Being lost can be very frightening. Bad weather, early darkness or an unexpected injury can turn an easy hike into an extended crisis. But take heart, most survival situations usually last 72 hours or less. If you are prepared and remain calm – you’re probably not in any serious danger.

Planning & Preparation

Leave a message with a responsible person explaining your destination, your route, who is with you, and your return time. Never hike alone. Sign in at trailhead registers. Stay on your planned route and stick to a turnaround time. In case you don’t return as planned, there are some essential items you should have with you on every adventure plus some things you should always know.


Consider bringing and doing the following:

  • A wilderness survival kit,
  • A wilderness first aid kit,
  • Extra clothing,
  • Proper equipment and supplies,
  • Learn how to use a compass and a map,
  • Review a map and guidebooks in order to familiarize yourself with the area,
  • You should also be physically prepared – stay in shape.

If You Get Lost

An important first step is to admit you are lost. Consider the following:

  • Try to return to a familiar location,
  • Get to high ground – the further you can see, the more likely you’ll see something familiar,
  • If still lost – stay put,
  • You will not be reported missing for hours – prepare to stay out overnight in a survival situation,
  • Treat any injuries,
  • Use signalling devices: whistle, mirror signals, lighting a smoky tire, and stay visible,
  • Build or seek shelter,
  • Protect yourself from hypothermia by staying warm and dry,
  • Make yourself visible for air searchers in helicopters or planes – create ground-to-air code signals,
  • Eat foods to keep your energy, and drink plenty of water.


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