Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lost and Found

We're rapidly coming up on the time when folks start to venture out into the wilds. This is a great thing, but it always results in folks getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. Most of these folks are found unharmed, but sometimes the outcome is disastrous. A few simple things can ensure you stay on the unharmed side of disaster.

Study your route before you go
GPS is a wonderful creation, but it has  led to folks getting lazy. Spend a bit of time with an actual map if you're unfamiliar with the area. Call ahead and get local information if you can; an hour of homework can save you a cold night in the sticks. And make sure someone else knows your route, when you're leaving, and when you expect to arrive; that way they can send help when you don't show up. 

Trust your gut
If something feels a bit off, stop and assess the situation. Check your map against your GPS to see if you're being led astray; if you can't find answers that fully satisfy you, turn around and go back. Gambling on what's at the end of the road isn't worth your life.

If you do get stuck, stay with your vehicle
Even if you plan ahead and think about what you're doing, bad things sometimes do happen. The following tips allowed an older couple in Nevada to escape being stranded entirely unscathed:

Your vehicle has all your supplies in it, even things you might not suspect that you'll need if you set out in search of help. You can only carry so much, so leaving means deciding which gear you aren't willing or able to carry.

A car or truck is also much larger and easier to find than a human. As an example, when viewed from the top, I occupy about 2 square feet. My truck, however, occupies almost 116 square feet. Cars are large enough that Google Earth captures images of them on satellites every day, so something of that size is comparatively easy to find in an aerial search, especially when compared to a standing human.

The vehicle is also a resource in and of itself. It is a ready-to-go shelter from the elements, and even contains a very efficient heater. (Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear before you idle the engine, though, and only run it for short periods. This will extend your fuel dramatically, as well as lowering your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning). Opening the windows very slightly will allow fresh air in, which is also helpful.

Next week, we'll look at ways to improve your odds if you do have to strike out from your rig.


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