by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Which should it be?
Make a signal fire
Take a moment to relax, accept that you are lost and go from there
The vast majority of people would either answer 2,1,3 or 2,3,1 in that order and some would even consider shelter or food the first priority. The truth, however, is another one.
The answer should and must be 5: Take a moment to relax, accept that you are lost and go from there. This one is also referred to as “taking stock”.
It is no good running about like a headless chicken looking for water or food or for materials for a shelter. First sit down quietly, control your emotions and with a more or less cool head take stock of your situation.
Check as to what you have got with you, try to remember how you got here, and such. If you are expected to be back at a certain time somewhere and people are aware approximately as to where you are or should be then stay put where you are, if possible.
Why? Because trying to retrace your steps or, even with a compass and a map, setting out into an unknown direction, could simply get you into deeper trouble and that is what we do want to avoid.
Hug a tree is a system by the RCMP called for children who have gotten lost in the Canadian bush. This is also a good advice for any of those of use who are expected back at a certain location and therefore we can be certain that someone will come looking for us if we are not back.
The situation is, obviously, somewhat a different one if there is no one expecting us at a certain location but the #1 step remains the #5 on the list. Sit down and quietly take stock and decide, calmly, without panic, the next move.
As long as you are not injured and are not losing blood and you are just simply lost then there is no need for urgency. But even if injured panicking is the last thing that you need.
If you are deciding to stay put until someone might search for you then the second priority after taking stock is the construction of a shelter and, about as important, finding potable water. Then, depending on the time of year and as to whether you need to keep wild dangerous animals at bay a fire. Food is the least of your priority. You can go for about 30 days without food, if need be.