When hopelessly lost, do the following, UNLESS there are sound reasons to do otherwise:

  • DO NOT PANIC! Sit down, take several deep breaths, eat some food, drink some water and take it easy until you calm down. Remember, people lost in the wilderness are typically found within 72 hours. If you have to move, mark your direction of travel in an obvious fashion. It will make it easier for search and rescue teams to track you.

  • Stay in the location where you are rather than travel further into the unknown. It is a lot easier for search and rescue teams to find a stationary subject than a moving subject.

  • Send off emergency signals: THREE shots, and/or whistle blows. Pause, then repeat.

  • Make a fire IF conditions permit.

  • Stay warm and dry as possible.

  • Make and consume warm/hot liquids as circumstances allow. Even hot water is good.

  • If necessary, make a very simple shelter. Protection from high winds and cold rain are the main concerns. In New Mexico people can get hypothermia even in the hot summer. If there is sufficient snow cover on the ground, a simple hole scooped out and lined with vegetation, such as pine branches, will provide more warmth than exposed terrain. In cold climates snow is an excellent insulator. Consider using the base of a large tree or overhanging rock.

  • Try your cell phone. You might successfully make a 911 call even if you are not in your phone company’s service area. All cell phone providers are required to let a 911 call through on their system. Try calling from a high area if it is safe to do so. And even if your phone has no reception, it can still be useful. If you hear a helicopter at night it is probably out searching for you. The light from your screen could be used to attract their attention. Please conserve your batteries.

  • And one more time; DO NOT PANIC!

What To Do If Lost