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Wilderness Survival Made Easy!

Author: Harvey Toogood

Wilderness Survival Made Easy!

Book Series: Survival

The Lure and Dangers of the Wilderness

The wilderness is a place where everything lives and dies and is the root of all life. It is where all life comes together and where only the fittest survive. It is not a luxury, but something that is essential for the spirit. . Being in the wilderness can be an experience that is invigorating and revitalizing. People who spend a lot of time in the outdoors slowly begin to realize how wonderful life can be.

Wilderness is where you can see the wonders of forests, rivers, plains, trees and mountains. It can be an antidote to the pressures of modern day life, when you spend some time being one with nature. The wilderness has a lot of variety and you can be hot or cold, wet or dry. Vistas can be dull or vivid, bleak or colorful. You will find that nature is a very good architect and everything is mathematical and precise, and there are reasons for everything that happens there. When you spend some time in the wilderness, your own outlook on life can change. You start to appreciate being alive and having the ability to climb mountains, go rafting down rivers, go bird watching in forests, or simply walk the trails that bring you something different at every step.

Wilderness always comes to you with a challenge and there is always the next mountain to climb, or valley to explore. It can be a place where you gain physical and mental strength, and get to know your own limits. But it is also a place where you need to be fit to survive, and where nature is very unforgiving and does not excuse any weakness. It is a place where you can get lost, and be far away from civilization and help. That is the reason you must, at all times, be prepared to face the worst of situations. Knowing how to survive can allow you to cope with the most difficult problems that you may have to contend with.

Nature is unforgiving and being in a survival situation can never be fun. It is not a game and will bring you no rewards, nor will it give you any immunity. All that you will have, if you know how to survive in the wilderness, is the present of another hour of your life, and more if you can go on surviving. It is very important to know how to deal with emergency situations by being clear about the basic concepts of surviving in the wilderness.

You will be confronted with many problems and you will have to find the solutions for each one of them. You may be confronted with such situations even in the midst of civilization, when natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and other events can to cut you off from the comfortable world that you know. This is the time, when knowledge of the techniques of survival in the wild can come to the rescue, and help you to deal with things, till help is at hand. Many of these natural hazards are predictable and do give a discerning person the time and opportunity to be prepared to face them.

Wilderness survival can become that much easier if you realize the gravity of the situation as soon as you find yourself in it. Hope for the best, but do not depend on it, and prepare to face the worst. Be positive in everything you do, concentrate on the advantages that you have in your present situation, and see how you can benefit from them.

Survival Psychology and Keeping Your Cool

Some people who have not had any training in survival have survived by relying on their basic instincts, while others with the best of training have died, because they have not used their training in the right way. A small girl recently survived a plane crash and found her way back to civilization by using instinctive survival skills.

Every survival environment brings in a lot of stresses that can impact the mind, but if you have the right psychology of survival, you can cope with them. These stresses produce emotions and thoughts that have to be dealt with, and if this is not done, the person can become indecisive and ineffective, which then puts a question mark on the ability to survive. Stress is not something that you can eliminate or even cure, but it is something that all of us will experience, especially when faced with a survival situation in the wilderness. Stress can be an experience, which allows a person to respond to tensions spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

There are a lot of positive benefits of stress, as it challenges us and gives us an opportunity to learn our own strengths and values. It tests adaptability, flexibility and the way we perform under pressure. Stress can cause you to have difficulty making decisions, can cause you to get angry, have you worrying constantly, can make you prone to commit errors, make you forgetful, deplete your energy and have you thinking about death. It can also lead you to hide from responsibilities and becoming careless. All these things have to be faced when you are faced with a situation in the wilderness that places a question on your survival. You can survive if you work with your stresses and learn how to deal with them.

When you need to survive in the wild, you will probably have to deal with a number of stressful events at the same time. Nature has a way of dealing with this, and in most persons will trigger reactions that prepare the body to deal with stress. Energy levels get automatically increased, breathing rates increase the oxygen supply to the blood, muscles tense for action, senses become more acute and it all helps to put you into a protective posture. At the same time, you can experience fear, anxiety, anger and frustration, depression, loneliness and guilt for not having anticipated certain things that have led you to having to find ways of surviving in the wild.

Accept the situation as soon as you realize you are in it. Keep calm, stay alert and think clearly so that you can make the right decisions. Listen to the rational side of your brain, and take action that minimizes risk. The ultimate target has to be to get out alive, and all efforts must be concentrated on this. Your attitude and keeping your cool are very important if you have to take the first steps towards surviving in the wilderness. You must know yourself and your strengths, anticipate fears, have a positive attitude, and always remind yourself as to what you need to do to survive. It can also help if you train yourself in survival techniques, before you take yourself away from civilization and into the wild. It can also be helpful to learn some stress management techniques that can help you to reduce any sense of panic, when you realize that you are in this difficult situation. Make an honest appraisal of the situation and circumstances, and see whether you can find some positives in them. If you look for the good in everything, you may actually find ways of surviving that you never even knew of.

Planning a Basic Survival Kit

Planning for survival is as important as knowing how to survive, and greatly increases your chances of returning safely, because you have taken the trouble to anticipate situations and provided yourself with the means to tackle them. Proper planning for survival will have you equipping yourself with the right things, which can help you to deal with the problems that you are likely to face in a survival situation. Making sure you know where the emergency exits in a plane are always leaves you prepared to use them if the need arises. Putting on snow tires helps you to deal with the dangers of driving in winter conditions.

