When It Comes To Outdoor Recreation In Central Oregon, Your Life Is In Your Hands.

Taking A Few Simple Precautions‚ could save your LIFE!

DID YOU KNOW…  Each year, more than 400 recreational outdoor enthusiasts are reported missing or injured in the State of Oregon? The worst thing you can do is assume that it won’t happen to you.

Proper planning before a trip
and a healthy respect for nature can save your life! Whether it’s an overnighter in the wilderness or an afternoon just ‘off the beaten path’, the outdoors can be very unforgiving. What was fun can quickly become a life-threatening situation.

The 10 Essentials for Survival

There is no way you can pack for every contingency, but it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. Your 10 Essentials Survival Kit should reflect the season and conditions which you might encounter. Always carry these basics:

The Ten Essential Survival Kit

  1. NAVIGATION: A USGS or equal topo map, a properly declinated (16 degrees locally) base plate compass, along with the knowledge of how to use them together. A simple GPS can also be quite useful as long as you’re familiar with how to use it and the batteries aren’t dead. A watch and cell phone should also be carried.
  2. SUN PROTECTION: Sunglasses, sunscreen, hat (for hot OR cold, summer or winter weather)
  3. INSULATION: The MOST important consideration: NO cotton clothing! Carry synthetic or wool layers, waterproof/windproof rain jacket/ pants; extra gloves/hat, and extra socks as required. Wear layers of clothing to adjust insulation to activity level and current weather. Stay dry to decrease the risk of hypothermia (which can be life-threatening).
  4. ILLUMINATION: Headlamp or flashlight, with extra batteries.
  5. FIRST-AID SUPPLIES: Basic supplies such as Band-aids, gauze pads, triangular and compression bandages, etc. Include any medications you may currently be taking and a bee sting kit if you are allergic.
  6. FIRE: Waterproof matches, butane lighter or candle stubs, plus fire-starting materials (paste, etc.). Do NOT depend on making a fire in bad weather!
  7. REPAIR KIT/TOOLS: Multi-tool (Gerber®, Leatherman®, Swiss Army knife, etc.), Duct tape. Don’t carry what you don’t need.
  8. NUTRITION: High energy, no-cook foods, such as high-carb energy bars. Carry at least 200 calories for every hour you will be out.
  9. HYDRATION: Extra water; take at least (1) liter for short outings and at least 2.5 liters for all-day excursions. Remember that extra water will be needed for hot or cold weather, drink continuously during your outing. Don’t wait until you are dehydrated!
  10. EMERGENCY SHELTER: A Space blanket or bright plastic tarp (9’ x 12’) and a few large plastic trash bags. Bring something to insulate you from the ground, regardless of the time of year. You cannot dig a snow cave without a shovel, and you should not sit/sleep on snow without an insulating pad. (Compiled based on info from The Mountaineers, www.mountaineers.org)

Additional Recommended Items

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team also recommends carrying the following items, in addition to The Ten Essential Systems:

  • A whistle and/or mirror (for signaling, etc.)
  • A small length of lashing cord (shelter building)
  • A metal container w/lid (boiling water, drinks, etc.)

What if you DO get lost? Now what?


If something were to happen to you, would you be missed? This is one of the most important responsibilities of the back-country traveler!

Always tell a neighbor, friend, relative or other responsible person:

  • Your mode of travel (foot, bike, skis, snowmobile, etc.)
  • Where you are planning on going
  • Where you plan to put in (trailhead, etc.)
  • Where you plan to come out
  • How long you expect to be gone
  • Any changes in plans as they occur
  • Who calls and when to call (911, etc.) if you don’t return as expected
  • Your cell phone number, or numbers for others in your group
  • Who else is in your group, and their emergency contacts/information
  • If using an FRS/GMRS radio, leave the frequency and privacy tone you will be using with your contact person


There is no disgrace in getting lost, especially if you are wise about being lost. Even experienced hikers can become disoriented or lost. If that does happen, making good decisions is one of the most important factors for your survival.

Follow these simple guidelines:

  • Don’t panic. Searchers will do everything possible to find you.
  • Stay in one place. You will be safer and much easi-er to find if you’re not a ‘moving target’. Exercise in- place a bit to keep warm.
  • Do not travel at night. Gather a large pile of fire- wood (conditions permitting) and make camp be- fore it gets dark.
  • If possible, camp near water. Water is more import- ant than food. Ration the water you have, as you may not be easily able to find more in Central Oregon.
  • Use your whistle. Give three blasts in a row at regular intervals.
  • Answer a noise WITH a noise. This can help scare animals off and may attract the attention of searchers who may be looking for you.
  • Save your cell phone battery. New cell phone technology may help us find you if you are within range, but there isn’t cell phone service everywhere, and a dead battery doesn’t help anyone. Check and see if you have any signal strength; if not, turn your cell phone off, keep it warm and try again every half hour or so. This extends your battery life, and may assist us if you are ‘pinged’ with a text message or voice mail.
  • Take your time and think. Be Smart!
  • Do you know the area? Study a topographic map before you go and take that same map with you. Talk to others who may be more familiar with the area you are going to than you may be.
  • Is the trip appropriate for your physical condition? What is the elevation gain and footing? Over-ex- tending yourself is asking for trouble!
  • What is the weather forecast? It might be nice outside now, but the weather in Central Oregon can change quickly. It is better to cancel or postpone a trip than put your life in danger.
  • Do you have the proper equipment? Each individual should carry a small day pack with the elements of the Ten Essential Systems, sized to the individual, and to the trip.
  • Do you have a partner? It’s much safer to travel with a partner than go it alone. Be sure to stay together; if you must separate, make contact frequently.


If you carry a GPS into the backcountry, know how to use it correctly before you start. Practice until the different options become second nature.

To minimize error, master these primary GPS skills:

  • Set up your GPS with the proper datum/coordinate system for your map, which you also need to bring with you.
  • Learn to use the UTM Coordinate grid used on snowmobile, USFS and USGS Quad maps.
  • Create/name a waypoint- your present location (car, trailhead, etc.)
  • Create other waypoints manually by entering coordinates and giving them a name/identifier.
  • Determine bearing and distance to any given marked waypoint (‘Go To’).
  • Set up your GPS to record your track and retrace it (‘Track Back’).
  • Carry extra batteries! Keep them warm in a pocket; consider lithium batteries in very cold weather.


Once you are lost or in trouble, it is too late to assemble a Survival Kit. Do it now and always carry it with you. Essential survival systems should be carried by each person in a light day pack, sized to the individual and the weather forecast. A ‘one-size fits all’ kit does not meet the suggested requirements. Each person needs items sized for themselves.

Include this Ten Essential Systems for a better outdoor experience.