Following on from Part 1 on what to do if you get lost hiking, welcome to part 2. Lets unpack how to attempt a self rescue.
After you’ve stopped, stayed calm, taken a deep breath and even have a cuppa, these are the steps to take.

  • To begin with, look at your watch and note the time. Write it down somewhere. If you have a phone, put it in your notes or screen capture the time.
  • Meanwhile, check your supplies. What do you have in the way of water, food, dry clothes and other resources such as shelter. Also check anyone in the groups fatigure levels, any injuries and how they feel considering they are lost.
  • Do you have a phone? How much battery lie is left on it? Are you receiving mobile coverage and how many bars is it?
  • Think back to when you remember where you last were. Was it half an hour ago or half a day ago. Where do you think you lost track of your location?
  • Have an idea which direction you’ve come from or need to be? Give yourself a time limit eg 10 minutes and check out the options. Depending on how many in your group, go with one other person. Return back to others after 10 minutes, no longer.
  • Check out the landscape. Is there higher ground? Is it easy to get to the top? Would mobile phone coverage iimprove by getting there? Or do you think you’ll see any buildings, roads, other people, a campsite, fences, dams, power poles etc. These are all good signs.
  • Allow 10 minutes to reassess where you are and what your options can be. If it’s getting late in the day and light is diminishing, consider whether it’s time to call emergency services. Or perhaps another quick recce in another direction.
  • Further, ensure the well-being of your group and morale stays buoyant.
  • Of course, check your mobile phone battery. You may need to turn it off to save battery life.

Contacting emergency services

It can be hard to know when to make that call to contact emergency services. Some people feel embarrassed or that they can find their own way out. It’s never a bother for our emergency services to do their job and keep people safe.

It doesn’t take long to go from ‘we are lost but we’ve got enough food and water’ but it can quickly deteriorate with a change in weather conditions, an unexpected injury, mental health of others in the group and more.

To help any rescuers, here are tips that will assist in you being found:

  • If you’re able to, contact the person you left your trip intentions with and ask them to call 000 with your location details.
  • Call 000 and ask for Police. If you have an app that can identify your location, relay that to 000. Many of these apps display your location in latitude and longitude.
  • Go to a clearing or if possible, go to higher ground. Lay out your tent or jackets or space blanket from your first aid kit – anything that is bright colours so it can signal a helicopter.
  • If it’s dusk, night time, get your torch out to signal rescue teams. Even light a small fire if possible.
  • Once emergency services have been contacted, don’t move. Stay where you are and wait.

Once you’ve contacted emergency services, here’s what to do:

  • Make sure everyone stays together. Above all, do not split up.
  • Together with your group, stay calm, don’t panic and even make yourself a cuppa. This is not the time to make poor decisions.
  • It may take a while for emergency responders to find you. Set up a shelter, light a fire if needed, keep yourself warm and dry. isible area
  • Also, ration food and water if needed.

To read Part 1 of this post, click here. 

Lastly, here is a great article by the ABC on getting lost hiking. Click here.