Imagine that you are stranded in the wilderness and no help is in sight. What do you do?
You can read countless books and watch instructional videos on survival methods, but until you practice those skills on the field, they will not help that much. Here is a look at 7 survival skills that should be mastered by everyone.
- Locating a suitable campsite – The first thing you need to know is where to camp. You should always stay high and dry. This means avoiding valleys and paths where water can easily flow towards you. You need to pick a campsite that is free from natural dangers dead branches that may crash down on top of your camp at night, insect nests, and falling rocks. You should also choose a site that is close to dry wood, running water, and rocky walls and formations that can protect you against the elements.
- Building a shelter – One of the most important things you need to survive in the wilderness is shelter. The leading outdoor killer during the cold months is hypothermia. This means that you should know how to build a well-insulated shelter. For a simple lean-to shelter, the first thing you need to do is to find a downed tree that is resting at a slight angle. Or you could also set a large enough branch securely against a strong standing tree and then collect smaller branches to stack close together on one side. For insulation, you will need to layer debris like moss and leaves across the angled wall. Lastly, to make sure that you have insulation from the cold ground, you should layer at least 4 to 6 inches of leaves and debris to lie on.
- Starting a fire – One of the skills you need to have is starting a fire with a battery. You can use any battery. All you have to do is connect the positive and negative terminals with foil (like a bubble gum wrapper), wire or steel wool to create a spark that you can drive onto your bundle of tinder. Make sure that you have your firewood ready as well – small sticks on top of the tinder.
- Building a fire – To build your fire, you will need four key ingredients. First is the tinder bundle which ideally should be made up of fibrous material – cotton balls that are covered in lip balm or Vaseline work excellently if you have them – and wood in three sizes – toothpick, Q-tip, and pencil size. To make a base and windscreen for your tinder, you should use a forearm-sized log. Once you have lit your tinder, you should stack the smaller kindling against the larger log so that oxygen can pass through and feed the flames. As the flame grows, keep adding larger kindling until the fire is hot enough for firewood.
- Finding clean water – Another essential survival skill everyone should have is finding clean water. There are two types of water in the wild – water that can kill you and potable water that is already clean and purified. If you find water that has been on the ground for a long period of time, like streams and puddles, your best option is to boil it before drinking. Dew, rain, and snow are safe sources of water that you can collect easily and you do not have to purify them. You can also squeeze water from certain cacti, thistles, and vines as well.
- Identifying edible plants– When you are in a survival situation, there really is no need to go after big game. It is more likely that you will waste your energy unsuccessfully trying to bring down something so large. A much more useful skill is to be able to identify plants that you can eat. Get a book to help you familiarize yourself with edible plants in different environments. Know which plants can be eaten and which can possibly kill you and memorize them. A few common edible plants include dandelion, cattail, and wild spinach or lambsquarter.
- Navigating during the day– You cannot always depend on GPS. And if you find yourself without a compass or map, you can still make use of the sky to find your way around. The clearest method to get a general bearing during the day is looking at the sun. You can also use an analog watch to locate the north-south line. All you have to do is hold your watch horizontally and point the hour hand at the sun. Now imagine that there is a line that runs exactly midway between 12 o’clock and the hour hand. This is the north-south line. If you are on daylight savings, draw the line between 1 o’clock and the hour hand.
These are seven basic survival skills that you should know and master. They will ensure that you survive the situation you are in when and if you caught out in the wild.