One of the last things most people think about when going on an overnight hiking trip is what would happen and how would they survive if they were to become lost. There are several things a hiker can do to keep themselves safe and fairly comfortably if they ever become lost in the wilderness while hiking.
The first step is proper preparation. First when you are going on an overnight or extended hiking trip always make sure you have an emergency survival kit packed. Now most people say they will never need it or it takes up to much space or it weighs too much. The fact of the matter is that while you may never need it, it is better to have it than to not. No a proper survival kit does not take up a lot of space and can weigh only a couple of pounds. A well prepared survival kit would contain the following:
Several small boxes of weatherproof matches
1-2 small emergency candles
An eye drop bottle filled with 95% isopropyl alcohol (well marked)
5-6 large cotton balls
2 mylar emergency blankets
A small locking folding knife
1 emergency/self-defense whistle
2-3 days of dried foods (even if its Ramen)
An eye drop bottle of Regular and unscented chlorine bleach (well marked)
200-500 feet of brightly colored nylon cord
All of these items will fit into a 1 gallon plastic Ziploc baggy. And go just about anywhere in a hiking backpack. Now that you have assembled your emergency kit you must learn how to use these items so that you can survive if ever you are lost in the woods.
The first thing you should always do if ever you are lost in the woods is first and foremost DONT PANIC. Next you should try to see if you have just strayed off of your path by a few feet. DO NOT try to wander to far as this expends energy you may need later.
Now you must try to set up some type of shelter to help protect yourself from the elements. Do this by locating either a rock outcropping or a space protected by trees or such from the wind and most rain. Don’t worry about all of the rain, that’s what one of the emergency blankets is for. The smaller and more enclosed the better. (never choose to take shelter in a ravine or a low spot as this could cause injury or death do to flooding) If the space you have found has a large opening or such at its entrance use large branches and such to try and enclose the space as much a possible. Use your nylon cord to tie these together. (The bright color of the cord will help draw attention to your area when someone is looking for you.)
Then you must start to gather wood for a fire. Do this by trying to find woods that break with a sharp snap. If it snaps when you break it then it is good and dead wood. If you are in a damp or wet region you can usually find dead branches on the lower sections of most trees within arms reach. You should try to break up the wood to about the size of you forearm or a little smaller and stack these in piles according to thickness close to the entrance of your shelter. next build a ring of rocks and dirt that is slightly larger than your wood about 3-4 feet away and downwind from your shelter.
This should keep you alive and safe until help can arrive, and remember, always take a friend if you take a trip to the woods!