Survival 101: S.T.O.P.

“Nothing happens to any man that he is not formed by nature to bear.” -Marcus Aurelius

There is no greater enemy for those who are lost than fear. Yet, we all know that suppressing our fear is no easy feat, if it were, well..  we’d all be FEARLESS, wouldn’t we? So imagine now, that you are lost, in a tree-canopied wilderness. It’s getting dark, there are an abundance of unknown noises all around you. you’ve lost your way, and cell phone service is a distant dream… What do you do?

You S.T.O.P. 

Your very next move, is actually the LACK of movement. You SIT. You take a look at your surroundings, you take a breath, calm down and collect your thoughts. Tell yourself, you are not lost, you simply misplaced yourself. Words like “Lost” tend to make us worry more. Sometimes, your views can change with the words you use. The best thing you can do in a survival situation, the best thing you can feel, is CALM, and there is no better way to do this, then taking a seat on a fallen tree, rock, or even in the dirt, and remind yourself that, despite everything you were taught growing up, you and all your appendages were created to survive the natural world. You set out to be a part of nature, and now you are. Breathe it in.

The next thing you should do is THINK. Once your head is a bit more clear from all that sitting, thinking comes much easier. The frantic dies down, and logic comes back into play. What do you currently have with you? How much water or food do you have? Are you carrying shelter of any kind? A first aid kit, a knife, etc? I can’t stress how important it is to know what you have with you at all times. You’d be surprised how many people get lost at night and begin to lose their mind because they have no idea how to build a fire from scratch, only to find out the next morning they had a pack of matches with them. Fear causes us to do some really silly things. Once you’ve taken a mental inventory, this is the first step to PLANNING (the last part of this post). You may be in a rush to get back to safety, but sometimes, when the sun is already going down, it is better to set camp exactly where you are and find your way in the morning. Unless you are Les Stroud, you should not be trying to find your way in the dark.

Once you start getting a grasp on your situation and what you have available to you, it is time to OBSERVE. If you don’t have shelter, can you visibly see shelter nearby. Don’t guess or assume that it’s right around the corner, because it usually isn’t. If you see shelter, go for it. If you don’t, it may be a good time to start planning a makeshift campsite. Another thing to look out for is water. This is obvious, but many people forget that (depending where you are) there is more water out there than what you are carrying in your canteen. With this said, I must caution, don’t assume all water is drinkable, and when drinking natural water, only drink enough to get by. I will be creating another post that goes over the safety of drinking natural water, so keep a look out for that! Another thing you want to look for is an open clearing or high ground nearby. A place where you can setup a signal, or jump up and down screaming like a banshee if someone is flying over. Remember, if you can’t find yourself, chances are someone else can’t find you. If someone else can’t find you, they will probably be looking (this is a good time to point out that you should ALWAYS let someone know the general vicinity you are going to be hiking/camping in. ALWAYS).

Finally, there is the PLAN. It’s time to take everything in the previous paragraphs and formulate it into a real-time plan. Is the sun going down? Walk to that perfect shelter. Pitch your tent if you have one, or prepare a place to sleep if you don’t. Set a fire in a place it can be seen. Ration your supplies. Fill your canteen with that natural water if it’s almost empty. This is when everything comes together. When all your Sitting, Thinking, and Observing comes together to help get you out of the situation you’re in.


When the morning comes, the new adventure will begin. See you all in my next basic survival post:
“Survival 101: The Way Home”


34 Responses to “Survival 101: S.T.O.P.

  • This is so important to keep in mind. I hope I would remember it if I was ever in a scary situation.

    • <3 Absolutely! With that said, survival in the wild can easily translate to survival anywhere.. Lost in a city, kidnappings, car wrecks.. Of course, my blogs are aimed at the outdoors, but the core of survival doesn't change all that much.

  • Jen Walker
    1 year ago

    These are perfect tips if you end up lost while out in the wilderness! I like to carry a specialized water filter that removes parasites in the event I have to drink water from outdoors. The last thing I want when trying to get home is a giardia infection!

    • Absolutely! Those water filters are great.. I have some blogs coming out that list the things you should bring with you on hikes, camps, and backpacking. Those filters are definitely going to be included. =)

  • I hope I never need this advice. I’ve never heard of S.T.O.P. What a great survival plan. It definitely helps to be calm.

  • Great tips. I hope I never have to worry about this. I hike on established trails to help minimize the lost factor. This could just as easily happen in a car though too.

    • That’s part of what I love about survival techniques. A lot of people will read this and think “Well, I don’t need to know any of this, because I don’t go hiking or camping”. Yet, the core of this knowledge transitions well into almost any scenario or location. =)

  • I have to agree. You really have to be more alert in terms of danger. You also have to trust your instincts.

  • Oh wow, these are great reminders to think in a very scary situation. I will surely remember to STOP whenever I found myself in a such a difficult situation

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      =) Always a good thing to know, no matter where you are! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • I had not heard of the S.T.O.P. before. What great advice if you get lost in the wilderness.

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      Not just the wilderness! While that is what my post relates to, the same core survival techniques in STOP can be used anywhere.. Lost in a big city? Your car broke down while driving somewhere outside of cell range.. Survival is a great fundamental that can be used in almost any situation, with just slightly different variations. =)

  • This is such good advice. We need to spread the word because people these days just aren’t prepared when situations like this arise.

    Sondra xx

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      Thanks! And absolutely! AS I’ve said in a lot of my other comment responses, survival advice like this, while great in the wilderness, can be used in almost all other aspects of life!

  • I was planning a trip to Glacier NationalPark in August, but then it caught fire and the trip got canceled. I was both looking forward to it and scared to death of it. Fortunately, the person I was going with had horses and experience. Maybe next year.

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      Glacier National Park looks beautiful. Definitely on my list of places to go and write about! I really hope you get to go!

  • i hadn’t heard of this before but it’s super helpful. my husband loves camping, hiking, anything outdoors, and this helps me feel more prepared to join him!

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      You definitely should join him! What a lot of people forget, is that we are instinctively and physically equipped to be out in nature, most people just let anxiety interfere with what we were naturally born to do. Survival is more about calming that anxiety so you can see clearly than it is actually surviving. =)

  • I’m not very outdoorsy. For me that means I would definitely want to sit and think of ways I might survive, being it not my natural inclination to do so instinctively. Water would def. be on my mind.

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      It’s funny how many people actually forget about water until it’s too late. Most people are already dehydrated, they just don’t realize it.. So when in an emergency, I would rather have access to water and spend an extra night in the wilderness, then continue on a path home.

  • This was an awesome post! We are always in nature I just shared this because its so good to keep in mind jic!

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      Thank you so much for sharing! Nature is an amazing thing, but it can also be incredibly dangerous for those unprepared for it!

  • Thank you for these tips – I had never heard of STOP before.

    • Bearfoot
      1 year ago

      Well, now you know something new! (But, hopefully you’ll never be in a position to need to use it! ;D)

  • Glad I learned about how to react in scary situation,specially in the wild.S.T.O.P is something I learned today.So,now I know the importance of Sit,Think,Plan and Observe!

  • What an important post – it’s like being back at Scouts and being taught survival skills! Very useful information for those that don’t know it already x

    • =) Agreed! I feel not enough people are prepared, and when they hear the word “Survival” they disregard it, as they don’t spend time out in the wilderness… Yet, most survival techniques and tactics can be used everywhere!

  • I love to go camping and hiking. Hopefully, I never have to be in survival mode. This post is definitely a great reminder that we all need to keep calm when we got misplaced.

  • Getting lost can be really scary. thanks for the tips

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