Outdoor Survival/Emergency Situations

This section of the guide will discuss what you should do in case of emergency.

Don't Panic


When something happens the body goes through two stages. First shock and then panic

The first stage, "the shock," is when you can't move, most of the time you won't notice it but it's important to get out of it fast so you can save yourself. If you can't, however, realize this is your brain (you) trying to determine if you should fight back or flee (or if it's a joke), so you should pop out of this state soon.

The second stage is "the panic." Adrenaline will be released into your bloodstream, allowing your muscles and brain to function with greater speed and strength. Remember to rationalize, as poor decisions can be worse than the actual disaster (e.g. jumping off of a cliff to avoid an earthquake).

Be Observant


In all situations, noticing your surroundings will ensure a greater success rate of survival. Survival is not only based on the collection of wit but also on the ability to be creative. Use the tools available to you at the time of the emergency. For example, if you are injured, you can use your belt to stop from losing too much blood. Will power is a very important part of survival. There is no wrong way to survive if in the end, you survived.

In case of an earthquake

  1. If you are inside a building then go outside
  2. Stay away from anything that can break or fall on you. Being stuck in the forest while there is an earthquake is one of the worst things that can happen.
  3. If you cannot leave a building, hide under a strong sturdy table or desk
  4. Remain Calm

In case of a lightning storm


During a strong lightning storm it is important to be in the presence of tall objects. If you are in a field with very little trees in your immediate surroundings it is optimal to lay on the ground in the attempt to become the shortest thing in the area. Do not stand under trees, especially if it is a lone tree. Most cars and boats if struck by lightning will not electrocute the inside, but rather pass through the ground from rubber of the tires or ground of a boat.

In case of a bear


When camping, it is wise to take steps to avoid negative encounters with bears:

  • Do not bring food into the tent. It invites more than just ants into your bedroom.
  • Clean all pots, pans, and grills thoroughly with unscented soap and water, making sure no trace of food is left for animals to smell.
  • Do not leave food lying around. Clean up everything right away after a meal and contain uneaten food in plastic bags or containers.
  • Do not assume food and supplies are safe in a car. If you must keep supplies in a car, lock them in the trunk. It is not unknown for bears to try to break into cars through the windshield or windows!
  • Do not go to bed in the same clothes you were cooking in. Keep dirty clothes and packs outside the tent.
  • If possible, use a bear canister to keep foods safe or hoist your food in a tree ten feet off the ground and four feet out in a bear bag.
  • Be careful about how you dispose of garbage. Try to dispose of garbage at a designated facility away from the campsite.
  • Try not to bring any sweet-smelling items with you, like scented soap or cough syrup. (Bears can't read the label, and they assume it is food.) If you must bring it at all, hoist it up in a tree in a bear bag or bear canister. Try not to wear anything with a scent, including deodorant and insect repellent, after 4 p.m.
  • If the bear gets to the food anyway, do not attempt to get it back. It is not worth the fight.
  • Do not feed a bear or attempt to do so. (What would you do if the bear found out you don't have any more?)
  • If you have brought a pet with you, make sure it is secured and on leash at all times.

If you do encounter a bear, do not faint. Create as much noise, and as loud as you can in an attempt to scare off the bear. If you have an umbrella use it to make you seem bigger. If it continues to pursue you, get out of its territory, it may be temperamental from lack of food or threat to its young. If you have food on your person you may consider dumping it on the ground in an attempt to halt its pursuit on you. If you are in a tent, and a bear comes nearby during the night become non-existent, do not surprise it by panicking. To prevent it from approaching your tent hang your food in a tree, and do not eat near your tent. Bears have been known to urinate on tents while people are asleep inside.

Be aware if you are in an area with Black Bears (often sun-bleached brown), which are full-sized around 6 feet tall, or Brown Bears (which are often dark approaching black) which are full-sized around 9 feet tall. Most of the US has only Black bears, which very very rarely attack people, and can almost always be persuaded to leave you alone if you make noise (banging pots is good), throw small stones, stand up tall and spread your arms, stand in a group, etc. Do not run from them, and do not play dead unless an attack has already started. If one attacks you playing dead in a ball until it gets bored is a good strategy. All bears should be considered dangerous. Even a small Black Bear can severely injure or kill even the most experienced outdoorsman if unprepared or reckless. Staying aware, making noise and remaining calm are the three basic steps for enjoying a safe visit to any bear habitat.

Black Bears are much more common in the US and Canada than the Brown Bear, although not uncommon in certain areas of the country. Ironically the bear that is on the California flag is the Brown Bear, but they have not been seen in that state for many decades.

While camping, keep anything that smells like food (including pots, toothpaste, and food) in an official bear canister or hung at least 10 feet up in a tree to prevent black bears from getting it. Even a relatively harmless Black Bear will go into your tent with you sleeping in it, or into your car through the window to get food. You cannot take too many precautions in keeping any food scents away from your sleeping area.