Quis Missione Usquam - Any Mission, Anywhere

If an Emergency Occurs - Mason County Search & Rescue

What to do when your adventure goes sideways

Adventure typically begins when the plan falls apart. That said, some adventures are more dangerous than others - and should you find yourself wondering where you are or what you should do, we hope you can keep the following basics in mind. You'll be better positioned to come out of your experience unscathed, and we'll have an easier time finding you and bringing you home.

Once you realize you're lost: STOP! This is the most important word for you to remember, because if we can retrace your steps we're much more likely to find you. If you keep wandering around thinking you recognize that hill, or that rock, or that pond... well, the likelihood is that you'll end up walking a lot more than you intended. Find yourself a sheltered area, hunker down and think through your next steps.

STOP is also a mnemonic for SIT, THINK, OBSERVE and PLAN. This is usually the best course of action when your original plan falls apart.

COMMUNICATE! The most obvious option is to yell as loud as you can, short of wearing yourself out completely. If someone is nearby, they're likely to hear you and can come to your aid - but LET THEM COME TO YOU. You're already lost, so there's no reason to compound the problem by trying to navigate back to a distant voice. Make noise often, and a lot of it.

If you have a mobile phone on hand, call 911 if your signal allows it - if not, send text messages to anyone who can call for a rescue on your behalf. SMS messaging is often functional long after voice capability has been lost, so get those messages out early and often.

SHELTER! The Olympic Peninsula can be a cold, wet place at times, especially after the sun goes down. As soon as you start thinking that you're going to be out past dusk, start creating a safe place to get yourself out of the elements. If you have supplies in your pack, use them to your advantage - and if not, our area is full of sticks and other items perfectly suited to building a rudimentary structure. This is also a good time to consider your environment and determine whether or not a small fire will be needed to stay dry and warm (and it would be an excellent way of showing us where you are), but be smart and safe if you decide to build one.

If you decide that you need to move to put yourself in a safer or more visible location, LEAVE CLUES along the way. Inscribe a message in the dirt, form arrows indicating your direction of travel using sticks or rocks... anything to help us determine a) that you were there and b) which way you're headed. Remember that ground clues under a canopy of trees are only visible to rescuers on foot; if you can leave large indicators out in the open, our air assets will be able to zero in on you much faster.

Above all else, DON'T MAKE YOUR SITUATION WORSE by putting yourself in danger while trying to make your own way home. If you wouldn't feel comfortable crossing a stream or climbing a rock face when things are going well, it's a bad idea to attempt to do so when things have gone sideways. An injury - even a relatively minor one - puts you at further risk and will require a lot more effort on our part to bring you home.

All content © 2019 Mason County Search & Rescue, a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Federal EIN 911587888.