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Article 3 (July 2019): Getting lost in the woods and making it back out
July 30, 2019According to a recent study, the folks who embark upon extreme backpacking adventures and exploration are not the ones who are most vulnerable to disaster.
Instead, it's the day hikers among us. These are the people who tend to head out without much backup food or gear and, when they get lost, can very quickly run into trouble.
The study, called "Safe and Found" and conducted by smokymountain.com, analyzed more than 100 news articles about lost hikers to extrapolate the ways people had gotten lost, what they did to survive, and how they made it out.
The most common reason people got lost was that they simply wandered off a trail (41 percent), followed by bad weather, falling off the trail, getting separated from a group, injury, and a handful of other reasons.
Survival often hinges on the ability to find a combination of warmth, shelter, food, and water -- and preparation is the key to each of them. Survival tips include packing a core group of essentials, bringing a map that you've studied ahead of time, carrying high-quality clothing, checking the forecast, and practicing your fire-making skills, among others.
If you do become unsure of your location, you can start breaking off branches in the direction you're headed, and skin a 6-inch cut on a sapling with your knife, as the inner branch shows white and is easy to follow.
And in a worst-case scenario, drink the water you find. Statistically, you'll be rescued within 24 hours, which makes death by dehydration more of a risk than infection.
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