One of the most important things to remember when embarking on a trip out, before a survival situation may or may not occur, is to tell someone where you are going and when (even roughly) you are likely to be back. If you are then left stranded you are able at the very least to press on with looking after yourself in the knowledge that somebody already knows where you are and when you are likely to be back. This gives friends, family or rescuers a great head start.
Consider these examples of plan communication and then look at which (if any) are likely to yield the best results if the worst should happen. Unbelievably, I’ve actually heard people say some of these examples to family members before a trip.
- I’m heading off trekking, I’ll see you in a few days.
- We should be back in a couple of days.
The answer is that none of the above will yield great results if for any reason you weren’t back when planned / expected.
Better, but by no means the best yet would be:
- I will be going trekking in [some state/forest/area] and will be alone for [most of the time/all of the time]. I plan on starting at [some place] and then heading [north/east/south/west] over the course of [number of days]. I’m taking enough food to last for [x days / the duration of my trip]. I anticipate being back in [number of days]. I [may run over / shouldn’t run over] with my schedule.
This is a lot better. With the above information, you have a pre-set alarm for friends and family to start worrying if necessary, or not worrying if not.
If for example you have told people you will be travelling north over a period of 5 days and have communicated a starting point, then if you are for some reason still not back in 7 days, your friends or family members should automatically start to put a plan into action for alerting the authorities. In turn, the authorities will have a starting point, a rough direction of travel and an indication of how long you should have been travelling for. This can narrow their area of search down by an order of magnitude, making rescue quicker and potentially could be the difference between life and death if the reason for your delay is due to injury or illness.
Some other information that would bolster your effective communication before embarking on a trip out could include:
- A formal grid reference of your starting point.
- Any arrangements for overnight accommodation.
- Contact details of friends / family members of other members of your party. In a rescue situation, this will allow communication with the friends and family of other members of the party, who may have information on your group that yours don’t.
- How many people, if any, you will be travelling with.
- A copy of your actual route, if pre-planned.
- A list of communication devices you have with you (satellite phone/regular mobile/emergency beacon etc).
The safest way to travel is to be prepared, and nothing prepares you more than everybody else in your party being prepared with you.