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Man Who Survived 6 Nights on Mt. St. Helens Didn't Have to Suffer

Posted by Nick Clement on


Man Who Survived 6 Nights on Mt. St. Helens Didn't Have to Suffer

According to CNN WIRE, an Ohio man went missing on Mount St. Helens for almost an entire week. It was reported that Matthew Matheny, 40, of Warren, Ohio, was hoping to have a relaxing afternoon in the mountains when his friends he was visiting from out of town were busy. Matthew apparently got lost and was forced to spend 6 nights in the wilderness. I was reported that he had to survive on bees and berries. 

Search and Rescue Team who Rescued Matthew Meltheny

Photo Credit: Volcano Rescue Team

Let's talk about the things Matthew could have done to avoid this situation. First, let's talk about the proactive steps he could have taken to avoid this situation:

The first thing you may want to consider when heading into the outdoors alone is leaving a flight plan with two separate parties. What is a flight plan? The term flight plan comes from aviation when a pilot plans out his or her flight. The plan always includes take-off, landing, and route. Your plan may want to include the same. What trailhead will you be starting your adventure, where will it end and where to anticipate to go in-between? We always tell customers it is smart to draw out a map and mark the spots you plan to go to. If you are a hunter, mark where you think you will be hunting, where you camp is, and even if you can share waypoints from your GPS, in the off-chance you are stranded, help will have a much more informed place to state. 

The second thing that is wise to consider is to always carry a survival kit or at least some safety gear that fulfills the basic survival categories:

  1. Fire
  2. Shelter
  3. Water
  4. Signal

Fire: It is always a wise idea to have multiple fire starters in your kit. The most efficient and effective way to start a fire is to use a ferrocerium rod with cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. The key here is to find a rod that has a wooden handle so even if you run out of cotton balls soaked in vasoline you will have the ability to procure dry and effective tinder. 

Shelter: One common mistake presented in survival literature and education is that in a survival situation you will have time to spend erecting a shelter to spend the night in. Unfortunately, this is not the case with most survival situations and in Matthew Matheny's story, this was definitely not the case. Matthew could have used an Instant Shelter to protect himself immediately. 

Water: Hydration is key to your survival. Apparently, Matthew was in good enough physical shape and started his trip hydrated he was able to keep his body hydrated enough to stay alive. However, not everyone is this lucky. Typically, the survive without water for about 3 days. It is wise to always carry a collapsible water bottle with Chlorine Dioxide tabs so procuring clean drinkable water is always an option. 

Signal: In the off chance you are forced into a survival situation like Matthew was, it is always a good idea to have items on your person that can help search and rescue crews find you. We recommend two types of signals, visual and audible. For visual a signaling mirror is most important and a good purposed signaling mirror gives you the best chance to reach out and touch the search and rescue crews from over 26 miles away. 

For more information please visit our Endure Survival School

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