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Avoid Getting Lost In The Desert


When traveling to a desert region that’s sparsely populated, always notify someone of one’s destination, the period of the journey, and its designed route. Leaving behind without alerting anyone and obtaining lost means nobody will be searching for you. If touring by car, ensure that your vehicle is within good shape, and be sure you have:

  • An audio battery
  • Good tubes (squeeze them: they must be firm, not smooth and mushy)
  • An extra tire with the correct inflation
  • Spare lover belts
  • Tools
  • Reserve gas and oil
  • Drinking water (five gallons for a car)


Monitor the sky. Cloud flash floods may appear in a wash any moment thunderheads come in sight, despite the fact that it may not really be raining what your location is. If you obtain caught in a dirt storm while traveling, get off the street immediately. Switch off your driving lamps and start your emergency flashers. Back to the wind to lessen windscreen pitting by sand contaminants. Before driving through washes and sandy places, check the footing. One minute by walking may save hrs of effort and stop a punctured oil skillet.

If your automobile breaks down, remain near it; your emergency supplies is there. Improve the hood and trunk lid to denote “assist needed.” A car can be observed for miles, but one is very difficult to get. Keep a disabled automobile only if you’re positive of the path to help. If stalled or dropped, set transmission fires. Arranged smoky fires in the daytime, brilliant ones for the night time. Three fires inside a triangle denotes “help required.” If you discover a road, stick to it.


  • Drinking water (one gallon per individual per day will be adequate; several gallons will be smarter and safer)
  • A map that presents the nearest filled areas
  • Waterproof matches
  • A smoke lighter or flint and steel
  • A success guide
  • Solid sunscreen, a head wear, warm clothes, and blankets
  • A wallet knife
  • A metallic signaling mirror
  • Iodine tablets
  • A little pencil and composing materials
  • A whistle (three blasts denotes “assist needed”)
  • A canteen cup
  • Aluminum foil
  • A compass
  • A first help kit


When hiking, regularly look back the path from where you attended. Taking a mental image of what it’ll appear to be when you return assists in the event you become lost. Stay on founded trails when possible and mark the trail path with blazes on trees and brush, or by causing ducques (pronounced “ducks”), which are hemorrhoids of three stones stacked at the top of 1 another.


Do not panic, especially if people know where you are and when you are scheduled to return. If you have a vehicle, stay with it—do not wander!

If you are on foot, try to backtrack by retracing your steps. Always move downstream or down country. Travel along ridges instead of in washes or valleys, where itis harder for you to see and for rescuers to see you.

If you have completely lost your bearings, try to get to a high vista and look around. If you are not absolutely sure you can follow your tracks or prints, stay put.

Build smoky fires during daylight hours (tires work well) but keep a bright fire burning at night. If fuel is limited, keep a small kindling-fire burning and have fuel ready to burn if you spot a person or vehicle.

If a car or plane is passing, or if you see other people off in the distance, try to signal them with one of the following methods:

  • In a clearing, you can use newspaper or aluminum foil weighed down with rocks to make a large triangle; this is the international distress symbol.
  • A large I indicates to rescuers that someone is injured.
  • An X means you are unable to proceed.
  • An F indicates you need food and water.
  • Three shots from a gun is another recognized distress signal.

To avoid heat prostration, rest frequently. Deserts in the United States can reach temperatures upwards of 120 degrees during the day, and shade can be scarce. In the summer, sit at least twelve inches above the ground on a stool or a branch (ground temperatures can be thirty degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature).

When walking during daylight hours:

  • Walk slowly to conserve energy and rest at least ten minutes every hour.
  • Drink water; don’t ration it.
  • Avoid talking and smoking.
  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
  • Avoid alcohol, which dehydrates.
  • Avoid eating if there is not a sufficient amount of water readily available; digestion consumes water.
  • Stay in the shade and wear clothing, including a shirt, hat, and sunglasses. Clothing helps ration sweat by slowing evaporation and prolonging cooling.
  • Travel in the evening, at night, or early in the day.
  • In cold weather, wear layers of clothing, and make sure you and your clothes are dry.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include intense shivering, muscle tensing, fatigue, poor coordination, stumbling, and blueness of the lips and fingernails. If you see these signs, get dry clothing on immediately and light a fire if possible. If not, huddle close to companions for warmth.

Try to find water. The best places to look are:

  • The base of rock cliffs.
  • In the gravel wash from mountain valleys, especially after a recent rain.
  • The outside edge of a sharp bend in a dry streambed. Look for wet sand, then dig down
  • three to six feet to find seeping water.
  • Near green vegetation. Tree clusters and other shrubbery, such as cottonwood, sycamore, or willow trees, may indicate the presence of water.
  • Animal paths and flocks of birds. Following them may lead you to water.

Find cactus fruit and flowers. Split open the base of cactus stalks and chew on the pith, but don’t swallow it. Carry chunks of pith to alleviate thirst while walking. Other desert plants are inedible and will make you sick.

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