Before you act, follow the dogma of the abbreviation STOP: S = sit down T = now think O = survey your surroundings P = prepare for rescue by gathering materials
2.2 Orient yourself. The place where you are will be your “zero point”. Mark the spot with a piece of clothing, a pile of rocks, a piece of paper, or anything else visible in the distance. Identify the sides of the world – the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Use these directions by adjusting in your compass (clockwise, starting at the top of 12:00) the directions north, east, south, and west. For example, if the time is near evening and the sun is to the right, then you are facing north. If you know how to find Polaris in the night sky in your yard, this skill will prove invaluable.
2.3 Stay in one place. Not only does this increase your chances of being found, but it also conserves your body’s energy by consuming less of the water and food you need to sustain it. Squat down and stay put. Chances are that they have already started looking for you, especially in case you have informed someone of your plans. Also, if you are with someone else, don’t split up. Your strength is in numbers. If it is sunny, try to conduct your search in the shade – this will reduce the risk of dehydration and burns. Don’t be tempted to take your clothes off, because doing so will, on the contrary, increase that risk.
2.4 Build a fire. Make a place for the fire by putting up enough charcoal to keep you warm for several hours, and make sure you have plenty of brushwood. Make a fire before you need it, even if the woods are warm. It’s best to build a fire in a calm, not panicked, state when the sun goes down. Not to mention, you’ll feel comfortable and safe around a campfire that identifies your location. According to a great practical method, you should gather wood until you are sure you have enough for the night. Then gather three more equal piles of wood, which might be enough for the night. You should get brushwood from the undergrowth under the forest canopy. You can also use bark or dry litter. If your fire won’t get warm enough, toss in fresh branches, shrubs, or woody boughs to make the resulting smoke serve as a fire signal. The best wood to make a fire is dead wood. You can pull it away from a healthy tree. No matter what type of forest you are in, there are dry brushwood everywhere. Remember: a small fire is easier to maintain than a large fire, if only because it requires less fuel. When you have enough smoldering embers, keep the fire moderate, so you don’t have to waste time looking for fuel. Don’t build a fire in dangerous places. Your fire should be away from flammable trees and bushes, preferably in a clearing altogether. Be careful with the fire. When you want to put fuel in it, do not overdo it. Consider the weather and other factors, and remember that it is much harder to escape from a forest fire than it is to get out of the forest when you are lost!
2.5 Identify your location. Whistle, shout, sing, or bang rocks to make noise. If possible, mark out your location in a way that you can see it from above. If you are in a mountain meadow, arrange three piles of dark leaves and branches in a triangle shape. In a sandy area, make a triangle on the sand. Such a triangle in the wild is considered a standard distress signal. You can use a campfire to send a distress signal. The universal distress signal is a straight line of three campfires or three campfires forming a triangle. You can also blow three whistles, or fire three shots in the air with a rifle if you have one, or signal with a mirror three times by catching the sun’s rays.
2.6 Scout your area. Even though you can’t go too far, you should explore the surrounding area to see if you can find anything useful. You may find things left behind by someone, whether it’s a tin can or a pocket lighter, which can be useful for signaling. Make sure you can always find your way to your “ground zero” while you’re looking for water, shelter or directions home.
2.7 Find a good source of water. In a survival situation you can go three days without water, but by the end of the second day you will be out of shape, so you need to find a water source as soon as possible. The best source of water is a spring, but the chances of finding it are slim. Also look out for birds, because they often fly over fresh water bodies. Drink the remaining water, but in portions, not all at once. A running stream is also a great option. The flow of water reduces sediment. Keep in mind, running stream water can be dangerous because of the presence of pathogenic bacteria. But when it’s a matter of life or death, the risk of getting sick should take a back seat because you’ll be cured later. If you are desperate and there is dew on the grass, collect it in your clothes and then suck the moisture out of the fabric. You can also look for water in the crevices of the rock.
2.8 Clean your water. One crude way to purify water is to boil it in an improvised kettle. To kill bacteria, the water must boil for at least three minutes. You can also pour water into a clean plastic bottle and leave it in a sunny spot for six hours to kill most germs. But if there is a lot of sediment in the water, the sun’s rays won’t be able to penetrate it, so this method won’t work. Add a pinch of salt to the water so that the sediment sinks to the bottom.