To increase the potential of your surviving in the wilderness, you must always have detailed plans laid out, well before you go out on a trip. Know exactly where you are going and the sort of environment that you will have to deal with. This enables you to include items in your survival kit that are essential for coming through safely. You will not go into a cold mountainous region, unless you are properly prepared to face the harsh conditions, by making provision for the right clothing and other accessories to deal with the cold. If you are going into an area that has a lot of brush, make sure that you have axes or knives that can help you clear your way. Making such preparations only becomes easier if you are completely in the know of what you are letting yourself in for.

Different climatic conditions will need different methods of surviving, and you must be aware of whether your adventure trip is going to take you to the desert, to cold mountainous regions, have you crossing water or trekking through thick forests. This allows you to gather further knowledge of all the problems you are likely to face, and then plan your survival kit, and skills and techniques accordingly. You will do well to inform yourself of the flora and fauna you will be faced with, as well as the wildlife in the region. Survival kits must also be those that you can easily carry with you, and do not overburden you. Finding tools and other things that can serve more than one purpose is an excellent way of reducing the items you need to carry.

Any basic survival kit has to be able to provide you with food, shelter and warmth at all times, and in the simplest of ways. You need not carry heavy stoves and cooking equipment if you have learnt the art of creating a fire after gathering firewood, and have just one or two vessels to get your meal ready.

One of the most important parts of a basic survival kit has to be that which takes care of first aid. Conditions when you go in to the wilderness are far from ideal, and largely unknown. This always increases the chances of your getting injuries from falls, or other accidents. A basic first aid kit will enable you to treat yourself, so that you do not expose yourself to further infection.

Another important part of surviving in the wild is to have a way of dealing with thirst and having water with you at all times. There are a number of ways of doing this, but while it may not always be possible to carry water with you, you must have some arrangements that enable you to have access to pure water, that is not contaminated.

Survival kits do not have to be elaborate. They must be easy to carry, be reasonably waterproof, and durable enough to take you through all the stresses of your trip. They must contain first aid kits, equipment to start fires, and methods to purify water.

You will also need to have items that can help you to gather food and provide you with some basic shelter. Carrying a flashlight is always helpful, though you need to be constantly aware of battery life. A mirror can serve as an effective tool for signaling, besides helping you with your grooming. A compass can always be of use to let you plot your course and to help you know where you are. If you are going into territory you are not familiar with, see if you can find maps of the region. These can help to locate water sources and other important points that can help you in surviving.

Basic survival kits must include the following:

Food packets

Drinking water (at least for the first day)

Water bag

A frying pan


Waterproof matchbox

A lighter

A magnetic compass


A small shovel

Some rope

Hunting knife

Fishing kit

A whistle

Signaling mirror

Compressed fuel (depending on weight you can carry)

Poncho or other material for shelter (weight is a consideration)

Sleeping bag

First aid kit

A flashlight

Basic Survival Skills Are a Key to Survival

When you are out in the wilderness and far away from the normal comforts of civilization, you have to be prepared to face any disaster or event that can catch you unawares. Learn to study the area or environment that you go into, and see if you can foresee any dangers or likely perils. Always be aware that you are now only dependent on yourself and your ability to come through whatever travails you have to go through. Staying calm and never panicking are the best methods of dealing with survival problems in the wilderness. Worrying can only drain you of energy. Remember that you have come out on this trip on your own, and are therefore in a way responsible for everything that follows. If you make any mistakes during your trip, store them away for the future, so that you will know what you can avoid doing if confronted with the same situation again.

If you have put together a proper survival kit, make sure that before you go out on the trip you are well aware of how to use every item in your kit. If the things are new to you, familiarize yourself with them, before you add them to your kit. This goes for all items, whether it is the putting up of tents, using fire starting equipment, and all other equipment that you are going to carry. Learn how to look for water, and how to get clean water. Water is more essential for a body than food, and it must always be your first priority in any survival exercise. The right maps can guide you to water sources, while knowing the topography can help you to dig for water. Dew can be a good source of water, and you must develop the skill of tapping this source of water. Be familiar with trees and vegetation in the area, to understand if they can help you in a quest for water.

Learn how to create a basic shelter for yourself in the open. While this may not give you much protection, it satisfies a basic need, and even the most rudimentary of shelters gives a sense of protection. Learn how to do this using branches and leaves, or even how to dig yourself a shelter in the ground. Learn how to look for caves and other natural shelters that can keep you warm and safe, till you are able to get back to civilization, or at least in contact with the outside world. Learn how to create signals, fires and other things that can help the outside world to come to your rescue if necessary.

Make sure that before you go on a trip you always set a firm timetable for your return, and inform friends and family of exactly where you are going and the duration of your trip. Learn also how to look for food in the wild, whether it is gathering berries, hunting down birds and other wild life, or fishing. This can give you all the sustenance that you need to keep going until you are finally rescued from the situation you have landed in.

