Emergency situations

If you think you are lost, stop and apply the ‘lost’ procedure (see Chapter 38). It is dangerous to continue in the hope that water will be found. Note the following points:

  • get out of the sunlight into shade, and up off the hot ground
  • keep your body covered, especially your neck and head
  • minimise muscle action during intense heat
  • wear dark glasses if you have them
  • drink when thirsty but do not eat, as this uses up water for digestion
  • keep your mouth shut—minimise talk
  • analyse the situation and resources available—food, clothing, shelter, first aid and signals
  • a smoky fire or a flashing mirror can be seen from a great distance by a search party or an aircraft in flat, arid country
  • do not travel unless absolutely necessary and then only in the cool of the early morning and late evening or night if conditions permit
  • walk slowly and rest often. In critical situations save urine, not for drinking but for cooling the body.

One important principle you should always follow when travelling by vehicle in desert country is to make sure that the authorities or some responsible person knows of your destination and when you are due there. Then, if your vehicle becomes bogged or breaks down, stay by it. Many lives have been needlessly lost in outback areas through failure to do this.