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Barstow Field Office

Desert Survival Tips

Many people each year have mishaps in the Mojave Desert which could have been avoided or made less serious with some preplanning. Following is a list of preparations to be made before your trip to the desert, a basic list of supplies, and suggestions for what to do if you become stranded.

  • Before your trip:
    • Let someone at home know your travel plans and a time you will return! If you do get lost or break down, the people at home will know where to start looking. Also, let these people know if your plans change.
    • Learn about the area, get accurate maps and travel conditions, and plan your agenda conservatively if you are traveling to an unfamiliar area.
    • Bring gear appropriate to your activity, the expected range of conditions and the planned length of your stay. Many people have been fooled by changing conditions. We often hear statements like "...we did not expect thunder storms in the desert", "...we didn't expect it to get so cold at night..." or "we didn't know it was so far between gas stations/ services..."

  • Survival Tools:
    • Proper clothing for your activity (sun glasses, hat, riding gear, sun screen, wind breaker/ long sleeved shirt for change in weather),
    • Good walking shoes, boots or well-fitting riding boots,
    • Food (lunch or non-melting snacks),
    • Water; at least one gallon per person per day,
    • Maps, compass, knowledge of the area prior to trip (note land marks as you travel),
    • small First aid kit,
    • waterproof Matches (in a case or film canister),
    • Camping and emergency tools (depending on transportation)-
      -- knife
      -- aerial or road flares
      -- rope or cord/ duct or electrician's tape
      -- small bright colored tarp or ground cover
    • Day pack, cargo carrier or saddle bag to carry the preceding gear
    • Vehicle tools, high-lift jack, extra fuel, and spare parts (like spark plugs, fan belts, hose clamps), depending on your vehicle.

  • If Lost, Stranded or Broken Down:
    • Stay with your vehicle or otherwise make yourself visible,
    • Stay put, unless you have a clear and specific destination,
    • Avoid walking during the heat of the day; morning and evening walking is better for conserving your body's moisture,
    • Seek shelter from the elements, but try to make yourself visible (like with smoke or a signal fire, or a bright colored tarp)