Having the right attitude, knowing how to find water and build some shelter, knowing how to build a fire, and finally how to forage and find food, are the basic skills that are necessary for survival in the wilderness. Once you combine these skills with some basic tools that can help you in practicing these skills, survival in the wilderness will be a certainty, and will allow you to get past the toughest of situations. Learn and develop these skills before you plan any trip, and you will find that you are well prepared to deal with any situation that can develop during your trip into the wilderness.

A Shelter Gives You Protection

In the wilderness, a shelter can give you protection from the heat and the cold, snow and rain, the wind and the sun, as well as protecting you from the attention of insects. When the weather is not conducive, this may become an even greater immediate need than looking for food and water, or building a fire. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause a lot of tiredness and weakness, and leave you less capable of dealing with the travails of dealing with your isolation in the wilderness.

Any shelter that you build must be large enough to protect you so you are able to retain your body heat, which becomes very important in cold climates. Making one too large can be a waste of time and effort, and will not really have you feeling snug and warm, when you need it. To build a shelter, the area you are in must have the materials that you need to build a shelter. The size of the shelter must be such that you can lie in it comfortably, and also level enough to give you the rest you need. Height is not important, and can even be a disadvantage in colder climates.

The shelter must be able to give you a semblance of protection from wild animals, insects and other creatures. Make sure that your shelter is not in a place where a flash flood can put you under water, or in a place where rocks can fall from mountainsides. Ideally shelters that help you to survive in the wild are those that have a low silhouette, are small and secluded, and can be of any shape that is comfortable. Select a location that you can easily get back to, after you have left it for the day in order to find food or water.

You must consider the time and effort that you need to build any shelter, and base this on the period that you think you need it for. If you find you are cut off from civilization by snow, floods or other reasons, you may find that you need the shelter for a longer time. If so, you must make greater efforts to build one that will last you for some time and be comfortable to stay in. You may have tools in your survival kit that can help you build a shelter, but even if you do not, you must know how to improvise. Decide on what you want to build and then go around gathering the materials that you need for the job.

The simplest shelter is a lean-to built with a poncho, which you are hopefully equipped with as part of your wilderness kit. Create a suspension line between two trees with the rope in your survival kit and place the poncho over it to give you a crude shelter, which must have its back to the wind direction. You may need to have some drip sticks, to prevent rainwater from coming into the lean-to from the ropes. If your poncho is big enough or you are carrying other bigger areas of material, you can make a tent instead of a lean-to. You can always add reinforcement to your poncho by making frames out of the branches of trees.

You can make a tepee out of branches of trees, cut to an equal size and tied together at the top. Plant the ends of the branches or tepee poles into the ground, and you will have a shelter that is fairly firm and sound. Cover the tepee with your poncho. You can also cut off branches of trees to cover your tepee, as any poncho will always be useful when you are lying down. Such coverings may not be waterproof, but if the weather is dry, you will have a reasonable shelter that you can call home for the next few days. Tying the poncho to a branch in a tree can also create a tepee that can give you the nominal look of a shelter. While you are building a shelter, you can also give thought to creating a camp bed from the branches of trees so that you are sleeping above ground level, and therefore are more protected from snakes and other creepy crawlies.

In sandy areas, like deserts or beaches, you can dig into the ground and create space for a shelter, which can be roofed over with the poncho or other easily created roof structures. The main idea in building a shelter is to create a space for yourself where you can sleep and rest in reasonable comfort. For this you need to see what you can create from the terrain you are unfortunately isolated in, and be as innovative as you can. Spending time building a shelter can keep you occupied and stops you from brooding over your unfortunate situation.

Finding Water Is Essential To Survival

For any survival in the wilderness the greatest need is water, as human beings have bodies that are mostly made up of fluids. Even in the coldest of areas, a body needs at least two liters of water daily to maintain all its bodily functions. The body loses water throughout the day and needs it to be replaced in the right quantities at the right times, in order to have it functioning as it should. A person can survive for many days without food, but will last for just a few days or only some hours if water in the body is not constantly replenished. That is the reason that one of the basic task of survival in the wilderness has to be to find an adequate supply of water.

The sources of water will depend on the environment that makes up the wilderness, where you are in a situation that needs you to find ways of surviving. This may not be too difficult in areas that have a lot of vegetation and areas with a fair amount of rainfall. You will rarely be too far away from a stream or river, which can give you all the water that you need. Keep your ears open and listen to sounds of running water, and sure enough you will find a stream. You can also find water below trees and rocks, and if you find a damp spot, dig down and you will find some water. Make the pit deep enough and allow the water to accumulate in it and settle before you try to collect it. In areas that have a lot of dampness, the dew in the evenings is a good source of moisture, which can be collected on metal or plastic sheets to give you enough to keep you sufficiently hydrated.

If you are snowbound in the wilderness, you really do not have to bother about water, because all that you have to do is collect some snow and melt it to create water for your use. If it is raining in the area you are in, collect the rainwater in any water holding material and use it for your water hoard. Never drink sea or salty water, as this will leave you thirstier and cause you other problems. One way of removing salt from water is to heat it and allow a cloth to absorb the steam that rises up. Wring the water from the cloth and you will have reasonably potable water that can satisfy the needs of your body. Some desert plants like cacti are good sources of water, but you will need to place the pulp from the cactus branches in your mouth to suck the water out of it, and then discard the pulp. Beaches will easily yield water in shallow pits dug in them, but you have to be aware of their likely salt content and take action accordingly.

