June 2021 - 30
What to do
Lost is a state of mind. Your spatial orientation
- your cognitive map - disintegrates,
spurring a predictable emotional response.
Fear takes over, erasing one's ability to reason.
Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux calls it a " hostile
takeover of consciousness by emotion. "
Ninety percent of people make things a lot
worse for themselves when they realize they
are lost - by running, for instance. In essence
it's a panic attack. Even experienced outdoor
adventurers are not immune; it's a human
response to becoming disoriented.
The U.S. Forest Service bulletin titled, " If
You Get Lost, " offers these steps focusing on
what to do if you get lost. The word STOP
outlines what to do.
Stop - As soon as you realize you may be
Using a handheld GPS device can help people get oriented when lost. Some devices also provide a way to communicate
with others and send location data.
Before you go
Essential to surviving is pre-trip preparation. Know where you're
going and tell someone exactly where you will be. It's critical for
searchers to know where to start looking instead of guessing where
you might be. Carry enough food and water for spending the night.
Carry a map and compass and know how to use them. Extra clothes
- especially wet-weather gear - is a must. The No. 1 cause of death
for people getting lost is hypothermia. If you have a handheld GPS,
carry extra batteries. Extra batteries are needed for headlamps and
flashlights. Carry matches, a butane lighter, candles and fire starters.
A cold night is tolerable wrapped in a lightweight survival blanket,
which repels rain and helps you retain body heat.
30 | June 2021
lost: stop, stay calm, stay put. Panic is your
Think - Go over in your mind how you
got to where you are. What landmarks should
you be able to see? Do not move until you
have a specific reason to take a step.
Observe - Get out your compass and
determine the directions based on where you
are standing. Do not walk aimlessly. If you
are on a trail, stay on it. All trails are marked
with signs (where intersections meet) and
diamond blazers or makers. However, signs
are sometimes vandalized or stolen. As a last
resort, follow a drainage or stream downhill.
This is often a difficult path but could lead to
a trail or road. This could be very dangerous.
Plan - Based on your thinking and observations,
come up with some possible plans,
think them through then act on one of them.
If you are not confident in the route, then
it's always better to stay put. If it's nightfall,
you are injured or you are near exhaustion,
stay in place.
Modern technology has created a way
to ensure some sense of safety in the outdoors.
Two companies, Garmin and Spot,
have developed handheld devices offering a
variety of options to keep you safe. Before an
Alaskan moose hunt three years ago, I bought
a Garmin inReach
to offering all the featur® Explorer. In addition
es of a GPS such as
tracking, routes and marking waypoints, it
allows one to communicate with the world via
text messages. It has built-in short messages
that you can set up such as " Arrived in camp,
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