The obscure, overgrown trail you have been following vanishes into the scrub-oak, creating a sense of confusion which quickly overwhelms your senses. Breathless, you stop to catch some air and the realization suddenly hits….WHERE am I? You don't recognize any of the surrounding forest or canyon. The sun is setting and light is becoming scarce. You put your local map away hours ago, telling yourself, you knew this area like the "back of your hand", but this area seems foreign. You are LOST….


We have all heard the old adage, "If you get lost, stay put". In most survival situations, that is exactly what you should do. Move to safe ground, however, should you find yourself in an unsafe area. E.g.:avalanche terrain, flood potential, lack of resources to survive (water, shelter and fire), exposure to severe weather.

Accept you are LOST. Stay put!! And....


The weather is quickly changing and you are disabled because of injury or exposure or the quickly approaching darkness.The capacity to admit that you are lost is an essential survival skill. One that is not easy for most to accept until it is simply too late.

Even though becoming lost can be a serious circumstance, with a little prior preparation and flexibility, it may not evolve into a life-threatening emergency.To effectively manage your situation, accept your predicament and apply the simple, easy to remember acronym S.T.O.P.


Sit down and don’t panic; the simple act of STOPPING and sitting down,slows breathing, lowers your heart rate, and slows hormonal release.This will help you maintain control of your emotions and resist Fear and Panic while preserving emotional and mental clarity. To manage this physiological response effectively, perform the following:

Control fear:

Autogenic Breathing - This breathing technique can be used in any situation which can cause stress: before meetings, public speaking engagements, presentations or any event that would cause an increased heart rate.

  • Breath in for a count of 3
  • Hold breath for a count of 3
  • Breathe out for a count of 3
  • Repeat as needed, until heart rate is under control.
  • Focus on your breaths – in and out, in and out, and in and out. Pay attention to your inhaling and exhaling. Count your breaths. And breathe naturally through your nose.


Think about your situation; Your Brain is your #1 survival tool. Your capacity to reason, to problem solve, and to be flexible can affect your capacity to survive any situation.

Assess your situation:

Situational Awareness - (SA) is a 3 step process by which you can quickly assess any situation (be it traumatic or otherwise), allowing you to respond accordingly. Ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What is happening and WHY?
  2. What will happen NEXT?
  3. Wat are my OPTIONS?

This mental exercise can aid you in "seeing the situation for what it is". Preserve flexibility and trust your instincts.

Keep a Positive Mental Attitude:

Survivors Mantra - The construction and use of Mantras is extremely important. It is important to remember that everything we say and think is an affirmation or Mantra. Using positive statements forces us to keep focused on our goals and reminds us to think consciously about our "self-talk".

To use this technique:

  • Choose or create a Mantra which addresses a concern or weakness. Repeat in multiples of three. (See sample Mantras below)
  • Commit this Mantra to memory. Repeating the phrase until it becomes ingrained in your consciousness. This should only take a few minutes.
  • Continue to repeat your Mantra throughout the day. Create reminders, that is challenge coins, Ranger Beads,specific times of the day, …This will ingrain the Mantra into your subconscious. Often when crisis occurs, our cognitive ability is the first to suffer because of hormonal release. Positive reaction without thought is our end goal.

Sample Mantras

  1. I am a Survivor. I am a Survivor. I AM A SURVIVOR.
  2. I will survive. I will survive. I WILL SURVIVE.
  3. I will not fear. I Will Not Fear. I WILL NOT FEAR.

Understand Priorities:

"Rule of 3's" survival priorities - This simple set of survival rules will give you the essential ammo to understand what is needed by each of us to stay alive.

You can survive:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without fire or shelter
  • 3 days without water/sleep
  • 3 weeks without food
  • 3 ? without hope


Organize available resources; Take stock of available resources, both natural and man-made. Create a mental checklist of everything you have on your person, as well as in a vehicle and the surrounding environment. Empty your pockets and use your imagination to discover how your resources can be used to meet your needs.

Ask Yourself

  • Is there a source of water nearby?
  • Are there materials readily available for building a fire?
  • What type of signaling will work best for this area?


Create a plan; Be Flexible. As in life, there are no Perfect Plans. Murphy’s Law will and usually is worsened in most wilderness emergencies. Once you have calmed your emotions, assessed your situation, set priorities, and organized your available resources, it is then time to form a plan. Create a plan of action which will best use your available resources, meet your physiological needs and conserve available energy. Your primary focus should be on your survival priorities: First aid, Fire, shelter, water and rescue. Beyond these, consider these steps while forming your plan of action.

Address emergencies: immediate medical concerns, need of immediate shelter, fire

Signal for HELP: Survival is about returning home alive. Select a campsite close to an open area in which signal fires or flags can be easily seen. If you followed our trip planning advice, it won’t be long before your rescuers arrive. If not, see below.

Plan for possible walk-out or Long-term survival: while most survival situations in the lower 48 states end within 72 hours. There exists a very real possibility of a situation of longer duration. Keep this in mind while formulating your plan.

Act; once your plan has been fixed, put it into action.

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