Every outdoor enthusiast should have a basic knowledge surrounding wilderness survival. After all, it is best to always be prepared for the worst case scenario. Unfortunately, most people are woefully unaware of how to handle emergency situations when there’s no electricity, heating or cell phone service. If you share this ignorance, it’s time to do something about it! The following advice will keep you safe if you end up stranded in the wilderness.
Planning and Prevention
The best way to handle an emergency situation is to avoid getting in that predicament in the first place. There are many ways you can prevent the worst from happening. Even if you are caught in a less than desirable situation, proper planning can make your time more comfortable.
A basic aspect of planning that people tend to forget is keeping up to date with physician check-ups and immunizations. Be aware of health conditions that could potentially be triggered or worsened by an unexpected foray into the wild, and plan accordingly. Outstanding problems such as cavities and allergies may seem unimportant now, but smallest medical problem will distract you from more important matters during an emergency situation.
It is also important to carry a survival and first aid kit with when camping, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking or partaking in any other outdoor recreational activities. A properly stocked first aid kit allows you to tend to injuries or illnesses immediately, instead of having to wait hours (or even days) for help.
Things to pack in your survival kit:
-bandages, gauze and other first aid necessities
-a lighter or waterproof match for starting fires
-a compass and map of the area you’re visiting
-water purification tablets
-a Swiss army knife
-needle and thread
-fishing line and fish hooks
-a mirror for signaling
-small survival and first aid booklet
-survival food and water rations
-any necessary medications or medical equipment
Procuring Food and Water
Most people are terrible about drinking enough water when it’s readily available, much less packing enough of it for a long trek into the wilderness. In many cases, the most dangerous hazard of being lost in the wild is the possibility of dehydration. It is important to place as much water as you can safely carry, as well as water purification tablets and any other necessary tools for procuring safe drinking water.
Once you’ve run out of water, you will want to find a water source as quickly as possible. Examples of common water sources include snow, ice, ground water, porous rock, or even condensation. If it has rained somewhat recently, you may be able to find water caught in leaves or lying in puddles. Whatever your water source is, you’ll want to use tablets to purify it to prevent disease or poisoning. If you don’t have purification tablets but are equipped with some type of cooking gear, you can purify the water by boiling it for several minutes.
Food is not as urgent a need as water, but it is still a necessity. Unfortunately, the panic of an emergency can cloud one’s thinking and convince him or her to ingest something poisonous. Don’t eat any berries or other foraged produce unless you are absolutely certain that it is safe for humans. Even if you do find edible plants, you will have to procure food with a higher caloric density, as berries can only keep you nourished for so long. This is why it is important to pack fishing line and hooks into your survival kit. Catching and preparing fish uses less energy than other means of procuring food.
Building a Shelter
A decent shelter will protect you from elements such as frigid weather, insects, sunburn, rain and hail. Even if you don’t encounter any of these natural elements (which is unlikely), a shelter will make you feel safe. When selecting a site for your shelter, find somewhere that has enough flat space for you to lie down comfortably and is free of hazards such as rock slides or flash floods. If you’re backpacking, your tent is an ideal shelter. Otherwise, you can hide out in caves and rocky crevices, or construct a shelter from tree branches.