Anybody could find themselves in an emergency situation that calls for survival skills, more so for the enthusiastic traveler whose adventures in the wilderness could pose a life and death threat. A primary knowledge and understanding of certain outdoor survival skills and techniques equips the outdoor traveler to venture with increased confidence and enjoyment.
Perhaps the golden rule in outdoor travel survival skills is `to be prepared`. One should be sufficiently equipped to start a fire, build a shelter or whatever necessary even before they are needed. There are many websites that offer information and teach the discerning learner about traveling in the wilderness. Anybody embarking on outdoor adventure travel should have proper knowledge, experience and equipment to enable travel safely.
More than physical preparation, a wilderness traveler has to don a positive mental attitude. After all survival is a state of the mind. At the time of crisis, fear has to be controlled and panic overcome. The emergent situation has to be analyzed and the course of action to be taken planned. All aspects of the present predicament have to be borne in mind and a decision has to be taken without jumping into any quick judgments.
Certainly strong emotional reactions are invoked at the time of an acute emergency. These emotions inevitably stand in the way of combating the situation. During such adverse circumstances, stress is a necessary evil that has to be overcome. Stress can lead to forgetfulness and increased propensity to commit mistakes and take irrational decisions. It lessens energy and leads to carelessness.
Fear:This is the primordial and initial reaction which is perfectly normal. Fear lessens only ability to think clearly at decision making, which in turn will lessen the chance of survival. It is vital that one trains to think in realistic situations and condition to develop the mental fortitude to increase self confidence and manage fear most effectively. This is especially true for those who suffer a phobia of insects, darkness, outside, and height and so on. These fears have to be necessarily overcome before setting out into the wilderness.
Anxiety:Running hand in hand with fear, this lends a feeling of uneasiness, maybe a pit in the stomach, leading to an inability to make rational decisions. Anxiety has to be fought through and kept at bay.
Panic:This is caused by fear and anxiety. Panic leads to impulsive actions and loss of self control, both very dangerous in acute situations in the wilderness.
Anger:Anyone is destined to become angry when things go haywire in adverse situations outdoor. Anger saps one`s energy, it blinds rationality and interest and will to live.
Depression: This is not uncommon in wilderness, being alone trying to survive. Depression causes a human being to give up hope. Staying optimistic is the essence of survival in an adverse wild outdoor. One possible way to get out of depression is to keep busy hunting, making shelter and other activities for an idle mind delves on depression.
Guilt:When any loss of life occurs, guilt emerges for one is alive whereas the other is dead. This is called "survivor`s guilt" and should be combated.
Boredom and Loneliness:This is the side effect of survival situation. These emotions lower one`s morale and it is important to keep the mind busy and spirits up.
Outdoor Survival skills
Although the techniques and skills vary according to the hazards of outdoor, there are certain basic skills that remain the same whatever be the nature of the situation.
First aid: Personal injuries have to be take care of during outdoor wilderness travel. Fatigue has to be avoided and energy conserved for travel with positive mindset and personal safety.
from the climatic conditions and enemies is vital for survival. It is better to use the surroundings as best as possible and create a shelter. At times of cold and chillness, a fire can be built, when the weather is hot stay out of the sun. Since the body heat can be lost very quickly lying on the bare ground, it should be wise to use leaves, grass or pine bows for insulation.
Fire: Fire can have multiple uses during wilderness emergency. It does not just provide warmth, but boost confidence and morale, render a sense of security and provide a signaling method. It is also a means to cook food and provide purified water. Fine dry wood is ideal for starting fire. Start the fire small and gradually increase.
Tinder will greatly enhance one`s chance for success. Alternatively, dead grass, bird`s nests, wasp nests (unoccupied ones) inner bark of dead tress and cloth strips even from the tail of a shirt can be used to ignite quickly. And once the fire is burning, it is important not to let it go out.
Signaling: Smoke signals can be seen for miles. Instead of yelling for help, it would be sensible to whistle and signal in groups. Probably, a mirror which can reflect the sun be held up to be visible to a helicopter or an aircraft. Lids from can, broken glass with one side coated with mud, brightly colored jacket or shirt tied to a long stick can also be used to attract attention.
Water:Thirst and hunger are basic enemies of survival and these can depress a positive mental attitude. It should be borne in mind that in the wild, water is readily available in most areas. However, it is necessary to find a clean source of water. It is also recommended to use a cloth and collect dew or catch some rain water. The ideal thing is to look for birds as they often circle a watering hole. Their flight patterns usually include a water source. Animals also can be watches as they will scratch at the surface of the ground if water is just below the surface. Green and vibrant plant life also indicates good water source. Alternatively, even a dry creek might still have water running underground.
Food is a priority for survival. It is better to conserve the body`s energy reserves. Find food only if water is available, as water is necessary to digest the food. It would also be wiser to rest instead of aimlessly searching for food and depleting the much needed body energy.
If stranded near a river or stream, fish can be a good food source. Many edible plants can also be found in forests although one should learn to distinguish them from poisonous ones. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from mushrooms and any plant that has a milky sap. Cattail roots, acorns and the bark from trees are all edible.
A collection of camping and hiking tips will certainly come in handy at the time of crisis saving much of the aggravation.
- Location of campsite or shelter is very important during travel in the wilderness. Neither a valley nor a hilltop is recommended. While in valleys cold settles down making the site several degrees colder, hilltops are more susceptible to wind which can chill by 30 degrees on the south side of the hill. And specifically it is advised to be out of the wind during such travel. During hot temperatures, it is better to build shelters in valleys and on the north side of the hill.
- Water is a crucial factor and a traveler has to be careful enough to locate the shelter near enough to the water source.
- Remember that during wilderness travel, clothing and gears should be warm and offer protection of the elements. Light and natural fibers are the best bet. Hats are a must as they offer the much needed protection both from the heat and cold. Water proof layers are essential.
- Equipments that are carried must first and foremost be manageable to promote survival in any situation. Multi-tools should be a part of the kit especially while tromping in the woods. Survival kit items must get packed in a water proof container.
- In addition to the survival kit, a backpack is mandatory. It can be used inevitably as a sleeping bag. The bag can also be used to carry some food, a water filter and clothes. Nowadays bags that can even be compressed down to the size of a load of bread and weighing only about 1.5 lbs are available. A hiker has no excuse for going unprepared without this pack especially when the weather should roll in. Other items in backpack includes flashlight, extra jacket, socks and mittens, pocket saw, first aid kit, a camp stove, a tent and fly. A small camp stove should come in handy. There are stoves available that costs very less and weighs even lesser and most suitable for camping.
- Backpacking water filters helps one from carrying gallons of water while on camping and hiking expeditions. In addition, water purifying bottles and straws can come in handy for emergency use.
Perhaps the basic cue in any wilderness travel is to always keep in mind that anything can happen anytime to anyone. The mentally and physically prepared survive. Those who can make sound decisions, improvise and still remain calm survive.