No one ever expects to get lost or stranded where they are suddenly faced with putting their survival skills to use.
If you are a hiker, backpacker, camper, hunter, fisherman or someone who travels away from familiarity once a year in your vehicle – you are at risk to find yourself in a situation where your survival skills can mean the difference between life or death.
A Survival Skills Note: If you are someone who does any of the activities I listed above, it’s time to plan ahead by creating an emergency kit that is with you at ALL times.
If you are someone who is just traveling in your car from time to time, it’s SO EASY to toss an emergency kit in your trunk and leave it there. Car emergency kits should include: water, emergency food, firestarter, flashlight/batteries, blankets, signal, first aid kit etc…You can make a car pack by putting supplies in a backpack you already have or you can buy a pre-packed car kit like AAA 65-Piece Travel Kit.
If you are someone who actively gets outdoors,you should always pack emergency survival supplies with you. Create or purchase a compact pack that can easily be added to the bottom of your backpack. You can purchase a prepackaged kit like Lifeline 29-Piece Ultralight Survival Kit.
If you don’t want to purchase a prepacked kit, at the very least, as in the bare minimum, put together a tiny pack in a ziplock bag that has waterproof matches or a firestarter, a whistle, and water purifier tablets.
In a Survival Situation the top 5 Survival Skills:
Before I get to the 5 survival skills you should master, I want to address mental awareness.
In an emergency the most important thing you can do is keep calm. Don’t make ANY decisions born out of panic. If you’re lost – stop moving. If your car is broke down, stay put. Wait out your panic and fear before you do anything that could put you at a higher risk.
Shelter: Once you are in a calm mental state, your next step is shelter. The elements outdoors can change drastically throughout the day and night. Temperatures soar and drop. weather can go from dry and warm to storming and freezing.
If you are with your car and stranded, your car is your shelter and you need to stay with it! If you are away from your vehicle, use natural resources to create a shelter. Look for cave like carve outs that will protect you from wind or rain, use branches to create a lean-to.
Fire: Hopefully you’ve created a small survival pack and have waterproof matches or a firestarter. If you don’t have those tools with you, you need to create fire through natural combustion levels by rubbing two sticks together until you achieve a friction point. To be honest here: It’s a tough skill to master (proper kindling, etc) and should be practiced and learned well before you ever go outdoors.
Food & Water: You can survive for a period of time without food, but not without water. Again, hopefully you have water purifier tablets with you, but if you don’t, carefully search for water sources near your shelter (don’t lose your shelter!) that could get you by until you’ve been found.
Water can also be found in unexpected places like plants and trees, but again…knowledge is key and before you head into the great outdoors, study and learn about natural resources that can sustain you in an emergency situation.
Signaling for Help: Yelling for help (unless you hear someone really close to your location) is a quick loss of your energy and can be pretty ineffective. Using a whistle can carry your signal for a much wider distance. Building a fire is an excellent signal for help and also using a small mirror can reflect the right unnatural beacon a search plane is looking for.
You can also use natural resources that are near you to create unnatural looking forms that could catch the eye of someone looking for you.
First Aid: Along with your mental health, your physical health is critical to your survival. Everyone should take a first aid class and have a basic understanding of infection and how to dress an injury in an emergency situation. Have a small first aid kit with you at all times, but if you find yourself lost and injured without one, do your best to clean, dress and stabilize your injury.