Sometimes, it’s the stupid little mistakes that get us killed.

We call in sick to work and sneak off to fish or hunt a new spot. Then something bad happens, and no one has a clue as to where we’ve disappeared. Or maybe you’ve gone rock scrambling in a box canyon by yourself and a boulder now has your arm pinned (we all know that story). If we’d taken a friend with us, he could have gone for help and we might still be walking around with two arms. There are some common themes to the majority of survival stories in the outdoors and, after a little research, we can see these blunders over and over again. Make sure your story doesn’t start with one of these lines, and it’s a lot more likely you’ll be the survivor telling your own tale.

1. You Didn’t Bring a Buddy
The buddy system works. Seriously. When you don’t bring another person with you, there’s no one to go for help or to assist you if you become incapacitated. Military and law enforcement personnel use the buddy system, and so should you. There’s strength in numbers.

2. You Didn’t Tell Anyone
If you don’t tell anyone where you’ve gone or when you’re coming back, how can they organize a rescue—or even know when there’s a problem? Explain all the details to someone responsible. Better yet, write it all down for them. Tell them exactly where you’re planning to go, where you’ll park your vehicle, what route you’ll take in the wilderness, and when you expect to return. This way, if you don’t make it back on time, a local search and rescue team can be mobilized quickly. Fast deployment means they will have a much better chance of executing a happy rescue instead of becoming a body-recovery mission.

3. You Couldn’t Phone a Friend
Let’s say you took your phone with you but the battery was running low—a common issue for modern smartphones. When it came time to call for help, your phone was dead. That’s a little foreshadowing of how you might end up in another day or two if things get really tough out there. Forgetting your phone, leaving it on purpose, or taking it with a low battery or no portable charger are all recipes for trouble.

4. You Panicked
Even the most highly trained professional can panic. This is a condition in which our fear overrides our conscious mind. If we panic, we may freeze in place when we should be running. Or we may take off running when we should stay still. Either way, these reactions can place us in harm’s way. Work hard to control your fear, and fear won’t have such an easy time controlling you.

5. You Were Unprepared
You ran off half-cocked. It happens all the time. You didn’t do a gear check. You left something important on the kitchen table. Or you just didn’t own the right gear in the first place. Being unprepared for the whims of nature can leave you in a very vulnerable place. Bring a survival kit. Bring extra clothing and gear. Bring extra water into dry places. Bring extra food into cold places. Be prepared, and you just might live to tell the tale if things don’t go your way.

Which of these items have gotten you into trouble in the past? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Photograph via YouTube