PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (ABC4) — Each year search and rescue crews across the county and in Utah are responding to more missions with the cause being lack of preparedness. A Utah survival expert says outdoor safety tips are now, more important than ever.
The four W’s of surviving Utah’s wilderness are weather, wood, wildlife, and water. This may seem like common sense but after spending 24 hours with a survivalist in Grove Canyon near Pleasant Grove we learned there is more than meets the eye.
Erik Pearson, a former guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, uses the outdoors as a way to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
“You can hear the sound of the birds- that’s a relaxing feeling to me,” Pearson says.
Pearson is a Utah survivalist and a candidate for the Reality TV show, Alone.
“They take 10 contestants, you select 10 items, and take you to an area drop you off and say last person standing wins,” Pearson explains.
Last year, an injury prevented Pearson from competing. Now, he is using his pain to help others.
“There are four things you need to pay attention to in order to have a good time outside,” he says. “The first one I like to pay attention to is weather: look at the storms, look at the rain, look at the wind. Things that are going to come through your area that are potentially going to lead to hazardous situations. Even if you are just going out for a day hike a hike or a solo adventure, I have what I call the grab and go bag a lightweight kit of a few emergency supplies.”
According to the Utah County Sheriff’s Department, there were 130 search and rescue missions in 2020. A majority were hikers lost or stranded who were not wearing the proper clothing for the elements.
“I would take off one degree per 1,000 feet of elevation,” Pearson says. “The first layer of protection is your clothing and so just bring something like a jacket, even if it is warm outside, at night it can get pretty chilly.”
Weather is predictable but always changing. A sudden wind gust can make Utah’s wilderness that much more dangerous. Utah is known to have extreme heat, rain, and wind.
According to Pearson, when outdoors, all should take into consideration the wind when choosing a place to sleep and look up before you look for a place on the ground.
“When you are looking for something you always want to take a lookup and look for green. Do not bet your life that something is not going to fall on you,” Pearson says.