All deserts are wild and unforgiving, including the high desert in southern Utah. Any casual observation from an unsuspecting hiker would reveal a landscape full of beautiful and unique features. The environment can be deceptively serene and the landscape enticing with many uncommon plants and animals. Fantastic features my beckon temptingly, and you could be in a hurry to discover the next hidden treasure while you are all wrapped up in thoughts of what you may miss.
And that is how trouble might start especially if you are too absorbed in the mystifying shadows and the bright sunshine. If you are an uninformed or unsuspecting visitor, chances of wandering off and getting lost are high. Should that happen to you in the Utah desert, two things are likely to lead to your death – dehydration due to thirst or drowning in a canyon.
A day of fun and adventure may turn into an emergency for survival or death. People have died when they wander off the trail or stumble into a deep canyon filled with fast flowing water particularly if there has been a recent storm.
Now that drowning in a desert makes sense to you, read on about these simple but amazing survival tips from the many wilderness therapy programs in Utah that teach the kids Wilderness survival Skills in a desert.
Get Information about Where You Are Going
Many people have taken to vacationing in desert areas, which is alright because it provides extraordinary adventure. But if you don’t intend to go there and never come back, it would be sensible to gather as much information as possible about the risk you could encounter wherever you are going. Knowing what to expect will enable you to take important safety precautions. You have had stories of people getting stuck on cliffs, being caught in flooded canyons and arroyos during a storm or those who simply disappear without traces. Here are the desert survival basics.
It is important to share your plans with someone else by disclosing where you intend to go. Be very specific about the means of transportation you intend to use, the route you will follow, your destination, and how long you intend to stay away. Make sure any potential health issues you have are known, and say whether you will travel alone or in a group. Describe the emergency supplies you are bringing along.
Carry enough water – Dying from dehydration is one of the most common dangers many desert wanderers face. Heat and strong sunshine in deserts is normal, but it is not normal to get lost or wander far away from camp without enough drinking water. There are no streams and lakes where you can take a drink when you feel thirsty. 1 gallon per person per day is recommended. Drink as often as possible.
Map out you destination accurately – One other cause of dehydration apart from the extreme heat is getting off track and losing your way. All the water you have may be of little help if you lose your way. If you do not have a guide, use a map or GPS device (though these too can be unreliable) if you do not have sufficient skills for compass reading. The best thing to do the moment you suspect you are getting lost is to backtrack on your trail to a feature you can recognize.
Wear the right clothes – Loose fitting, light clothes are preferable to stuffy and heavy clothing like jeans and pullovers which will make you sweat, sticky, itchy and uncomfortable. Light clothes will lessen chances of heat stroke and exhaustion.
Take note of your body’s reaction to the environment- Signs of quickened pulse, heavy breathing, flushed skin and light-headedness might mean danger of hydration. When any of this start to happen, take a rest till you sufficiently recover. Drink while you are resting.
Don’t go into slot canyons – These are likely drowning traps when they fill up with flash floods In Utah the soil is clay and so surface runoffs are common.
Be attentive- And listen to any sound of approaching water if you are in a canyon. Anything sounding like a rushing jet or freight train is a warning for you to get out fast.
Avoid low areas - where you can be washed away with flash floods.