When you’re in your vehicle, feeling like you’re getting lost, for a short period is no drama. Usually you know where you are in a general sense and can find your way back to the road you’re seeking. If you are off main roads, you are likely to have a map and can usually retrace your route to get going in the correct direction again.
But if you are seriously lost and don’t have a map, or think you’ve driven off the map section you have, then you need to try and re-orientate yourself. Turning around and heading back the way you came from is often a good idea, however, landmarks often look totally different when coming from the opposite direction and can create more confusion.
Using the sun can be a good starting point to get you orientated. A compass is handy to have along, or a GPS unit (which can be used as a compass). Having determined where north is; then east is to the right, west to the left and south is behind.
Another method of determining north, is to hold a wristwatch (with a traditional clock-face), so that 12 o’clock points towards the sun; north is now approximately midway between 12 o’clock and the hour hand. In southern Australia this has a range of plus or minus 7.5 degrees accuracy. In northern Australia this system doesn’t work. It’s also important to remember a correction needs to be made for daylight saving, where appropriate.
Take care if using the old saying that ‘the sun rises in the east and sets in the west’ to orientate yourself. This adage is only 100% correct on two days of the year, (notionally March 21 and September 21) when day and night are of equal duration (that is, 12 hours each).
From March 21 sunrise moves northwards from east and sunset moves northwards from west, so that in mid-winter sunrise is in the north-east and sunset in the north-west. Similarly, from September 21 sunrise moves south as does the sunset so that in mid-summer, the sun rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest.
If your vehicle breaks down in a populated area, then simply use your mobile phone to call for assistance, either from your motoring organisation or a nearby garage. (There are many different options for roadside assistance; if you have a new vehicle you may be covered by your manufacturer’s roadside assistance, or if your vehicle is outside of this term you will need to join another program i.e RACV, NRMA, Marshall Batteries/ or even your motor vehicle insurer may have this as an additional option.)
If the problem is as simple as a puncture, follow the guidelines for changing a wheel in the vehicle manual, (it pays to familiarise yourself with this procedure and where the necessary tools are before you need them) or you contact your motoring organisation for help in this instance if needed.
If you‘re in a remote area and it’s a significant breakdown, things become more difficult. The first rule is to always stay with your vehicle. A vehicle can always be more easily located than a person on foot. Use your mobile phone, UHF radio; HF radio or satellite phone to call for assistance. You will need to be able to provide full details of where you are and what the problem is. Then it will be just a matter of waiting for help to arrive.
Calling emergency services
Australia’s primary emergency call service number is 000, even if calling from a mobile phone. There are also two secondary numbers – 112 and 106. 112 is available to call from mobile phones (if called from a landline this number will not be re-routed to any emergency service) and 106 connects to the text-based relay service for anyone with a hearing or speech impairment. 112 is also an international standard emergency number, however, it can only be called from a digital mobile phone (whilst overseas). It does not require a sim card or pin number to make a call, but phone coverage must be available.
Tips for using your mobile in an emergency
- While you may not have full mobile coverage, emergency services may still be able to be called; your phone will display SOS only, if available. When you can’t make a call at all, you may still be able to send a text, as this requires much less signal strength than a phone call.
- If you have called emergency services, don’t turn off your phone. A lot of people would turn their phone off after calling to preserve battery life; however, you should keep it turned on in case they need to call you back.
- Check your phones user manual or alternatively online for tips on how to save battery life, before you leave, not when you’re already in trouble i.e. turning down the brightness of the display, turn off vibrate etc. You may even want to carry a spare battery, just remember to charge it too before you leave.
- There are apps for smartphones i.e. “find my phone” or “find my friends”. Register your phone and set the GPS to stay ON.
In this case you can;
- Use your vehicle, and awning to provide shade.
- Drink water sparingly (some food, including canned food, will also contain water).
- In the cooler part of the day, collect brushwood so that you can start a fire to attract attention if you see or hear a plane.
- Put something bright and preferably reflective, on the roof of your vehicle so that it can easily be seen from a distance.
- If you decide you must leave your vehicle, leave a note giving the time and date of your departure and the direction you intend to travel in. Take your map, GPS, and all your water. Keep your body as well covered as possible and rest frequently; travel in the cooler parts of the day.
Camping Australia carry a large range of outdoor survival equipment.
Phone: 03 90880386
Address : Bendigo, VIC 3550
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