Do not panic. Take stock of supplies.  If you are lost – stay put.  Rescue crews will have a better chance of finding you if you stay in one spot. Deserts are very unforgiving – extremely hot during the day and very cold at night. Your biggest dangers are exposure and dehydration. You increase your odds of surviving by staying out of direct sunlight.

Signalling for Help

Move to a clear area and put on your brightest clothing. Using the international ground-to-air code – and form a large “X”  or “SOS” with rocks or any available material. Use a signal mirror. Burn wood, car seats, tires, leaves and anything that smokes when burned.

At night consider flares, flashlights and signal fires.



Walking more than a few kilometres without water is unrealistic. If you must travel – do so only at night, dusk or dawn. Mark your route with rocks or a trail of sticks dug deeply in the sand. Be aware hiking in dry riverbeds or slot canyons carries the risk of sudden flash floods. When walking on dunes – follow the peaks and the hollows – this is where the terrain is most solid.


A person requires 4 litres of water each day. To reduce water loss consider the following:

  • Keep the mouth closed,
  • Breath through the nose,
  • Avoid conversation,
  • Digestion consumes water – don’t eat,
  • You can survive weeks without food – only a day or two without water.


Consider the following:

  • Seal plastic bags around plants and place them in bright sunlight – water transpired from the plants condenses and can be collected,
  • Water may be found at the base of cliffs – dig deep,
  • Water may be found at the outside edge of sharp bends in a dry stream bed – dig deep,
  • Clusters of green vegetation may indicate the presence of water – dig deep,
  • Animal paths and flocks of birds may lead you to water,
  • Dirty water is better than no water.


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