2.9 Find or make shelter. Without proper shelter, you will be exposed to the elements, either hypothermia or heat stroke, depending on the weather. If you are not dressed for the conditions, you should definitely find shelter. Fortunately, the woods are full of gear and resources to make a fire and build shelter (for warmth, safety, and signals). Below is a list of things you can use: Look for a fallen or bent tree. You can build an A-shaped shelter by laying branches on either side of the fallen tree and then covering it with shrubs, vines, leaves, or other plants. Use shrubs and fresh branches with leaves to protect the shelter from water, wind and snow, and to form shade. Lock in your shelter on all possible sides. A cave can be a great shelter, but you should check to see if it is occupied by bears, big cats, snakes, or other animals. No doubt they know that caves are a great shelter because they are in constant search, unlike you. If it is snowing, build a shelter out of snow. Snow is an excellent material in which you will be comfortable. Make sure that your shelter is not too hidden, otherwise you will spend all your time in it and no one will find you.
Don’t waste all your energy building the perfect shelter, otherwise you will exhaust yourself.
2.10 Find harmless food. Know that most healthy adults can go up to three weeks without food if it’s not cold outside. It is much better to be hungry and healthy than sick. Make sure that the food you are about to eat is safe for your health. If it is dangerous, not only can you get lost, but you can get fatally ill. And hunger will no longer be a big problem. Don’t be afraid to eat insects and other bugs. Although eating a few grasshoppers seems disgusting to you, they are, in fact, quite useful food. All insects should be cooked carefully, as they carry parasites that can kill you. Do not eat any caterpillars, brightly colored insects, or insects that can bite or sting you. Remove the insect’s legs, head, and wings before eating. If you are near a body of water, catch a fish. Small fish may be eaten whole. Never eat any mushrooms or berries, and it doesn’t matter how hungry you are. It is better to be hungry than to eat poisonous foods. Many forest berries, especially white berries, are poisonous. Tips – Pay attention to even the smallest cut, as it can lead to infection and death. – An equally important component of rescue supplies is to have two large, lightweight garbage bags. They take up little space but are applicable for many purposes.
Pour water in one of them and hide it in your shelter. Use the other one in a different way. – Make a small hole in the corner of it for your head, and put the rest of it over yourself (and tie up if you need to). (You should hide your arms if it’s snowing/raining, or if you’re losing heat and your clothes get wet fast). Put one bag in the other and fill the space between them with leaves, grass and pine needles and you have a temporary sleeping bag. Orange contactor bags are the best (you can also use them for a signal). – If you’re going fishing, make a fishing rod out of a 2-meter (6-foot) long and 2-5 centimeters thick stick (just bring your fishing hooks). Cut the bark off the stick with a knife or axe, making a nick 5-7 centimeters from the top of the rod. Tie one end of any rope or fishing line to this mark, and then attach a hook to the other end of the rope or line. Make a lure – attach a small piece of meat to the hook, such as an insect or something else. – The sleeves of a waterproof jacket can be used to hold water if you tie their ends on one side. – At night you run the biggest risk of freezing to death. So don’t get wet. Wrap up. Don’t sit on the ground. Make a bed of twigs, leaves, twigs – anything – and cover yourself with the same. To stay warm at night, you can heat rocks in the fire, cover them with your makeshift bed and sleep on top of them, but it’s a very fiddly process; it’s much easier to snuggle near the fire under a massive object like a fallen deck, a boulder, or a spare blanket.
If you are going on a long hike through impassable and unfamiliar terrain, always consider a back-up plan. Detailed maps/guides, spare food and water, and signaling devices such as a mirror, a flare, or even (depending on the length and location of the hike) a satellite beacon (PLB) can save your life. – You can go weeks without food, but only a couple of days without water, and in bad weather conditions without shelter, probably only a couple of hours at all. Stick to the right priorities. – You can use moss as a dressing. It is easy to find and will help stop the bleeding. It is mostly found near rivers. – If you’re not quite sure where you are and how to get back to familiar territory, don’t say “I think this is the right way.” The more you move around once you realize you are lost, the less chance you have of finding your way back. – One of the most important things for survival that most people don’t think of as such is a metal mug. Without a metal mug, it is difficult to cook any kind of food. – Don’t feed wild animals, it can be deadly.
Even a small rabbit can attract other animals to your shelter. – Don’t waste water unnecessarily. – It is very important to remember the abbreviation “STOP”, which means “sit down, now think, look around, prepare for rescue.” – Attach clothing (jackets, bandanas, and even underwear) to the top of the tree to attract attention. – Trust your instincts. – Rain, snow or dew can be a great source of clean water. You can use anything to collect water, from a cup and waterproof cloth to a large tree leaf. – Don’t panic! Try to calm down as quickly as possible, you shouldn’t get too excited. – If you can’t stay put until someone finds you, don’t try to just go anywhere, even if you have enough supplies. Instead, try going either uphill or downhill. By climbing up the mountain, you will have a good chance of locating your location. Going downhill, accordingly, you can find water and follow the stream; in most cases this will lead you to civilization. But you should not travel downstream at night, as it may cause you to fall off a cliff. Never go down into a canyon. Even if there is no risk of flooding, the canyon walls may be so steep that the only way out is to walk all the way down it. Even worse, if the canyon has a channel, it could turn into a river later on, forcing you back down.
