Safety bearing

Taking a Compass Safety Bearing

This is how you use your compass when you are completely lost! You don’t even need the map for this one!

Check on the map for the safety bearing. The direction will always be one of the four cardinal points. The place you will get to will be a linear feature such as a road, trail, river, power line etc. We will suppose it says “west to the road”.

Rotate the compass housing (dial) until the “W” is at the direction of travel arrow on the base plate. Turn your whole body until the red end is over the ‘N’. You are now facing west. Go roughly that way, avoiding large obstacles until you come to the road. If you are exhausted or really confused this will be a good place to wait.

A different method: Face north – the way the red needle is pointing. Work out which way you need to go, and then turn to face that way.
e.g. if you need to go west, turn to your left. Head off that way. Stop every so often to repeat.
You do NOT need to go in a straight line; walk round obstacles, follow paths that seem to be going in approximately the correct direction.

Lost your compass? In the Edmonton area, in summer, the sun is at magnetic south at about 2:30pm.

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