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Desert Survival Tips

The Morongo Basin Search and Rescue Team is a volunteer unit with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department based at the Joshua Tree station. The 30+ member team covers a large portion of the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

Many lost people suffer injury or loss of life for two reasons; lack of knowledge and not being properly prepared for the desert. It is our hope we can help make your next outdoor adventure a safe one and save lives by educating the public on basic survival information.

Helpful Hints to Survive Your Next Trip to the Desert

•   Expect the unexpected to happen and you are likely to be prepared.
•   Let someone know your trip route, destination, and return date.
•   Leave a map or written directions with someone. Let them know if you change plans after you leave. If you turn up missing, we need a place to start looking.

Be prepared. Take plenty of rations with a minimum of one gallon of water per person for each day. More is better. Take shelter material, plenty of sun screen, proper clothing, and a first aid kit.

•   Take a first aid/CPR course.
•   Dress in light colored, loose fitting clothes for the heat, and several layers of clothing for the cooler weather. Pack a hat.

Your vehicle should be in good running condition. A safety check before you leave is a good precaution. Check your tires and gas gauge before you leave the pavement. Take a tire jack, spare tire, some tools and a towrope or chain.


Stay on dirt roads. Avoid going cross-country on what looks like a hard surface. In just a few feet, soft sand can sink a vehicle up to its axels. Even 4-wheel drive vehicles can become easily stuck in sand.

•   Never go alone. Always take a companion, especially if you are not familiar with the area. If things go wrong you can help each other.

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