If You Get Lost

Where are we? Which way do we go?

Before heading into the woods: 

1. Have a map of the area and a compass. Know how to use them.

2. Let someone know your plans: where you intend to hike and when you expect to return. In the event of a problem, then searchers know where to begin to look for you.

3. No matter how long you plan to be out, carry water, snacks, and clothing to protect you (and your children)  from getting wet and keep yourself (and your children) warm.

4. If you get lost, and are following a clearly marked trail but don't see the landmarks that are set forth in the hike description, you probably made a wrong turn and should retrace your steps until you can figure out where you are. If you can't find a trail at all, the general rule of thumb is: stay where you are.

New Jersey Search and Rescue is the premier outdoor search and rescue team in our region (and is a Trail Conference organizational member), serving both New Jersey and New York. They recommend the following:

9 Rules for Survival When Lost in the Woods  

1. Stay Together If You are With Another Person or a Pet
2. Stay in One Place
3. Keep Warm
4. Find a Cozy Waiting Place, Not a Hiding Place
5. Put Out Something Bright
6. Look Bigger for Searchers
7. Make a Nest to Lie Down
8. Eat Only What You Brought with You
9. Stay Away from Large Rivers and Lakes

Survival Kit

1. Large Garbage Bag, contractor thickness (can keep you dry and warm)
2. Whistle
3. Signal Flag
4. Reflector
5. Snack
6. Container

Get more information and learn about NJ Search and Rescue's education programs at their website: www.njsar.org.

Links to articles about being lost in the woods

Lost & Found: How a Three-Year-Old Survived 52 Hours in the Woods (and How You Can Too)