You find yourself in a survival situation that you were not expecting. Caught off guard and all alone. You are absent with supplies or advanced skills. All you know is a few articles you read and survival documentary films you watched for entertainment. Now this scenario often occurs to people every year all over the world. It's how you handle the situation that will determine a successful outcome. You will need to allow yourself to be mentally tough. Remaining calm in the face of a potential life threatening survival event.
Survival situations come in multiple forms to all people of every walk of life. Scenarios are presented in three ways. Mother nature, man made or incidental. The psychology behind survival is most challenging. Being in the right frame of mindset is not easily come-by for all people. This takes discipline and stems from making the right decisions at critical moments.
Remain calm is the first step towards being in the right mindset. To do this you need to stop in place, clear your mind from feeling panic. Organize your priorities for survival, establish your immediate needs for self-reliance, self-sustainment and achieve self-rescue.
In a panic situation, you are not collected in educated decision making abilities. A panicked person makes poor choices. You need to be calculated in your decision making abilities to survive and thrive.
Simply by taking a few moments to sit back and absorb your environment, soak in what is available to you in your surroundings for shelter, water, fire and food. Every scenario is unique and will require various needs to be met and methods to achieve a successful outcome.
First and foremost you need to be certain you are removed from immanent danger. Avoid, direct threats to life; Using your instinct, common sense and adhering indicators. Often a panicked person lost in the wilderness will make critical mistakes. First critical failure is NOT sitting in place. People that are lost tend to run off and out of panic get even more lost.
The feeling of panic while lost is one of greatest fears. Fright in any survival situation is natural, however it's controllable. FEAR KILLS!!! I teach that; In Survival Failure Is NOT An Option! Flipping this to: In Survival Fear Is NOT An Option.
The fear has been compared to that of great desperation, loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness, similar to that of a drowning victim. Education and skill, through hands on practice and training is a sure way to defeat this an afford you a fighting chance.
Knowing the priorities of survival and the fundamentals will help give you an edge. Knowing those are not enough, you MUST put into practice the survival skills and be familiar with look and feel. Basic knowledge will only give you a fighting chance. Instinct for shelter, fire for cooking and warmth, water for thirst, food for hunger. There is so much more that one needs to know and implement via knowledge and skill.
Shelter is a necessity to shield and protect you from the elements. Elements include the following:
• Wind (Wind chill factors enhance danger and exposure.)
• Sun (Shade in hot temperate climates preserves hydration and energy, limits exposure.)
• Sand (Shielding from blowing debris such as sand offers safety from injury.)
• Snow & Ice (Maintaining your core body temperature is critical and must accompany by a heat source such as fire.)
• Rain (Over exposure to rain, water for extended periods of time will present health risks and cause injury through exposure.)
In a survival scenario you must protect your resources and your three greatest resources encompass your head, hands & feet. The bodies extremities suffer first in-climate weather. First you must protect from extreme conditions those extremities. Additionally you need to protect your hands and feet from injury. If you are in a situation that you must travel to self-rescue a foot injury will devastate your forward momentum if not prevent it altogether. Your hands, need to be safeguarded to continually offer resource gathering, bushcraft tool construction, climbing, fishing, hunting, grasp and much more. Trap setting, firewood cutting or finite detail work on projects will pose vast limitations with injured hands.
This all falls back on the Psychology Of Survival: When you panic bad things happen and injuries or death follow. Eye sight is the other sense that must me protected. While cutting timber using a chopping instrument, be certain to close your eyes tight just before the ax impacts to avoid eye injury by debris. Also shielding your eyes from the sunlight, sand and wind is essential. You can protect your vision simply by using a little creativity.
Creativity is instinct we all have a brain and with that comes imagination. Creativity often is what allows a improvement and comfort factor. Simple comforts in any situation brings reward and peace of mind. Much like a hot cup of pine or spruce tea on a cold day or evening.
Fire craft is not a skill of instinct, the need for warmth is instinct. You really need to know how to start a fire with various methods to ensure your own survival. From many primitive cultures we have learned methods of fire starting. These methods have worked for mankind over thousands of years.
• Fire thong (Hearth, Cordage, Fuel)
• Fire Piston (Advanced method requires a cylinder, piston, and fuel)
• Hand Drill Method (Hearth Base Board and Spindle)
• Fire Plow (Minimal requirements two sticks rubbed together)
• Bow Drill Method (Hearth Based Board, Bow, Spindle, Socket and Cordage)
• Flint Rock Spark (Banging together stones to achieve a spark)
All of the above are classified as friction fires. Each requires fuel, oxygen and friction heat. Environment, weather and skill level will depict which method should be used. Each method requires previous knowledge on setup and technique. Various types of materials can be used, the secret is finding the most dry and combustible materials to obtain a burning ember. Transferring the burning ember to a dry tinder pile to to ignite and build fire requires minimal skill. However you should prepare your fire and obtain enough tinder to feed your fire to last throughout your camp stay. Typically what you think you need and multiply that by five times. Woods rich with resin or sap tend to burn hotter and faster.
