Regardless of whether you are a novice outdoorsman or have been active in the outdoors for your entire life, it is always a good idea to brush up on some basic survival skills. Keeping them fresh in your mind may get you out of a bind when you most need it. Remember the whole goal is to get yourself home as safely as possible and in one piece.
There are more than 10 skills that can save you out there, but here are some of the most vital skills that everyone should have in case of an emergency.
1. Get away from danger
If you are in trouble in the wild, chances are something happened that was out of your control. Whether you had to run from a wild animal, found yourself in a rockslide, or surrounded by a wildfire, you need to make sure you are as safe as possible as quickly as possible. That means if you were chased by an animal, get as far away as you can.
If a sudden fire appears, get away from the fire. It may sound obvious, but there is also the concern that people have about then getting lost in the woods. But being lost won’t matter if you are not alive to be lost. So safety is number one.
2. Defend yourself
If you do have a close encounter with an animal, you need to make sure you have some kind of defense in case it happens again. Whether this is a makeshift knife or just the basic knowledge on how to handle approaching wildlife, you need to be prepared to fight if you have to.
3. Address any injuries
Following a dangerous encounter, you are going to need to tend to any wounds or injuries sustained during your escape. If you have a first aid kit with you, use what you can find in it. If not, use pieces of your clothing to create makeshift bandages to help stop up any bleeding you may be suffering from.
4. Find water
Now that you are safe and in one piece you need to make sure that you have adequate water. Humans can live for a good number of days without food, but we cannot live without water. The concern, of course, is whether the water you find is okay to drink. Sitting water, such as puddles, ponds, and lakes, are the most likely to be contaminated. Streams can also be risky too if you do not have a water purifier with you. Snow, rain, and dew are the safest bets, but you should always filter and purify any water you find, to be safe.
5. Make a shelter
Whether it is sunny or freezing, you will need a shelter from the elements. In the heat, becoming overheated and dehydrated is a major concern. A shelter will give you all of the shade that you need. In the colder weather, hypothermia is a valid concern. The simplest shelter is to make a lean-to using a fallen tree that is at an angle. Use branches and sticks to make a kind of wall on the angled side. Then top it with leaves and moss, adding a layer of insulation. Make yourself a leaf bed as well so you are not just lying on the bare ground.
6. Build a fire
Building a fire is a major concern for some people. If you have a fire, then you have warmth, the ability to cook food, and the ability to purify water. It can also create a smoke plume that can help search parties find you. Starting a fire with very little can be easier than you think. One trick is to use a battery, something which you may have with you. Get your fire ready to go, with sticks in place, then remove the battery’s wrapper. Using something metallic, which could even be a gum wrapper, connect the negative and positive terminals. The battery will short-circuit and create a spark.
7. Finding food
Foraging and hunting in the woods can feel stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Plants can be risky if you are not familiar with them, so don’t take a chance on something unknown. Dandelions can be abundant and are perfectly safe to eat. As for hunting, do not waste any time or energy hunting for game. The situation should be temporary. Look for fish, frogs, lizards, snails, and even squirrels, all of which can be cooked over your campfire.
8. Try to navigate
Having an idea of where you might be may help you move toward to where you should be. Navigating by the sun is usually the easiest method. We all know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so just watching where the sun is moving should give you an idea of where you may need to head to in order to find help. Navigating by night is also possible if the sky is clear enough to see the stars. You can find the North Star by locating the Big Dipper, then following the stars of the edge of the spoon and you will find true north.
9. Get to high ground
If you are hoping that a search party is going to locate you, you need to get to the highest ground possible and find a clearing. Helicopters or planes overhead will have a much easier time seeing you. If you can build a fire there and create smoke, that is even better. You can also use a mirror to reflect the sun to create a signal.
10. Be positive
In a survival situation, there are a lot of factors to consider, but if your attitude is doom and gloom, your chances of survival greatly diminish. Take one problem at a time, do not give up hope, and keep an upbeat attitude. If you can keep your head focused on the problem at hand, you can avoid panicking, which could lead you to more trouble. Good luck!
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