When it comes to surviving out in the Arizona wilderness, water is one of the three most important things to have due to the extreme aridity in the state, said Prescott Valley Public Library Assistant Library Director Ted Johnson. The solar radiation can cook someone’s head in the wilderness and as such, even just understanding the importance of water and rationing sweat is vital, Johnson said.
“People sometimes die with water available and they’re trying to save it, but they get dehydrated and it cost them their life,” he said. “The best place for the water is in your body so your brain can function the best for the longest.”
However, while water is important, it is only the third most important factor of surviving in the wilderness, Johnson said. The other two will be covered at the Survival Workshop on Saturday, July 15. There are two workshops, one in the morning from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and one in the afternoon from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Both are in the PC Lab.
Another important concept is signaling, Johnson said, noting that being able to attract attention could be the difference between being rescued and staying stranded. There was one lady, Johnson said, who ran out of gas and needed help. A vehicle went by and she chased it, he said.
“If she had had a fire going, if she’d even had a gun, let’s say to fire off three shots in the air to get attention, flash the mirror signal, and a fire just sends smoke,” he said, commenting that she was in a spot that was wide open spot that had visibility for 50 miles. “You get a fire going, that smoke, you can see that for a long time.”
Also covered are edible plants, which people want to know about, Johnson said. Yet, that’s tricky because people misidentify things and there are 4,000 plants in the state of Arizona, so the chances of being wrong are really good if a person is simply relying on static pictures of plant identification, he said. The workshop will cover identification of plants briefly to give people enough to know they shouldn’t touch it if they aren’t positive about the identification, Johnson said.
Johnson said he’ll also go into wilderness navigation, such as finding north, south, east and west from the sunrise, stars, moonrise and moonset, moss and even how barrel cactus tilt slightly to the southwest. Even major landmarks can help as the Grand Canyon mostly goes east to west and the Rocky Mountains go from north to south, he said.
“This keeps you in check … you can’t guess. You got to be sure and to know what you’re talking about,” Johnson said of knowing navigation.
The workshop is good for those who have come to Arizona from elsewhere and don’t know the plants, the terrain or what to expect, he said, noting he’s always trying to encourage people to know more about the wilderness so they’ll understand it better and be more invested in it. If they are, they’ll take better care of it and it won’t be as much a stranger to them as it was before, Johnson said.