When involved in any survival situation that separates you from where you want to be, no matter how slight, or when you realize you are lost, separated from your party or disoriented in the woods, panic is the first reaction most people encounter. It must be defeated before it brings on more harm.
How you handle the effects of the situation brought on by panic can determine your rate of success or failure in any outdoors-emergency situation.
To emphasize the effect that panic can have on an individual, let me use the principle of the “RULES OF 3”. Experience has shown that:
You can only expect to survive in a panic induced emergency situation for only about “3 seconds”,
You can only expect to survive without oxygen or from severe bleeding for up to “3 minutes”,
You can only expect to survive exposure to excesses of heat or frigid cold for up to “3 hours” and,
You can only expect to survive without any major intake of food and water for up to “3 days”.
Panic, as you can see is your major enemy. Panic is the one thing you must overcome, at once, because panic can cause you great harm.
To help you deal with the onset of panic lets look at a simple method of handling an emergency situation. Remember the acronym S.T.O.P. It stands for Sit, Think, Observe, Plan.
When you realize that you are lost or disoriented. Take the time to sit down and collect your thoughts. You are not lost, you are right where you are, your camp, vehicle and everyone else is just not where you thought they were.
What do I have at my disposal? Take an inventory of physical supplies and mental that will help me cope with this situation. Take an inventory of your survival kit items and how you will use them, if needed. Take an inventory of your skills within your mind, remember what you always thought you would do if you got lost or stranded. Most of all you must maintain a positive mental attitude; you will survive.
Look around, is there shelter, water, high ground, and an open area so the searchers can see you. It will be easier for those searching to find you if you can stay in one selected location that will allow you to build a fire, provide shelter, set out signals and be in an area that can be seen at a distance or from aircraft.
Now create your plan of action. Be positive and take care of yourself. If it is late in the day, build a fire for heat and signaling, find or make a shelter against the weather, and most of all remain positive, you do have the ability to survive. You have conquered the major danger of not allowing panic to cast your fate; you can now conquer anything else that confronts you.
As human beings we all have deep within us the necessary skills to survive when lost or stranded. What dampens these skills is the onset of panic. If you can keep yourself from allowing panic to rule, YOU WILL SURVIVE.