The desert and vast sandy areas are some of the most dangerous and difficult to cross terrain in the world. Difficulties in crossing the desert arise due to the high temperature during the day, the virtually complete absence of water, sandstorms, complicated orientation to the terrain, and the presence of poisonous insects and snakes.
It is better to cross the desert early in the morning, late in the evening, or on a moonlit night. In total darkness, it is easy to go astray and step on a snake or a scorpion. Since the relief of deserts often changes due to the movement of dunes under the action of the wind, there are no accurate maps of deserts. This significantly complicates the movement. It is better to go along trails or caravan routes. Usually, these routes pass far from quicksand, with wells, reservoirs, and settlements on the way. Moving along rivers is not recommended, except if the river is large and you are moving towards the sea. Usually small rivers “break off” in the desert or flow into temporary lakes. You can also navigate by the stars and prevailing winds in the area. If you decide to go during the daytime, you need to follow a few rules to prevent sunburn and dehydration.
It is very important to carefully protect yourself from the sun. A light cotton shirt or jacket with long sleeves and a high loose collar, trousers, high boots, a hat, and glasses are simply necessary. Also, clothes should be spacious, not close to the body. In no case should you use caps, pilot caps, and other hats not adapted for heat. Burnus or turban is traditional for residents of hot countries and deserts, effectively protecting the head, face, and neck from burns.
If your boots are not high enough, you need to protect yourself from sand getting into the shoes, which will rub your feet. This can be done with the help of a long and narrow piece of clothing, which is wound around the leg – starting from the winding of the sole and in a spiral rising to the knee. You also need to take into account that the nights in the desert are very cold, temperature drops sometimes reach 40-50 C º below zero. Therefore, you need to have at least some warm things, a coat or a blanket with you.
Water, food, and rest
How to deal with thirst? It is necessary to have an adequate supply of water. It is better to neglect food supplies or other things but take more water with you. You need to drink little, but often, in small sips, gradually wetting the throat. Water collected from wells, especially in settlements, must be boiled.
Furthermore, watch the flight of birds at dawn and before sunset. Birds at this time fly to water bodies and circle them. You also need to save energy and regulate sweating. Try to go no more than an hour and a half, each time making a halt for 10-15 minutes. While walking, to reduce thirst, you can take a pebble or a button into your mouth, or chew a bunch of grass or chewing gum.
Rest preferably in the shade. You can build a temporary shelter from the sun in the form of an awning. Walk with a measured, slow pace. Try to reduce smoking – it provokes thirst. You should not remove your clothes, no matter how great the desire is – this will increase sweating and burns.
A Personal Beacon Locator (PLB) is a must. It can save your life when all other communication systems are down. If you get lost deep in the desert, this beacon will send a distress signal with your position to the nearest rescue point.
You need to wear sunglasses during the day. Bright sunlight can dim your long-range vision and cause severe headaches. You must protect your eyes when you are in the desert to keep them healthy.
To keep exposed skin from getting sunburned, apply sunscreen every 2 hours. The desert sun is very hot and can severely damage your skin cells. Add a high-SPF sunscreen to your wilderness survival kit.
Finally, it is necessary to talk about the main danger of deserts – sandstorms. The sudden absolute silence announces the approach of a storm. The sky seems to be overcast with a cloudy haze, and soon a huge, rapidly approaching brown cloud appears on the horizon. The strength of a sandstorm depends on the strength of the wind that provoked it.
If you notice the approach of a storm, it is useless to run, because it moves at a speed of 150-200 km/h, so you need to immediately look for a safe shelter. It can be a large stone, some ruins, or dune tops. You can’t hide in ditches and riverbeds! If you decide to hide behind a boulder or at the top of a dune, sit with your back to the wind, hide your head between your knees, and carefully wrap yourself in a coat. Close the airway with a respirator or folded handkerchief. Before you take cover, pay attention to the direction of your movement so that at the end of the storm you do not go astray.
Follow these rules, and we hope your stay in the desert will remain a pleasant memory! Stay safe!