Some people when they find themselves lost in a wilderness environment believe they can walk themselves to safety. In some cases you can of course, but the point is, if you know how to get back to civilization then you are not lost.
Lost means you do not know which way to go, or how to get back home, so where does that leave you. It leaves you lost and it means you have decisions to make, decisions that can impact your survival.
The reality shows and even some survival articles you may find online focus on food. They do this because the average person panics because of food or the lack of food once they find themselves lost. Once you know food is not available the minds tells you that you are hungry and this can be a distraction and it can be deadly in some cases.
When people get hungry that is all they focus on and in a survival situation some may take chances by eating mushrooms for example, because they saw it on TV or eat insects, and berries or plants that may be toxic.
Set Yourself Up For Survival
Before setting out inform someone of the general areas in which you expect to be hiking, hunting, or camping. Let them know when to expect you back, so if you are not back when expected, the authorities can be notified. If you know someone will be notifying the authorities then you can hunker down and wait. Your objective as always is to survive until rescued.
Do not spend all day building a roof over your head and ignore ground insulation. Build a bed instead and then if time permits build something for overhead. It does not matter how well the roof is constructed if your body conducts all of its warmth to the cold ground. You may fall asleep and never wake up if you do not have good ground insulation. You can cover yourself with leaves or dried grasses and you can survive if you have adequate insulation between you and the ground. Even if the air temperature seems warm the ground is colder and you must be aware of this to prevent hypothermia in cold weather.
Help Those Helping You
Do what you can to help your rescuers’. Build signal fires or trace SOS in the snow by piling vegetation in the form of the lettering so it stands out against the white snow. Rescuers may be in the air, walking your trail or traveling along the coastline in watercraft, so make sure your signaling can be seen from the air and ground.
Use high ground for signal fires and along the water’s edge if near a significant sized body of water. Brightly colored material can work as well, life jackets, tent material, clothing and so on.
Above all stay put, shelter in place and let them come to you. Wandering around trying to find your way back will make it harder for those looking for you, and it increases your chances of injury, you will drink more water and use up valuable energy.
You Will Not Starve To Death
Something else will do you in long before you starve to death, but being hungry is not comfortable and it is a distraction as noted earlier. However, it is not worth attempting to curb your hunger by eating plants, certain bugs, mushrooms or berries unless you have extensive experience in identification of them. The only value you would get from a few leaves is a psychological one and the downside can be sickness or worse. Focus on water, shelter, and fire. These three things will keep you alive until rescued.
Even clear running streams will contain pathogens and bacteria and ideally of course, you would filter and then purify any surface source, but you may not have the means. Dehydration is a certainty, but sickness is not always certain and this is where decision making to survive comes in.
If you simply have no means of filtering or purifying and you need water to survive then you would have to drink the water. Obviously, it is better to be rescued sick then discovered dead.
The way to survive is to prepare to survive and this means telling someone where you will be and when you will be back and always carrying a survival kit whenever you venture outdoors.
Never leave home without the basics for survival and they are water and the means to collect and purify it, a shelter or the means to construct one, fire starting materials and signaling material and finally food for energy and for morale.