Outdoor Safety in Remote Areas

Published: 7/18/2014

The Sheriff's Office would like to remind people that cellular telephones don't always work in the remote areas of Douglas County and should not be relied upon for survival. If you are going to be out enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking or hunting please be prepared.

Before you set out, make sure that someone knows your plans. Leave your itinerary with a friend or relative. It should list the area in which you will be hiking or hunting, the day you will be leaving and the date and time you are expected back. Your trip plan should also include the make and model of your vehicle and the license plate number. You can access a Trip Plan on the Sheriff’s Office website at www.dcso.com/documents/TripPlanForm.pdf.

Be aware of the weather forecast and dress appropriately - many people think they will be gone only a “few minutes” and do not take rain gear and their day pack but end up lost and spending an very uncomfortable night in the woods

Always take your extra gear with you – It should include the following items:
Survival blanket
Map and Compass – some knowledge of how to use them
Warm Clothing
Sweater or Pile Jacket
Long Pants (wool or synthetic)
Hat (wool)
Extra Food and Water
Flashlight or Headlamp
Matches/Fire starters
First Aid Kit/Repair Kit
Whistle
Rain/Wind Jacket & Pants

GPS are good tools, but you need to know how to use them and understand their limitations (poor reception in deep canyons and heavy timber and battery life).

Learn how to use a map and compass. It’s a good idea to study maps of the area you'll be hiking or hunting on to become familiar with trails, roads, rivers, streams, mountains and other features. Use these as reference points as you hike.

You may need to be on higher ground in order to identify landmarks such as streams and ridges. Just don't wander far from your original route; remember, this is where rescuers will start looking for you if your friends or family tell them your planned route.

Still lost? S.T.O.P: Stop, Think, Observe and Plan. Decide on a plan and stick to it. If the last known location is within a reasonable distance, try to go back to it. If you can't find any recognizable landmarks by backtracking, stay put.

IF YOU CAN'T RESCUE YOURSELF:
1. Stay warm and protect yourself from the elements. If possible, stay near an open space; move into it to be visible from the air and ground.

2. Try to remain hydrated.

3. Put bright clothing on, or put out something that's bright to attract attention.

4. Continue to blow your whistle at regular intervals.

5. Don't lie on bare ground. Use the equipment you brought to protect yourself from the elements.

Outdoor safety is our concern but YOUR responsibility.

Attachment/Link: Trip Plan Form