The best tip for any survival situation is "Be Prepared". Know what to do to stay out of survival situations. Possess the skills and carry the tools to deal with survival situations. Once you are in a survival situation, your survival will depend on your preparedness - both your physical and mental preparedness. Let's look first at Mental Preparedness because it is the most important and then at Physical Preparedness.
MENTAL PREPAREDNESS: Understand that survival starts with attitude - the will to live and adaptability in solving problems. Knowledge, skills and tools help, but the best skill is the ability to control your reactions and think clearly. Survival depends on thinking clearly, planning and executing under panic, stress and uncertainty.
When you realize you are in a survival situation your first reaction will be panic. It's part of the primordial fight or flight response. Understand this and deal with it. To help you deal with panic lets look at a simple method of handling an emergency situation. The U.S. Army Survival Manual uses the word survival as a memory device to get the important principles firmly in your thinking:
S - Size Up The Situation (Your condition, tools, surroundings)
U - Use All Your Senses, Undue Haste Makes Waste
R -Remember Where You Are
V - Vanquish Fear and Panic
I - Improvise
V - Value Living
A - Act Like the Natives
L - Live by your Wits, But for Now, Learn Basic Skills
You may not be able to "vanquish fear," but that's okay. Panic, on the other hand, is not okay, so vanquish that at least.
To "value living" seems a given, but many people in survival situations get discouraged and lose the will to live. There are ways to regain it. They include talking about the future, if you are with others, and imagining the people you love that are waiting for you
PHYSICAL PREPAREDNESS: These outdoor safety tips are common sense, but many survival situations occur and are made worse because someone overlooked one of these.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will return
- Carry plenty of water
- Don't hike alone. Stay together.
- Stay on trails
- Know the names of the area and trail
- Carry a trail map
- Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear
- Know Your Limitations
- Know Your Limitations - yes I repeated it. Hiking with a buddy is a big help in this regard.
- Carry the 12 Essentials. See the list of the 12 Essentials below.
- Be weather wise
- Learn Basic First Aid
- Dial 9-1-1. Or try texting someone who can call 9-1-1.
- If you are lost, stay calm and stay put. If you are lost, remember the acronym S.T.O.P. Sit -Think - Observe - Plan.
- SIT: When you realize that you are lost take the time to sit down and collect your thoughts. You are not lost, you are right where you are, your camp, vehicle and everyone else is lost.
- THINK: What do I have at my disposal both physical and mental that can help me in this situation. Take an inventory of your survival kit items and how you will use them. Take an inventory of your mind, remember what you always thought you would do if you got lost. Most of all remain positive, you will survive.
- OBSERVE: Look around, is there shelter, water, high ground, an open area so the searchers can see you. It will be easier for those searching to find you if you can stay in one selected location that will allow you to build a fire, provide shelter, set out signals and be in an area that can be seen at a distance or from aircraft.
- PLAN: Now create your plan of action. Be positive and take care of yourself. If it is late in the day build a fire for heat and signaling, find or make a shelter against the weather, and most of all remain positive, you do have the ability to survive. You have conquered the major danger of not allowing panic to cast your fate you can now conquer anything else that confronts you.
THE 12 ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS
In your backpack, your car or your bug out bag, you need 12 Essential Systems
1) Navigation (map, compass, GPS)
2) Sun Protection (hat sunscreen)
3) Insulation (extra clothing)
4) Illumination (flashlight, headlamp)
5) First aid supplies
6) Fire (matches or lighter)
7) Repair Kit & tools (including knife)
8) Nutrition (extra food)
9) Hyrdration (extra water or water purification)
10) Emergencyshelter (trash bag, bivy)
11) Signaling (whistle, cell phone, PLB)
12) Personal (glasses,prescriptions)
I wish you many exciting, fun and safe adventures in the Wilderness.
PS... Don't let the concerns of others or what they might be thinking affect your decision-making. Don't let the promises or the commitments you made to others drive you to continue trying to make it back in the face of darkness, rough terrain or inclement weather. Do what is in your best interest and survive.
Sources: Central Arizona Mountain Rescue Association courses and handouts. I believe anything on here is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine, but I will change anything if I have violated any Copyright.2011-07-13