Here’s The First Actions to Take When Lost…


(Modern – While on a hiking trip, you realize you’re lost. The first thing you should do is…

• S.T.O.P.

• Call 911

• Situation awareness

• Build a shelter

Answer: S.T.O.P. Here’s why…

Getting lost can be embarrassing at best, and downright dangerous at worst. Losing the path while exploring the great outdoors, whether hiking or simply wandering too far from camp, can have disastrous results for the unprepared.

Before succumbing to panic once you realize that you don’t know where you are (or how to get back to civilization), there are some simple steps that can help anyone gain their bearings.

Remember to S.T.O.P.

The first action anyone should take once it is obvious they’ve become lost is to S.T.O.P. This acronym, which stands for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan, can help keep panic at bay and allow the lost individual to evaluate the situation objectively. Here are the steps:

  • Stop: Stop moving. Analyze the situation, take in the surroundings, and look for recognizable markers that could indicate which way to travel. This is a good time to check gear and see what is available to work with, as well as to check a compass.
  • Think: Attempt to recall the path taken that led to the current location. Were recognizable landmarks passed along the way? Were there obstacles that forced a deviation from the beaten path? How long has it been since the recognizable path was left behind?
  • Observe: What does the surrounding area look like? Use all of the senses while piecing together a map of the environment. Can the sounds of water be heard? Can a recognizable path be seen? Are there any signs of human activity, such as park benches, or even litter? Is there a smell of smoke or campfires in the air? All of these signs can help to determine the next steps.
  • Plan: Put together all the details gathered from the previous steps and decide upon a plan of action. Consider the time of day before attempting to trace the steps out, as traveling in the wild at night can be dangerous for a number of reasons. It may be better to establish shelter and hunker down until morning before setting off.

Getting lost in the wild is but one example of why it’s absolutely vital to prepare before stepping foot out the door. Ultimately, everyone is responsible for their own safety and well-being — especially in nature. For tips on how to prepare for a hiking or camping trip to maximize your chances of a safe return, check out our article here.

~Here’s to Your Survival!

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