Two adults and three children were recently found in the snowy wilderness of western Oregon a day after they were reported missing. The group had stepped out for some fun the previous day. When they didn’t return by 8 p.m. that night, family and friends started to worry.

Tips led the search party to Forest Service Road 19, about 40 miles east of Lincoln City. 

Sergeant Tom Speldrich from the Lane County Sheriff’s Office stated that they found one of the missing individuals, who then led the searchers back to the family’s truck. 

“You never know when something unexpected might happen. It’s a good time for us to remember that if we’re going to be going out in the wilderness, that we go prepared, that we bring enough supplies to have an unexpected extended stay,” said Sergeant Speldrich.

And this includes extra food, warm clothing, water, and supplies to start a fire.

Here are some other essential things to keep in mind if you’re planning to step out in the winter. 

  • Take a look at the road conditions on your route before leaving.
  • When driving, allow extra stopping distance as there’s less traction on slick, snowy roads.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding and sliding. If your wheels lock up, ease off the brakes.
  • Ensure you carry chains and know how to use them.
  • Make sure your car is in top operating condition, with good brakes, clean headlights, functional windshield wipers, and tires.
  • Slow down when approaching bridges, off-ramps, and shady spots, where the snow often lingers longer.
  • Keep your headlights on to increase your visibility.
  • Be prepared for delays. Have a full tank of gas.
  • If you’re tired or if road conditions get bad, make sure to stop for the night.

When traveling in winter, it’s important to tell others exactly where you’re going and when you plan on coming back. If those plans change, update friends or family with a phone call instead of a text when coverage is available.

“As we get used to this day and age, it can be easy to think that you can be located using cell phones and cell towers. But out there in the wilderness there aren’t enough cell towers to be able to rely on that as a resource to find you. All the more reason for people to let others know with as much specificity as possible what their plans are, so if searchers need to, they have a place to start looking. We’re blessed with these beautiful wildlands in Oregon, but with it comes danger,” Speldrich said.