Water can also be found in trees or in crevices in rocks, but you must find ways to absorb this water with some cloth so that you can use it. Green bamboo is an excellent source of water, as are banana trees. Milk from green coconuts can help to quench thirst. Water that you collect from any of the sources must be safe for drinking, and if you have remembered to include water purification tablets in your survival kit, this should not be much of a problem. Otherwise you can always boil the water and make it safe. Boil the water for at least ten minutes to make sure that you have killed all the likely pathogens that the water can contain. Any water that is muddy or collected from stagnant sources must be allowed to stand for at least twelve hours, so that all the impurities in it settle down. You can also use sand, cloth and charcoal, if you need to make a filter.

The Warmth of a Fire Can Help You to Survive

The history of mankind changed dramatically after it learned how to set fires and use them to enhance comfort, cook meals and produce weapons. When you are in a survival situation, a fire can make a lot of difference from the comfort and warmth that it brings. It can help to cook the food that is foraged. Heat up food made earlier and purify water. In emergencies it can be used to signal for rescue, while it will always give protection from animals. Fire means warmth, gives a form of companionship and lifts the spirits of people who are depressed. Fire has to be used judiciously, as it can also be quite damaging when it produces carbon monoxide in closed spaces, while in the wilderness forests fires can cause a lot of destruction.

Fire needs three things. These are a fuel, a form of heat to ignite or start the fire, and finally, air or oxygen to keep it burning. When any of these things are not present, fires will not burn. Fuel can be gas if you are carrying it with you, or wood from the trees that you are surrounded with in the wilderness. In most places in the wilderness, you will find some sort of vegetation, which can always be used as fuel for a fire. Your survival kit must include lighters or matchboxes that can be used to light a fire. It makes sense to carry both, as these are rarely bulky items. If you are carrying some form of fuel, and you do get lost in the wilderness and need to survive, make an assessment of how long your fuel will last, before you use it. It makes more sense to look for wood or other things to burn, and conserve whatever fuel you have.

Always ensure that your lighter or matchboxes are kept dry and never allowed to get wet, as then starting the fire may become a problem. It can also do no harm to learn the skill of building a fire, without the use of these two things. This will have to be a skill, which our forefathers used, by rubbing two hard substances together to produce sparks to light the fire. A magnifying glass can also be used to start fires by using sunlight, but this can only be done during the day when the sun is well up and hot enough. If you need to pick wood for fire, see that it is dry. Look for dead vegetation and take the wood from them. If there is a problem in lighting the fire, or you find a lot of difficulty in doing so, it can even make sense to keep the fire burning at all times. This can also serve as a permanent signal or marker for rescue teams that should be on the way, if you have left proper information about your trip and your return is already overdue.

If wood is your source of fuel, gather enough of it. You must actually spend your time always looking for sources of fuel, water and food, while you are up and about. This is a skill that must never flag, if you are to survive in the wilderness. To start a fire, look around the terrain you are in and see what materials you can use to build and sustain a fire. Decide on whether you really need a fire and the time you may have during the day to find the materials for it. Fires must be built in areas that are protected from the wind. If these are not naturally available you may have to build some form of protection, using the things you have at hand. The fire must also be in a place, where it cannot affect any shelter you have built for yourself. Creating the fire in a pit can help to give it the required protection. You may need to make a connecting hole so that the fire has some form of ventilation that it needs to keep burning.

Build a firewall with stones or wood, and put it in such a direction that you are protected from the wind. Gather enough firewood or any other material that you consider suitable for burning. Start the fire only after you have a sufficient stock of the fuel. Clear any area that you choose to build your fire in, so that you can control the fire and prevent it from spreading. Use a layer of stone to give your fireplace a firm base. The stones will also heat up and give out enough warmth even after the fire has died down.

See that you have the fuel for the fire properly stacked up so that it sustains the fire for as long as you need it. You will have to constantly watch over the fire and keep adding fuel to it, if you want to keep it burning for a long time. Start the fire with the lighter, matches or other spark-producing device that you have. It may make sense to start the fire by burning a piece of cloth or paper, and then allowing that to pass on the heat to the fireplace you have built up. If you are using the sun to create a fire, using the lens of binoculars can make sense, though carrying a magnifying lens as part of your survival kit can make even more sense. See that you light the fire from the upwind side, or otherwise you may be placing yourself at risk once the fire catches. It can do no harm to have some soil or sand ready near a fire in case you have to douse it.

Use a fire wisely as part of your survival technique, and it will give you all the more confidence that you can get through the difficult times and help you to survive till help is at hand.

Finding Food to Help You Sustain Your Body

Every living body requires some form of sustenance in the guise of food to sustain itself and have the energy to survive. When you have decided to go for a trip in the wilderness, in most cases you will be carrying some form of food items to allow you to get through the period of your hiking trip. When you first discover that you are in a situation that will call for your survival skills, first take an inventory of everything that you are carrying in the form of food. Decide on how long this can last, and start rationing it to make it last longer. Never starve, as this can leave your body with no energy, and energy is what you need if you have to get out of this difficult situation.

