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Emergent Campsite

December 19, 2016

 There are many reasons for the occurrence of emergency sleeping in a mountainous area, which may be caused by an accident, improper manual operation of equipment, or stuck by a natural disaster. In case of these emergency, have you ever planned of how to deal with it and go through maybe more than one night there? As a mountaineer who often walks in the mountains, no matter how experienced you are, perfect as your equipment are, strong team though you are in, when an unexpected accident occurred, which would make you stay in the wilderness for several nights without any mountain house or any tents on your own or with other in your troop. Do you think you can hold up to the elimination of the risky situation?


Potential risk in the forest at night:

The most risky things in the forest at night includes low temperature and the invasion of wild animals. The former is particularly required to pay extra attention to. According to people's physiological phenomena, days without any intake of food or drink may not cause death. However once the constant temperature of the body center decreased below 32 degrees for a short time can be deadly! That is "loss of temperature" phenomenon as we often hear people speak of. It’s even more difficult for a person who is out of temperature to warm up himself promptly as most of the hypothermia is not easy to detect, which has caused the lost of appropriate time for them to get back to warmth. What’s worse, the improper warming action will deteriorate the situation! Please focus on pre-prevention. If you go camping or hiking on the alpines area, you can put one several thermal layer of clothing to keep thermal. Bring extra clothing as the clothing you are wearing may get wet and you can have alternatives. The wet clothing you wear will make the leaking of your body heat dramatically fast. So, try your best to keep yourself dry and warm when you go camping in lower temperature environment. As for the invasion of prevention of wild animals, although there rare chances of occurrence, they can be really dangerous and threatening. So check if there is possible wildlife invasion before you go and bring a bear spray if any.


Possible reasons for staying out in a forest:

Get lost from troop: subjective separate action, go beyond control of the team. May also fall into a cliff, no one can be found for rescue, or due to lack of strength and fall behind, unable to catch up with the team and thus getting lost.


Group tents can not be used due to the severe damage caused by inadvertent use.


Tent inspection work is not implemented prior to departure, results in the tent’s failing to set up when you arrive at the destination.



Among the above cases, the first situation is the most noticeable and more prone to be in danger, because when someone is stuck in the event of an accident alone, it is easier to make a wrong judgment and cause unfortunate accident. Thus, I am focusing on this issue.


Stuffs needed caution when falling behind your troop and get lost in the forest alone:


Calm judgment

Keep calm: After you find yourself lost and fall behind your troop, the first stuff you should do is to take a deep breath and calm down, recall the trails you have paced to see if there is any way back to the familiar path, do not leave your portable backpack, such as for mobility. If you want to laid down your backpack as a sign to find your way out, or fix your backpack as the center to find the correct path out around it, you should limit the searching distance to ensure that you can go back to the place where you have put your backpack down. There is much risk of losing your backpack when it’s out of your sight then. Take out your map and figure out the directions, and find out the largely relative position you are in and narrow the area according to the nearby terrain, features, mountains or rivers to understand the location. Please do not break out your own way blindly and rashly. You may take the rescue equipment out of your backpack, such as whistles, or shouting names of your companion to see if there is any responses.


If you can not find the correct path or can not contact the companion in the troop, we must have the worst plan for the night to come alone:


Set a sign on the obvious place for the rescue workers or ranger to find you out, and find somewhere to shield rain at night. If you are in the winter uphill, insulation will be most important, the basic principles of insulation: (1) to keep your body dry, (2) use of thermal keeping stuffs to stay warm, (3) to supply food source (4) to avoid unnecessary lost of physical strength.



Look for safety shelter

When looking for campsite, consider natural terrain, features: such as,


(1) dense bamboo arrows in the forest: place you are usually hate to drill through may be your life-saving land, there are a number of windproof effects on the dense bamboo forest, more than in the open place to avoid the wind.


(2) Natural cave or holes within trees: a natural tree hole or cave is the best hideout, but also confirm whether it’s the lair of the beasts, so as not to increase danger. If the natural shelter is quite remote or difficult to reach, please also leave some mark in the open place for others to find you out, stuffs include stacked stone or artificial objects.


(3) wood: provide enough dry branches to lit and keep you warm, but please be careful with fire safety, and you can find somewhere windproof in the woods include natural holes in the big trees or the other side of fallen trees to the prevailing wind.


The use of existing equipment: you should usually develop the habit of carrying emergency objects, such as:

(1) Fire Source: Waterproof matches, wax, fire.


(2) Tough and big plastic bags: can work as internal waterproof bag for your backpack, can cover the body to anti wind, keep you warm in an emergency.


(3) Cutters: Swiss knives or general fruit knife, these tools can be used to erect a simple shelter. Cut down and gather some tougher  branches and some vine if you do not bring enough ropes in your backpack, tie the branches to somewhere windproof with the vines. And grab some smaller branches with leaves and place them on the tied branches to form a simple shelter. Also, cut down SOME thick wood on the sticks to start a camp fire to provide heat and boil food.


(4) emergency food: high-calorie food is the key source to keep your body temperature.


(5) Camping shelter: If you have brought any, it will be much better. With a sleeping bag, a mattress and a foot print, there will be much less to be afraid of.


(6) gas burner: If you have portable gas stove and gas cans, then you will find it much better for you to survive even in extreme situations.




Increase the heat in your body: after determine the safe campground, if camp fire is possible then heat your food before you eat to increase body heat, fill the thermos with boiled water as well, so you can have some hot water to drink at cold nights to and this will add extra heat to you.


To avoid the loss of body heat: generally, lost of body heat mainly due to conduction, convection and radiation, so we can prepare for some prevention according to these leaking ways.


(1) conduction: wear dry clothes, avoid direct contact of cold objects with your body, use of sleeping pads to isolate the ground, cover the ground where you sleep on with dry branches or bamboo, dry branches can stimulate you not to sleep to death.


(2) convection: shelter is the finest consideration, the mountain breeze is often a fatal factor, so the choice of location for overnight is very important. There are mountains often blown strong mountain breeze at night, which is blowing from the hill to the valley that should pay extra attention to.  


(3)Radiation: Clothing can trap heat radiation leaking from your body. Wear suitable layers of clothing for cold weather camping will be much better. Cotton clothing is the last choices, they will easily absorb moisture from the wet air or other kinds of water from the circumstance and your sweat as well. These cotton clothing will remain wet for a rather long time, and the moisture within the wet cotton clothing will turn into ice if the temperature is low enough, thus your skin will be exposed to these cold ice and cause more leaking of body heat.


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