Off-Road Safety Tips:

The backcountry can be a dangerous place, especially if you become stranded or stuck. Here are some important tips to help survive when the worst case scenario strikes.

  • Travel in groups of vehicles; this greatly improves the odds of not getting stranded.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order; carry basic spares and fluids, and the tools to replace those parts if needed.
  • Carry a cell phone; sometimes you maybe in a service area but don’t count on it.
  • Don’t count on passing traffic; there often is none, especially in the winter.
  • Carry a CB radio and use the emergency channels 9 and 19.
  • Inform someone of your route and return time. This is crucial if you travel without other vehicles. Have Backcountry Safety them initiate a search if you do not check-in at the designated time.
  • If stranded, stay with your vehicle; attempt to radio or call for help. Stay warm, or in the shade if it’s hot and drink lots of drink water. Your survival chances improve greatly if you stay with your vehicle.
  • Know your physical limits – and how far you may need to hike out for help. Stay well within your limits, especially if you decide to hike out for help.
  • Carry a first aid kit.
  • Use a mirror or reflective item to signal for help.
  • Hike out ONLY if you know the trail – and stay on the trails. Hike out the way you drove in unless you know the trail completely. Carry a map, compass, food, water, cell phone and warm clothes with you if you hike out.

Food, Water & Clothing

In addition to the food you carry for your trip, carry enough food for each person for at least one day should you become stranded. The farther out in the backcountry you travel and the more difficult the trail, the more important it is to be prepared, especially if you are not traveling with a group of vehicles.

Carry one gallon of water per person per day of your trip, plus a one day extra supply.

Bring clothes that will keep you comfortable and warm at the lowest night time temperature you may encounter in the area you are traveling. Even desert areas in the summer can be quite chilly at night. You can find weather and temperature information about the area you will be traveling in on the internet. And if you may encounter rain, water crossings or mud, carry a change of clothes should you become soaked. Camping rain ponchos are a good idea to carry as well. Another way to stay warm in the backcountry is with blankets. Survival blankets are inexpensive, light weight and easy to store, so carry one per person, and bring them along if you choose to hike out.

Water and warmth in cold weather are crucial to survival. Make sure you are well prepared. The consequences can be fatal.

  • In lightning, the safest place is in your vehicle. The tires help insulate you from the danger.
  • Start with a full tank of fuel. If you do get stuck, and if it gets cold, at least you can run the engine to heat the interior.
  • Keep thumbs on top of steering wheel rim. If the hit a bump, the steering wheel can jerk harshly, injuring your thumbs or hands.
  • If uncertain about terrain difficulty, get out and study the terrain. The terrain will look less difficult from outside the rig. If you think you can make, do so very slowly and cautiously. If you not sure, turn around and save the difficult challenge for another day.
  • Use a spotter to guide you across difficult terrain & obstacles. A spotter can see what you can’t see.
  • Stay hydrated. Many backcountry trails are at high altitude or very dry conditions. Lack of water can make you ill and affect your judgment.