1) No Shelter or Fire
No shelter? Don't know how to make one? Can you make a fire without matches or lighters?
When reviewing cases of victims who died in wilderness settings a common theme occurs; exposure. Most likely hypothermia
but heat illness may also sometimes play a role. Bottom line is either you didn't have a shelter with you (tent, tarp,
bivy sac) or you didn't have the skills to build one from what you'd find. Practice this before you need it. And,
while your at it get that fire going, no matches or lighters! Remember staying warm and dry are cardinal rules of survival.
2) Poor Navigation Skills
People who venture into remote areas without a map, compass and GPS are just begging for trouble. Anyone who
has spent time in the wilderness knows that even the best outdoorsman can get turned around and end up going the wrong way.
One key to navigation is having a back-up. Don't rely on GPS alone...batteries and technology fail. And
don't rely on that cell phone either. Have a good understanding of cardinal directions and if you have an analog watch
learn how to use it as a compass.
3) Miscalculating Risks
Most wilderness emergencies start innocently enough - a day hike in a new area,
or even a familiar one. Then something goes wrong and you're faced with a life and death emergency. The only thing
you can do is plan, plan for the unexpected. Go over the possible contigencies before you leave and let someone know
where you're going and expected return.
4) Wrong Clothing
Once you leave an article of clothing behind there's nothing worse to be cold
and wet and wish you hadn't left your other jacket in the closet at home. You also know cotton kills, right? And,
you did bring rain gear right? 'Nuff said! But what about footwear? I've been to plenty of real life wilderness emergency
scenarios caused by improper footwear. Make sure your footwear is up to the terrain and conditions.
5) No Wilderness First Aid Training
It's one thing to hurt yourself at home but it's another thing altogether to have it happen in a remote
area. Basic first aid techniques are of little to no use in a remote setting. Take the time to attend a Wilderness First
Aid course from a reputable provider. Most providers have comprehensive and reasonably priced 2 day courses that, in
addition to raising your confidence, are FUN!
And it goes
without saying (hopefully!) that you need food and water adequate for the trip.
Failing to plan is planning to fail! Don't be a victim.