Survival Tips When You are Lost in the Woods

It’s that time of the year again. And getting lost in the woods is NOT fun and sometimes deadly. But you have a chance if you are lucky and have a clue. A hiker from Hawaii, was found alive after being lost in the wilderness for 17 days. Though it might not seem likely that it could happen to you, it could really happen to anyone. So, it’s important that you know what you should do if you get lost in the woods. The Hawaii did a lot right, according to sources, and it saved her life. She was able to find fruit, like berries and guava, and only drank water when she could see that it was absolutely clear. On top of that, though she got a terrible sunburn and hurt her knee, she was able to nurse herself back to relative health.

If you are injured or lost, it is imperative that you know how to survive in the woods. Most people don’t understand that even though you should be waiting to be rescued, you have to keep yourself alive, too.

Here are some tips to help you survive if something has you lost in the wilderness:

First, Stop and Breathe

As soon as you realize that you are lost, remember to stop…and to STOP. This is a mnemonic term meaning:

  • Stop – stay where you are, sit down, and don’t panic.
  • Think – what the right thing to do might be depends on your situation and location. According to the US Forest Service, it is best to stay where you are until you absolutely need to move.
  • Observe – Look around and try to get some information about where you are. Think about supplies you might have like a map or a compass. Are there any signs that you are near a trail or an intersection?
  • Plan – Finally, make a plan about what your next course of action will be. You may want to move forward, you might want to backtrack, or you might think it’s best to stay right where you are.

Think Ahead

Now that your realize you are lost, it’s too late to make a plan on how not to get lost. However, since it’s very likely that you are not currently lost, (and if you are, and reading this, stop and call 911) take some time to consider the following:

  • Always tell people where you are going. If you are going on a hike, for instance, tell a friend or family member where you are planning on going.
  • Bring essential survival gear like sunscreen, bug spray, first-aid supplies, a flashlight, and even an emergency shelter.
  • Do everything you can to make sure you can communicate if you have an emergency. Go out with a fully charged cell phone, and if you can, bring a backup battery. If you go deep out into the wilderness, consider an emergency GPS beacon, too.

Understand How the Rescue Process Works

If you do need to be rescued, you should understand how the process works. Most people think it’s like the movies. Your loved ones call the police, and they immediately start to search. However, that’s not really the case.

Most often, the cops get a call from the person who is reporting you missing. They will then start gathering information as a lot of people simply run off.

If they do believe that you might be lost, only then will they start looking. If you have used your cell phone, they can try to use cell towers to pick up a signal. They can do that even if your phone is turned off. Authorities will also get a description of you, including where you might be and what you wore.

The good news is this: approximately 97 percent of those who get lost are eventually recovered within 24 hours of going missing. However, the odds of a better outcome go down the longer you are out there. So, make sure you are well-prepared.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

Lost in the Woods: Survival Tips

With the recent news that Amanda Eller, a Hawaiian hiker, was found alive after 17 days of being lost, it’s worth it to know what to do if you’re lost and alone in the wilderness. Eller did many things correctly, according to multiple early news reports. CNN claimed that she picked guava and berries to eat when they were available. She only drank water when it looked clear, and she didn’t think it would make her sick. She also nursed herself when she got a bum knee and had a sunburn that was so bad it got infected.

If you’re hopelessly lost or injured, it is essential that you know about wilderness survival. Most people don’t realize that it is much about waiting to get rescued without making the situation worse. If you’re in good health and are fit, you might be able to hike your way out of the area, but the challenge is to know which one you should choose.

Stop to Think

Once you realize that you’re lost, remember to STOP. It’s a mnemonic term that means:

  • Stop. Stay exactly where you are, don’t panic, and sit down.
  • Think. What you do depends a lot on your location and situation. According to the US Forest Service, you shouldn’t move from your location until you have a need to take that first step.
  • Observe. You should get information about your situation and try to determine where you’re located. Do you have a compass and map? Look at the map or look around you to see if there are signs that tell you about trails or intersections.
  • Plan. Next, consider your courses of action and pick one. You might want to continue the way you’ve been going or consider turning back and backtracking. If night is about to overtake you or you’re hurt, it might be best to stay there as long as nothing is threatening you.