Fatwood is a wood that is impregnated with high volumes of resin. Fatwood has a concentrated odor of Turpin. This wood is well sought after by experienced outdoors enthusiasts for it's ease of catching a spark for fire starting. You can find fatwood in Pine trees typically at the core of the tree trunk or branch joint. Trees use sap to seal off an injury or cutoff a branch that is dying. These are indicators a person should search for to locate Fatwood.
Nothing is more rewarding for the psychology of a individual in a life or death survival situation than the ability to start and maintain a fire. Fire is a tool of warmth, cooking cutting, wood hardening, disinfecting. The byproduct of fire is coal, coal is used for many things that are useful. Coal for this scenario is a component for water filtering.
Proper hydration is vital for survival of all people. Typically taught is the law of threes as I refer to them:
• Water (You can live for only three days without water, sometimes less.)
• Air (You can live for three minutes deprived of oxygen)
• Food (You can live depending on the person for two to three weeks without food.)
Water is the first requirement one should locate on realization of being lost or stranded.
I talked about instinct, most generally instinct will lead you to sustain. However this is not fool proof in cold weather as it relates to hydration. Water is just as important when its freezing as when it's extremely hot. Lack of sweating often tricks individuals into forgetting they need water. Profuse sweating indicated the bodies demand for water and in hot conditions you will require more then normal.
Water considerations for consumption:
• Wells (Underground Source Providers.)
• Natural Spring Water = Safe
• Hot Spring Water (Volcanic) = Generally Safe Use Caution
• Run Off Water Filtered through 15 feet of earth = Safe
• All surface water that is free flowing is safe to drink when boiled or treated.
• Filtered water by way of primitive filter systems through imitation of earth filtering.
(Layering sand, rock, soil, grass, coal in a capture device.)
• Water by solar radiation stills = Safe
• Water by morning due = Safe
• Water by roots or vines typically safe, use caution as some plants and roots are poisonous. Banana and coconut trees offer water and you will see depicted on every single survival television series. Also cactus can provide water, however research type varieties that are safe. Barrel cactus is a variety to look for in nature.
• Water by digging = Safe may require filtering to enhance taste making it more palatable.
• Water with the potential for radioactive isotopes, allow sediment to settle and separate then filter. You will need to boil this water before consumption. (Nuclear Contamination)
• Avoid water that has chemical exposure to enemy combat, consider the potential to chemical or gas contaminants. Additionally avoid water that is obviously polluted by industry and infrastructure.
Avoid water that is found to be stagnate, still and places where animals bathe or gather. Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Iodine will kill Giardia, however it will not kill Cryptosporidium. Chlorine dioxide is the better option for chemical water treatment. Boiling water kills both types.
As this point is being driven about the value in education for critical skills to effectively have good psychology in a survival situation. My motto: Know More, Need Less becomes fitting. As you realize all you need is knowledge to survive anything, the feeling of despair can be managed and thereby overcome.
Demonstrated above you have read what I call survival comfort factors, easing the mindset with proper mental hydration is good for moral. It's important to always maintain a positive mental attitude in the face of challenges. In the US Army we always said, false motivation is better than no motivation. Motivation gets the job done, and in a survival situation staying busy makes time pass and keeps you focused. I often say that a survivor is a successful survivalist. One needs to embrace all that encompasses a survival lifestyle or as many say live like the natives. Only a fool shows up in the wild with no preparations, this includes many facets. Communicate your location, time and dates, stick to the plan!!!
Vehicle preparations for emergencies and sustainment kits. 72 hours minimum on hand for sustainment per person in a vehicle kits, house, boat, plane, recreational vehicles and backpacks. This includes one gallon of water per person per day as a failsafe.
If you have followed me for any length of time you will know that I always make mention of
the common sense approach to survival. First thing is you NEVER put yourself in a survival situation, we find ourselves in survival situations. Beware that television makes it look fun, exciting and heroic. On the contrary a survival situation is NOT fun! Survival implies life threatening. Recently in the media, we have heard about fans that have placed themselves in dangerous positions, needing rescue or even dying. Why would they do this you might ask? They want to be their hero, however they do not see all the coordination, planning, rehearsals, crew, and safety staff it takes to film a show. Every celebrity survivalist has a safety net, they are required to have safety mechanisms in place to prevent loss of life or great bodily injury.
A true expert in survival is always someone else's student. I continually am learning by reading, watching, talking, sharing, and most important practicing. The more I learn the more I can share through writing, talk about on my radio and television projects. I carry the weight of a world responsibility on my shoulders. I must be sure to get right everything I teach publicly. Peoples lives hang in the balance on every word I share, as they hold me in the same regard as Les Stroud, Ray Meyers, Cody Lundin, Mykle Hawke, Dave Canterberry and Tom Brown listing only a few.
Daniel W. Shrigley
Owner/Chief Executive Officer at Survival Extreme Catalog Inc.