Survival for Kids

Set Yourself Up for a Great Hike

Before you set out, it’s important to make sure that you’re in good condition for the trip. Make your preparations carefully. Taking the right clothes and equipment could save your life!

Your Clothes:
Think carefully about what you pack. Pack what your need for the climate. I f you are going somewhere hot, take loose-fitting cotton clothing, and a hat. If you are going some where it can get cold, pack a warm hat, gloves, socks, boots, loose-fitting clothes, and a windproof, outer layer.

Wear a Layered System:


Thru-hiker complete clothing list

Carry the 10 Essentials:

Here is a list from the National Park Service of things you should always have with you when you go exploring outdoors. They will help you to stay safe and help you to be prepared for an emergency.

An adult
A map of the area
A compass
Extra food and water
Extra clothes, especially rain jacket
First Aid kit
Hat and Sunscreen
Garbage Bag


Rule of Threes

In any extreme situation you cannot survive for more than:

  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food.

Signaling for Help – Rule of Three

  • If you are using a whistle, blow three distinct times and then wait 3 to 5 minutes and blow three blasts again. Continue to do this every 15 minutes or so.
  • In the United States, three of something signifies that help is needed. That could be three whistle blasts, three gun shots, three piles of dark wood on light sand, or three fires burning.
  • The fires can be in a line or a triangle, but make sure they are pretty far apart and in an open area to be seen from overhead.


*Survival Skills*
when your Outdoor Adventure Does Not Go as Planned:

S – Stay Put

T – Think

O – Observe

P – Plan



Basic Wilderness First Aid

Basic Wilderness Survival Quiz


Garbage Bag Survival

If I had to choose just one piece of emergency gear to carry with me, it’d probably be a garbage bag. These things are light, cheap, and pack down very small.

1. Rain skirt and poncho

A trash bag makes a fine emergency poncho. If you have a second bag, you can tear a hole in the bottom and tuck it into your waistband or belt as a rain skirt.

2. Pack cover and liner

Some packs are fully waterproof, some come with built-in rain covers… and quite a few don’t. Here comes the garbage bag to the rescue!

Slip the garbage bag on over the top and pull the edges down around the front and sides of the pack. If your bag is really big, you might have to slide the entire thing into the bag top-first and then (carefully) tear holes to pull the shoulder straps through.

You can also protect your pack from the inside: Slide a garbage bag into the pack before anything else, then load it up! Twist and tuck the top of the bag to keep everything inside it dry. When you pack up after a rainy night, the tent and anything else that’s wet goes into the bottom of the pack first. Then in goes your garbage bag liner, and whatever you want to keep dry goes into the bag.

3. Sleeping pad

Sleeping pads aren’t just about comfort — they also insulate you against heat loss to the ground. If you’ve somehow ended up without yours, a trash bag or two laid on the ground works a whole lot better than nothing — especially if you score some natural insulation (say, grass or dry leaves) to slide into the bags.

4. Vapor barrier

Did the night turn out colder than you expected? Once you run out of extra layers to put on, consider sliding your lower half into a garbage bag (inside your sleeping bag). It’ll add a few extra degrees of comfort.

5. Waterproofing “stuff”

If your pack doesn’t have a raincover (or as extra insurance even if it does), slip anything you’re particularly concerned about keeping dry into a garbage bag. They’re a whole lot cheaper than buying dry bags and, if closed carefully, almost as effective. This is my favorite (cheap) way of safeguarding a down sleeping bag or down layers when hiking in wet conditions.

6. Emergency shelter

High-end bivvy sacks make great small, light emergency shelters. But if you can’t afford one or didn’t bring it along, the humble garbage can stand in — to a certain degree. Garbage bags have all sorts of possible uses when it comes to emergency shelter, from rainproofing the roof of a lean-to to acting as a vapor barrier inside a debris mound.

Using a Signal Mirror

This is how you use a signal mirror to signal potential rescuers your location. Technique is important in order to be effective with a signal mirror. It’s important to practice this technique prior to having to use it in an emergency situation. Practicing is actually pretty fun.

Reflecting the sun’s light to distant places, such as an airplane or helicopter, can be very effective at getting attention. A mirror can reflect light miles across the open. If you can get to a high spot, you can spend time signaling to distant places on the horizon until you see an airplane flying. It’s better to signal at a plane that is in the distance rather than one that is up above you since the pilot can’t see straight down.
There are specially made signaling mirrors with a hole in the center for sighting. But, any shiny surface can work – a compass, watch, knife blade, … are all possibilities.
Sight the reflection on the distant target and keep signaling it until you get a response, such as the plane dipping its wings or the helicopter circling overhead.


Search and Rescue Help on the PCT


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