Plan Ahead

Once you’ve realized you’re lost, it’s too late to plan for getting lost, but most people are going to read this because they are curious and not because they’re currently in the wilderness and googling tips. Of course, if you are reading this in the wilderness, your cell phone has some battery life and a signal, so you should be calling 911 to get help.

Some points to consider include:

  • Always tell someone where you’re going. If you’re going for a walk in the woods, text a family member or friend to tell them where you’re going.
  • Bring the most essential survival gear, which includes emergency shelter options, sunscreen, first-aid supplies, bug spray and a flashlight.
  • Make sure that you can communicate during an emergency. Bring your cell phone and have a backup battery if possible. You may want to invest in an emergency GPS beacon, as well.

Know How a Rescue Works

If you do end up needing to get rescued, you should understand the rescue process. Most people think that your loved one calls the cops and a search is initiated immediately, but that isn’t likely to be the case.

Most of the time, the authorities get a 911 call from the person you texted to say you were heading out into the wilderness, and the law enforcement official gathers information to determine if you’re lost or just decided to leave town.

If they believe you to be lost, they’ll start looking. Cell towers can pick up your previous cell signal even if the phone is turned off. Searchers will get a description of you, such as what you wore and where you’re likely to be. They’ll search there and spread out to find you. About 97 percent of people who get lost in the wilderness are recovered within the first 24 hours. If it has been longer than that, it’s harder to find you, such as you’re in a challenging place to see.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Is Your Bugout Bag Ready to Go?

It seems like there have been a number of natural disasters hitting the US over the past couple of years…hurricanes, wild fires, floods…the list goes on. If you are caught in the face of a survival emergency, do you have supplies? Consider a bugout bag. These are sacks that you can take with you in the outdoors to help you survive. Here’s what you need for a three-day bugout bag:

  • Water – At least a liter per person each day.
  • Food – Pack backpack meals or energy bars.
  • Large cup or small pot – This is for boiling water, but if you have iodine tablets, you might not need this.
  • Clothes – Pack pants, two shirts, sturdy footwear, two pairs of non-cotton socks, long underwear, a wide-brimmed hat, and rainwear jacket and pants.
  • Tent or tarp with a sleeping bag.
  • First aid kit – you can build one, you don’t have to buy one. That way, you know what’s in it.
  • Fire starters
  • Poncho
  • Survival knife
  • Two flashlights with extra batteries
  • Small mirror – you can use this to get the attention of airplanes
  • Weapon – pepper spray is a good thing. If you want to carry a gun, make sure you have the right training.
  • Sunscreen and sun glasses
  • GPS or similar in case you get lost
  • Baby wipes to clean yourself
  • Paracord

That should be enough to get you through three days. There are obviously other things that you can put into your bugout bag, too. Depending on where you live and your skills, you might want to put in a compass or a snake-bite kit. Small plastic bags and shoelaces are also important, as you can use them to trap water from non-poisonous plants. If you want to create a seven-day bugout bag, make sure to add enough to survive.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Storing Water for Survival

Do you think you know all there is to know about water storage? Most people think they have a good grasp on it, but they are in for a bit surprise. Below, there is a lot of information about storing water that might contradict what you think you know:

Storing Barrels – You can keep storage barrels on a basement or cellar cement floor. Cement that remains cool doesn’t transfer any toxins into the water. However, if the cement is warm, such as garage cement that might get heat from the driveway, you must store the barrels on floorboards. Also, store some of your water in bottles that are portable so they are easy to handle.

Reusing Your Bottles – You can refill old soda and juice bottles with water as long as there is a PET or PETE rating on the plastic. Do not use old milk jugs, however. If you are worried about leaching chemicals, you can treat the water…just make sure to do it when you consume it, not when storing it.

A Full Boil – You don’t have to boil your water fully to kill all of the bacteria in it. Instead, heat it to 160 degrees F for 30 minutes, or heat it to 185 degrees F for three minutes. This burns less fuel, too.

