Proper planning is the key to creating most any enjoyable outing. Planning will help to eliminate items that can be forgotten in the excitement of getting underway. We all know that no matter how good our plan is though, something is usually missed and we encounter an unplanned surprise.
Below are some tips on surviving in the desert and some things to do in preparation for your trip.
- Always inform someone of where you are going, your route, and when you expect to return. Please stick to your plan!
- Carry at least one gallon of water per person per day, a first aid kit, and personal survival kit.
- Be sure your vehicle has a sound battery, good hoses, spare tire, spare fan belts, necessary tools for minor repairs, sufficient gasoline. Carry extra radiator water and any other parts that you suspect your vehicle might need.
- Keep an eye on the sky. Flash flooding my occur in a wash area any time that "thunderheads" are visible, even though it may not be raining anywhere near you.
- Be alert to the three conditions which can pose an immediate threat to you life – hyperthermia, dehydration and hypothermia.
- Test the footing before driving through washes and sandy areas. A one minute check of conditions may save hours of hard work or it may prevent damage to your vehicle.
- Stay near your vehicle if it breaks down. A car has many useful items in an emergency. Raise hood and trunk lid to denote "help needed." A vehicle can be seen for miles, but a person on foot is very difficult to discern. Leave a disabled vehicle only if you are POSITIVE of the route to get help. Leave a note for rescuers telling them the time you left and direction.
- When not moving, use available shade or erect some shade from tarps, blankets, or seat covers to reduce the direct rays of the sun.
- Do not sit or lie directly on the ground. In sunlight, the ground usually is 30 degrees hotter than the air.
- Rest at least ten minutes each hour if walking. A normally inactive person should rest 30 minutes each hour. Find shade, sit down, prop up feet. Adjust shoes and socks, but do not remove.
- If you have water, drink it. DO NOT RATION WATER!
- If water is limited, avoid stressful activities. DO NOT talk, eat, smoke, take salt or drink alcohol.
- Keep clothing on, as it keeps body temperature down and reduces the dehydration rate. Cover your head for shade.
- Set signal fires if stalled or lost. Burn smoky fires in the daytime, bright ones at night. Three fires in a triangle denote "Help Needed."
- A roadway is a sign of civilization. IF YOU FIND A ROAD, STAY ON IT.
- Each person hiking in the desert should carry a police-type whistle. Three blasts denote "help needed". Signal mirrors are also useful.
- To avoid poisonous creatures, put your hands and feet only where your eyes can see.