The preceding pages describe how to survive being lost in the woods or the snow. The following is a list of common sense precautions that can save your life.
1) Be prepared. If you will be traveling in an area where you might encounter snow, make sure you have traction devices (snow tires, chains, 4-wheel drive, etc.) and you know how to use them. Practice putting on chains beforehand to make sure you have the right size and all the parts. Have extra blankets, water, food (the new cans of Progresso soups can supply a quick meal and then the can can be used to melt snow for drinking water), fire-starting materials (candles), clothing, flashlights, and batteries. If you are traveling with a cell phone make sure you have a car charger along. Even if you don’t seem to have a signal it may be able to provide searchers with your position.
2) Stay on the Road. Whether walking or driving you increase your chances of being found just by staying on the road system. If you find yourself lost in the woods walk downhill until you find a road and stay on it.
3) Be prepared. Little things can make a huge difference. Have a backpack that includes fire-starting material, a mirror (for signaling), a whistle, a compass, a multi-bladed knife (preferably one that has a saw on it), some sting or twine, a water bottle, a couple of heavy garbage bags( they make a poncho and provide a dry area), a hand held radio would be nice ( if you have more than one of these leave one in your car set to the channel you will be on in case rescuers find your vehicle before they find you) extra socks and gloves (in a zip-lock baggie) and a small flashlight. Little LED flashlights are available that can be used to signal up to a mile.
4) Don’t Panic. That bear you might run into will be more afraid of you than you are of it. The situation is never as bad as you might think it is.
5) Don’t take anything for granted. The situation might be as bad as you think it is.
6) Conserve your strength. If you are on foot, walk in as straight a line as possible (this is where a compass or a GPS helps). Use any prominent visible features such as rocks, hills or mountains to help guide you.
7) Leave signs. Pile rocks; arrange branches as arrows pointing where you are headed. (Fluorescent flagging is a good thing to add to the backpack.)
8) And finally … Be prepared, use common sense and don’t travel in bad conditions lightly, plan your trip and if you find yourself on unfamiliar terrain turn back while you still can. Nature can be very beautiful but does not care if you live or die. That part’s up to you.