First, the organisers know you are there, and which course you are on. If you abandon a course, you should ALWAYS hand your card in, to avoid a needless search being mounted for you.
Second, you should always carry a whistle. Although not always checked by the organisers, a whistle is like a seat belt - you wear it when you think you don't need it, so it is there when you do. A whistle blown in a series of short blasts (three is the general outdoor distress signal, repeat after a minute) will bring help from anyone in earshot. If you've lost your whistle, try three of anything, eg shouts.
Use this only if you are hurt, or hopelessly lost. If you hear the distress signal, clearly someone else is in trouble, and helping them is more important than the competition.
If you are lost, but still mobile, don't immediately blow your whistle, but sit tight and listen for other orienteers. (It's amazing how much noise a person makes in the bush!) If you find none, look for a major stream or ridge, because this is where the searchers will look after they have been around the roads and tracks. If you are missing a friend or relation, DON'T dash out on a private search. There is always a controller for the event who will decide when to act and how to use the available searchers.
Only if the weather is really bad (southerlies on an exposed venue) will the event be put off. Listen to 2ZB at a quarter to and quarter past the hour. Once you've been bitten by the orienteering bug you may want to venture out in poor weather, so you should acquire suitable clothing. You're going to get wet no matter what you do, so you need fabric which will maintain its insulation. A layer of wool or polypropylene underneath a windproof barrier (light parka) is recommended instead of the more usual open-weave or cotton wear.
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