Being lost in the woods can be one of the most traumatic experiences you might encounter. Note that the whole experience is different from when you get lost in the city or any other unfamiliar place because you can always ask people for directions. In the woods, you will most likely be alone. No one will be there to help you find the right direction so you have to depend on yourself to survive.
If you love exploring the woods then you should prepare yourself for anything that might happen while in there, like getting lost all of a sudden. You have to study some effective survival tips so you won’t end up not knowing what to do in that unfortunate situation.
Prepare everything that you might need in case you stay in the woods for a few days. One of the most important things to prepare is a compass. Know how to find the right compass and invest in a really good one so you can bring it in your next adventure.
As a guide, here are also 10 ways/tips for you to survive the first 96 hours in the woods in case you get lost.
- Look for a source of water – If you get lost in the woods, you should prioritize finding a source of drinking water. Water is necessary for your survival in the woods. Find out if there are signs of fresh water close to you. One of these is green foliage, which indicates that there is a source of water nearby. Find out if there are signs of wildlife, too, such as animal tracks, as this indicates that a stream, pond, or creek is close to you.
- Analyze your present situation – Do not let panic and anxiety overpower your thinking. Your goal should be to have full control over the situation. Calm yourself down so you can think clearly and assess your present situation. Clear your thoughts, relax, and breathe deeply. By calming yourself, you can start thinking of ways to further ensure your safety and survive in the woods in the next few hours and days.
- Create your shelter – You can create your own shelter out in the woods by bending over a sapling then tying it using vines or a rope. Make sure to secure the sapling before starting to collect other saplings, pine tree branches, and sticks that have leaves. You can use these in creating the roof of your shelter. The sapling should serve as the base. Look for large sticks that you can put along every side to build your shelter.
Collect twigs and branches of various sizes. Also, your established shelter should have proper insulation. In this case, you may use a dry tinder. In case you get lost in the woods during a snowy and freezing condition then you can create your shelter from snow or by digging a hole in the deep snow. The good thing about snow is that it acts as an incredible natural insulator.
- Go downhill – This is a wise tip in case you get lost in hilly terrains. A lot of those who get lost in the woods make the mistake of settling in valleys, especially close to the water. It would be better to head down from the mountains unless there are signs that people are close by. Going downhill is also helpful in covering more terrains and conserving energy.
In case you pass over a river or stream, make sure to go in the direction where the water flows. If the water flows downhill and you follow it then it might direct you to a populated lake or town. This will also give you a ready source of drinking water. For slow-moving streams, consider dropping leaves into the water. This helps in determining where the current goes.
- Look for food – Of course, you need foods to survive for up to 96 hours and probably more. You can actually catch and kill insects for food. What is good about insects is that they are rich in fats and protein that will give you energy and help you survive. Check beneath rotting logs as these are the usual places where beetles, grubs, termites, ants, and other edible insects live.
However, take note that while it is safe for you to eat most insects while raw, you should still stay away from flies, ticks, and spiders. You can also eat edible berries and mushrooms. Do not eat white berries as these are usually toxic.
- Start a fire – Clear a 3-feet or more space where you can conveniently start a fire. Do not worry in case you do not have a lighter or match with you since there are ways to begin a fire. For one, you can strike two pieces of flint together. Do this until it sparks a fire. Another tip is rubbing a couple of sticks together to create a friction that will surely create a spark that you can use to finally have a fire.
- Do not hike between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon – This is important especially if you get lost in the woods during the extremely hot summer season. In case you’re on a trail within that period then make sure to look for a shady spot.
Stay there until the current temperature cools down. Also, you need to make adjustments on your hiking pace based on your comfort level. Do not forget to rest when exhaustion strikes. Note that you have to conserve your energy so you can survive for several days.
- Observe your surroundings – Spend time observing everything that surrounds you carefully. Examine everything that you hear and see. Make sure to observe for signs of people hiking, too. The results of your observation should serve as your guide in planning how you should survive your current situation.
You can create a plan out of your observation. Determine the most suitable course of action for your current situation. Check the contents of your bag and find out if there are things that you can use for a few days while in the woods. If you have a compass then make sure that you know exactly how to read it.
Check the things you currently have, such as food, water, sleeping bag, and tent, as this will let you know what you lack, thereby preventing you from wasting time finding something in the woods that you already have with you.
- Signal for help – Show signs that you are in the woods so people can find you. This can come in the form of the smoke that the fire you started produces. This is the main reason why you should try producing as much smoke as possible. If you have a whistle, blow it every now and then. Make sure that your whistle is loud enough.
Also, you can use a mirror, if you have one, to send a signal to an aircraft that is around to rescue you. Another tip is to set up a reflective emergency blanket in an easy to find spot. Your goal here is to catch attention so you will be rescued in no time.
- Know your exact location – Yes, you are lost but that does not mean that you can no longer track your location. What you should do is to determine any landmark, which can tell exactly where you are. Some of these are unique visuals, like trees and mountains and distinctive sounds, like running water and the traffic. By observing and determining your location, you can raise your chances of finding the right way.
Getting lost in the wood does not have to be too terrifying as there are some tips that you can do on your own to survive the situation for 96 hours and even more. The best tip, however, is to make sure that you are fully prepared before your next adventure in the woods. Study your location beforehand and ensure that you have everything that you need in case you get lost.
Investing in the best survival knife and bringing it with you can even help you in that situation. It is a versatile survival gear as you can use it for several purposes, like for hunting and preparing food and building your shelter.