Sunday, July 10, 2011


When you go out to enjoy outdoor activities, are you safe?  What about your family members, are they safe?  Are you and your family members prepared to survive a night or two outdoors when you least expect it?

Every year people find themselves in life threatening situations.  Some of these situations have happy endings, some end in tragedy and some have no closure.

This is my first blog and it is my hope to present some very basic points for everyone to consider toward being safer in your outdoor experiences.  I will also point out some references that I recommend for further reading.  It is not my intention to change anybody to a wilderness survival expert but to help make the reader aware of some basics that can save your life or the life of a loved one.  For those of you who feel extremely confident with your outdoor survival skills – the basics are still good points to remember and practice.  

RULE 1:  KNOW BEFORE YOU GO -  Get as much details about the area you plan to visit before you leave home.  IE: terrain, climate, animals, plants, maps, seasonal details, current weather conditions, possible risks, recommended equipment for your activity.  It is always a good idea to contact local authorities such as park rangers or foresters to advise them of your plans and get any feedback or pointers they would offer.

RULE 2:  LET SOMEBODY ELSE KNOW – Before you go on your outing make sure that someone dependable knows where you are going, when you will be back, who you are going with, how you are getting there(your car or a friends car), trails that you plan to hike, food and supplies that you plan to take (enough for two people for 1 week or whatever).  Make sure that they know which authorities to call if you have not returned safely by a specified time (so search and rescue efforts can be started as early as possible).

RULE 3:  ALWAYS KEEP A SURVIVAL KIT ON YOU – That does not mean to keep the kit in your tent or car when you go hiking but actually keep it with you personally.  The kit may fit in a pocket or it may be in your back pack but take it with you.  Maybe even consider two kits (one in a back pack and another that fits in your pant pocket if for some reason your back pack is lost or destroyed).  There are all kinds of possibilities for survival kits.  You can buy kits or make your own.  Personally, I prefer to make my own so I become quite familiar with the contents and the quality of the kit.  Check out wilderness survival kits online or check out some books at your local library or book store. 

Rule 4:  NEVER, NEVER GO OUT ALONE!  I realize that there are those individuals who do not want to hear this.  They are saying to themselves stuff like –“ I can handle myself or anything that can possibly happen”.  “ I enjoy the solitude of being one with nature.”  There are lots of excuses that people give for going out alone but these excuses are nothing more than excuses and too much pride and overconfidence.  It does not matter how skilled you are (or think you are) – when it comes down to you vs nature – nature will have the advantage.  An excellent website for illustrating this point is

As part of this rule, families should keep in mind that when you are hiking together with children, even though you are in a group, DO NOT LET CHILDREN HIKE ALONE even if you are close by.   If you are on a group hike but the younger kids who have more energy are about 5-10 minutes further up the trail ahead of you – they are alone!  I recommend keeping children within an easy grasp.  There are too many dangerous scenarios when young kids are separated on the trail.  IE: hungry cougar can be gone with a kid in a flash and without leaving a sign, a curious kid may lean over a cliff to get a better look, or may be curious about a plant or animal and step closer for a better look.

RECOMMENDED READING: for those who want to learn more about wilderness survival - 
                            *OUTDOOR SURVIVAL SKILLS by Larry Dean Olsen.
                                                  *SURVIVE! by Les Stroud.  

Both of these books give great information.  There are several people who have written books or who have made videos about wilderness survival and they all have good things to offer.  It is not my intention to get in a discussion of why one author is better than another.  I have several reasons why I recommend these books for individuals who want to learn more about wilderness survival.  

My next blog will have more details about Rules 1 and 2.  Happy adventures and keep safe.