A survival instructor says if you are lost in the wilderness, don't rely too much on technology and stay in one place.
EUGENE, Ore. – A survival instructor says if you are lost in the wilderness, don’t rely too much on technology and stay in one place. If you move, he said, the odds of being found diminish.
Michael Strong, a wilderness survival instructor and director of the University of Oregon’s Outdoor Pursuits Program, says people often think gadgets such as cell phones, the Internet and on-board global positioning devices will get them out of jams.
He said such devices don’t take into account local conditions, such as the snow that stranded the Kim family in Southwest Oregon for more than a week.
He said the most important thing he teaches students in his eight-week course is letting someone else know your travel plans.
“Tell someone where you’re going, what time you plan on being back and at what time they should call for help,” he said.
Once stuck or lost, Strong said people should stay put, as the Kim family did for the first week, before James Kim, 35, left the car on Saturday to look for help. He was found dead today.
“It’s best to stay in one place because the searchers will get to that place,” Strong said. Moving just a mile creates a search area of three square miles, Strong said. Move two miles, and the search area expands to 12 square miles.
Kim’s wife and two small daughters were rescued Monday.
For anyone lost in the wilderness, “The first core organ that hypothermia affects is the brain, and even the slightest drop in blood temperature affects judgment,” Strong said.
“That’s why it becomes dangerous. They might not realize their judgment is cloudy,” he said.
On the state highway department’s paper map of Oregon, a red warning below the route the Kims took shows it is closed in winter.
That information is not available on the agency’s Web site Tripcheck, department spokesman Joe Harwood said.
The Web site alerts travelers to road conditions and closures, but doesn’t include the National Forest Service roads, which thread through both the Coast and Cascade ranges.
“If you’re going to be driving around in National Forest areas in the winter, check their maps, check with the district office to make sure their roads are open and passable.