Make an Emergency Kit for Hiking

Make sure each family member has a whistle and other basic gear. Practice hiking safety.

What You Need

  • Compass – if your hikers know how to use one
  • Flag or other shape made from bright plastic
  • Matches, waterproof
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Snack – high-energy such as trail mix or energy bars
  • Water bottle, filled with clean water
  • Whistle – plastic, without a cork inside
  • Ziplock bag, large enough to hold all your kit items

What You Do

  1. Before heading out, make sure each person has an emergency kit
    Ideally, each person should have a kit, in case someone wanders off. It’s not going to help if all the whistles are in mom and dad’s backpacks.

  2. When you start your hike, review the emergency procedures
    Have each person practice walking away from the group a short distance and blowing their whistle for three blasts. Remind everyone that the whistles are only for when you are lost.
    Choose a whistle that is plastic so it doesn’t rust. Also, some whistles have corks in them that can swell if the whistle is wet, so avoid those. Add a string to the whistle so the person can have it around their neck and not drop it among branches or in the dark.

  3. Remind everyone to hug a tree when they get lost
    It’s important to stop as soon as you are lost, and not keep wandering.
    While it’s good to find a sheltered area, don’t crawl in a cave or somewhere so hidden that searchers can’t find you.

  4. If you are camping, review how the boundaries of the campsite
    Encourage kids to always take a buddy.
    You can hang rags from trees to remind everyone of the boundaries.
  5. Keep dry
    If you want to lay down, try to gather some dry branches first, rather than laying on the cold ground. You can also use leaves or branches to cover yourself.
  6. Eat your snack
    Don’t eat berries or mushrooms. Just eat some of your snack at a time. Drink sips of your water to stay hydrated.
  7. Put out signs of where you are
    When you bring brightly colored plastic flags, you can place them around the area where you are waiting.
    You can also spell out the word HELP or SOS with rocks or sticks.
    It’s good to make noise when you are lost, such as singing or whistling, to attract attention.
    When you hear people coming, shout!