Hug-A-Tree and Survive
The Hug-A-Tree and Survive
program was started in San Diego California after a group of Search
and Rescue volunteers searched for a nine year old boy who died in the
local mountains. The group put together an assembly program for children
on how not to get lost, how to stay comfortable if they get lost, and
how to be spotted and found. It is the sincere hope of every Search
and Rescue organization that your children never need this knowledge,
but if you discuss this the following information with your child, it
may help them to remember one or more facts that will make the search
short and successful.
ALWAYS CARRY A TRASH BAG
AND A WHISTLE on a picnic, hike or camping trip. By making a hole
in the bag for the face, and putting it over the head, it will keep
the child dry and warm. The whistle will carry further than the child's
voice and takes less energy to use.
MY PARENTS WON'T BE ANGRY
AT ME. Time and again children have avoided searchers because
they were ashamed of getting lost and afraid of punishment. Anyone
can get lost, adult or child. If they know a happy reunion filled
with love is awaiting, they will be less frightened, less prone to
panic and work hard to be found. (Special note to parents: Consider
carefully your emotions both during and after a search; your child
wants to be found and anger is not going to help either yourself or
the child once found.)
MAKE YOURSELF BIG. From
the air, people are hard to see when they are standing in a group of
trees or wearing dark and drab clothing -- especially children. Find
and hug a tree near a small clearing if possible. Wear a red or orange
jacket when you go near the woods or desert. Lie down when the helicopter
flies over. If it is cool and you are rested, make crosses or "SOS" in
broken shrubbery, rocks or by dragging your foot in the dirt.
THERE ARE NO ANIMALS OUT
THERE THAT CAN HURT YOU IN THIS COUNTRY. If you hear a noise at
night, yell at it. If it is an animal it will run away. If it is a
searcher, you are found. Fears of the dark and of "Lions and
tigers and bears" are a big factor in panicking children into
running. They need strong reassurance to stay put and be safe.
YOU HAVE 200 FRIENDS LOOKING
FOR YOU. We have had children in the area of a search tell us, "My
parents would never spend the money to search for me with all these
people." Search personnel are professionals and volunteers who
charge nothing and do it because they care. Many children who are
lost don't realize that if they sit down and stay put, one of a few
hundred people will find them. Some are afraid of strangers, or men
in uniform, and don't respond to yells, and have actually hidden from
searchers they knew were looking for them.
Try to keep from getting lost
in the first place. Children are easily distracted off the trail so
teach them to stay on the trail. Never let your child walk the trails
alone. Pick out a high landmark such as a prominent hill, or note the
direction of the sun; this prevents disorientation.
Admit it to yourself when you
become lost. It can and does happen to anyone, yet is a source of shame
when it happens. When you become lost, admit it, accept it, and take
actions to be comfortable and in the area when the searchers arrive.
Use your head - it's the best survival tool you have.
Call the Sheriff quickly if
your child is lost. The search area expands so quickly due to the lost
person's possible movements that rapid response is critically important.
A call to the sheriff which is cancelled gives the searchers practice
and helps keep them alert. A slow response is dangerous, especially
if bad weather wipes out the track and exposure is a consideration.
Be available for interviewing.
Clues which lead to finding the child in good shape usually come from
family and friends who remain on the scene and talk openly and accurately
with the search leader or his/her representative. Any personal information
will be kept confidential.
The Davis County Sheriff's Search & Rescue has several volunteers trained to give the Hug-A-Tree presentation. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a presentation for your group. Ask your local school to allow them to present it to the school in assembly. Isn't the life of a child worth it?