Drink Pool Water – Pool water is okay to drink as long as it is under 4 PPM of chlorine.

River Water – You can also drink river water, but treat it with iodine tablets, first. Keep in mind, in a survival situation, the river is where everyone will go.

Store Enough – Ideally, you should store more than a month’s worth of water. A huge disaster could mean many months, or even years, of water shortage.

Daily Amount – Each person requires about a gallon a day. This includes for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

Water vs. Food – Though food has calories that your body needs, water is much more important. You can go for many days, or even weeks without eating. However, you can onlyhandle a couple of days without water.

Taste – The water that you store might taste bad because it has been closed off from oxygen. Pour it between two glasses, back and forth, to get more oxygen into it.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Survive Falling Through Ice

It can be truly terrifying to fall through ice on a frozen lake, but if you remain calm, it can save your life. Most people don’t realize that you have more time than you think, according to experts. This is due to the concept of thermoregulation and how your body deals with the shocking cold that immediately encompasses the body.

1MAs you first hit the freezing water, you will almost immediately gasp and start hyperventilating. It is important that you remember to get control of your breath and do not thrash around. It can help to remember something called the “1-10-1 principle.” This means that it takes about one minute to gain control of your breathing, and then you have 10 minutes to move before you get too cold. The final one is to remind you that it will take one hour before you become unconscious. Again:

  • 1 minute to control your breath
  • 10 minutes of meaningful movement
  • 1 hour before unconsciousness sets in

Take that initial minute and fully focus on your breathing. Slow it down, and then look around to see if you can locate the thickest area of ice. Typically, this is in the direction of the way you were coming from, as the ice was thick enough, at least for a time, to hold your body weight. When you locate the ice, stretch your arms over the surface, and then begin to flutter-kick until your body becomes horizontal with the surface. Kick hard and use your arms and hands to pull yourself onto the ice. As soon as you are able, begin to roll away from the hole, and then crawl upon the ice until you can safely stand up. To learn more about this, and to see it in action, there are videos online that demonstrate this technique.

Keep in mind that once your body temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, officially you are hypothermic. When it falls below 86 degrees, it is likely that you will be unconscious, but not actually lifeless. In fact, people have been revived from body temperatures as low as 56.7 degrees, which is when the body will show the clinical signs of death, such as not breathing and not having a pulse.

It is possible that you can live for several hours after passing out if you can get out of the frigid water. This, however, does require some planning. You only have about 10 minutes after falling in before your muscles and nerves become too cold to work. If you feel too weak to go on and you cannot get out, place your arms over the surface of the ice and just remain still. The point is to encourage your coat to freeze to the ice, so that if you lose consciousness, you will keep your head above water. Additionally, you will remain visible for rescue, even if you pass out.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

What’s in a Bugout Bag

There’s a name for the survival sack that you take with you outdoors in the event of survival emergency: bugout bag.

1MLet’s start with the key components to net a three-day survival:

  • Water: one liter per person per day
  • Food: “energy bars” or backpack meals
  • Small pot or large cup (though if you have only energy bars plus iodine tablets, you won’t need to boil water for food or purification).
  • Clothes: sturdy footwear, long pants, two pairs non-cotton socks, two shirts, rainwear hooded jacket and rainwear pants, long underwear, wide-brimmed hat
  • Tarp or tent plus a ground tarp; sleeping bag
  • First aid kit (not necessarily a prepackaged one from the store; it may be better to build one; you’ll know exactly what’s in there, like tweezers to remove ticks).
  • Poncho
  • Fire starters
  • Survival knife (find the one that suits you best)
  • Small mirror (in case something gets in your eye, but also to reflect the sun to get the attention of rescue aircraft)
  • Two flashlights and backup batteries
  • Weapon (the knife may suffice, but you probably won’t be too confident with only a knife to fend off a bear, so better have pepper spray on hand) If you are a gun person, please be properly trained.
  • Baby wipes. Hygiene is as important as nutrition.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen (imagine the sunburn three days out in the sun, even during winter; snow reflects sun from a clear sky like mad).
  • GPS or some kind of beacon to help find you if you get lost.
  • Paracord. Google it.

