Surviving in the desert is not a joke. And the truth is that movies like “127 hours” will not be helpful at all. Fortunately, there are some precautions and things that you can do to ensure that you’ll stay safe in case of this dangerous situation.
There are several deserts in the USA that can be as dangerous as they are beautiful. The biggest ones are the Mojave, Sonoran, Chihuahuan, and the Great Basin Desert. The desert environment is harsh; there is wildlife, extreme temperatures, and shadows that can get somewhat confusing. It is essential to remember these survival tips that might ultimately save your life.
Tips Before Taking the Trip
There are certain precautions you can take to avoid being lost in the desert. You might want to keep them in mind (since you probably won’t be reading this once you’re lost).
Share Your Plans for the Trip
Consider sharing your plans with someone. This includes the date when you’re leaving, the route, and the estimate of your arrival. This way, your friends or family could realize that something has gone wrong and start searching for you before it’s too late. Furthermore, changing your plans is something that can always happen, but be sure that you inform someone of the recent changes.
Depending on the Phone
There is a high chance that your mobile phone will be without signal. Besides, batteries aren’t known to last for a decade, either. You should never entirely depend on the phone in this kind of situations since it can happen that your phone may be utterly useless.
Of course, instead of using your smartphone or a cell phone, you can opt for the satellite phone that has numerous advantages.
If you plan on traveling across the wilderness, carrying a GPS device might be a good idea. There will be less chance of you getting lost, and the battery can last longer than the regular cell phone.
Finally, getting a beacon or a personal locator is an excellent way for everyone to know that your journey is going according to plan. This life-saving device can be used in the case that every other option fails. It is probably the best way to send an emergency call or a distress signal that you can imagine.
In Case of Emergencies
Naturally, if it happens that you are lost in the desert, none of the previous tips will help. It will be too late for you to hop on to the nearest store to get a distress signal or GPS. But fortunately, there are some tips that might be a life-saver in these situations.
The main dangers in the desert are exposure to the sun, low temperatures during the night, and dehydration.
The Sun Is Not Your Friend in the Desert
The first thing you should do is reduce the exposure to the sun to a minimum. This means that you should cover your head first (and the rest of your body) with light colored fabric; shirt would do the trick. If you can, find a shelter, or create one. If not, you will need to protect yourself from sunburn and dehydration as soon as possible.
The next problem is water loss. Since water sources will be scarce in the desert, it will be nearly impossible to simply fill your water bottle. Finding water in the desert is not an easy task, but if you manage to find some, it will be a life-saver. Of course, if you are left with only your own reserves, the worst thing you could do is to drink it all in one go.
You will need to restrain from drinking it all and try to ration yourself to drink only as much as necessary. The color of your urine is the best indicator of the fluid level in your body. Light color means that everything is well, while darker implies that your body is in need of water.
Finally, even if you manage to find water, you should proceed carefully. If you stumble upon contaminated water, you will be both sick and lost, and believe it or not, this will lower your chances of survival.
Now, this might sound weird, but you should eat as less as possible. Eating will only make you thirsty. If you have drinkable water with you, you should eat as less as possible. Meaning that you’ll eat to keep the pain away and to ensure that you have energy. If you don’t have water at all, the best course of action would be not to eat at all.
Staying calm is one of the most important things you can do. If you start panicking, you might do something irrational or stupid. By staying calm and thinking everything through you will increase your chances of all of this becoming just a good story.
Mark Your Locations
If you are on the move, it is necessary for you to mark the places you’ve been to. Using sticks, rocks, or anything else that might help the search party to find you quicker.
Conserve the Energy
Keep your mouth shut, walk slowly, try to sweat as less as possible, and to spend as little energy as you can.
Like you could expect, the exposure to the sun during the day is dangerous. But during the night, temperature drops can be even worse. One moment you’re burning and the next you’re freezing. This might be a good time to stay put and start building a fire. Not only that the fire will keep you warm, but it will keep dangerous animals at bay.
Traveling at night might not be a good idea at all. You won’t be able to see where you’re going, you will be freezing, and the desert wildlife danger will be extremely high.
Think rationally and try to take precautions before starting your journey. You should always consider “the worst case scenario” and act accordingly. So, pack your things carefully with all the extra water bottles, fire starting kit, first aid, and GPS. And remember that the best thing about the desert is not being lost in it.