Survival Skills that Will Save Your Life
Survival in adverse circumstances is a skill that takes time and effort to develop. Every situation is distinct and environment plays a huge role in the success or failure of every survival situation. The expert survivor is one who can assess the specific circumstance, understand the environment, improvise, and use the elements to their advantage. No matter the environment–desert, mountains, island, or urban–there are certain survival skills that are essential and universal to keeping yourself alive and getting out of a difficult, life threatening situation. Here are a few important and simple survival skills that can help you stay alive if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
Locate & Construct Shelter
An adequate shelter is the first thing to procure in a survival situation. While food and water are the most obvious and essential items for physical survival, when you are exposed in the elements, finding shelter has to be the first priority. Protecting yourself from the elements comes down to finding and constructing a shelter. The effectiveness and timeliness of this will depend mostly on environment. In many environments, good natural shelter exists; in others, you will need to construct a shelter out of available materials. Understanding which materials make good shelters and assembling them to build adequate protection is important in a survival situation. Look for safe natural protection like canopies and caves first, then begin the process of constructing a shelter with available features and materials.
Fire, Food, Water
After you have found or constructed a shelter you will need to procure the next series of survival essentials: food, water, and warmth. Depending on where you are located and what resources are available this may be relatively easy or very time consuming and difficult. In a true survival situation calorie intake is extremely important to keep your energy levels up, but finding the right kinds of foods can be a challenge. Identifying edible plants, fruits, and insects is essential to maintaining caloric intake on a daily basis and avoiding getting seriously ill. Depending on how well provisioned and the amount of time you are in the circumstance, this kind of foraging may come sooner rather than later. In either case, be prepared to go hungry, but do everything you can to maintain calorie intake.
As for water, you will need to find potable water and remain well hydrated. If you lack a water filter, you will need to improvise a filter to safely consume water you find. Not all water you come across will be suitable for this, so look for running fresh water and shallow pools near running water where you can isolate water and improvise a filtering system. Trying to extract the cleanest looking water is a good idea. After this, you can use a shirt as a crude filter to drink. This only works with fresh water sources; salt water is not potable without desalinization treatment and can kill you in high enough quantities.
After food and water have been procured, warmth is often the next hurdle. Depending on what tools you have at your disposal, starting a fire could take a matter of minutes or several hours. If you have matches or a lighter, consider yourself very lucky. If you have flint, this is also very helpful. If you have none of these, however, you will need to improvise a friction ignition system to create a spark and start a fire. This is often easier in concept than in practice.
You first need to gather dry, combustible materials like dry brush, bark, and branches. Next, use a board or branch and create a small impression to use as an ignition point. With another stick you will need to rapidly drill the piece of wood into the impression to create enough friction to hopefully ignite a spark. This could take a good deal of time, so be patient and make sure to have some dry material nearby to catch the spark and create fire when the surface is hot enough. When you are forced to spend the nights exposed in the wild, having fire can be both a huge physical and psychological advantage. Surviving is not a glamorous act and always comes down to doing everything possible to meet basic human needs. While there are a lot of complex strategies for procuring some of these things and managing specific environments, most of actually surviving a desperate circumstance falls back on satisfying these very rudimentary drives and doing everything possible to self-rescue.