There are so many more things that can be added to the bug-out bag, but remember, this list refers to three days’ worth of survival. Obviously, if you want to pack the bag for seven days, you’d want to include more things. These additional items may be anything from a map and compass to a snake-bite kit.

Small plastic bags and long shoelaces are also invaluable, as they can be used to trap water moisture from non-poisonous vegetation branches and condense it over several hours, filling the bag with enough to drink from.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

How to store Water for Survival

What do you really know about water storage? Below you’ll find information that you probably never even thought of before, or information that contradicts what you’ve always believed to be correct.

1MStorage barrels. These can remain on cellar or basement cement that’s not heated. Cooler cement will not transfer toxins into the barrels. However, garage cement will get heated by the driveway, so in that case, place barrels on floor boards. In addition, some of your water should be stored in portable bottles for easier handling.

Reusing bottles. Filling old juice and soda bottles with water is fine as long as the plastic is rated “PET” or “PETE.” Don’t use milk jugs. If you’re still concerned about leached plastic chemicals, treat the water at the time of consumption, not before you store it.

Boiling (212 degrees). A full boil is not necessary to kill bacteria; heating at 160 degrees for 30 minutes, or 185 degrees for three minutes, will burn less fuel than boiling for the popular 10 minutes.

Pool water. The FDA says pool water is safe to drink up to 4 PPM of chlorine.

Nearby river. Make sure you have iodine tablets ready. Keep in mind during a water shortage, the river will be bedlam, what with everyone else going for it.

Amount stored. Don’t just store a month’s worth. A disaster could cause a year-long or even several-year water shortage.

How much water does one person need? One gallon a day. But this includes for hygiene and cooking, and unforeseen medical needs.

Food vs. water. Though food has calories and water has zero, water is much more important to the body. A few days without any water and you’ll be dragging yourself on the ground, whereas a few days without food, but with plenty of water, and you’ll still be in good shape. And sports drinks and soda do not replace water.

Taste. Stored water will taste bad because it’s been without oxygen. Before drinking, pour it back and forth between two glasses to replenish oxygen.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Using a knife for survival

An article at informs on how to use a knife safely and efficiently for survival.


  • For outdoors, carry a fixed-blade knife, as this is less likely to break.
  • The knife should always stay in its sheath. Otherwise, you could stumble and fall into it, slicing and dicing an organ.
  • Practice drawing the knife so that you don’t accidentally grab the sheath or somehow get cut. You may need to draw it at a second’s notice.
  • The draw should have two steps. First, take the handle with your forehand to loosen the blade in the sheath; push against the sheath with your thumb. Next, wrap thumb around handle and slowly withdraw the knife away from your body.
  • Always use slow movements with a knife.
  • When giving a knife to someone, use a forehand grip; rotate knife between forefinger and thumb. The handle should face the recipient, edge of knife pointed up. Do not release the knife until the recipient has a secure hold.
  • A sharper blade is safer because it requires less force, so always keep it sharpened.

Gripping a Knife

  • For most tasks, use a forehand grip: Knife is inside your fist, its edge facing your first finger.
  • This is why before you buy a knife, first make sure you can completely close a fist around the handle. Huge handles are no good.
  • A reverse grip is preferable when cutting cords of any type. The knife edge points towards the thumb. And pull with your shoulder or torso rather than arm to avoid an over-pull.
  • Chest lever grip. Hold blade with edge pointed in reverse direction to the forehand grip, pointed up towards knuckles.

Knife Uses

  • Chopping wood. Place knife with forehand grip against the wood. Use a wooden object shaped like a baton to “hammer” the blade through the wood.
  • Splitting wood. Place knife’s blade, using forehand grip, over the wood. Use the baton to drive it through in the direction of the grain.
  • Slicing. You’ve certainly already done this many times at home: slicing celery, carrots, lettuce, bread, apples (if you’re a man you should know how to do these things!). The key in survival or outdoor slicing is to slice with a forehand grip against a surface that mimics a cutting board at home.
  • Power cutting. Use the chest lever grip while securely holding the object you want to cut. Draw the blade through it hard, using your back muscles.
  • Controlled cutting. The chest lever grip is also used, but you work your way around the object being cut.
  • Drilling. Place tip of knife onto the object (knife is vertical) and begin twisting right and left. Don’t be too forceful or your hand might slip down the knife.

