Though we don’t like to admit it, for some of us, getting lost seems to be synonymous with camping or hiking. It happens. We take a wrong turn, misread the map or GPS, or simply venture into foreign terrain without any sort of navigational preparation. However it happens, getting lost in the woods, far from civilization, isn’t the end of the world, as scary as it may be. To make sure you remain safe and find your way to safety if you happen to get lost, there are a few tips and necessary steps to take, and I’ve outlined them for you today.

First and foremost, you need to try and remain calm if you ever become lost in the wilderness. I realize this can sometimes be the most difficult thing to do, but it’s easily the most important. If you really think you’re lost, then I suggest taking a moment to sit down, gather your thoughts, and perhaps use the opportunity to hydrate and eat something.

Try to mentally retrace your steps to the last point where you knew where you were in relation to the trail or a landmark. If you can do this, and have access to a map, locate the landmark on the map and then use it to regain your bearings. Never, never, never simply walk around trying to find a familiar tree or rock, though, as this can get you more lost than you already were.

If you’re travelling with a group of people, take some time to collectively gather information from each other and arrive at a collaborative consensus regarding the situation. Sometimes, this will mean retracing your steps as a group. However, consider the environment before doing this. If it’s getting dark or the elements are playing a large, interfering role, then it might be best to stay where you are until safe travel is possible. When at the mercy of the elements, such as a snow or thunderstorm, the first thing you want to do is seek shelter. Once you do this, you’ll then want to build a fire and collect firewood. Then you’ll want to collect more firewood, especially if you’re far from civilization and there’s a very real possibility of being stuck there for a few days. You’ll then want to make sure you have a reliable water source, and then establish a method of communicating for help, whether it be an emergency beacon, cell phone, or a signal fire, if need be. Not only will this be proactive towards getting out of the situation, but it will also boost morale and give everyone something to do.

Rather than fixate on being lost, take measures to be found or find your way out. If it looks like you might be in the woods overnight, preparing for that will be top priority. The most important thing to remember is that panicking doesn’t get you anywhere. Allowing yourself to fall into a state of panic will only cloud your judgment, cause you to act irrationally, and could eventually put you in a worse situation.