What’s the most important thing you could ever need to know? How to stay alive, of course. It’s easy enough to do when you’re cushioned in comfort and convenience. We assume we’ll be just fine as long as we have money in our pockets. But what happens when disaster strikes and no amount of money can help you escape it? What happens when the money runs dry and the banks board up their windows?
If you’re wise enough to prepare for the worst, you know that staying alive is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to humans any more. Instead, it’s essential to study and practice while we still have the chance. The more you know, the better off you’ll be when disaster strikes. With that in mind, we’ve compiled list of essential wilderness survival tips that could make the difference between life and death when SHTF.
1. Be Prepared
You never know when disaster might strike, so it’s crucial to have emergency supplies on hand wherever you go. Before starting out on any long journey, make sure you have a Bug Out Bag, a first aid kit, some rope and a tarp with you. Make sure your Bug Out Bag has everything you need to survive for a few days, including a water purifier, compass, torch and fire-starter.
2. Find Your Way
A compass is dead weight if you don’t know how to use it properly, so make sure you can. If you don’t have a compass with you, all is not lost. Learn how to navigate using the sun or the stars, so you can find the right direction at any time of day.
3. Stay Calm
Having your wits about you is the most important part of survival. If you’re unable to think clearly, you might get yourself into even more danger or miss out on a life-saving opportunity. Read up on mindfulness meditation and basic breathing exercises: these are easy techniques you can use to calm yourself in any situation.
4. Get Hold of Clean Water
Finding a source of clean water should be one of your first priorities. If there’s no river or stream in sight, follow valleys downward to look for areas which are especially green. Try to collect as much falling rainwater as possible and lay t-shirts on grass overnight to gather dew, which you can wring out in the morning.
5. Forage Safely
Now is the time to learn about edible plants in your local area. You should never eat anything you can’t identify positively, so the more you know the more options you have. Remember that some toxic and non-toxic varieties of berry, leaf and mushroom can look incredibly similar, so you’ll have to play close attention. For a meatier meal, cook six-legged insects with crunchy exterior shells, like crickets and grasshoppers.
6. Examine Your Surroundings
Make note of anything useful in your environment. Are there any good sources of shelter or fuel? Are there any developing threats, like wild animals or bad weather? You can then decide early on if this is the right place to make camp or if you should move on.
7. Get a Fire Going
A fire is essential for boiling water, cooking food, staying warm and keeping dangerous animals at bay. Make sure the fire-starter in your Bug Out Bag is long-lasting – a flint and steel is perfect. To be truly prepared, get some training on building a fire by rubbing sticks together. You should also know which type of kindling to use and how best to assemble it.
8. Build a Shelter
In a survival situation, a tent is a luxury. You can build a shelter that will keep you out of the elements with just a basic tarp and some rope. Learn how to put up a tarp in a variety of ways so you can work with the landscape, wherever you find yourself. To conserve as much warmth as possible, your shelter shouldn’t be any bigger than necessary: learn how to build different styles of shelter for one person or for a group.
9. Know Your Knots
Knots can help you with shelter-building, lifting and carrying, fishing, making traps and many other things. Mastering a couple of basic knots is essential for survival. The Bowline Knot can be used for creating a secure loop, while the Clove Hitch is great for binding things together.
10. Be Able to Save a Life
Basic first aid procedures are not hard to learn and can make the difference between life and death. Find out how to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre on someone who is choking and how to administer CPR on someone who isn’t breathing. Knowing how to swim is also a valuable survival skill.
11. Stay Warm and Dry
Cold is one of your greatest enemies in the wilderness. Dry your clothes out as quickly as possible if you get wet. Don’t discard extra layers if it’s hot – you never know when you might need them. Layer leaves and grass underneath your clothing as an extra form of insulation. You can even wrap your feet in grass before you put on your shoes.
When it comes to surviving in the wild, knowledge is power. It may seem like there are a lot of skills and tricks you have to learn, but things will come easy once you’ve had some practice. So get out there now and get some wilderness experience under your belt – you’ll have plenty of fun while you’re at it!