f you spend a lot of time in the woods you should know how it feels when something goes wrong, even if it was something minor. Sudden bad weather. A bad fall. Encountering a dangerous animal. Dehydration or a medical illness or injury. These are just some examples of things that can go wrong emergencies.
Unfortunately, these problems is that they are all largely unpredictable. You could fall at any time. In some wilderness areas, bad weather can happen pretty suddenly. Animals can cross your path no matter where you are. And where the human body is concerned, anything illness can strike at any time.
These statements are in place to get you to think, not to scare you. Rather than allow these thoughts to fill your life with fear and cause you to avoid the wilderness all together, why not use it as an opportunity to prepare for the worse? That way, you can have peace of mind.
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Make Sure You Have Your Phone
Having a fully charged phone on hand is absolutely essential. Sure, some remote places don’t even have a cell signal but that shouldn’t stop you. Modern phones have other features that can be helpful if you get lost or have an emergency. For example, some phones have a compass and nearly all Smartphones have a GPS.
It is especially crucial that the phone be fully charged in the winter because the cold weather drains battery life faster. In fact, the phone should be turned off unless you actually need just to make sure there’s enough juice in case of an emergency.
Here’s something that not a lot of people realize: Even if your phone has no service, 9-1-1 should still work. This is even the case if your phone doesn’t even have a carrier. This is something that the FCC regulates. So, don’t let the fact that you don’t appear to have a signal deter you from making an emergency call.
Water Purification Tablets
The human body can live without food but not without water. What happens if you run out of water and you happen to be lost or stranded in the woods? Unless you have the energy and the supplies to boil your own water, you will be out of luck unless you are carrying water purification tablets with you.
There are several brands out there but the concept is the same – these lightweight tablets are designed to make water that may otherwise be unsafe suitable for drinking in an emergency. It is unwise to drink water that hasn’t been treated because that can cause severe illness. They are your best defense. Your best bet is to pack a whole bottle – most have around fifty tablets.
Wilderness First Aid Kit
One of the most common outdoor emergencies you could experience are injuries. What happens if you are in the woods and you suddenly overturn your ankle break a bone? Do you have a way to clean any wounds you may sustain on the trail? How about treatments for insect bites and stings? These injuries are much more common than you think.
This is why it is important to at least carry with you a basic first aid kit. You can buy the kits already made or assemble the items yourself. At the least it should have an array of bandages, something for pain, alcohol, and antibacterial ointment to dress any wounds.
Let Someone Know Where You Are
How many times have you read about people getting lost in the woods? In some of the cases, the individuals failed to even tell anyone where they were going. It is surprisingly easy to get lost in the woods. Unforeseen situations such as poor visibility, bad weather, and trail erosion can affect your ability to successfully follow the trail.
What if you don’t have a GPS? What if you had planned on only being in the woods for an hour? When it comes to the outdoors anything can happen. Tell someone where you are going, when you are going, and when you plan to be back. If you don’t call them when you are finished, instruct them to contact the authorities or get help. This could, quite literally, save your life.
Always Bring Extra Food
Yes, you may only think you’ll be in the woods for a few hours. But, what if that isn’t the case? You will need food to help you feel great and sustain your energy levels while you weather any difficulties. You should always bring more food than you think you need – even if it is just a few extra fitness bars.
Pack things that are calorie dense and are fairly easy to carry. These include fitness bars, trail mix, granola, and other items. If you end up lost in the woods you will have extra food to give you the energy you need to help you find safety.
You should carry at least two emergency blankets, called “space blankets” in your pack when you go into the woods. These are make of a special material called Mylar and are extremely lightweight. They are also highly versatile because they can keep you both cool and warm depending on which side you use.
So, what can you do with it besides use it to keep warm or cool? If you are stranded, it can be fashioned into a makeshift shelter because the material is also fairly waterproof. You can also turn it into a poncho to help keep out the wind and rain.
Pack Extra Layers
Even if it is a warm day when you are out in the woods, once the sun sets it can get cool. Pack at least one extra layer so that you can better manage your body temperature. Another great thing to pack is a hard shell layer or windbreaker or even a poncho in case it starts raining. You can also turn these clothes into a shelter in an emergency.
Use your judgement when packing extra clothes. You don’t want to make your backpack so heave that you struggle while on the trail. However, you do want to be prepare for whatever weather you have the potential to face while in the woods.
Wilderness Survival Manual
There are several really good survival manuals out there. For example, How to Stay Alive in the Woods by Daluth Angier is one of the classics. It’s a small paperback volume and will fit easily into your backpack. This book contains vital information such as how to build a shelter, forage for food,
You don’t need to buy that particular one. If you have a favorite, feel free to include that one. Or, you can photocopy essential pages from your favorite survival resource and tuck them in a small pocket or pouch.
Be Ready for Anything
When in the woods, anything can happen, even if you think it is going to be a simple outing. Bad weather can happen at any moment. Getting lose is also a possibility. Outdoor injuries are always a concern, as well.
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Are you prepare for anything that can happen? By carrying with you a few simple items, it can save your life.