5 Wilderness Survival Tips That Will Keep You Alive
Being stranded in the wilderness may make for a good movie, but in reality, it can be a terrifying experience. Staying alive may require you to build your own shelter, start a fire without matches and even eat bugs for nourishment. Here are 5 important tips to help keep you alive.
Your body needs a minimum of 2 quarts of water per day for good health. One day without water is cause for serious concern, and three days without water will lead to almost certain death.
When you head out into the wilderness be sure to take enough water to last you 3 days more than the intended length of your trip in case you get stranded. Or, if you are traveling to an area with plenty of natural water sources, be sure to carry a personal water filter so you can gather water as needed without ingesting harmful bacteria and cysts that can make you sick.
If you run out of water and need to search for a water source, look for lush vegetation and swarming insects as this is often an indication of water.
If you get stranded in the winter and have access to snow or ice remember that you need to melt it down first before ingesting to avoid a core body temperature reduction, which can lead to dehydration. A simple way to melt snow and ice if you do not have a heat source such as a lighter, stove, or matches is to load a water bottle with snow and tuck it inside your jacket and let your body heat do the work.
Being able to make a fire can be crucial for cooking food sources, staying warm, and even signaling potential rescuers. Make sure you always travel with a fire starter, whether it’s a lighter, matches, flint, or some other source. Oh, and make sure you know how to use it!
If you are stranded for an extended period and use up all of your firestarting resources there are ways to make a fire with some other things that you might have on you.
Batteries and Steel Wool or Gum Wrapper
If you have AA or AAA batteries and steel wool or a foil gum wrapper on you it’s easy to use them to make a firestarter. Check out this video to see how.
Mirror, Soda Can and Chocolate, or Paper and Water Bottle
You may already know that you can use a mirror to start a fire, but what if you don’t have a mirror? Did you know you can use a soda can and chocolate to make a mirror? Check out this video to see how you can.
A magnifying glass is another firestarting alternative. Just remember how you tortured all those poor ants as a kid… If you don’t have a magnifying glass you can make one out of a water bottle to light paper or tinder. See how to do that in this video.
Running out of food can be a major concern if you’re stranded in the wilderness, finding food can be exhausting and frustrating without the right tools. You should, at minimum, always carry a knife, some rope or paracord, and some fishing line with hooks and a weight.
If you are stranded next to a lake or river with fish in it then life can be great, provided you catch something. Patience is key here and so is finding the right bait. Try everything you can think of, from worms and bugs you find, to a piece of that protein bar you’re saving. Something is bound to work eventually.
What if you’re stranded nowhere near a lake or river though? Well, you can make a snare to catch small animals. Using paracord or wire is easiest, but fishing line will work in a pinch. This IS a skill that you should practice before you get stranded though as it’s not as easy as you might think. We suggest checking out these two videos to get you started.
Setting a Snare
Making a fishing line snare
Depending on the season, foraging is another good method. Start by picking up a foraging guide. Then, start practicing these skills on short hikes and day trips.
Lastly, most places have bugs. It may not sound appetizing at first, but when starvation starts kicking in these little babies will start to look as good as your favorite dish at home. Although most insects are edible, it’s wise to steer clear of brightly colored ones, as well as, hairy or pungent varieties.
Sleep is important if you are stranded for an extended period of time because it allows your body the opportunity to rest and recharge. Nighttime usually means cooler temperatures and it’s important to keep at a comfortable temperature so your body can get the restful sleep it needs. Avoid sleeping directly on the ground because it can lead to loss of body heat. If it’s cold you’ll retain more heat by piling grass, leaves, and pine needles underneath yourself. You can also pile grass, leaves, and pine boughs on top of yourself for extra insulation.
It’s always a good idea to carry a compass or GPS unit with you, but things happen and you might lose them. If you are stranded without GPS or a compass, but have a watch or other device that indicates the time, you can still get your bearings by using this simple trick. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere and walk directly towards the sun at noon you’ll be heading South. It’s also good to remember a little thing that your kindergarten teacher probably taught you...the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. Depending on the time of year it can be more like the Southeast and Southwest, but this can give you another decent reference point.
Preparing yourself beforehand will give you a much needed advantage for survival if something does happen to you. Take the time to learn these skills. You can easily make learning these skills a game with your children or friends. Not only will you be able to practice them, but you will be imparting very practical knowledge that could help your loved ones in a survival situation.