This happens even when you know the forest like the back of your hand. You lose your bearings, it’s dark, it’s cold and it’s scary. What do you need to know to avoid panic and survive? LCN Outdoors, survival instructors, outfitters, hunters, and travelers, spoke to our Travelers Club about it. A recording of the talk can be seen on our YouTube channel, where we have prepared an article based on the talk about what to look for in the woods, what to have in your survival kit, and what to do if you survive in the forest.
Three-quarters of those who go missing die within the first 48 hours. The most common cause of death is hypothermia. People go to dangerous places and do dangerous things without preparation, planning, or the necessary equipment. For example, a person goes into the forest to pick mushrooms and gets lost. Miracles don’t happen: if you go unprepared, things are likely to get very bad. So, if you are going further than Gorky Park, be prepared.
What to Bring to The Forest
This kit can be assembled once and then taken with you all the time. Everything is packed in a small bag that doesn’t take up much space in your backpack, but can really save lives.
A standard Swiss Army knife is best. A versatile item that comes in handy in a variety of situations.
A compass is a must! Things can go wrong with electronic devices: batteries die, GPS signals disappear. But if you have a compass and know how to use it, you will quickly find your way. If you don’t know how to use it, practice it before you go into the forest.
- Tools for lighting a fire
Matches, lighter, flamethrower, active kindling. Bring a flint lighter and be sure to use bright colors (red, orange) so it’s easy to find it in the grass. Even if you don’t smoke, take two at a time: one in your jacket and one in your pants. A lighter, while considered “scouting for fun,” will help if you get the matches and lighter wet. Fire is life, and if you can get it lit, there will be warmth, a signal, and light.
A piece of plexiglass (Plexiglas) can burn at any temperature and humidity, and can even be used as fuel for raw firewood.
- Rescue blanket
A rescue blanket or 2 52 gals (200 liters) of waste bags. These bags do not take up much space, but they are really versatile: you can use them for anything, such as malt or tents.
Using your cell phone as a flashlight will leave you with no means of communication and no light for an hour and a half. Bring a regular flashlight and, if possible, a spare set of batteries.
The rope is 16-26 feet (5-8 meters) long. In this world, everything can be fixed with a knife and rope.
Markers, pencils, and brightly colored office stickers for labels and notes.
Two Snickers bars or any chocolate bar. This is your emergency supply of calories.
- Dressing bags
Bandages in rolls or individual dressing bags. Around the forest: tree knots, branches. If you fall and get caught, you may need bandages. For example, you can wrap the tape around a flask and put it on the wound in case of emergency.
- Water bottle
A water bottle, plastic bottle, or thermos.
- A metal cup
This can be used to boil water and keep you warm. A thin-walled cup is best – it heats water faster
But a thermos is not suitable as an emergency kit – you can’t put it on the fire.
If you shout long enough, you’ll soon run out of energy. That’s when the whistle will come in handy.
- Reflective vest
If you go into the forest with your children, make sure they wear a vest with a signature.
The Psychology of The Lost
A person is dead, mostly because something in their head is dying.
Psychologists have a term for this called “woods shock”. This is the chaos that can envelop a person in the wilderness. In this state, a person loses the rationality of their thoughts. Recent discoveries in neurobiology suggest that “woods shock” is an emotional response to the discrepancy between the cognitive map (the map in one’s mind) and the real map-that is when your view of the area does not match what you see now.
A person does not admit that he is lost and insists on moving forward. He has not lost hope that sooner or later his cognitive map will match the real one.
- Anger, Realization, Panic
This person realizes they have lost their way. He no longer assesses the situation calmly; his actions lose their sense of purpose and become confused, unhelpful, and even dangerous.
- Planning, delusions of grandeur
Emotional depression is often due to physical exhaustion or injury. The person thinks he can remember the right path. But this is usually an illusion.
- Frustration and fading
When the right path is not found, the ability to think and feel fades away.
- Salvation or extinction
The power is running out, and man resigns himself to his fate. If salvation does not come from outside, he will perish.
