Missing Hikers and What Most Survival Television Shows Don't Stress

04/04/2013 06:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2013

Two California teens went missing last weekend. One of the two teens, Nicolas Cendoya, was found alive on the 3rd of April. Unfortunately, his counterpart, 18 year old Kyndall Jack, remains missing. While the search continues for one of the two hikers, it's safe to say they did something many lost hikers do wrong--they failed to "stay put."

According to officials, so far, as this is being written, there is no sign of foul play. If this holds true, the two young hikers made an overly common mistake when getting lost in the wilderness--they continued to move away from their last known location.

"Survival" television shows have become great hits recently. Man vs. Wild, Survivorman, Man, Woman, Wild, and Dual Survivor all demonstrate techniques to assist individuals in unique predicaments when stranded or lost. The techniques revealed are great however the greatest techniques for survival when placed in such unique situations is very simple--stay put.

The "survival" television stars are highly trained professionals. Almost every one of these stars gained their knowledge of survival through their military backgrounds. Most of those military backgrounds come from some branch of special operations.

When I attended SERE School (Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape), I remember one thing stressed--"if you're not in a hostile environment, do everything in your power to stay put and know rescue is on the way."

It's very easy to succumb to the thoughts after just a few hours that rescue isn't on the way. It's even easier to obtain false confidence believing you can make it on your own by "finding your way out." More often than not, this false sense of confidence often leads to death.

Most people who go missing in the wilderness are often found dead within a mile of their last known location. There are many reasons for this but one key reason worthy enough to explain.

Humans have a dominant side on their body which often forces them to naturally walk more toward one direction over the other. This means, with time, more often than not, out in the wilderness, we will walk in circles--literally.

Some astute survival television viewers will learn certain techniques when out in the woods which could help them survive. Even the stars seen on survival shows utilize technical advisors to assist them in learning some techniques revealed. This means, even survival experts often need a second set of eyes and ears to assist them on their mission.

"Improvise, adapt, and overcome" is great and sounds really sexy but if you don't know exactly what you're doing, don't waste your time on certain techniques.

Most Americans could not light a fire without a lighter. Most Americans have no clue how to purify water. Most Americans couldn't build a worthy shelter that would last more than a night. Most Americans couldn't procure a food source without heading off to the grocery store.

No matter how many times you watch survival television shows, don't think for a second you can simply venture off on your own if stranded or lost. With spring now in full effect, many American's will decide to go on a long hike out in the wilderness--just like the two California teens who recently went missing. If you watched some survival television, don't discount the lessons revealed however never forget the greatest lesson in survival--"save your energy, hunker down, and wait for rescue."

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is author of Contracted: America's Secret Warriors.

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