Mesa County Search and Rescue has already racked up more than seventy rescues this year, including rescuing a severely dehydrated hiker Saturday afternoon.
But Search and Rescue team members say there are plenty of things to do to prepare yourself from becoming a statistic before you head out this holiday weekend.
Joanne Black with the Search and Rescue team says before you even leave the house, you need to make a plan, or an itinerary; “where are you going, what's your day going to look like, and your expected time of getting back."
She says this way, if you get lost, they will know when and where to look for you.
Black says if you become lost, follow the Search and Rescue’s best rule of thumb, and “STOP”:
S: Sit down, gain your composure, remain calm. Have a drink of water and a bite to eat. Panicking will only compound the problem. Traveling blindly through the woods will seldom remedy the situation.
T: Think. Analyze your situation. How long have you been lost or disoriented? Can you retrace your steps to a last known point? How much light do you have left in the day? What is the weather like? If the sun is setting and/or the weather is bad, shelter is a priority. Analyze your immediate needs. What are they? Heat? Shelter from the elements? First aid needs? Water? Food?
O: Observe. What are the immediate dangers? Any injuries? Poor weather? What are your shelter options? How much fuel is in the area?
P: Plan. Plan what you will do until help arrives? Move to suitable location. It should provide shelter near sufficient fuels and near open or high areas where you will be seen by searchers. Hang visual attractors in open areas. Blow on your whistle. Gather wood for your fire. Improvise a shelter. Build your fire. Stay put. Moving locations only complicates Search and Rescue efforts.
Search and Rescue officials say pack the following items and always carry them with you while in the outdoors:
-Map & Compass
-Headlamp/flashlight and extra batteries
-Lunch, plus extra food
-Adequate clothing existing conditions and extra clothing
-First Aid supplies
-Pocket knife or utility tool
-Fire starter: waterproof matches/lighter/steel flint striker
-Fire starting tinder
-Space tarp/small string or cord
*be sure to know how to use all of the equipment you carry!