Operating Hours:Late Summer
Tuesday/Thursday By Appt
Friday 9am - 12pm
Nature survival is a good skill to have and the Joe Ford Nature Center's last nature camp taught the young campers simple survival skills. The time we may get lost is when we are not paying attention to where we are going or where we've been. Similar to driving a car, if we take the same route everyday to work then the terrain becomes familiar and the arrival to the destination ends without remembering the actual drive. Technology is great but too much use is robbing the sense of topophilia or "a strong sense of place". Relying upon on GPS to direct every move and turn dulls remembering the topography that has aided travelers for centuries- reading maps, remembering landmarks, terrain, mountain ranges, or any natural feature helps keep the brain focused, the sense of direction keener and the less likelihood of getting lost.
Getting lost can happen to anyone, recently in the news we have heard of several proficient hikers lost for days but they knew how to survive until rescued. A person's sense of direction in a forest can become off balance, so staying calm will be the number one thing to remember should getting lost happens. If it is late in the day and rescue does not seem imminent then some basic steps will be useful to making it through the night. Staying hydrated is very important, if the hike was planned then most will have some water and food but what if it was an accident or taking a quick jaunt caused wandering off the beaten path. Water will be the number one need, finding it is another and three days is the maximum that most can go without water. When looking for water find rock formations or hills because water naturally will run downhill , it may only be a trickle but its better than nothing. Another way in finding water is to follow animal tracks because animals will know of available water sources. Know that some plants will hold water in the stem and after a morning dew locate broadleaf plants where water will collect, using them as a cup to drink the water accumulated. Once the water is found be careful to know clean water from stagnant water and if the water source is safe to drink use a sock to filter debris, on a hot day the same wet sock can also act as a cooling wrap.
If nightfall is approaching, the next priority will be shelter and if all you have is your two hands then look for a spot near a large tree trunk or rocks and make a bed of a thick layer of leaves, this will help keep in the body heat. Weather can play a role in the decision making, building a shelter will be a priority if rain or snow is in the forecast. The shelter will need to be simple, finding broken down limbs and branches with leaves to build a small hut and to keep off the damp ground use dried pine needles or leaves to make a mattress. If you happen to have an equipped hiking pack then matches will be available and building a simple fire will be the next step. Building a fire will be a good signal to alert your location, useful cooking source, and keeping warm. Ideally look for a wind resistant area, then search for dry grass to be the tinder- leaves, pine needles or small pieces of wood no larger than a pencil for the kindling- logs no larger than the size of your lower arm to be the fuel, laid one end on top of another to create air flow. Keep the fire small to conserve energy and add to it as needed.
Hungry may rear its ugly head but unlike water a person can go long periods of time without eating. Plants will not be the go to food source due to the low caloric count but also there is a chance of munching on a poisonous variety, however depending on the season there will be some berries that are edible. Remember mammals that have fur is edible but unless you have a way of catching them, it won't be supper. Insects that have six-legs are edible as well, but it may be ideal to forgo eating because upsetting the stomach may cause vomiting and dehydration.
Staying put is more important than wandering and remember moss is not a good directional indicator, yes it grows on the north side but it also grows on the east, west and south in a dense moist forest. Without a compass the sun will be the best source of telling time and direction because the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The best rule of thumb is : Stop and stay put, make yourself seen and heard, build a shelter from the elements, and be patient and wait for rescue. The parks within the Owensboro Daviess County area are small and the trails are well marked and most walkers and hikers are novice and will not venture out into heavy forested terrain but these skills are ideal for many other events. Be prepared and not scared will lead to a good survival and rescue in any situation.