Friday, September 16, 2011


A lot of folks get themselves stranded in places they never intended to stay. And I'm not talking about a seedy motel on the outskirts of Ozarkville. I'm talking about getting hopelessly stuck in the mud or snow, or suffering a breakdown of the sort that means your ride is over.

When that happens, you have two choices — stay put, or take a hike in search of help. If you've read Getting Out Alive for any time at all, you probably already know that I favor the "stay put" method for several reasons.
  • It's easier for searchers to spot your vehicle than it is for them to spot a person hiking across the countryside. 
  • All your gear is right there in the vehicle.
  • You can use the vehicle either as a stand-alone shelter, or you can part it out and use the pieces to improvise what you need.
  • It's safer to sit in one place than to risk injury or getting lost by wandering off.
  • You conserve energy by staying put, which means you need less water and food to stay alive.
  • You can develop audible and visual signals that will lead rescuers to your camp.
With all that said, I clearly understand the urge to immediately start a self-rescue effort by leaving the cursed vehicle and hiking out for help. In fact, I've been in that very situation myself. Now that I've made that confession, let's talk about what you need to make sure of before you decide to leave your vehicle and go it on your own.
  • You must absolutely know where you are going. It does no good to wander around hoping you'll stumble onto some kind of help.
  • You must know what obstacles lie between where you are now and where you want to go, and know for certain that you can safely overcome those obstacles. This is best accomplished by backtracking the same road or trail you used to get where you are. 
  • If you decide to go, leave a note with the vehicle spelling out who you are, where you are headed, how you're dressed and equipped, your physical condition, and your personal contact information for family/friends.
  • Carry with you a survival kit that includes fire-making equipment, a shelter, signal whistle and mirror, high-calorie food, and a water filter. 
  • Start out fresh in the morning, well fed and hydrated.
  • Pace yourself so you don't sweat or become exhausted.
  • Make camp early in the afternoon while there's still sunlight so you can erect a shelter, gather firewood and get a fire going. 
  • Take particular care of your feet and your footwear. 
  • Stay dry.
  • Don't take foolish chances. If you get injured, you are probably toast.
  • Say your prayers and hope for the best.

1 comment:

  1. Being as in this area I'm seldom more than ten miles away where I can get to help I don't worry about it much.

    My biggest concern during my camping in the winter is a storm and a tree falling on me, I'm pretty careful about where I place my campsite in the winter.

    Those damn maple trees are unpredictable.