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Fear can be a deadly stalker that everyone may face someday. It is a normal reaction to unfamiliar situations. When fear is uncontrolled, it can turn into blind panic. When blind panic goes unchecked and all energy has been spent, exhaustion and very often death can occur. There have been deaths attributed to panic, even in non-dangerous situations.

The first step is to know and recognize panic. Panic can be determined by unsettled stomach, pounding heart rate, the inability to breathe or hyperventilation, or the irrational urge to run from something.

Do not attempt to run away from your fear. The best immediate solution is to keep your hands busy, your mind busy, and your feet still. For instance, imagine yourself lost or in trouble in the wilderness. Find and use something as a signal mirror, something reflective in nature, and signal the horizon for as long as the sun permits. Mirror flashes possibly can be seen as far as 20 miles away and other hikers, campers, or lookouts might see them. The outcome is you get out of trouble before it becomes too serious and, even if no one sees the flashes right away, you are giving yourself a way to relax and keep yourself under control. It is important in all panic situations that you keep yourself calm and be prepared to cope with the worst.

There are several types of fears. Some very experienced outdoorsmen still have a fear of animals. They hear a twig snap in the darkness and their imagination runs wild. This uneasiness can turn into extreme terror. Darkness conceals all familiar things. It puts you on your guard and lets your imagination run wild. Caution is fine, but it is important to remember the things in the dark are the same things that are there when it is light. The fear of suffering and death is very normal. It is important to keep it in check because a positive mental attitude could make a difference between life and death.

When faced with a situation that can bring you to blind panic, remember these things:

S top --make no hasty decisions.
T hink--what alternatives are there for you.
O bserve--look for solutions to the problem.
P lan--your actions. What will you do next?