Getting Lost

Map & Compass

A map and compass are essential tools to carry and use.

As I related in my November Alberta Outdoorsmen column, people are not getting lost as often as they used to. According to Ian MacVittie, president of Parkland Search and Rescue, the proliferation of digital communication and navigation devices has reduced the number of people who get lost and require emergency assistance. Instead, most search operations involve recoveries (where death has occurred) and collection of evidence for police. People still get lost but they often use global positioning (GPS) devices and cell phones to find their own way out or phone friends for help. Others either do not carry these devices or a map and compass, or fail to use them properly.

However, while electronic devices are handy and useful, they do have limits. All require batteries that either need to be replaced or recharged periodically. As well, they require access to  transmission towers or satellites. That access is often not available in the wilderness. The bottom line is that all outdoors people should carry a good map and compass, know how to use them and indeed use them. Use your digital devices but be able to relate the information they provide to a properly oriented map.

In my column I list the essential things people should carry to survive an emergency situation outdoors. For more information about going outdoors safely, check out AdventureSmart.

So, what’s wrong with that?

Interested in reading an award-winning outdoor adventure novel? Check out my The Search for Grizzly One and Dog Runner.


About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I wrote a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine, and have published articles for several other magazines.
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