It is no safer than hiking alone in the desert. – For serious wounds, you can cut off a sleeve from your shirt and use it as a bandage. Remember only to tie it around the wound so that one or two fingers can be squeezed between the dressing and your body. – Your basic survival knife should have a fixed blade and a solid, sturdy handle; a folding knife should be used solely as a backup tool, although it is better than nothing. – If it’s cold and you’re close to hypothermia, make sure you don’t fall asleep; it can be fatal. – Consider taking a cane with you. If you don’t have one, any suitable sized stick can replace it. Any mark on the dirt will be able to mark your path as well as Hansel and Gretel. – Firearms have always been an important tool for the woods. A .22 caliber rifle or pistol can serve as a means of getting food and protection from people and animals as well as a signaling tool. – If you do not have a lighter or matches, you will have to make fire by hand. If you have found enough chaff (small amounts of dry grass, feathers, bark which burns easily) then you can usually harness the power of the sun with a magnifying lens, a lens from your glasses, a piece of broken glass, a compass or watch cover, or other focusing devices. It is very difficult to get fire by friction; it is best to make fire barriers. Warnings – If you are stranded in the wilderness during the winter, do not eat snow until it has completely melted and you have warmed it up! If you eat the snow, your body temperature will drop, resulting in hypothermia or even death. To warm the snow quickly, put it in a bottle of water and stick it between your clothes and jacket. – If you encounter snakes, it’s best to leave them alone. Snakes attack because they are hungry or scared. We are too big for them, so they don’t see us as food. Stand still and the snake will crawl away. Attack it and it will retaliate. If one crawls into your outfit, pick it up with a stick and gently push it away. If a snake crawls in your direction, stop. It doesn’t know you’re bothering it, and if you don’t jump, it probably won’t even notice you. However, if you kill the snake, enjoy eating it. If you don’t know for sure if it is poisonous or not, cut off its head and then cut the same section off the back from the tip of its tail. This will remove the poison glands, if any.
In order to heat the stones, make sure they are not wet (not from the river). Because as they heat up, they will explode because of the steam in the cracks. – Under all circumstances – do not cut your clothes. A torn sleeve for some fixture might seem like a great idea, but by nightfall you will regret it. – Don’t rely on modern technology such as cell phones, GPS navigators, and radios in the hope that they will bail you out. Take one of them. But remember that these devices are unreliable, so have a backup plan ready. – Never travel along the river, because it will absorb more of your heat than the air, which leads to hypothermia. – Keep your campfire under control! Make sure there are no flammable materials near it, and completely enclose it with rocks or a berm of sand. Put out your fire with plenty of water: pour so much water that not the slightest spark remains. Touch the extinguished embers with your bare hand. It is one thing if you are lost, quite another to be surrounded by a forest fire started by your carelessness. – Drinking your own urine when there is no water source is not recommended. What you will need – A whistle with a built-in compass (they are sometimes sold on the parachute ring if you need one, you can get a cord too) – Water container – Masonry: matches, lighter, flint/magnesium and iron, magnifying glass or lenses (sometimes on a compass cord) – Kettle for boiling water/cooking – Universal tool/Swiss Army knife – Territorial map – Fishing hooks and a long fishing line. Roll it up and put it in your pocket.
Hooks weigh almost nothing and are useful not only in fishing, but in other activities. Staple them with wire, put them in your wallet, and that one in your back pocket. – Three or four protein bars or small portions of vitamin complexes – Spare blanket or tent (of reflective fabric, visible from afar) – First aid kit – Extra water bottles (don’t print them out unless you get lost) – Compass – Water purification tablets – Spare clothes – Cotton disks and Vaseline. Vaseline is applied to chapped lips, but more importantly, absorbent cotton mixed with Vaseline ignites and burns evenly and long. Therefore it is excellent for making torches and making fires. Do not use petroleum jelly on burn areas! – Rope-Rope – Sewing kit/thread (for repairs and fishing) – Olive oil (calories and fuel for fire) – Axe (to cut down trees and for defensive purposes)