Wilderness survival skills can be very important if you plan to go on an extended hike, camping trip, or expedition. Knowing about the environment you’re going into can help you prepare in the event that you need to survive in the woods. And while these skills are important, the things that will truly save your life are willower and attitude.
One of the biggest impediments to survival is how we handle the discomfort and stress of living outdoors. Sometimes in our haste to be rescued or find civilization, we push ourselves into a state of frenzy and wear ourselves out. This leaves us very little chance to survive. So before you sharpen your wilderness survival skills, remember the...
Survival Rule of 3 (life-threatening combos):
3 weeks without food
3 days with no water
3 minutes without air
3 seconds of panic!
Panic can be deadly in the wilderness, on the highway, and many other situations in life. Know that you are much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Your will to live and ability to stay calm will be your strongest assets to survive.
Planning for wilderness survival can help ease your worries and go a long way to keeping you calm. How do you prepare? Know your environment! What are the hazards that your camping or hiking area pose? If it’s an arid area, than you’ll need to know how to find drinking water and have the tools to capture it. If it’s a cold area, you’ll need the right gear to stay warm. If it’s an area that’s hard to escape the sun, sun tan lotion may help you survive. Once you know the area where you’re going, pack a small survival kit using the guide below for ideas:
Wilderness Survival Skills
- First aid: Knowing a few basic first aid skills can help in the event of an emergency. A small pocket-sized kit should be sufficient to cover anything from a splinter to a tourniquet. Call your local Red Cross chapter to see if you can attend their next First Aid course. This is well worth the 6-8 hours of class time.
- Distress Signals: Something as simple as a whistle can project your distress signal for miles. A small LED flashlight or a campfire can also be seen for many miles. Small items – yet very effective.
- Finding Clean Water: As you read in the Survival Rule of 3 above, water is critical to survival. But water is heavy, and chances are good that you aren’t carrying more than 1 day’s worth. In a lush forest environment, there are many places to find water such as streams, lakes, and springs. But without a cup to capture it and purification tablets, clean water may elude you. Pack these items in your survival kit and know where and how to find clean water.
- How to Start a Fire: A knife & flint; waterproof matches; a lighter with fluid are all sufficient means to start a fire. Fire can save you by its warmth, ability to boil and purify water, cook food, and provide a distress signal. Fire can save your life in a survival situation. It’s a skill worth knowing!
- Finding Food: Like water, it’s unlikely that you’re going to have an unlimited supply of food in your pack. But by knowing what plants are edible and having the ability improvising to hunt and fish, you can keep going. Food is energy and can power your survival. Items like fishhooks, line, and a pocket-knife to carve sharp sticks can give you all the tools that you need.
- Making a Shelter: Ideally, you may have a tent and sleeping bag as part of your pack. But in many cases of survival, it arose from a day-trip gone awry. In these cases things like a foil blanket or poncho can provide shelter from the elements. Knowing how to make a shelter from branches, soil, and other woodland items can prevent hypothermia and help you survive.
- Wilderness Navigation: Knowing a few things about where you are and the direction of civilization can help you find your way out of the woods and avoid the panic of being lost. A compass and some other navigation tricks can help you find your way.
- Navigating without a Compass: Without a map, compass, or GPS, the woods can be a scary place to be. Knowing how to use the sun and stars might just help you find your way and get back on course.
Click here for some more guidance on building a survival kit.
It’s a good idea to keep your wilderness survival kit separate and self-contained in a durable and waterproof kit. Keep this kit with you in your day pack, just in case. And while I hope that you never need to use the survival skills discussed above...being prepared might save your life someday.
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