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“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” -Henry David Thoreau

Hello Hiker,

Have you enjoyed walking a full day on a new hiking trail?  Exploring outdoors with a friend?  Pondered what would happen in case of an emergency?

I had a crush on a guy and we made a date to hike up a nearby, and very popular, mountain.  This mountain, literally, overlooked a housing subdivision and an elementary school.  Its the family friendly neighborhood.  There were no hazards in sight and I had been hiking all summer to prepare for a 32-mile backpack trip.  My friend and I packed up our daypacks and I laughingly told my roommate, as I walked out the door, “if we’re not back by 8pm, send out the search & rescue!”

Little did I know how fateful that quip would come to be that day.

Watch today’s video to learn about how my dayhike ended up with search & rescue coming up the mountain looking for me!

After you do, print this form – ICE for SAR – and let me tell you why, when, and how to use it.  I prepared this form for the safety of my friends and fellow hikers.

In Case of Emergency (ICE) for Search And Rescue (SAR)

This form is for solo and two-party hikers.  Usually groups of three or more will have the ability to send someone to get help.

Here are some of the forms highlights:

  • Hiker(s) is wearing – this is important to Search & Rescue to know if they’re looking for someone wearing bright (highly recommended) or natural colors.
  • I will be hiking – this identifies if you’re hiking alone or how many are in your hiking party.  It also shares how many adults, kids, and dogs are in your party.
  • Start and Finish Times –  this info lets your rescuers know what time you left and when you were anticipating returning. It tells them how long you’ve been on the trail.
  • Trail Information – where should they start looking for you?
  • Supplies I / We have – do you have layers to keep you warm?  food? water? something to mark your location?
  • Skills I / We are trained in – first aid skills are great skills to have!!  This also tells search & rescue if you, or someone in your party, has the skills to stabilize injuries.
  • If I’m in trouble – any grouping of 3 tells people that you are in trouble.  I have a BRIGHT  yellow poncho that stays in my daypack.  It can be used as a hasty shelter or it can be cut into 3 pieces and hung in trees for better visibility from the ground or the air.  If you can flag your location in a triangular area (hang flagging in a triangle shape with you in the middle).  Take a whistle and blow it in 3 loud bursts.  Keep your headlamp handy and charged and flash it in 3 flashes.  Search & rescue will know what these signals mean and come to your location.

In short, do your homework to secure that you stay calm and know what to do if you need to get help to you when your unable to get to them.  The more that you can give them a headstart, the better.

Tell a friend or family member where you’re going, when to expect you back, and how you’ll communicate that you are healthy and happy.  This form can be filled out and left with that point-of-contact or on the front seat of your car at the trailhead.  I’ve set it up so that you can trifold it with “ICE for SAR” up for those in the know to see.

I hope that you never have to use it.  I recognize that I was very lucky the day that I found myself in a precarious situation.  Watch  here to learn about my experience…..

Safe Travels Friend!

ps.  leave a comment if this is helpful to you or a friend.  Even better, share it with them!!