The Hug-A-Tree program was initiated after a tragic search in California for a boy named Jimmy Beveridge. Lost for four days, he died of exposure before searchers could find him. A man who participated in that search was convinced that if Jimmy had followed some basic rules of survival, he might be alive today. As a result of this search, he started the Hug-A-Tree program hoping to prevent another tragedy.
The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and its Volunteer Search & Rescue members believe that by following these simple steps a lost person’s chance of survival is greatly increased, and searchers will find that person much more quickly. Please review these steps with your children and help
What to do when you are lost in the woods.
Step 1. Stay in one Place!
When you realize that you are lost, stop moving. Find a tree and sit down next to it. Hence the name “Hug-A-Tree.” Continuing to move will only make you tired, increases the chance of injury, and usually makes you more lost. Searchers can find a lost person who stays in one place much faster than one who is on the move.
Step 2. Stay Warm!
In the Northwest, weather conditions can change rapidly. A sunny day can turn cold and wet very quickly. Also, a clear day can produce very low temperatures after dark even in the middle of summer. Always carry a jacket or sweater with you even on a hot, sunny day. If you are lost, there is a good chance you will be in the woods during the night.
Step 3. Stay Dry!
Wet clothes can quickly drain your body of heat. If it is raining, seek shelter under the limbs of a thick branched tree or a fallen log. Your child was shown how a common household trash bag can become an emergency shelter. They were encouraged to carry a trash bag in the pocket of their jacket or sweater. An inexpensive rain poncho will work as well.
Step 4. Be Bright!
Wear colorful clothing that contrasts with the greens, browns and grays of the forest. This insures that a lost person will be easily spotted by searchers. This is especially important if helicopters are being used in the search.
Step 5. Be Loud!
Contrary to what we usually tell kids, it is OK to make a lot of noise if they are lost. Yelling “Help! Help! Help!” periodically is a good idea as searchers are listening carefully for any unusual sounds. The best idea is to carry an emergency whistle. The sound carries farther, and it is easy to blow a whistle for long periods of time without fatigue. Remember shout, blow your whistle or make other forms of noise in patterns of three. This is the international sign of distress.