What to Do to Not Die
From the moment you realize you are lost, you need to act clearly and without panic.
- Stop driving. As soon as you realize you’re lost, immediately.
- Take a break. Change your clothes, change your socks.
- Calm down.
- Make up your mind on the time. Look at the clock.
- Look around in space. Look around and assess where you are and what’s around you.
- Analyze the situation. Think about how you got lost, where it might have happened, and what happened before.
Then follow the following rules.
Find out if there is a signal
Hear a sound
Locate yourself in space
Do not try to move fast
Stop in time
Find a comfortable place to sleep
Build a fire
Build a temporary shelter
Make sure the fire burns all night
Leave markers and notes in the area where you spent the night
Find out if there is a signal
If there is a connection, put in writing where you are, what your problem is, and what you will do. Send it to the person you think is most appropriate and able to help. Don’t make idle phone calls or you will run out of battery.
Example text message: I’m lost. I’m in Yellowstone Park, California. My car is at the cabin hotel. I will spend the night in the forest. Everything is fine. I will be on the north side of the highway. Check-in tomorrow at 7 pm. Send me a text message. Save my batteries.
The person who gets your text should call the rescue team. You will then be handed over to the coordinator. From then on, you will only communicate with him, not with the police or anyone else.
If you are contacted by a rescue helicopter commander, only talk to him. Answer questions clearly and keeps your answers short and to the point.
Examples of conversations with rescuers.
- How are you feeling?
- Good, but my left leg hurts.
- Do you have any water?
- Have most of the thermos.
- Sounds to help you navigate in space.
- train noise – up to 6.2 miles (10 km).
- road noise – up to 1.86 miles (3 km)
- shooting – up to 1.86 miles (3 km) long
- people’s voices – up to 0.62 miles (1 km).
If you hear a mechanical sound, there is someone nearby. In this case, take a stick, turn in the direction of the sound, crouch down, and put the stick on the ground. This is the sound azimuth. Otherwise, you will simply forget where the sound is coming from. After that, start moving in the direction of the noise.
Locate yourself in space
If you don’t hear anything other than the rustle of leaves, try to orient yourself. Orienting is an essential skill for travelers. But it is only useful if you can visualize what is north, south, west, or east.
Take a compass
Suppose you have a compass and somehow determine your direction and decide to go north, but don’t take into account that there is a forest as long as the Amazon to the north. There is a forester’s cabin 3 miles (5 km) away to the west and a town 6.2 miles (10 km) away to the east. So, before you go anywhere, use your navigation device to see what awaits you (if possible, of course).
If you don’t have a compass, you will have to use whatever is available to navigate.
- Press the obvious sunset and sunrise (west, east). This is best done in good weather in the evening and bad weather in the morning, because the sky is in contrast. But it is difficult to do this in the forest; you have to go outdoors.
- By the hour and sun (north, south). The parallels of the angle between the hour hand and the true noon mark will point south. For Moscow and the suburbs, true noon is at 12:00. You should point the hour hand to the sun and place a stick or a blade of grass. You will get a direction. It is approximate, but nevertheless. Once you have determined the direction, take a stick and draw yourself a compass directly on the ground – without it, you will find it difficult to remember the direction.
- Determine the direction by the clock and the sun – the bisector of the angle between the hour hand and the 12th will indicate a north-south line. The most accurate results can be obtained in winter, with a difference of about 25 degrees in summer.
- By block position. Once upon a time, the general forest was divided into blocks at intervals of 0.62 miles (1 km). They were clearly cut from north to south and from west to east. A quarter of the poles stood in the corners – the angle between the small figures pointed north. Few poles remain, but if you see one in an open space, it will give you a reference point.
- By the stars. This is the hardest part and is a skill you must train. Go out into the countryside in the evening, find Cassiopeia, the bear, and keep track of it. Without training, you will not be able to orient yourself.
- By using a special application on your smartphone. You should install apps with compasses, navigators, and maps in advance. Be sure to check how they work and how to work with them. Do this in a safe place outside the city. Don’t go into the forest until you are sure of them.
