Why climb the mountain? Because it’s there! North America’s many mountainous regions hold a certain fascination for numerous people on vacation from around the world. But every year, thrill seekers are hurt and sometimes killed from accidents that have happened while traversing these mountains. Most of the time, if precautions are taken, you can keep you and your family safe.

If you are going to be traveling in the mountains, there are a few things to consider before you head out, to ensure you are safe should a problem arise. First, dress in layers. One of the main difficulties when traveling through higher altitudes is the huge variance in temperature that you will face. Should you be stranded in the mountains at night, it can become very cold. To avoid problems that come as a result of the weather, dress warmly but in layers that can be removed if it becomes too warm.

Before leaving, make sure that someone knows where you are heading, and when you expect to be back. This is crucial to your rescue if you should become lost. If there is someone expecting you to be back at a certain day and time and you do not return, a search party can begin. However, if no one knows where you are and when to expect you, then it may be weeks before they start looking.

One item that is indispensable on any outdoor excursion is a pocket knife. You can mark your trail by carving a notch ever few feet into a tree or a rock so that if you ever do get lost, you’ll have a trail to follow back home. Marking your trail clearly is important, as sometimes it is all too easy to get turned around and end up walking in circles.

Always travel with a flashlight and extra batteries. Also, make sure you take waterproof matches along with you. A space blanket and a small tarp are essential to your survival in the mountain wilderness. Bring along some water purification tablets in case you should need to search for something to drink. A container that can hold water is also a must.

If you do find that you are lost in the mountains and do not know how to return to where you came from, the best thing to do is to stay where you are. If you move around, you will be harder to find when rescue comes. However, if you are near a stream and you feel you must keep moving, head downstream. This will take you towards the bottom of the mountain, which is usually closer to a road or town.

If you can find shelter where you are, stay put and get out of the elements. Leave a marker, like a brightly colored jacket or tarp, so that rescuers might find you. Then you need to get into shelter.

Stay away from any animals you might encounter. The animal you will be most likely to encounter is a bear. Whatever you do, do not surprise an unsuspecting bear! Catching a bear off guard is the reason for most bear attacks.

The most important thing if you become lost and need to survive is to stay hydrated. Having a source of water available at all times is key. Food can be easily found by observing the local wildlife to see where the animals might go to find nuts or berries. Out in the wild, you can live for up to three weeks without food, but you can only survive for three days without water.