How to Get Un-Lost

Choose_the_cool_of_rainforest_tracks_Credit_Jake_Anderson.jpegby Caro Ryan

Whether you’re a track or wild walker who prefers to make their own way, chances are, at some stage, you will find yourself questioning where you are.

Most of us have been there. But with technology and some basic principles, there’s no reason to stay lost for long or for it to end in tears.

Here’s how to get un-lost:

Before you leave

Tell someone where you’re going, who’s with you and when you’ll be back (remember to let them know when you return).

  • Give them a plan of what you’d like them to do if they don’t hear from you by a certain time
  • Pack everything you need for the walk and think about contingencies in case you’re delayed
  • Download the Emergency+ App on your phone
  • Download a smartphone navigation app and the relevant topographic map for the area you’re going. (Hot tip: Go to flight mode and check the map loads correctly to see all the details)

Once you realise you’re lost

STOP. Breathe. Sit down. Calm down. You have two choices:

1: Attempt self-rescue

  • Note the time and take stock of your resources and current situation
  • Check mobile phone coverage and battery life and continue to monitor
  • Think about the last time you knew where you were and when you stopped paying attention to your surrounds
  • If you think you may know which direction the track is or where you need to be, set a time limit to check it out
  • Look for higher ground from which to look for clues or try for mobile phone coverage
  • Reassess resources and daylight if you have not found your way after the 15-minute recce

2: Call the cavalry

While 000 is for life threatening emergencies and you may not be in that situation, if you delay it could quickly lead to that. So:

  • Move to a nearby clear area if possible
  • Try phoning 000 and ask for the Police using the Emergency+ App
  • Try sending an SMS to the friend you gave your intentions to. Ask them to contact 000 for you
  • If there’s no coverage and you have a Personal Locator Beacon, activate it – don’t turn it off
  • Make yourself visible to helicopters by laying out bright coloured clothing, tents or reflective emergency blankets or signalling with a torch, camera flash, mirror or small fire

If you don’t have phone reception, a PLB or didn’t tell anyone where you were going:

  • Recheck your resources and make a plan for food, shelter and water
  • Position yourself in a clear area and STAY PUT

Get it right about phoning 000

  • In Australia, use 000. However, calls made to 112 from any mobile phone, anywhere in the world will be connected with the local 000 equivalent
  • Phoning 112 does not give you priority over 000
  • You can only phone 000 or 112 when there is mobile coverage. But if you have no coverage with your network, the call will be connected if another carrier has coverage
  • 112 does not use satellites to call
  • You cannot send an SMS to 000 or 112
  • 911 does not get re-directed to 000

Listen to Episode 2 of the NEW Visit the Blue Mountains wherever you get your podcasts to hear Caro Ryan talk about getting “unlost” in the bush.

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