Approximately 2,000 people become lost in the woods each year. While most of them usually end up finding their way back to civilization, there are a select few which unfortunately end up dead. We asked our local Park Ranger here in Utah for advice on what to do when someone is lost.
When a person realizes that they are indeed lost, a sense of panic usually overwhelms them. This rush of adrenaline sends them into fight-or-flight mode and clouds their judgement which makes navigation even harder. The natural instinct during this haze is to wander deeper into the wilderness in search of help. In my experience, this is one of the worst things someone can do. The golden rule we were taught is to just sit still!
Yup, it’s that simple. Just sit down and wait for help to arrive. In most cases, a search and rescue team will be dispatched once your friends and family have reported you as missing. These teams use a very predictable and systematic approach to their rescue missions and moving all over the place will do nothing but make their jobs harder.
Unless you’re absolutely confident that you know how to navigate yourself back to civilization, the best thing to do is usually to just sit down and wait for help to arrive. This simple tip might just save your life.
Here is another fun fact we learned from our Park Ranger friend. Believe it or not, the vast majority of search and rescue missions are done on hikers! One would assume that extreme activities like climbing, base jumping, or kayaking would receive the most attention but the reality is that these people are usually trained and are operating well within their limits. Hiking seems like a very benign activity to most and it’s easy for beginners to overestimate their abilities. As a result, it’s usually hikers that end up requiring rescue.