Outdoor Emergency Plan

The front page of the NPS Outdoor Emergency Plan
Click the image to download the NPS Outdoor Emergency Plan

Accidents happen. You may become lost or injured while recreating outdoors. Search and rescue can take hours or days depending on factor such as weather conditions, capacity, and resources whether you are lost or injured. Being prepared for an emergency improves your ability to quickly respond to the situation. It is very important that you practice your plan before you leave so you and anyone joining your adventure knows what to do in case of an emergency. Remember, each trip and activity may have special requirements so you may have to modify your outdoor emergency plan to fit your trip.

Continue reading to learn how you can get the most out of your visit to a park. On this page, you'll also be able to:

Prevent Getting Lost or Injured

Before the Trip:

Use the NPS Trip Planning Guide to plan a great adventure and avoid some of the most common mistakes that lead to getting lost or injured.

If traveling in a group, which is two or more people:

During the Trip:

If You Get Lost

A visitor holding a map, wearing sun protection, and a backpack stands in a field facing trees and mountains is scratching their head because they are lost and confused.

If someone in your group becomes lost:

For children:

What happens if you become lost? It’s ok. Your family and friends are not mad at you. They are worried and looking for you. This what you can do to help them find you:

Want to learn more? Learn how to become a Junior Ranger Park Explorer.

If You Get Injured

A graphic of a hiker wearing a backpack slipping and falling on a trail. To the right, an onlooker notices and is alarmed.

Last updated: June 21, 2023