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What do you do if you get lost in the wild?

In the wild, people sometimes lose their lives because they get lost: they find themselves unable to trace their way back, and gradually become dehydrated or hypothermic. As critical functions are impaired, they become increasingly unable to use intellectual thought, a vicious cycle that can end in death.
Getting lost and dying in the wild is usually caused by a simple mistake: they don’t stop when they realize they’re lost.
The human instinct is to keep going, we don’t like to go backwards, we don’t like to retrace our steps. If we plan to get from POINT A to point B, returning to point A makes us feel like A failure, so we’d rather risk ending up at point C and constantly brainwash ourselves that we’re on the right track.
However, we must not deceive ourselves.
When you first realize you’re lost, it can be scary, and you’ll suddenly feel confused and flustered. But panicking reduces your chances of survival. Try to keep a clear head, which will help you make rational decisions.
A good way to combat panic can be summarized as S.T.O.P., Stop, Think, Observe, Plan. Remember these:
Stop: Don’t blindly move forward, you will become more lost, which will make a bad situation worse.
Think: Your brain is the best survival tool, so control it and use it to think rationally.
Observe: If you have a map, get a sense of direction by looking for big, obvious features that you can’t mistake for anything else. It could be a tall antenna, or a wide expanse of water. But don’t fool yourself into thinking this is the one you’re looking for when there are plenty of streams nearby.
Plan: Having a structured strategy that forces you to think clearly and carefully will help keep you motivated. There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing what to do or where to go.
Retracing your steps is one of the most important things you can do when you’re lost. Stop wandering blindly into the unknown, your chances of staying on the right track are slim. If you can follow your path back to your last confirmed location, you’re done. You can use landmarks you recognize to retrace an existing path or one you’ve already traveled.
Even if you trace back the way you came, you’re still lost. What do you do? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Save energy. Not burning out is key. After you get lost, you may not be able to find the right way for a long time. You need all the energy your body can muster.
2. Watch the clock. It’s not a good idea to find your way in the dark. If you feel compelled to spend the night outside, make sure you have enough time during the day to find shelter or build one yourself.
3. If you have a backpack, always carry it. Don’t put it down and go find your way. Remember: Never part with your equipment.
4. Head for water. Civilized life exists by the river. If you find a source of water, follow it downstream.
5. Mark the path. It can help you retrace your path quickly and easily if needed. Make sure the tags are unique so you can find them again.
6. Look back. So you can tell if you’ve gone off the rails.
7. Stand on high. If you can climb a tree or a mountain, you’ll get a better idea of the terrain of your area than if you’re on flat ground. But don’t go too far to do this without knowing if you can come back the way you came.
8. Follow the wire. Even if the wire goes through the vast expanse of no man’s land, it must eventually reach somewhere where people live.
9. Light a smoky fire. If someone is looking for you, the fire alarm will point them in your direction.
10. Whistle. Shouting will soon cause you to lose your voice. The sharp sound of a whistle travels farther than sound and consumes less energy.
11. Find your bearings. This may help you rediscover a village you passed through, or a safe place.

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