With any use or grip of a knife, always make sure—before you begin the task—that no body part is in the path of the knife if the knife were to slip.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Survival is about being Persistent

“Survivor.” What comes to mind when you see or hear this word? A victim of a disease or of a perverted crime? A TV show? We’re all survivors in that every day, we do something to stay alive—life-saving things we don’t even think about as life-saving, such as eating healthy and exercising. People die every day from killing themselves with food.

1MSurvival also may conjure up true spectacular stories of survival, like the man who cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder because he was starving to death, and the man who ate a caterpillar and lotion from a bottle because he was starving to death after getting lost in the wilderness (both men fully recovered, though one has an artificial arm).

Sometimes we get a chance to survive, like being lost in the wilderness or adrift at sea in a raft. Sometimes that chance is shorter, like being in a house that catches fire.

And sometimes you don’t get a chance to employ tactics, like the guy who’s hit in the head from behind (or even from the front), falls to the cement and the pavement shatters his skull, causing a fatal acute subdural hematoma. Of course, that’s a better way to go, perhaps, than experiencing the terrifying six minutes it takes for an airplane to take a nose dive from 35,000 feet.

You can’t do much when you’re sitting in that plane or your leg’s in that wood chipper that’s rapidly pulling you in and nobody could hear you screaming. Ouch!

However, many people die because they simply didn’t have their wits. They had the time to survive, but made the wrong choices. Sometimes, survival begins with a choice. Do you want to get into that stranger’s car just because your legs are a little tired? Will walking kill you? Probably not. But the stranger who’s offering a perfectly able-bodied, young woman a ride in perfect weather likely has something sinister up his sleeve.

So many people worry about survival in terms of things that they’re very unlikely to ever die from, such as a terrorist attack. Don’t forget that the No. 1 killers are heart disease and cancer. And believe it or not, medical errors rank right up there in the top five too.

Perhaps the greatest weapon for survival, however, is the mind. Are you a screamer or a fighter? Panic disables, but anger enables! I’m reminded of a woman who was assaulted by a tall teen boy. After struggling, she eventually got him on the ground, pinning his arms over his head and sitting on him till police arrived. She states in an article at “When I get angry, I have a lot of strength. The secret to getting through something like this is, ‘Don’t panic, but think through what you’re going to do now.’ ” Love her!

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Going to Plan B for Survival

If your “Plan A” for survival sinks, do you have a Plan B backup?

1MForget rushing to the grocery store when disaster like a snowstorm strikes. Everyone else will have the same idea. Need I say more?

The supermarket and the convenience store are the first places a panicking town will flock to for food and water. While they’re duking it out there, you can obtain essential supplies at other places where the masses of people won’t even think to look.

Before some critical event hits, locate all the businesses and water sources within two miles of your home. When compiling this list, don’t assume that any particular business can’t possibly have something valuable. Once the list is complete, sift through it to determine if any have any valuable items. Take your time.

Businesses you might never think have water will have water, such as a dental clinic: bottled water. Same with beauty spas and health clubs. Many gyms also sell food. Don’t blow off the hobby shop: It might sell craft wood and twine. And don’t scratch off an office supply store: the big ones sell candy. Major bookstores sell bottled beverages, pastries and sandwiches.

Make sure you have a bicycle to get to these businesses in the event of a disaster, because a car won’t be practical during or after an event like a tornado, hurricane or flood. And don’t wait for the event to see if the bike works.

If you normally walk your dog or do fitness walks or runs, take different routes to get used to all the different routes throughout your town, in the event that a calamity obstructs your main route. You’ll then instantly know an alternate route to get to a business to obtain essential supplies.

Finally, keep physically fit. Pedaling a bike for a few miles with a duffel bag full of food and bottled water will be very taxing for an out-of-shape person.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.