What to Do If You Get Lost in the Wilderness

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what to do if you get lost in the woods

No one expects to get lost in the woods, but it sometimes happens. Here are some tips that will help you survive and help search teams find you quickly.

  • Stop, look and listen. Do you see a familiar landmark? Do you hear traffic noises? If not, stay in one place and do not wander. If you are lost, park rangers will notice your vehicle in the parking lot. Or, if you leave a trip plan with friends or relatives, they will call the park when you don’t arrive home on time.
  • Stick together. If you are hiking with a friend or a pet, never split up. Stay together.
  • Keep warm and dry. Your clothes will help you stay warm, so don’t take them off. In cool weather, zip up or button your jacket and put on a hat and mittens, if you have them. To keep dry, find a waiting place that is out of the wind and rain. But, be careful to choose a place where searchers can see you.
  • Attract attention. Put out something bright or make something that will draw attention to where you are. Hang white paper or tie a hair ribbon on a tree limb. Put a shiny coin in a place where a rescuer might see it. Spell ‘Help’ or ‘SOS’ on the ground using rocks and sticks, or create a large arrow on the ground pointing to where you are. Make anything that will attract attention.
  • Help rescuers find you. If you hear someone or something coming, make a noise. If the noise is an animal, it will run away. If the noise is someone looking for you, the person will come to you.
  • Be careful of what you put in your mouth. Do not eat anything you are unsure of. Wild berries, fruit and mushrooms may make you sick.

Source: Wake County Public Safety and the Wake County Emergency Management Division

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