Don’t try to move fast
- Forest movement speed.
- Trained person without load – 2-4 km / h;
- a Trained person with load – 2 km / h.
- untrained person without load – up to 1.5 km / h.
- an untrained person with load – up to 1 km / h.
There is no way to go any faster. Even if you try, you run the risk of losing your concentration, which is 100 percent of the damage. You will either hurt your eyes because of the branches or your legs because of knots and snags.
Stop exercising in time
If it gets past 3 p.m. in the fall or winter and 6 p.m. in the spring or summer, you should stop driving altogether, as long as you don’t know where you need to go. In the fall and winter, dusk begins at 4 p.m. In the spring and summer, dusk begins at 5 p.m. – you will no longer be able to see the road. In addition, you should have some light left to prepare your campsite.
Find a comfortable place to sleep
In order to save yourself, you have to create a new cognitive map. This is called the Robinson Crusoe principle – in order to survive, you have to find yourself, and after that, it doesn’t matter where you are. You’re already trapped, get over it. The next thing to do is to make yourself comfortable in your new environment.
The accommodation must be.
- dry – so that nothing is squashed under your feet.
- as sheltered from the wind as possible
- have enough wood to make a fire.
If you get lost in a bad place, but you see a good place in the distance (for example, the edge of a virgin forest poking out of a swamp), go there. But from where you’re lost, be sure to start marking where you’re going. That’s where the marker or pencil comes in.
A tag is a marker for whatever you stay. It should be uniform in all the places you leave. This makes it easier for search and rescue teams to know that they were left by the same person. Tags left on trees along the trail should face the opposite direction of travel. This is also necessary for search teams. Markers on the ground should indicate the direction of your movement.
Build a fire
- Basic rules for building a fire.
- firewood must be dry.
- there should be a lot of firewood.
- a lot.
So, you have a whole night to spend in the forest. Given that all you have with you is a penknife, how do you make a fire that will last the entire time?
A stick as thick as your hand can burn for 15-20 minutes, but a log the diameter of a large pizza can burn all night. That’s exactly what we need. If you’re in an indigenous forest, you’re bound to find wood like this. It’s best not to leave it completely on the ground, or it will get wet and won’t catch fire.
Build a fire in two places next to the logs (about a few feet apart). This will provide a large area with a lot of fire, heat, and lighting at once. While these fires are burning, in a few hours the logs will burn out in two places and you will have not one, but three logs. And all this without the use of an axe or saw. Then you just pile all the logs into a pile and light it. Such a fire will burn for six hours – and you will be with the fire before dawn.
Find the trunk of a fallen tree in some forest. It burns hot, bright, and long. The main rule is that the trunk must not touch the ground; only then will it be dry and not decay.
If everything around is wet
The most important thing to do in a wet forest is to get the fire going, then you can throw anything into it, even wet things. Get a dry branch and use a knife to chop some wood chips off of it until you split the entire branch. When you’re done pre-melting, collect the sticks. Even in the rain, the knots under the spruce tree are still dry – collect them.
At first, you can start a fire completely under the Christmas tree so it doesn’t rain, then gently move the branches to another spot.
Build temporary shelters
Shelter materials and special equipment.
- Emergency awning (such as a grapple space blanket) – can be used as a futon, tablecloth – whatever you like. It can easily be put up with ropes and sticks.
- a life-saving blanket – make an awning from a tree branch that has an angle so that it covers you when you crawl under it. Then the “silver skin” will also serve to prevent precipitation.
- It is easier to make a shed next to the wood than to drag it to the shed.
- Fallen trees and evergreens. These can be used to build a hut.
- 52 gals (200 liters) of garbage bags. If you cut up a bag like this, you will get a canopy that can be used as a thermal insulator. If you have time leftover, cover the other side with a flip-collar bag.
- Garbage bags and leaves. These can be used to make insulated mattress pads, which are indispensable in the fall.
