The STOP Acronym and Wilderness Survival

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The S.T.O.P. acronym is a helpful tool for remembering what to do should you find yourself lost in the wilderness.  However, it can be adapted for use as a tool whenever you are faced with a large obstacle that must be overcome in order to ensure your own survival.

Planning in advance of any sort of dangerous situation is key.  If you are in the wilderness, you should always pack a map of the area and a compass and some drinking water.

Stop and Sit: When you realize that you’re lost, faced with a difficult situation, or unsure of how to find your way past an obstacle, stop and take a moment to collect your thoughts.  Take a deep breath.

Think: Take a mental inventory of your options before you make any moves and think about the possible repercussions of each of them.  Prioritize your separate needs, such as attending to an injury before choosing a plan of action.  If you need to go somewhere, recall if anyone knows where you will be if you don’t arrive back on a previously agreed upon time, especially if you are headed out into the wilderness or anywhere dangerous.

  • A good example of the consequences of not doing this is illustrated in the movie “72 Hours” starring James Franco (and based on a true story), in which the main character goes out into the middle of nowhere, doesn’t tell anyone beforehand, and later is forced to amputate his own arm when it gets stuck under a rock in order to escape.  If he had told someone where he was going beforehand, he may have not needed to go to such extremes to survive.

Observe:  This sort of goes along with the previous item, but what in your immediate area is noteworthy, useful for purposes of building a fire or shelter, or pose a risk?  What is the weather like?

Plan:  Once you have collected yourself and considered your options, you will create a plan of action for yourself and execute it.  In going through this process and not resorting to panic, you have already done yourself a major favor.


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(Featured Photo credit: SPUI / Foter / Public domain)

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