The wilderness may be a harsh place, but it is equally one that can provide you with the food that you need, as long as you know how to look for it and then procure it for your needs. You would do well to inform yourself of the edible plants that grow in the region you are going to, as part of your planning for survival. Learn how to identify such plants, which parts of them are edible and the way they can be eaten as food. Fruits and berries are top of the list, but must never be eaten in large quantities. The roots of some plants are edible and can make for good sustaining food if they are well cooked.

If you can find a river or pond, close to where you have been left stranded, you may have located a source for fish and solved your water problems as well. Once you discover such a spot, stay close to it, as this will greatly increase your chances of survival in the wilderness. Even if you have to move on to look for ways out of your situation, make sure you can come back, unless you can find another spot with similar advantages.

Animals are an excellent source of food, and you will do well to concentrate on the smaller ones like rabbits or squirrels that can be trapped or caught easily. You will have to be ingenuous if you are going to be able to successfully trap an animal. This is one of the survival skills that you need to learn about before you make any trip into the wild. You can also look at ways to trap birds, as most of them are edible and can give you a good source of food. It may be simpler to go fishing and gather fruits and nuts than to trap animals, but it is not something that you should overlook. This can give you a source of food that can even last for a few days.

It is always sensible to leave all your options for food procurement open and forget all your likes and dislikes, in order to ensure your survival. Eat to survive and keep up your energy, even if the food that you find is not palatable. As long as it is not harmful, it can help you to sustain yourself until help arrives, or you are able to find your way back to civilization.

Signaling Your Rescuers for Help

When you realize you are in a situation in the wilderness that you need to get out of, it is very essential that you use some form of communication to get in touch with friends, or the authorities. This will require that you send some signal to indicate that you are in some form of distress and could do with some help. In this day of very advanced communication, it is very easy to do so by carrying satellite linked telephones, but these are things that are out of reach for most people and therefore not very prevalent.

Mobile phones are devices that depend on a series of towers, and it is likely that when you are in the wilderness, you will be far away from such towers and may not even be able to get in touch with them. Mobiles also depend on batteries that can and will be run down, and render then useless for any form of communication. How then can you get yourself out of your tight situation and signal to somebody that you are in need of help? Radio sets are good ways of communicating over large distances, but are quite heavy and not a normal part of any hikerís equipment.

One of the first things that you need to do is to get to a place that is at a height and can be seen from far distances. Ensure that this place is clear and flat and can allow you to inscribe large signs for help in the earth or soil, which can be seen from the air, as many rescue efforts do use aircraft to cover larger areas. You can also use stones or branches of trees to form letters asking for help, as signs in the soil can be obliterated by rain, and require you to do them again. Have a fire ready to light and big enough to be seen from far away, but only light it when you see any signs of rescuers, or hear planes or other aircraft. Ensure that these fires are well away from where you have built your shelter, as they can become fire hazards.

Smoke is as effective a method for signaling, and if you send out three columns of smoke, it indicates an international distress signal that most people will recognize. Smoke can also be seen for far more distances than fire, so you must find ways to create smoke. Green leaves will produce white smoke, and rubber or oil will give you dark smoke. The type of smoke you want to produce will depend on the background against which your smoke signals will be seen by any approaching rescuers. You can also carry flares as part of your survival kit, but you have to be very judicious in their use, as once they are used, you will be left with nothing to signal with. You can use mirrors or some form of metal or glass to create light beams from the sun, but this can only be done if the sun is at the right angle. These reflected beams can travel a very long distance and have been useful in many situations. You need to aim this signal towards the aircraft or other signs of approaching rescuers, for it to have the maximum effect.

Clothing can also be used to signal, but it is better if it is of a vivid color, as that will show up against the background when you are moving the cloth for the signal. The movement must be vigorous and with differing intensities so that it gets the required attention. A viewer might dismiss something that is constantly fluttering. You can also use gunshots or whistles to attract the attention of searchers, while occasionally calling out for help can often help others to locate you.

Finding Your Way Out Of Trouble

One of the first things that you need to do when you are stranded in the wilderness, after you have found shelter and a source of water and food, is to see what you can do to find your way out of the current situation. If you have a map (it needs to be part of your basic survival kit), see if you can identify any features on the ground that tally with the map, so that you have a rough idea of where you are. If you do not have a map, hopefully you will have some information about the nearest civilization. The effort then has to be to find your way out of trouble and reach the place where you can expect some help or aid.

If you are injured and incapacitated, look after your injuries first, and make sure that you remain active if not completely mobile. Ideally you should be carrying a compass and a map. The latest thing is GPS, but these may not be relevant when you are far away from civilization and nowhere near towers that enable communication with satellites. In this case, you have to depend on your own sense of direction, the information on your map and a sound judgment, as to how far you are from getting to where you will get help. Before you go on your trip, it makes sense to undergo some basic training on how to find your way using the sun and the stars.

If it is daytime, you have the sun as a reference, and this can help you to decide the approximate east west line. Place a stick or branch in the ground and mark the spot the shadow makes of its tip, on the ground. Wait for a quarter of an hour or more, and again spot the shadow of the tip. Join the two spots and you will have a rough orientation of east and west. If you stand on the line, with the first mark on the left and the second to the right, you are actually facing north. You can get a more accurate line, if you allow for a little more time, by marking positions a few hours apart. If you cannot find a stick, mark your own shadow; but be careful to mark the position where you stand, as this needs to be the same at both times of marking the spots.

