When you are planning your trip into the wilderness have a plan, even if you are hiking for a few hours.

It is important to pack more water than you think you will use, nuts and dried fruit, layer your clothing for unexpected changes in weather conditions. You will want to bring a compass because cell phones are unreliable. Pack a blanket, extra socks, flashlight, matches, and flint; pack anything to help you survive a night in the wild.

Plan your route and dress according to the type of terrain you will encounter while walking. Check to see if there are any alerts about bears, fires, flooding or trail closures before setting out. It is important to tell a friend, relative, parents your destination and path, time of departure and arrival back to camp. If going by vehicle to your destination verbalize the type, color, and plate number to a trusted friend. Hiking alone is dangerous, so please call a friend to go along with you.

If you do become lost STOP

Stop: Start by taking off your pack and sit some place comfortable. Start by slowing your breaths down. Close your eyes, and as you inhale through your nose with a controlled breath, feel that breath start to fill your stomach and then your chest area. When you reach the point where you cannot inhale another breath you will hold for 3 seconds and then slowly and with control, exhale through your pursed lips. Relax your shoulders and make your mind listen to the sounds and repeat.

Think: The reason for the above exercise is to help you think clearly about how to overcome the situation positively. You will be able to prioritize better if you have a clear mind and are not panicked.

Observe: Assess what you have in your pack, is there anything that will make a shelter, are there plants or animals for a food supply and a water supply nearby? Do not move at all until you have a particular reason to take a step. As a very last resort, follow a stream downhill.

Plan: After completing the above task, plan your next step. How can you best adjust to your situation? You have a better chance of survival if you are thinking in a positive frame of mind. Put your plan into action by building a fire, obtaining water, and building/seeking shelter. Do not sit on the ground hoping to be found in an hour or you will DIE!