Emergencies and natural disasters always pose a threat to our safety. What truly counts is how you react to the situation that really determines if you will make it out alive or not. The people on the Discovery Channel or other reality shows make it look easy, but do you believe you have the skills necessary to survive?
Keep reading to learn important wilderness survival skills that everyone should know; whether you are an avid hiker or it’s your very first camping trip. Some of these tips could very well save your life.
Know Your Priorities
When it comes to survival, Lifehacker, suggests that you know your priorities. Along with finding a suitable campsite, you will also want to:
- Make sure you are safe. If you are hiking and an animal is chasing you, get to safety. If you are driving in the middle of nowhere and your car catches fire, get out of the car. Whatever immediate threats you encounter, get away.
- Attend to any medical problems that could have happened during the event that put you in danger. Check for broken bones, open wounds, or other injuries. Also be sure to check your companions for any possible injuries.
- Protect yourself with some kind of weapon. It could be a sharpened stick, a knife, some kind of gun, machete, or whatever else within reach that could hurt something.
Find a Suitable Campsite
Creek Stewart, a survival expert who wrote Build the Perfect Bug-Out Bag: 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit, believes that the most important thing you need to do in a survival situation is to find a good campsite where you can set up a tent or even a tarp shelter. Ideally, your camp site should be elevated and in a dry area.
Avoid paths or valleys where water could flow and possible reach flood depths. Also choose a site that is devoid of bug nests, debris like rocks and branches. Choose a spot that is close to resources like dry wood (useful for building a fire as well as shelter) and running water from a stream, river, or creek.
Know Basic First Aid Techniques (With or Without a Kit)
Ideally, when you go hiking in the wilderness, you have a first aid kit on you, and you know how to use it. Not only that, but it’s recommended that you know what the three most common injuries outdoors are, and how to treat them:
- Cuts and Scrapes – Most of the time, these minor wounds can be washed out with a bit of clean water and dressed in a bandage. If you cannot stop the bleeding, you should know how to use a tourniquet properly so the blood stops and you can dress the wound properly.
- Mend Fractured Bones or Dislocations – If one of your bones become dislocated, you have to know how to put it back in the socket. Shoulders can be rolled on the ground and smashed against a hard surface. Kneecaps can be popped back into place simply by stretching your leg and forcing it in place. If you have a fracture, you’ll want to make your leg stable by placing a few sticks along either side of the bone with your shoestrings.
- Treating Burns – First and second-degree burns are relatively simple to treat. All you have to do is run the burn under lukewarm water and then coat it in honey if you have it on hand. Then wrap the burn in a clean and wet cloth, if water is nearby. If there isn’t any water close by, make sure you clean the wound as best as you can and find water ASAP. You will have to rest and elevate the wound so it can start to heal.
How to Find North
If you do not have a compass, you’ll want to determine which direction you are walking so that you don’t get even more lost. When the sun is creating shadows, you will want to find a 3-foot stick and stick it into the ground standing up. Clear the area surrounding the stick and make sure there is no debris.
Then you’ll make the tip of the stick’s shadow with a stone. Wait for 15 minutes and mark the end of the shadow again. The line that connects the marks are a rough indicator of the east-west line. A line that is perpendicular to the line through the central stick is the north-south line.
Use The Moon to Orient Yourself
If you are going to be in the woods for a while, you might want to know how to use the moon as some kind of celestial compass. Backpacker explains:
“If the crescent moon rises before the sun goes down (a first-quarter moon), its illuminated side will face West. If it rises after midnight (a last-quarter moon), the bright side will face east. (using the north star is easier and more reliable, but try this lunar method if stars are obscured).”
Estimate How Far You’ve Traveled
On average, if you are physically fit and are walking on flat ground with no obstructions, you can cover 3 miles per hour. It is important to determine the approximate distance you’ve walked, especially if you are in the middle of a dense forest or if you were caught in a whiteout, or maybe you are trying to find the exact location of a familiar landmark or a trail junction.
How to Find Water And How to Purify Water
We stress how crucial water is for your survival in the wilderness, and we couldn’t agree more. It is essential to have clean water, especially if you are in a hot climate and you can dehydrate very quickly. It’s recommended that you always have a LifeStraw or a Mini Water Filtration System on your person so you can drink from most water sources.
Surviving in the wilderness isn’t as glamorous as it may seem on television. There are a lot of risks associated with it, and if you don’t know how to care for yourself and know basic survival skills like these, there is no guarantee that you will be able to make it out okay. We hope that you take these tips seriously and decide to do some research on your own because safety and preparedness should be your main priority.