Observing the moon can also give you an idea of east or west. A moon that rises before sunset has its illuminated side on the west, whereas in one that rises after midnight, the illuminated side will indicate the east. The stars can be more accurate guides, and you must learn how to identify them as part of your basic survival skills. Identify the Big Dipper. The line that joins the outer top star of the bucket, and the outer bottom star point towards the North Star, which will give you true north.

Now that you have a rough idea of the direction, it is hoped you gained a general sense of the topography of the area you are going into before going on the trip, and are aware of the direction in which you can find the nearest town or habitation. Look for signs to give you a better clue, like smoke, a concentration of birds, a power line, a road, or any other sign you can spot in the distance. Make a rough estimate of the distance you may need to cover, and if you are physically mobile enough, move in that direction. Pace yourself so that you do not tire yourself out. You may have to repeat the survival procedures of finding shelter, water and food at every stop that you make, so that you always have the strength and energy to keep moving. Take sufficient rest whenever you feel tired, as it is very important for you to be alert at all times. It can be a good idea to travel as light as possible, and divest yourself of things that have not been of any use to you during your survival trek. You will then move faster and cover greater distances each hour.

If you feel you are going in the wrong direction, re-evaluate your position and see if you can make fresh plans to find the right route towards your goal. Never despair, and keep up your spirits at all times, by being constantly busy. Have a positive attitude and surely you will get to where you need to be.

First Aid Kit and Knowing How to Use It

A first aid kit is meant to provide instant care when you are injured, though it is no substitute for a doctorís care. Needing to survive in the wilderness can be as a result of some accident or injury that leaves you not fully capable of continuing with your planned trip. This requires that you give yourself some form of relief by using the items in a well-stocked first aid kit, which must be part of any survival kit, for a trip into the wilderness. Kits can be of any size, but must contain certain essentials, and must be compact enough to carry during your travels.

First aid kits must contain:

Bandages and tapes

Surgical cotton

Supplies to clean wounds


Adhesive stitches

Pain relievers

Burn ointments

Anti-allergy medicines


Water purification tablets

Personal medication

Eye drops



Insect repellant

This is a very basic list, and if possible you can include other things that you think may be useful during a trip.

Bandages and tapes need to be carried in sufficient quantity, and it can always help if you have learned how to tie a bandage for various injuries. Tape can be used to cover small scratches or minor injuries, in order to protect them from infection. Use the cotton to first clean the wound with antiseptic or other solution that you are carrying. Carry some antiseptic creams as well, as they are easier to carry. Gloves can be useful if you are treating a major wound, as they will reduce the chances of infection. Use the adhesive stitches to close the wound after you have cleaned it and applied some antiseptic cream. Pain relievers may be given if there is a lot of pain, but as they can make you groggy, be careful in dosing yourself.

Burn ointments are useful if you inadvertently burn or scald yourself, something that can easily happen when you are cooking. Anti-allergy medicines can be useful, especially if you come across vegetation or other things that cause your skin to break out into a rash. Splints can be useful if you suspect a fracture. Broken arms from falls are more common than you can imagine, among avid trekkers. Water purification tablets can be useful if you have doubts about your water source. Eye drops can be used if exposure to the sun has caused eyestrain. Tweezers and scissors are useful things to have to remove thorns, cut bandages and other things. Insect repellants can be a big relief, though a face net or mosquito net may prove more useful.

Always check your first aid kit before you start out on a trip, and make sure that it is fully stocked and replenished if necessary. Learn how to use the various items in it, following the directions given by a medical practitioner, or better still attend some first aid courses that many Red Cross centers offer in most towns and cities.

Start Healthy and Keep Healthy

Before you start out on any trek into the wilderness you must make sure that you are in the best possible physical condition, so that you have no problems undertaking the rigorous physical demands that such treks can make on your body. It can also do no harm to undergo a medical examination before your trip, especially if you are suffering from some chronic conditions and are constantly on medication. Get yourself a fresh set of medicines for the trip and make sure that you carry extra, in case your stay is extended. If you need to constantly monitor your blood pressure or blood sugar levels, make sure that you carry the monitoring equipment with you. It can do no harm to leave a list of your medication in your first aid kit or in your bag, so in case you do face a situation where you are not conscious after a rescue, your saviors can use this information to help you.

A couple of weeks, prior to your trip, concentrate on getting yourself into the best physical condition, by exercising regularly. Walk or run for long distances, till your muscles get completely used to the exertion. This will help to avoid any soreness to them on the first day of your trek. Get used to carrying your backpack or whatever you may have to lug around during your trek. This will also help you to decide on the equipment that is the most comfortable for you to carry, and the weight that does not tire you too much. Duplicate trek conditions in your backyard and see if you are able to sleep rough, as this will prepare you mentally and physically for what is to follow.

During your trip into the wilderness you must make sure that you are properly clothed and protected, so that you do not sustain any scratches or injuries during the trek. Ankle length boots are a must, and they must be sturdy and yet very comfortable. It can do no harm to constantly wear long sleeved shirts so that your arms are always fully covered from the effects of the sun, and from getting scratched from thorns or bushes. You must have a good comfortable hat, preferably one with broad rims, so that you do not find the sun too much of a problem and so that your eyes have some shade at all times.

