We all like to think we’d be able to survive if we were dropped into the wilderness. But, how many of us would actually be able to fend for ourselves? Here are the 10 rules to remember if you’re heading out to spend some time with Mother Nature…
There’s a reason the boy scouts’ motto is “be prepared”. Even if you’re only intending to head out for a quick hike, sticking to clearly marked trails, you should still take a survival kit with you. It’s also important to take clothing you might need in case of a change in weather. In some parts of the world, the weather can change in an instant.
Don’t head out without telling someone where you’re going. Tell a friend, or the receptionist at your accommodation if you’re on holiday, where you intend to go and how long you plan to be there. That way, if you’re not back when you’re expected they’re likely to raise the alarm.
If you do become lost, the most important thing is to find water. Depending on the climate conditions, the human body can only survive for three days without water. Look for a water source that is clear and fast flowing. And, no matter how safe you believe it is, use the water purification filter from your survival pack.
Make a shelter
Even if weather conditions appear to be fine, building a shelter is imperative. You don’t want to be caught out in a blizzard or rainstorm. A shelter is also important for psychological reasons. Just having a shelter can instil a positive frame of mind.
Make a fire
If you’re being forced to camp out in cold weather, you’ll need a fire to stay warm. Again, a fire is often a mood lifter. Keep it small and away from your shelter.
If you’re out in the open and you’ve injured yourself, you need to keep your injury scrupulously clean to avoid any infection. Wash and disinfect any cuts, no matter how small, with alcohol or other medication from your first-aid kit.
Being wet is incredibly uncomfortable when you’re in a survival situation. Having built your shelter, stay under it if it rains, unless you really need to go out to get something. It can take an awfully long time for any clothing to dry around a camp fire.
Signal for help
As soon as you feel safe, have found water and made a shelter, think about how you can signal for help. The idea is you should be able to see your signal from the air. Make a huge cross out of material which contrasts in colour to the ground or make three fires, setting them out in a triangle.
Keeping up hygiene standards is probably the last thing on your mind while trying to survive. But, if you become ill, surviving is going to become a whole lot harder. Designate a bathroom area away from your main site and away from any water source. Just like at home, wash your hands before preparing and eating food, if you have enough water to do so.
It’s easy to panic when you’re facing a life or death situation. But, it’s important to look after your mental, as well as your physical, health. Concentrate on the successes you have, like being able to find water or make a shelter, and keep telling yourself that as long as you concentrate on surviving, people are looking for you and they will find you.
By planning ahead and keeping a cool head if the worst does happen, you give yourself the best possible chance of survival.
For more details on this, check out our survival infographic.