Preparation the key to wilderness survival
NAIT expert offers essential tips that could save your life this summer
No one plans to get lost when they head into the great outdoors. But if you’ve accidentally strayed from your hiking route or your boat tips over and you find yourself on an unfamiliar shore, preparation and the ability to stay calm are vital to surviving, says NAIT Forest Technology instructor Chris Klitbo.
Here are Klitbo’s tips to increase your chances of being found:
Before you go:
Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If you deviate from that plan, make sure you contact someone before you proceed so rescuers will know where to look if you don’t return. Always review the weather forecast and – even on a day trip – pack a jacket, snacks, a lighter and other essentials.
A lightweight waterproof jacket is an essential item on any outing. “The first line of shelter is the jacket on your back or in your pack,” says Klitbo.
A survival blanket that fits into your pocket, heavy duty orange garbage bag or small tarp will work as a temporary shelter. Ward off the elements by covering yourself in dry boughs or leaves. Hypothermia is an often overlooked threat that can lead to death. Cold ground, water or wind will conduct heat away from you.
If you’re wet or cold, this is a potential lifesaver. Always have a lighter. Fire starters, such as flint and steel are fine but make sure you’re competent with these techniques before packing such items.
A person can die within days from dehydration, says Klitbo. Water from creeks or other sources should be good to drink when it’s come to a full boil for three minutes. Use a metal water bottle for a pot.
Pack extra non-perishable snacks, such as granola bars. No food? Most people can go several days without it. Avoid berries and mushrooms unless you’re positive they’re safe. “Don’t be afraid to eat bugs,” says Klitbo. “That big ugly beetle or grub you’ll find will taste awful but there’s a reason grizzly bears do it.”
Follow this acronym to help increase your chance of survival, advises Klitbo.
• Stop moving - Stay in a safe, visible position.
• Think - What are your next steps? Stay calm.
• Orient yourself - Look for landmarks. Make sure you’re in a safe place.
• Plan - This may include making a shelter, building a fire, finding water and assessing your food supplies.
To read the full story with more tips from Chris Klitbo, click here or visit techlifemag.ca.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Chris is available for interviews. Visit NAIT’s Flickr page (www.flickr.com/nait) to download high-resolution photos suitable for publication.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With more than 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 98 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.
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