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In very deep temperate forest (5+ days out), what dangers can endanger the life(s) of a group of several fit individuals.

Motivation of the question

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locked by Russell Steen Mar 29 at 16:51

This question's answers are a collaborative effort: if you see something that can be improved, just edit the answer to improve it! No additional answers can be added here

up vote 14 down vote accepted

I think a list of dangers is potentially useful, but not a "single answer" question so I'm going to make this a CW -- Add your stuff here:

  • Hypothermia
  • Dehydration
  • Hyperthermia/heat stress/heat stroke
  • Falls leading to mechanical injury or head trauma
  • Getting lost and dying of dehydration/starvation
  • Water born illness through drinking tainted water (protozoa, bacteria, etc.)
  • Infection of open wounds
  • Poisoning from toxic plants (mushrooms, berries etc.)
  • Poisoning from chemically tainted water (alkali, heavy metals, industrially tainted, etc.)
  • Flooded streams no longer passable, trapping you in an area (or sweep you into rocks/falls) or drowning or losing gear in flash floods or water crossings.
  • Animal danger (e.g. bears, snakes, bees, etc.)
  • Fire, such as camp fire getting out of hand, lighting overhead branches and starting a forest fire
  • Lightning, if you're on a ridge and a storm comes in quickly
  • Dead trees falling in high wind - on the group or on the shelter
  • Bogs, swamps, quicksand
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A comment on the wiki: I've went through and made consistent the use of punctuation at the end of bullets. Remember that ordering of bullets does not matter - there is no ranking. – Russell Steen Mar 29 at 16:52

I think the most likely is actually hypothermia. All it takes is being a little unprepared and getting caught in wet and windy conditions a little above freezing. If you don't deal with that right away, things just deteriorate and then dealing with it properly gets less and less likely until you're unable to deal with anything at all.

I'd say number 2 is getting lost and not being smart about it. Actually nobody dies of getting lost. The most likely cause of death resulting from getting lost is again hypothermia. You said temperate woods, so it sounds like finding water isn't too hard, and you can go much longer without food.

Next is probably physical accident. Stuff happens no matter how careful or prepared you are. Most of the stories you hear of people falling to their death sound like stupidity is the underlying cause with falling only the means. Yes prepared and experienced people doing the right things can still break a ankle or leg, which then prevents them from getting to a planned shelter or something, and that can be life threatening. However, that is actually quite rare.

Most of the other things in the wiki answer are not serious concerns. Yes, they can all happen, but are either exceedingly rare or easily preventable.

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A community wiki is a group effort, not a single answer by a single user. The above list is meant to be exhaustive, and was added to by many users. Please feel free to re-rank it in the order you think is most likely by editing. – Russell Steen Oct 31 '12 at 2:31
    
For more information on community wiki, this FAQ may be helpful. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11740/… -- Also you can click the edited link to see the history of contributions. – Russell Steen Oct 31 '12 at 2:32
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Olin, I find your answer highly sensible, practical and down to Earth. In a context of bushkraft and mountaineering, it would be far more useful than the wiki answer. I, however, accept the wiki answer, as I need this information(a bunch of ideas, actually) for a game. – Vorac Oct 31 '12 at 5:48

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