Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Desert Survival Supplies

First Aid Kit: Mayday Outdoorsman First Aid Survival Kit
Snake Bites: The Sawyer Extractor
Water Filter: Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter
Emergency Compass: Mirrored Sighting Floating Compass
Emergency Blanket: Emergency Thermal Blankets (4 Pack)
Water Tablets:Polar Pure Water Disinfectant
Electrolyte Replacement: Ceralyte 70 Oral Rehydration Mix 50GM

How To Survive In the Desert

Desert Safety

To ensure a safe trip to the desert, follow these simple but necessary guidelines.

Drink Like a Fish

  • Carry plenty of water, even if you are only going for a drive.
  • Drink even when you do not feel thirsty.
  • When hiking, carry a gallon of water for each day plus extra in case of an emergency.
  • Store extra water in your car.
  • Carry water even if you are only planning to explore a short distance from your car.

Dress for Success

  • Wear a hat with a brim and light-colored, lightweight clothes.
  • Pack warm, wind-proof clothes in case the wind picks up or the weather cools.
  • Wear sunglasses and sunscreen, lots of sunscreen.

Carry a Flare & a Spare

  • Ensure that your car is in good working order - service stations are few and far between.
  • Carry a spare, a jack, and some flares.
  • Carry boards to place under tires in case you hit a sandy trap (see below).

If You Hit a Sandy Trap...

  • Shift down and keep moving.
  • If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels; it will only dig you in deeper.
  • Try going in reverse.
  • If going in reverse does not work, place boards or carpet scraps under your tires.
  • If you cannot get out, stay with your car.
  • Do not leave your car unless you are certain that help is close by.

Know Where You're Going

  • When hiking, always carry a topographic map and compass.
  • Take a compass reading before beginning your walk, and look for landmarks to guide you back.
  • Let someone know where you will be and when you will return.
  • Pay attention when traveling back roads; they often branch and divide.

Mind the Spines

  • Stay away from spiny cactus, agave, and other plants.
  • To prevent stings and bites, be careful where you place your hands, feet, and your seat!
  • Check our Animals page for more info.

Don't Bomb Out

  • Unexploded grenades and land mines (left over from desert training during World War II) still turn up, especially after heavy rain.
  • If you see anything suspicious, stay clear; they can still explode after all these years.
  • Abandoned mines may have hidden shafts, and old buildings in ghost towns may collapse; be careful.

Don't Wash Away

  • Avoid flash floods by keeping out of narrow canyons and washes when there is a chance of rain.
  • You cannot outrun a flash flood.
  • Get to higher ground and climb to safety!
  • Watch for rapidly rising water.
  • Stay away from - and keep children from - drainage ditches and storm drains.
  • Do not walk into or near high water.
  • Do not camp along streams and washes.
  • Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, canyons and washes.
  • Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas.
  • Do not attempt to cross flowing streams where water is above your ankles.
  • NEVER drive into water covering the road.
  • You do not know how deep it is or if the road is washed out.
  • Turn around and go the other way!
  • Look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
  • If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it's harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Do not park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly during threatening conditions.

And Avoid Toxic Wastes

  • Hikers and campers can be exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals as a result of historic mining, illegal dumping, wire burning, or the production of illicit drugs.
  • Suspicious sites (evidence of strange odors, piles of drums or containers, large burned areas) should be reported immediately.

Gas, Food, & Lodging

Gas, food, and lodging increase in importance the further you travel into the desert. You'd be downright uncomfortable without them and they're not easy to find out there. The desert rats know how to plan ahead so they're never caught short.

Gas: when the sign says "Next gas 50 miles," you better know you've got enough to make it before you pass the pumps!

Food & Lodging: It is a good idea to carry food and an absolute must to carry water when you venture into the desert. Motel rooms can be few and far between. Check ahead to the towns you will be visiting. Some have a special character or colorful story all their own. Or, be adventurous and plan on camping out. There are many camping opportunities available from full hook-ups for your motor home to primitive walk-in tent sites.

Desert Myths

Popular images of the desert include bleached bones lying by alkali pools or dried remains of some grizzled prospector streched out on parched sands. There are a thousand tales of danger, death, and dying in these wild lands. Heres the lowdown on seperating the myths from the real dangers.

Venomous animals
Lots of folks get the willies thinking about scorpions, tarantulas, black widows, or rattlesnakes. While it is true these creatures make their living in the desert, it is not true that they are just waiting to bite you. Poisonous animals use their venom to stun the creatures they plan to eat; the last thing they want is to waste it on inedible humans!

Even then, most bites and stings, while painful, are not fatal. Most bites happen when people place their hands or feet into crevices or when they disturb or threaten the animal. Always remember to look first before placing your hands into crevices or onto rocks. And, if the worst should happen, be safe rather than sorry and head for medical attention right away.

Heat and sunshine
The tale about Matt Riley heading out on the 4th of July with a small canteen of water (some versions say whiskey) to walk 20 miles to a party and never getting there is true. Matt planned to stop at a spring for more water but he wasn't certain where the spring was located. His tracks circled the spring, but he never found it.

This story provides a good lesson. It's true, the heat of the desert can turn you into beef jerky. Don't be fool hardy, plan your trip carefully, carry lots of water, bring good maps of the area, and know your limits.


  1. Your article is very precise as far as dessert survival is concerned. I like how you have presented the guidelines. They are simple to understand and implement. I will share these guidelines with my friend, James. Here is another great post I read on desert survival: