LCSO Tip of the Week – Lost or Stranded in the Woods

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Sheriff Lincoln County Logo LCSO Tip of the Week Featured Image


Sheriff Dennis L. Dotson

225 W. Olive Street

Newport, Oregon 97365

Tel (541) 265-4277

Fax  (541) 265-4926


Date: March 14, 2016


Let me suggest that if you are not prepared and don’t know about the area you want to explore, don’t go.  Wait and go with someone who’s familiar with the area.  Study maps and search the Internet for more information of the area you’re looking to explore.

Each time Search and Rescue (SAR) teams in Oregon initiate a rescue, we learn more about human behavior and what they might do in a situation depending on their health, experience, and knowledge of the area.  One very important action is letting your family or friends know where you are going, when you are expected back, and most importantly do not hesitate to call for help.  This is a beautiful state we live in, but it can be very unforgiving when the elements and the environment change.

If you are traveling on the back roads and your vehicle breaks down, stay with your vehicle.  Try your cell phone.  If there is no cell service, stay with your vehicle.  The vehicle is your shelter from the elements and your vehicle is easier to spot from a plane or helicopter.  If it is too hazardous to remain with the vehicle, don’t walk further than eyesight from the vehicle.  Often a person attempts to walk out and ends up in more danger than if they had waited.

If you are lost or injured in the woods, stay near a trail and try to make yourself a shelter.  If you can, prepare an area for a warming/signal fire.  Keep in mind the time of the year and the conditions in the woods.  We don’t want to have a forest fire.  Staying dry and warm is very important.  Stay hydrated if it is warm.  Remain calm and listen for searchers and hopefully you have a signal whistle in your pack.  Listen for aircraft in the area and hopefully you have packed a signal mirror or flashlight.

Each year we look for mushroom pickers.  They get turned around and can’t find their way back to their vehicle. Many have been rescued because they had cell service; some have never been found.  Pay attention to the direction you are going and stay as close to the trails as you can.  Some will mark their way in with surveyors’ tape and then collect it on their way out.

It’s easy to get turned around when you walk with your head down all day looking for mushrooms.  This is why it is so important to have a map and become familiar with the area.  Today you can purchase a good Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) device for under $100.00 that can lead you back to where you started.  Most importantly, stay calm and conserve your energy.  Some people panic and wander off from the area resulting in injury.

We hope you plan your trip according to our recommendations.  You can never be too prepared, but being unprepared can cost you your life.  When you choose to explore the areas of this great state, please be safe.

For more tips and information, visit our website, use the “MobilePatrol” app on your Smartphone, and Like us on Facebook.