Survival Essentials

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When faced with a survival situation you need to be aware of and deal with eight survival essentials.

These are almost in a decreasing order of priority, but each of these is essential for survival in the wilderness.
1. A Positive Mental Attitude
2. Shelter
3. Fire
4. Water
5. Food
6. Signalling
7. Navigation
8. First Aid

You need to be prepared for and deal with each of these eight survival essentials when you are in the wild and particularly so in a self reliant situation. Disregard any of them at your own peril. The order may vary depending on the situation you find yourself in, but the basics will never change. When you are prepared with the knowledge to deal with these eight survival essentials, you will find yourself not in a survival situation but in a self-reliant situation, a more positive state of affairs. A closer look at the eight survival essentials reveal that they are based on common sense.

Always remember the Rule of 3s:

  • Without air you can die in 3 minutes
  • Without shelter you can die in 3 hours
  • Without water you can die in 3 days
  • Without food you can die in 3 weeks

The other Rule of 3 that is extremely important is that 'without hope you can die in three seconds'.

Maybe not literally, but if your mind gives up when faced with what looks like the impossible, you could be in a lot of trouble.

The most important survival essential or tool that you can ever carry lies in the gap between your ears - your mind. Without a positive mental attitude you will have a pretty hard time surviving. Worrying will not solve any problem whatsoever; it will only make matters worse. Survival is almost 90% a mental and psychological game. Keep your wits about you and stay calm. Develop the will to survive. Refuse to give up. You can get out of far serious situations if you want to. If you want to die, you can do so almost without any effort!

The next four - shelter, fire, water and food - ensure that you take care of your immediate needs. You need to stay protected from the elements, you need rest and sleep. Without water you can dehydrate and death can be less than a couple of days away. Fire will keep you warm, boil your water, cook your food, dry your clothes and keep your morale high and food will provide your body with energy.

Signalling and navigation come next and are ways with which you can find your way out of trouble. Navigation is a more important art to master compared to signalling. You can signal all you want, but if the person receiving the signal does not recognise it as a call for help, then you are really wasting your time. Unfortunately in India there are no air rescues available (unless there is a major natural disaster), so starting a signal fire visible in the air might be an exercise in futility. However, knowing the various signalling methods that you can use might just come in handy, if not from professional search and rescue teams, but from curious locals coming to investigate why they see a light flashing where it should not be flashing from, or why he sees smoke coming up from above the forest canopy.

Rely on knowing how to navigate and you will be well on your way to rescuing yourself.

By knowing the basics of first aid, you can treat injuries that you will sustain in the unforgiving outdoors. From prickly thorns embedding themselves in your skin, to bleeding, to ankle sprains, and everything in between and beyond are distinct possibilities. You have to treat yourself and keep moving, despite your physical condition. And knowing the basics of first aid will help you do that. But this is just survival first aid and does not and will not replace professional medical intervention. Any serious injury will mean that you have to quickly find your way back to a hospital, possibly even abandoning your adventure since even a cut or scratch can turn septic in the outdoors very quickly.

There are other topics that one can learn, reading the weather from the clouds, for instance. Just remember the old saying ... “Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors warning.”

In addition to these eight essentials, you have to be aware of what are called the Widow Makers.

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