Get lost in the wild? Surely that couldn’t happen to me! This is what every man thinks until it eventually happens and he is required to use his natural instincts to survive outdoors.
With a neverending increase on modern technology available for when you go out into the wild, some people are forgetting to develop the most basic of survival skills.
You could argue all day but essential survival skills every man needs but the most important are:
Mindset, Shelter, Water, Fire and First Aid
While there are many tools available and an abundance of technological devices to help should you get lost, these will do no good if that precious iPhone gets wet and you’re stuck in the woods for the night! Do you really know how to handle yourself?
Here are some perfectly possible situations requiring survival skills:
- Caught in a blizzard while hiking
- Heavy rain washes away the track
- River floods blocking the path home
- Lost while hiking and it gets dark..
Psychology of Survival
The first survival skill you will need to posses is the psychology of survival. Once you realize that you are in a situation that requires you to remain in the wild or fend for yourself, you need to stop and think. Remaining calm in a nerve-racking situation is the most important skill to have, yet not so easy for most. You will need to have your mental fitness in shape to deal with the survival situation at hand. We can survive without water for about 3 days and food for weeks, but the first thing you need to do is not freak out, think, and then find shelter.
You probably won’t even consider it while wandering through the wilderness in the morning, but your shelter will be your key to survival overnight. Protection from the harsh cold, winds and rain are essential to keeping you alive throughout the night. Nature often provides the best shelter in the form of caves, under hillside enclaves or you can construct your own with sticks, twigs and leaves. The idea is to be protected from the elements and if you are in a place with roaming wild animals, them too!
The second most essential skill is finding potable water and knowing how to purify it. Without water we can only survive for a short few days so it is essential to find water to keep you hydrated. Once you find water, be sure that it is purified as best as possible before you start gulping it down and end up sick. Water bourne diseases are a very possible threat in many countries, so be aware of this and use these tips to find the best water source.
Determine Urgency Level
The need for water, although very real, will also come down to urgency level. Are you only going to be there for one night or will it be an unknown amount of time? Is the climate hot and humid or cold and wet? Your immediate danger and need for water will be determined by these factors.
When surviving outdoors streams, lakes, and rivers are the most common source of survival water supply. Think if you passed any streams or if you can hear water. If not, then look to the plants around you as they usually hold water in their leaves and roots. Water flows downhill so you are best to look in valleys and low-lying and when searching.
The best places to find water:
- Streams, lakes and rivers
- Heavy Dew and Vegetation
- Snow and Ice
- Muddy areas
Finding water, although essential – can make you really sick if it is contaminated. One of the most common ways to kill the bacteria in water is to boil it for 10 minutes plus one minute for every 1000 feet above sea level.
Other methods include iodine, water purification tablets and smart filter straws. But assuming you have none of these, check out this video.
Any man who heads out into the wilderness should bring at least two methods of making fire with them, such as a lighter and matches.
In the wilderness, dry kindling has a much lower threshold for igniting and is therefor the best option to get the fire started. If you forgot to pack a lighter then use two dry pieces of wood, rub them together and place dry kindling or other flammable objects at the base of the friction point. Fire also needs oxygen, so breath lightly over it when you get the smoke billowing.
Fire helps to purify water, cook food and scare off predators. This should be your main priority once shelter and water have been sourced.
The possibilities of you getting a cut or spraining an ankle are very high when out in the wild compared to our normal life indoors. Ideally we will all go hiking with a first aid kit but of you should get caught out without one and get into trouble, then try to keep the wound clean first and foremost.
If you are bleeding heavily then apply pressure to the wound. If you sprain an ankle or do something that limits your mobility then try to use the body part as little as possible and use a crutch made from a branch or something similar to help you along. If it is broken then you will need to make a stint and limit the movement of the body part altogether!
I hope these 5 essential survival skills help to keep you safe out in the wild! I have purposely left out food as we can survive for days without it no worries and that deserves a whole new post in the future.