The beauty and serenity of Mother Nature can quickly turn into a nightmare. Animal attacks, injuries, disorientation—all are possible when you're roughing it in the wilderness. To stay alive, you gotta know how to react if such situations arise. We turned to Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin, survival experts and cohosts of the Discovery Channel's Dual Survival, for advice.
Encounter With a Bear
Stay calm and don't run. Help the bear recognize you as a human by talking to it in a soothing voice. Avoid eye contact and raise your arms above your head to appear bigger. Your next move depends on what kind of bear you're dealing with. "If it's a black bear, face the animal, get noisy, throw stuff at it, and then leave the area if the bear still seems unintimidated," Lundin says. "If it's a grizzly, slowly—and immediately—begin backing away." (Grizzlies are much bigger than black bears—up to 1,000 pounds vs. 325 pounds.) If the bear lunges forward, snaps his jaws, or slaps the ground with its paw, it likely feels threatened and thinks you're too close. Some bears will rush toward you only to stop a few feet away. Hold your ground and then slowly move away while continuing to talk softly.
Raft Capsizes in Rapids
Right the overturned raft as quickly as possible. To do it, you're going to need leverage. If you can't swim to shore, climb on top of the overturned raft. Once on the raft, slide the grip end of your paddle under the rope that runs along the side of the raft—what pros call the chicken line—and lean back with the full weight of your body until you flip it over. If you're headed toward any dangerous obstacles, such as a waterfall or rocks, "ditch the raft—don't try to save it—and immediately swim as hard as your ass can move to shore," Canterbury says. "Try to swim diagonally into the current toward the nearest side of the river." You'll get there faster since the current is actually pushing your body toward the shore.
Lost in the Woods
The first thing you want is fire. It will keep you warm, but the fire also provides light, a bit of protection from wild predators, and a signal for rangers or search crews. Second, build a shelter and stay put. Insulate the floor with pine needles and leaves, and wait it out. "Always leave a 5-W game plan with someone," Lundin says. "That's a list of where you're going, when you'll return, who is in your group, what means of transportation was used to get to the trail head, and why the outing was planned." That way, if you don't show up where and when you're supposed to, authorities will have a much better chance of rescuing you.
A bad sprain and a fracture can be hard to tell apart, so treat all injuries as the latter. Remember the acronym HIRICE: "Hydration, Ibuprofen, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Follow those guidelines," Lundin says. Using clothing, duct tape, or another material, wrap the ankle firmly—but not tight enough to constrict blood flow—and keep your weight off it as much as possible. If you're alone, find a walking stick to use for support and head back to your car or the nearest road, carefully. "Ankle injuries can go from bad to worse in no time," Canterbury says. Keep moving; the last thing you want is to be stranded alone at night in the woods with an injury.