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See the Activities section for more instructions, hints and tips.

It's important to teach young children the basics of staying found or not getting lost. Learning a few wilderness survival tips can keep them safe long enough for rescuers to find them.

Make a survival kit that contains some gorp, a whistle, and an emergency poncho in a zip-lock bag. Teach them to "hug a tree" that is, don't move around; wait for someone to come to them. Stay warm and dry.

Talk with them on the hike about how to tell directions, landmarks, get them thinking about it as they travel down a trail.

Quiz them about which way they came from, where's the stream or mountain, which direction are we hiking, and the direction to the destination.

For those who are old enough, learn how to use a map and compass. Practice these techniques under real situations.

Plan your activity. Review maps and guides of the area to learn about the roads, streams, features, trails, weather, animals, and other dangers. What could go wrong? Anticipate challenges you may face.

Write out the plan and schedule including dates and locations and when to start a search. Give yourself time in case of delays or you want to enjoy the wilderness longer.

Give a copy of your plan to someone trusted.

For safety sake, it is always better to travel in pairs. Two heads think better than one. If one person gets hurt the other can go for help.

Take the proper gear and some extra supplies for emergencies. Be sure to take your map and compass and a copy of your plan and schedule with you.

Stick to your plan. Otherwise, rescuers won't know where to look for you.

Use your map and compass frequently. Note your progress - take notes of when you reached a milestone. Always observe what direction you are hiking, where is the sun, are you hiking uphill or down. Pay attention to your surroundings and landmarks in the distance and close by - unique shapes or colors.

Frequently, look back to see how you came - it looks very different from the opposite direction.

However, if you find yourself lost, consider how long before someone comes looking for you. Are you in immediate danger?

What can you do to help rescuers find you?

Stay in one place - a moving target is harder to find. You will probably get further from where they expect you to be.

Make yourself visible with signals - marks in a clearing, fire and smoke, flags, and sound.

Keep warm and dry.

For more information, see the section on wilderness survival and making a wilderness survival kit.

Copyright © 2008 Vincent Hale