Last week, we heard news of a 62 year old Californian hiker who survived 9 days with a broken leg in the rugged Sierra Nevada wilderness. While hiking with the Sierra Club, Miyuki Harwood left her hiking group and headed back to camp because of her low water supply. On the way, she slipped and fell about 6 feet, breaking her leg.
After two days of waiting in place, Harwood crawled about 150 yards down a ravine to a source of running water. She was able to use her water bottle’s filter to make the water safe to drink and waited for help to come. Unfortunately, a nearby wildfire clogged the air with smoke, making it difficult for searchers in aircraft to be of use. While she waited, she took shelter under a tree and drank from the nearby creek. She had no food to eat or pain relief from her broken leg. Nine days after her initial fall, Harwood made contact with search and rescue groups by using her emergency whistle.
Keys to Survival
Since her rescue, Harwood was flown to a Fresno hospital and underwent surgery to set her broken leg. Her survival skills and tenacity helped her survive when many others wouldn’t have, and her whistle helped her make contact with her rescuers. While no one expects to be in a situation like Harwood’s, the measures she took to stay prepared saved her life. If you hike or camp, be sure to have the following supplies on you for emergency purposes.
- Whistle. In Harwood’s case, her whistle was her lifeline to the world. Searchers were only able to locate Harwood after she blew her whistle and caught their attention. While whistles are great ways of calling attention to yourself, they can also be effective for scaring away dangerous wildlife like bears.
- Water Purification Tablets. If you have a water bottle with a filter in it, carrying water purification tablets are a sure way to make sure your water is filtered and purified.
- Meal Bar. Harwood went without food for nine days. While this is possible, it weakens your body to harmful levels. Carrying a non-perishable meal bar is a sure way of having some source of calorie intake in case of emergencies.
- Pocket Flashlight. Flashlights are helpful for safety’s sake if coming back from a hike in the dark. They can also be used to signal for help and catch people’s attention.
- Pocket Tool. A pocket tool has many purposes and uses, and comes in handy during emergencies and every day hiking excursions.
- First Aid Kit. Make sure you carry a first aid kit whenever you are out hiking or camping. Having these basic supplies can help keep you healthy.
Though no one wants to think of being in an emergency situation, being prepared could mean the difference between life and death. Harwood’s story is proof of that.
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