Make sure the fire burns all night
After midnight, sleep comes. Until then, you’re relying on adrenaline: walking around, collecting firewood, trying to figure out what to do, building a fire, building shelter – you’ve been doing something. Then, as the fire burns and the shelter is built, you begin to drift off to sleep. You realize that your strength has disappeared somewhere. Then you must use your last strength to gather a thick pile of firewood, throw it into both fires, and try to fall asleep.
Usually, you sleep for 2-3 hours in this situation. Then you wake up, plant some firewood, and go back to sleep. A total of 4 to 6 hours of sleep overnight will be enough to get you back in shape.
Leave marks and notes on the places where you spent the night
In the morning, leave a note in the place where you slept with your name, the date, and the time when the action started and ended. You can write on the birch bark or the trunk of a deciduous tree – as long as the bark is removed beforehand.
Example of a note: Peter. overnight on January 9, 2022. Went north at 6:30 am.
Make a mark on the ground from the branch to show the direction you are going. This will help the rescue team find you. If you are not sure where to go, are tired or injured, sit still and wait for the rescue team to arrive!
Tip: Be sure to sign each of your belongings – a lost mug or something else will help rescuers find you.
Search and rescue teams first check for linear objects: roads, power lines, cuts, river banks. If you reach one of these, don’t cross it, be sure to leave a mark, write a note, send a text message, call rescuers or stop driving (set up an overnight camp and wait for a search party).
What You Should Eat And Drink
If you only have two Snickers bars and a sandwich, and you don’t know what to do next, the basic rules are as follows
- Eat only what you know. That is, what you have eaten before and what has not happened since. You should be sure that the plant or berry in front of you is something you are familiar with.
- Don’t try to experiment. Dying from dysentery or poisoning is not a good option. If you run out of food, it is best to let yourself starve for water.
- If possible, bring the water to a boil. It can be taken from anywhere. There is usually an estrus area in the woods where rainwater tends to stay, and it is usually clean. If you want to pour water into a kettle, don’t pour it all the way in, or suspended matter will rise and the water will become dirty. Use a cup to carefully fetch water, pour it into a flask or bottle, then boil it in the cup and drink it.
It is best to pour the water into the bottle with a cup so as not to dirty the bottom. You can boil it in a cup – the thinner the walls of the cup, the faster the water will boil.
Behavior When Meeting With Wild Animals
The likelihood of someone attacking you in the Midlands is almost nil. The only danger is a rabid fox or a rabid raccoon. The fox is in principle very curious, but if you see it (or a raccoon) yelling and dripping saliva, it is definitely a sick animal. The only solution is to kill it. Because if it bites you, you will die. No other animal will come. A wild boar, a bear, a wolf, no. A moose might come in, but if you make a sound and walk around, it won’t come in either.
It’s possible to encounter wild dogs – there are no statistics on such encounters, but from experience, they come in packs that are intimidating. They have the ability to surround and attack from different directions. Stand with your back to a tree (this will limit access to you from behind), pick up a stick, pick out the greyest dog and start hitting it. As soon as you knock down the leader, the pack will disperse. Ultrasonic scarecrows won’t help, and neither will a little pepper spray. The only thing that will work is to bear spray, but the chances of you taking it into the forest with you are slim – so it’s just a stick.
How To Identify Yourself In Order To Be Spotted From The Air
In the European region, there is a search and rescue unit called “Angels” – these people travel in their own helicopters. If you hear the sound of a helicopter, please pay attention.
- smoking ;
- smartphone screens.
- SOS signal – you can step on the inscription on the field.
The same ‘silversmith’ on the other side is a redhead. Go to the place where the trees are not so high and put them in the bushes to mark your position.
Signals of the disaster from high places: organized by fire and awning
Finally: the rule of three
Remember that a person can live.
3 minutes without air
3 days without water
3 weeks without food
3 months without hope
3 Signs in a row
Three signs in a row is an international danger signal. It’s not an SOS that everyone knows but no one can read. it’s just a series of three signals – plain and simple.