There are many ways to survive in the wild, but there are five basic skills that everyone who goes outside should know and be able to use if they need to. This is just a brief summary; it doesn’t go into detail about all the requirements and items needed in each category. Your brain is one of the most important parts of being able to stay alive. The most important survival skill is to NOT PANIC. Instead, use your brain and practice all of the five basic survival skills before you need to use them. Here are the basic skills that you should know according to Wilderness Awareness School.
Fire is the most basic survival skill.
Fire is the best way to stay alive! Fire can clean water, cook food, call for help, warm, light, and comfort people. It can also keep dangerous animals away and be a great friend and companion. As a way to stay alive, it is very important. Every person who goes outside should have at least two ways to start a fire with them. One should always be on their person, and the other should be in their gear. A few small fires can heat up a room more than one big fire. Gather the amount of firewood you think you’ll need for the night, and then gather the same amount again, because you will need it. Make a “star fire” to save fuel. This is where the ends of large logs meet in the fire, and as you need more fuel, you push the logs inward. Make a reflector out of your space blanket and put it on the back wall of your shelter. Sit between the fire and the back wall of your shelter to get the heat from the fire on your back.
Basic Survival Skill 2: Building a home
Shelter is a way to stay alive that keeps you from being too exposed to the sun, cold, wind, rain, or snow. Anything that makes your body temperature go up or down can be your enemy. Clothing is the first line of defense against the weather, so wear the right clothes for it. Wear a hat at all times. Do everything you can to keep the layer closest to your body from getting wet. Layers trap air and keep you warmer than one thick piece of clothing. Don’t waste energy building a shelter if nature already has one for you. Don’t wait until you need one to practice building a quick lean-to shelter in case you can’t find your campsite. Use a space blanket to keep your shelter from getting wet, to insulate it, or to wrap yourself up in a sitting or squatting position to keep your body heat close to your core.
Signaling is the third basic survival skill.
Signaling is different from other survival skills because it gives you a way to tell anyone who might be able to help you that you need help. You can be found with fire, flashing lights, bright color markers, flags, mirrors, and whistles. Three fires in a triangle shape are a known sign of trouble. Carefully bank your signal fires to keep them from starting fires in the area around you. You should only use regular signal mirrors when you can see a plane or people far away. At night, use an emergency strobe light to get the attention of anyone who might be nearby. Make a smokey fire during the day by putting organic materials on it. Set up a ground-to-air signal in an open field, using rocks, logs, colored clothing, or anything else that will stand out against the background. Most search and rescue teams use planes as their main way to find things.
Basic Survival Skill 4: Water and Food
You need food and water to stay alive. Limit how much you sweat, not how much water you drink. You can survive without water for up to three days. DO NOT eat plants you have never seen before. Never drink urine. Plan your trip with the idea that you will need extra food and water. Always keep candy and energy bars in your pockets, just in case. If you can, boil all the water for 10 minutes plus one minute for every 1000 feet above sea level. Put water through a handkerchief to get rid of bigger debris. Try to only drink in the evening when it’s cool. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to get water. Get some poly zip bags to store and collect water. Don’t eat any wild berries you can’t tell what they are. By putting your space blanket in a trench, you can catch rainwater in it.
First aid is the fifth basic survival skill.
As a way to stay alive, first aid is more than just taking care of basic medical needs. It is the main thing you do to stay alive. DO NOT PANIC. Stay calm and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Sit, Think, Observe, and Plan is what STOP stands for. When you realize you are lost or stuck, it is the smartest thing you can do. The most important thing is to keep your brain working well. This is basic first aid for survival. Before every trip, you should think about what you need, make a medical checklist, and always carry a small personal kit with you. In most survival situations, all you need to do is treat small cuts and bruises and take your own personal medicine. Make sure you know what you have with you and how to use it. Don’t pack too much. Just bring what you think you’ll need to have with you at all times. Wrap yourself in a space blanket to keep from getting too cold. Focus on getting found, and put a picture of your family with your supplies to remind you why you need to stay calm and live.
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