Eat well while on a trek, so that your body always has enough energy. Take a lot of rest, and do not bother about following fixed routines. This is after all, the time to be completely free of routine and to do exactly what you feel like, when you feel like it. Remain well hydrated at all times. If you are eating berries or fruit from the wild, make sure that you wash them properly before you eat them. Maintain good hygiene at all times, as this should never be a reason for your health to break down.

Being in good health can be a very useful asset, especially if you inadvertently land into a survival situation in the wilderness. Doing a lot of exercise before you start out on a trek can also help to build stamina, which can be very useful during the exertions that your body will be required to undertake.

Predicting Weather Can Help

When you go camping in the wilderness you remain completely vulnerable to the elements, but for an avid outdoor sportsman, this is rarely something that will deter him or her from undertaking a trip. If you develop some skills and are able to predict weather with some degree of certainty, this can not only enable you to remain completely prepared, but may also be life-saving in certain situations. Predicting weather with more certainty can make a lot of difference when you are in a situation that requires you to bring out your survival skills.

You may not be able to get it right the first time you try it, but over time, you will learn to correctly interpret the signals that the weather constantly gives, and come up with predictions that are correct. People who live off the land develop a subconscious awareness that allows them to predict the weather without even knowing that they are doing it. The environment is constantly giving a lot of indications about changing weather. The wind is the first of such indicators and when it increases or changes direction, it is almost a certain sign that the weather is going to change.

A circle or halo around the sun or moon is a sure sign that rain is likely to fall. This ring is created when fine cirrus clouds develop ice particles that scatter the light and cause the halo. These particles are a sign of precipitation on its way. Red skies at night or a morning sun that is crimson red is an indication that there is low pressure in the atmosphere, and this can bring in rain. A red sky at dusk indicates the likelihood of a clear day on the morrow, as the sun shines through the dust particles.

When you see high flying birds it is an indication of a clear day, but if they are lower to the ground and of the insect eating variety, that is a sign that it is likely to rain. Seagulls are sensitive to barometric pressure and when this drops and storms are indicated, they will return to land. There will be a complete absence of insects and butterflies before it rains, as they are also sensitive to barometric pressure. Animals become quiet before rains. When they sense that better weather is on its way, bees get busier. The leaves curl on some trees like maple and oak when there is high humidity and wind. Flowers smell better just before it rains, and plants shed their waste when the atmospheric pressure is low and there is likelihood of rain. This gives a scent of compost to the air.

Smoke from a fire remaining close to the ground is an indicator of an approaching storm. Swirling and descending smoke is also an indication of an approaching storm. Learn how to look at clouds, as they are by far the best indicators of changes in weather patterns. Their shape, the distance from the earth and their capacity to produce rain differs, and can be easily gauged by a discerning spectator. Cirrus clouds are stringy and at a high level and they will form ice that can lead to rain. Cumulus or puffy clouds are generally fair weather indicators, but if they grow vertically, the weather can turn stormy. Nimbostratus clouds are large flat grey clouds and their presence indicates the possibility of rain. A lack of dew can indicate the likelihood of rain, while dew in the morning indicates that there will be no rain.

Use all these signs to predict weather and it can make your camping trip a delight. It can also be very useful in survival situations, so that you know when you have to be careful not to move, but instead stay put and hope for better weather. Look at long-range weather forecasts for the region you are going to, as most of these are easily available. Plan your trip accordingly and there are then fewer chances that you will be caught in situations that may make demands on your survival skills.

Dealing With Insects during Camping

Insects are a part of wildlife and you must be prepared to encounter them during any camping trip that you undertake. Remember that you are the outsider here when you go into their environment, and will have to tolerate them or be prepared to deter them from ruining your trip.

We have already suggested that insect repellants be an important part of any first aid kit, but you must make sure that the repellant you carry suits your skin, as many people develop allergies to certain OTC products. Test them on your skin, before you make them part of your kit, to make sure that they suit you. You can also use citronella candles to repel insects, but remember you will have to carry a stock of them with you. Using repellents that are natural products like lemon eucalyptus oil will rarely give allergies and are safer to use.

See that you are carrying a face net, and wear long sleeved wear and full pants, as this can help you to avoid insect bites. The repellents can then be used only on the face and hands and still give you all the protection you need. Decide on a camping spot or a shelter during survival situations, which are away from still bodies of water, as these are where mosquitoes will be most prevalent. Light can attract bugs and keeping them dimmed will reduce insects as well.


The wilderness is where only the fittest survive. Even so, it has a lot of wonders and variety that can change your outlook, when you spend some time in it. Wilderness is always a challenge that can help you to gain mentally and physically, while you are forced to confront the limitations that you have. You need to be fit to survive in it, as the wilderness is a place that is unforgiving of weakness. It is essential that you know how to survive when you go into it. Surviving in the wilderness is far from a game and brings no rewards, except allowing you to go on living. Realizing that you are in a situation that needs you to exhibit the right skills to survive becomes easier if you understand and accept your situation. Itís important to remain positive, while you find the solutions for the problems you have to face.

