Stay & Stay Warm
Fire with Flint and Steel The most likely cause of death in the wild is neither hunger nor dehydration. It is hypothermia.
This can be a very acute hazard when you are wet. There are situations where the only thing that can save you is a 5-minute fire.
Could you light a fire from scratch in 5 minutes?
Not many people could. Luckily, this is the less likely scenario. It is more likely that you have fallen into an icy lake. Maybe you just need a cold rain in the forecast.
Your first need in a typical survival situation is shelter.
Do not underestimate the need for protection. Even in summer, the conditions can be very low at night. Add a little rain and you have a recipe for hypothermia.
The best thing is to find a natural shelter. This could be a tree with a dry surface. Or against a rocky outcrop.
You can improve a natural shelter by leaning branches against the main structure and accumulating debris.
The most important thing about a shelter is to stay dry. If you can stay dry, you are fine.
The next important thing about a shelter is the insulation. If you can keep your body well insulated against cold ground, wind and air, then you are doing really well.
So that’s number one. Find shelter. Stay dry. Stay warm.
Now on the water …
- find water to survive
Raccoon drinks from a water source Good shelter wants to keep you free from cold water.
But if you want to last more than a few days, you need to think about water.
Dehydration symptoms can occur within a few hours of your last drink, and include low energy consumption, headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, and eventually loss of consciousness.
Most rainwater is drinkable. You can collect it in waterproof jackets or drink directly from non-toxic leaves.
Rain is one of the few untreated water sources I would like to drink (unless you are in a heavily polluted area).
If you are in a climate or season with rainwater, you have to choose a different approach. It’s always good to have a backup plan if the sky dries out for a few days.
The other more reliable option is boiling water. You can collect it from any source that is free of chemicals. The clearer the better.
Make sure you bring water to a boil. Some sources even say that you should cook for 20 minutes. Better safe than sorry.
You can collect water in something that does not leak. It could be an old steel pot that some campers left behind, or even a waterproof jacket that has been shaped into a storage vessel.
The bow drill is an incredibly valuable survivability that can be learned in a relatively short time and has the highest probability of success.
Just make sure you’re wearing the sturdy shoelaces when you’re in the woods, and you never have to worry about making a fire.
Survival food sources
Acorns hanging on an oak congratulations!
Now that you have protection, water and possibly even a fire, you have everything you need to survive a few weeks in the wild.
Humans can live without food for several weeks, so this is one of the least important parts of short-term survival.
But … food provides you with valuable energy. It helps your body stay warm. It gives you the power and concentration to cook water, make a fire, create tools and improve your protection.
In practical terms … if you could live without food for a few weeks, your energy level would be so low that it would be difficult to work and do your daily survival tasks.
I have divided survival foods into 4 different categories.
The secret to deriving value from survival food is to be efficient and opportunistic.
This means that you want to focus on foods that are easy to find and that have the highest concentration of energy.
Here are some ideas to get your mind working:
Learn which trees have edible inner bark. This is probably your most common source of energy survival food. It tastes like crap, but if you’re in a forest you probably have an endless supply (and it’s easy to harvest)
Look for nut trees. Spend some time getting to know your native tree species … especially those that are high in calories, like acorns.
Berries are excellent as a survival