TIP #1: Always be Adequately Prepared!

When going on even a small outing into the wilderness, it is very important to prepare for a longer outing than planned and unexpected circumstances. Never go out without a pack equipped with at least the 10 essentials: 1) plenty of water 2) extra food 3) extra clothing 4) fire starter 5) map 6) compass 7) knife 8) first aid kit 9) flashlight 10) beadless storm whistle. Being properly prepared could mean your life. Be safe, not sorry! Also remember, when hiking with friends do not split up unless you absolutely have to. If you do separate, be sure that each person has the 10 essentials.

TIP #2: Inform Your Friends/Family

Before ever going out into the wilderness, make sure someone knows where you are going and when to expect you back. This simple action could save your life - time is of ultimate importance in your survival if you become seriuosly injured or lost in the woods.

TIP #3: What to Do When Lost

If you become lost during a wilderness outing: 1) stay calm and relax - don't panic. 2) take time to access your situation. 3) eat and drink something. 4) don't wander around. 5) if possible, travel downstream or down a canyon. 6) if deciding to remain in the same place, place a bright-colored article in a clearing and remain nearby. 7) listen for call-out by a search team and be prepared to call back. 8) look for ways to protect yourself from the environment and changing weather.

TIP #4: Lightning Do's & Dont's

If caught in lightning in a wilderness setting, remember: 1) stay away from isolated trees. 2) squat down with your feet close together. 3) avoid overhangs, caves, ridges, and summits. 4) spread out if with others. 5) if metal objects begin to make a buzzing sound or your hair stands on end, immediately descend. 6) be aware that lightning can strike from a cloud several miles away. 7) lightning storms can approach with extreme rapidity.

TIP #5: Firebuilding Techniques

If you need to build a fire for survival: 1) clear the area down to bare dirt. 2) start the fire small and slowly build it - begin with small twigs, leaves, needles, and/or sap, then add small sticks and build to larger pieces of wood. 3) for best heat advantage build your fire near a large rock-face and sit between the rock-face and the fire. The rocks will reflect the heat back toward your body. 4) in wet weather dry twigs are found on trees, not the ground

TIP #6: Preventing Hypothermia

Hypothermia can occur surprisingly quickly in our climate area, even at Taos' lower altitudes and at temperatures of 95 or less. Hypothermia usually occurs more often in warmer weather than in severe cold because people are often not prepared for the dramatic change of temperatures when a sudden storm moves in or once nightime arrives in Taos. The following preventative measures could save your life:

1) Make sure to use synthetic clothing in all your outdoor adventures. In a rainstorm, cotton clothing does not wick moisture and can quickly lead to hypothermia. 2) Always pack extra clothing, to include extra socks, extra inner layer, extra middle layer, and a jacket for outerwear. 3) A space blanket is an unnoticeable addition to your pack in terms of weight, but a very noticable addition to your warmth factor if stranded when temperatures drop. 4) An inexpensive rain poncho is also lightweight and takes virtually no room in your pack, but can keep you and clothes dry, thus saving your life. 5) If cold, keep exercising by maintaining moderate, continual movement and eat foods high in sugar content.

TIP #7: Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness can occur rather suddenly and even to those of us who live in Taos or similar altitudes. Altitude sickness is serious and can even lead to death. To help prevent altitude sickness or in the case of altitude sickness, please observe the following measures:

1) keep hydrated by drinking more water than normal. 2) climatize at lower elevations before climbing and ascend slowly. 3) if traveling to Taos from a lower elevation, begin drinking more water than ususal two weeks before your trip and continue drinking extra water until you leave Taos. 4) stay aware of altitude sickness symptoms for yourself and others - headache, nausea, insomnia, poor appetite. 5) if you develop altitude sickness, the cure is to lose elevation.

TIP #8: The Importance of Knots

Knowing the right knot can save a life. It is an essential skill for survival when the going gets tough. For a complete animated tutorial on important knots for wilderness outings, go to the following website: Animated Knots by Grog