LivingTravelThings to do when lost in the desert

Things to do when lost in the desert

It can happen faster than you think. In a minute you are enjoying a beautiful walk through the woods, and the next thing you know is that you are out of the way and clueless. Did you come from the left? Didn’t you pass that rock twice? All these trees look the same! After the panic attack, do you know what to do if you are lost in the desert?

Help signal

Find a clearing that can be seen from the sky or from the sea (depending on where you get lost). Look for anything that can be used to build letters: large branches, twigs, or rocks. Use everything you can to find SOS. Also, use anything with bright colors to hang a sign from a tree. Whether it’s a bandana or a sports bra, if you can get someone’s attention from the air, wear it.

Make fire

You don’t have to go through Girl or Boy Scouts to know how to start a fire. Remember you want a decent fire so make sure you have a place that won’t start a massive wildfire. If you have paper, use it for firewood along with some small, dry twigs. Use your matches to start the fire and add whatever green you can find. The green leaves will produce thick, white smoke that will definitely attract attention.

Find shelter

Obviously your best bet for shelter is a cave or under hanging rocks. If you can’t find anything, see what materials you have to build a teepee. Trash bags, sleeping bag covers, even large sheets can be used to protect it from the elements. If you are concerned about animals, it is possible to build a tree shelter, although a bit more complicated than you might want to try. Try to move to the middle of the peaks as the cold air settles below the valleys and the winds get stronger.

Stay warm

Hypothermia is your biggest enemy when you get lost in the desert. Even during the summer months, temperatures can drop once the sun goes down. Watch for any tingling or numbness in your limbs. You will need to build a fire that can keep you warm (not used for a smoke signal). Search your backpack for warm clothes and layer up for the night. You can stay warm and dry by cutting a hole (no larger than three inches) in the bottom of your garbage bag and pulling it over your head. You want the hole to stretch but small enough to keep out cold air or rain.

Stay still

Although you may want to find your own way out, stay where you are. The more you move, the more difficult it becomes for someone to locate you. Before leaving, tell someone exactly where you are going and how long you plan to be there. This way, if you don’t return at a specific time, people will be alarmed and a search will begin.

Obviously, getting lost in the desert is not anyone’s plan, but it can happen. Being prepared is the best way to ensure that you come out alive and healthy. Before any trip, it’s crucial to make sure you’ve packed properly and told someone your itinerary, even if you’re traveling with people. And remember: try to stay on marked trails, or at least set your own markers if you plan to venture off the trail.

Did you know

What are the two most important things to pack for hiking and camping? The answer may surprise you. Matches and a garbage bag!

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