Tips for safety and survival in the outdoors, from the Women in the Outdoors course offered by the California State Parks department.
What to do if you’re lost or in trouble:
Remain calm and think straight. The key to survival may be as simple as being well rested, well fed and optimistic. Don’t give up. A person can go several months without food and several days without water, depending on the temperature.
Always carry a map and a compass.
Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return, so they can send help if you don’t come back.
If you get lost, stay put and let rescuers find you. Don’t wander aimlessly.
Before dark, build a shelter, get firewood and water.
Never go out without a basic emergency survival kit.
What to carry in an emergency survival kit
“Space blanket” or tarp for shelter.
Minimal first aid kit, including ibuprofen, anti-bacterial ointment, gauze pads and tape.
Food such as a Power Bar or hard candy.
Whistle and signal device such as a flare, light, mirror or brightly colored tape.
Multiple fire-starting devices, including waterproof matches, a lighter and perhaps flint and a small candle.
What to do for snakebite:
Doctors no longer recommend trying to extract the venom. It can make matters worse.
Current advice says keep the patient still and calm. Walking, running or panicking will only speed up blood circulation and move the venom through the body faster.
What to do if you encounter a bear or mountain lion:
If you encounter a bear, pull yourself up tall, make yourself look big and shoo it away by yelling. Unless the bear is a mother protecting her cubs, it would just as soon avoid you if it can.
Don’t run. That only triggers their predatory instincts. If you must move, back off slowly.
Respond to a mountain lion the same way as advised for bears.
When you stop for lunch or a rest, sit with your back to a tree so a mountain lion can’t surprise you from behind.
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