“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.”
- Author Unknown
In a survival situation it is important to take responsibility for your own welfare. Help won’t always be there when you need it. Three factors are critical in determining your ultimate safety:
- A cool head
- Good wilderness skills
Stay Calm: Keeping calm and thinking clearly is the foundation upon which your survival depends.
Shelter: If you are injured and/or at the mercy of the elements, your immediate priority is to make camp or find alternative shelter. Think of it as your Survival Base Camp – the place from which all other survival steps emanate. Alternative shelter options include emergency blanket, debris shelter, caves and rock overhangs.
Get Warm: Once shelter is found or established, remove any wet clothes. Warm yourself by putting on dry clothing layers, getting into your sleeping bag and/or building a fire. Now would be a good time to have a chocolate and/or a hot beverage.
Take Stock: After you have attended to your immediate priorities of shelter and warmth, assess your situation and formulate a survival and/or evacuation strategy. Firstly, identify your position, using map, compass or GPS. If you are not sure of your exact location, think back to the last location of which you are certain. Using that as a reference, estimate how far you have walked since that time. Think of any landmarks, junctions or other points of note that you may have passed.
Keep Hydrated: You can survive for weeks without food, but only for a few days without water. Keeping hydrated should always be a priority.
Ration Food: Think of the worst-case scenario then ration food accordingly. Remember, people have gone for weeks without food and still survived. If necessary, you can do the same.
Rescue: If injury and/or weather conditions prevent you from reaching safety under your own power, then you will need to be rescued. That being the case, your chances improve significantly by being proactive, rather than just waiting around for someone to come along. Measures include:
- Signal Fire: Once your fire is burning strongly, adding green wood to the flames will increase the amount of smoke.
- Attract Attention: If you are physically able, climb to the nearest high point; make yourself as visible as possible. Bright coloured clothing and/or emergency blanket are helpful in such situations.
- Make Noise: A whistle is preferable to shouting. It uses less energy and can be heard from further away.
Remain Positive: Once you have done all that you can in order to maximise your chances of survival and/or rescue, the most important thing you can do is to remain positive. Whether you are waiting to be rescued, riding out the mother of all storms or planning an evacuation, nothing is to be gained by worrying or thinking negatively. On the contrary, it will only exacerbate what is already a less than ideal situation. Never give up; as long as you are alive there is always hope.