A survival environment can be stressful, and this can lead to a person becoming indecisive and ineffective, leading to a difficulty in being able to survive. Stress can have you taking the wrong decisions and making errors. You have to learn how to deal with the stress when you are faced with a survival situation in the wilderness. Nature helps in dealing with stress by increasing energy levels, making the senses acute and tensing the muscles for action, all of which puts you in a defensive posture. You will do well to accept the situation and keep cool, while having a positive attitude. Training to survive before you go into the wild can always be beneficial.

You have better chances of surviving in the wild if you plan for your survival by ensuring that you have the right equipment, which is suitable to the area that you are going into. Understand the topography of the area you are entering and decide on survival kits to take in to suit the terrain. The best survival kit is one that allows you to find food, shelter and warmth as simply as possible. It should also help you secure a supply of water at all times, as well. You also need to provide for some basic first aid. This need not be elaborate, but must be a kit that you can carry easily and that will always be at hand.

A survival situation in the wilderness can catch you unawares, and you must always realize that you can depend only on yourself and your ability to cope with the problems that will confront you. You need to stay calm, and must have the necessary skills to use your limited equipment to help you to survive until help can get to you. Learn how to put up a basic shelter and how to find water; look for food, so that you can sustain yourself till you are rescued. Ration whatever food and water that you have, until you are able to find other sources to provide for you again. Learn how to send signals. You need to keep your friends informed of your trip and likely dates of return so that they can set rescue efforts in motion, in case you do not return as planned.

A shelter can protect you from heat, cold, the sun, rain and other problems. Once you realize you are in a survival situation, see if you can assess your situation correctly and check on your stores of food and water. Then go about creating a shelter for yourself with whatever help you can get from what you are carrying, as well as other materials that the wilderness abounds with. Shelters must be large enough to allow you to rest comfortably, and located in places that are safe from floods, falling rocks and other natural hazards. Make an assessment of how long you will need it, and then go around the area you are stranded in, and see whether it can contribute the materials to allow you to put up a shelter.

Water is more essential for a human body than food, and one of the first things you need to do, after you have set up a base to stay in, is to look for a source of water. Fortunately, this is not too difficult if you know exactly how to locate a source of water, and stock up on it, after you have ensured that the supply is clean and potable. You need to purify the water to ensure that you are not struck by any water-borne pathogens. Springs, the snow, certain plants, and even the ground can give you a source of water, which can help you to survive in the wilderness.

Fire can give warmth, allow you to cook food for yourself and also be of help in signaling your rescuers. Learning how to build a fire, and ensuring that your basic survival kit contains the right implements to light fires, is a basic survival technique that you must have. You can also use the sun to help you light fires with a magnifying glass, or learn how to produce sparks from stones rubbed against each other. Learn how to gather fuel like wood, if you are not carrying your own. Take care that you use the fire safely as you do not want to get burnt and have further problems added to your survival. Gather enough fuel before you light a fire, and do spend some time every day looking for more so that you are never short of it.

Your body needs food to constantly have energy for the various demands that will be made on it from your need to survive. Before you have run through the small supply of foodstuffs you have been carrying, it makes sense to find other sources of food that you can use to sustain yourself. It does not have to be palatable, but it must be edible. Plants, birds, small animals, and fish can all be good sources of food, if you make the effort to find them. Learn some basic hunting and fishing skills so that you know how to survive. Never starve yourself, as the uncertainty of rescue demands that you have to look after yourself for as long as is necessary.

Once you are overdue, it is certain that efforts will be made to find you, if you have left the right information with your well-wishers. Search parties will already be looking for you, so you must find ways to signal your presence to them. Use fires, smoke, reflections from mirrors and other ways to indicate your location, and the chances are that the rescuers will find their way to you. Move to a height or open place where you can easily be spotted, and use any means you have at hand to signal your presence to any search parties that you see looking for you. Sound carries over large distances in the wilderness, and can be an effective way of indicating your existence to searchers.

Unless you are seriously injured and rendered immobile, you need to make your own efforts to get back to civilization. For this it is necessary that you are aware of your own location, and have a general idea in which direction you need to head to find your way out of trouble. You must know how to read a map; if you have one, or at least decide the approximate direction you need to head in to find inhabited areas. For this it is necessary that you make yourself familiar with the area you are heading to before you make your trip, and also have equipment or other means that can help you to go in the right direction.

A first aid kit and the knowledge of how to use the items in it, is very important for any trip in to the wild. Carry a kit that is not too heavy but contains enough basic equipment that can be of use to you, if you unfortunately sustain any injury during your trek. Check on the items in the kit before you start out and ensure that you have fresh supplies. Learn first aid before you plan any outdoor sport or activity. You never know when it will come in handy. Make sure you carry your own medications if you have any chronic conditions.

See that your body is in good physical shape before you start out on any outdoor expedition. Build up your stamina over the weeks prior to your trip. Go in for a health checkup and renew your prescriptions where necessary. Eat healthy and look after yourself even while you are on the trip. In case you are faced with a survival situation, this good health will be of great help in giving you the energy to hang on till you are finally rescued, or manage to reach civilization on your own. .

Knowing how to predict the weather to a fair extent can be of great help in any survival situation. It can help you to know when you need to take shelter and spare yourself additional difficulties that bad weather can bring you, as you try to survive.

Insects can be quite irksome to deal with in trips into the wild. Learn their habits, carry the proper repellents and see that you are adequately protected and clothed to minimize their effect on you.