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East Tennessee Outdoors… 10 Essentials for Hiking

The Carter County Rescue Squad had to rescue a family of four this week who became lost in the Laurel Fork Falls area. The family had been hiking the Appalachian Trail when they accidentally ventured off the trail and became lost.
When darkness fell on the area, the Carter County Rescue Squad was called to search for them. They were found safe but cold and had to be warmed up before they could continue with the rescue and get them out of the mountains.
Thankfully, the family did not suffer any major injuries and made it out safely. They were cold and tired but overall, unharmed. 
In last my column I discussed how to avoid this situation and some things to pack as you hike or hunt. This seems to be a good time to remind all of us about the ten items that every hunter or hiker needs to have in case of an emergency.
This list of emergency items was originally developed in the 1930s but has changed through the years. Also, this is just a generic list that can be changed for each individual and each situation.
The list includes:
1.  A way to navigate: This may include a compass, map, GPS device or a personal locator beacon. Many phones have a GPS device on them, but individual GPS devices are inexpensive and are a God-sent.
2. Light: Light is essential if it gets dark on you in the mountains. If you are deep in the woods with a lot of cover, expect it to get too dark to walk about 30-45 minutes before everywhere else. A headlamp should be carried or a small flashlight. Don’t forget to carry extra batteries.
3.   Sun Protection: If you are going to be in the sun on your hike, don’t forget to have some sort of sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothes.
4.   First aid: First aid kits can be as small or as big as you think you will need or you can make your own. I carry one that I have made and only includes items that may help me in certain situations, such as bee stings, cuts, etc.
5.   Always carry a good knife. This may be a good quality multi-tool. These handy little tools can have everything in them from a screwdriver to a sharp pocket knife. Also, always buy one of high quality. This can make a world of difference when you are lost or have an emergency.
6.   Fire: Always carry a way to make a fire during an emergency, such as matches, a lighter, and tinder. A fire will not only keep you warm, but it will also give you a sense of comfort during the stress of being lost.
7.   Shelter: This may be a small tent, a small tarp, or a light emergency bevy. The shelter is one of the most important parts of staying warm, and it also gives you a sense of comfort.
8.   Extra food: Always carry some dried food or food that can be easily prepared in case of an emergency. This will not only give you strength, but it will also help to warm you up.
9.   Extra water: Remember the threes of survival. You can go three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
Keeping hydrated can make a world of difference if you are lost. Today, there are filtering systems that will make undrinkable water safe to drink. These are inexpensive and lightweight and are as simple as drinking from a straw.
10. Extra clothes: Dress in layers so that you can be ready for any situation. The weather can change quickly, and you have to be ready for any weather that comes your way. If you dress in layers and carry a good light-weight backpack, you can take clothes off and put them on as you need.
Anyone can find themselves in a dangerous position where their life depends on their skills and the equipment that they have with them. Don’t get caught without the 10 Essentials of Survival.
Your life could depend on it.