Sure, you’ve watched all the shows on Discovery channel, poured over the Youtube tutorials, maybe even have your bug-out bag packed and ready. But do you really have the survival training skills it takes to survive in a wilderness situation?
Disaster can strike in the most benign situations. Maybe a flash flood leaves you stranded during a fishing trip, or a flat tire maroons you hours from civilization.
No matter the situation, these nine survival training skills will give you the tools to stay safe and get rescued.
Do you have these skills on lock? Read on to find out.
Building a Shelter
First things first. You have to get out of the elements. Hypothermia can kill you in under an hour, and you want to live to survive another day.
It’s never a bad idea to simply have a small tent in your vehicle at all times. If you do, make sure you know how to assemble it quickly and with a minimum amount of cursing. Wildlife have sensitive ears.
If you don’t have a tent, a tarp will do for outdoor survival in a pinch. Combined with a paracord, it will protect you from the elements (albeit with fewer frills than a tent).
If you don’t have either, you can still build a shelter out of the supplies around you, even if all you have is snow.
Worse than getting stranded or lost? Being stranded and lost when you’re hurt.
In a survival situation, you can’t afford to ignore an injury, no matter how small. Infection can set in and even turn deadly if you don’t head it off quickly.
We’ve all heard that saying, “An ounce of prevention…” Well, the same goes for preparedness. You may not be able to prevent an injury, but if you’re prepared, you can keep yourself safe until rescue comes.
Make sure you’ve stocked your first aid kit
I assume you aren’t reading this article while already stranded in the wilderness.
That means you have the opportunity to assemble and pack your first aid kit before you go anywhere. Keep in mind any medical concerns you have, what you are likely to be doing, and how much weight you are able to carry.
Keep in mind, too, how much space you have. Tactical gear comes in a range of sizes, and you can pretty much tailor your bag to your needs.
Know your basic first aid
That first aid kit isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t know how to use anything in it. First aid training IS survival training.
Taking a first aid certification class is always a good idea, but even if you can’t get to one before your next excursion, you should brush up on your basic procedures.
Basic Survival Training Knots
Paracords. Have one. Wear one.
Set a snare, tie a tourniquet, clean your firearm in a pinch. Tactical gear doesn’t get more useful than a survival paracord.
If you never had Boy Scout survival training, take the time to actually learn how to tie important survival knots. And theoretical knowledge isn’t going to help much when the situation is dire and your adrenaline is going. (If you were a Boy Scout, but it’s been a few decades since those days, the same thing applies.)
Starting a Fire
You made sheltered, you patched yourself up, all with the help of your survival rope, so now you have to do as our ancient human ancestors and make fire.
You should have a firestarter or at least matches in your bug-out bag, but on the off chance you’re caught without it, you have to know how to create fire on your own.
Even with implements to make it easier, make sure you know how to identify good trees for kindling, tinder, and fuel, how far to keep a fire from your shelter, and how to control the fire so you don’t end up accidentally burning down a forest.
Find and Purify Water
How long can you survive without water? Some, with extensive survival training, have lasted 8-10 days, but the typical wilderness survivor? You’ve got about 3 days.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself stranded near some source of fresh water, like a stream or lake. If you’re luckier, you’ll have put a water purifier or purification tablets, or even a little bleach in your bug-out bag. But if not, boiling the water over the fire you made in the last step will do you just fine.
If you’re not lucky and have neither a ready source of fresh water or method of purification, you’ll have to get a little more creative. The good news is that nature is full of water if you know where to look, and you can get it from some pretty unlikely sources.
You’ve got food, you’ve got fire. So now, what’s for dinner?
The key here is to balance the number of calories you take in with the number you burn. Ideally, your supply bag will have something light and high-calorie, like olive oil, but man cannot live on olive oil alone, so you’ll have to find a way to eat what’s around you.
The key here, of course, is to get dinner without poisoning yourself, and that is quite the trick if you aren’t familiar with the fauna of the area.
Berries are usually an easy food for determining safety. Color alone gives you a fair amount of information.
Green, white, and yellow berries are almost always poisonous. Red berries are a crapshoot at about 50% poisonous, and blue or purple are about 90% edible. For a better idea, you can crush a berry and rub a bit of it on the inside of your forearm. If irritation develops, it’s safe to say stay away.
Have a feeling you’re going to be stranded awhile? It may be time to bring home some bacon (or rabbit, as the case may be).
If you’re near a ready source of running water, fishing is often your best option. You can make a fishing line out of a paracord, or build a net or fishing spear from the natural resources around you.
If you’re not close enough to water, or the water doesn’t have a ready supply of fish, you’ll have to rely on your ability to set a snare to catch your food.
Just make sure to properly secure your food after you catch it. You don’t want to waste all that energy just to feed your neighborhood bear.
Sometimes overlooked, a huge part of outdoor survival training is the ability to navigate.
After all, the quicker you can find your way back to civilization, the less time you spend eating nuts and berries and sleeping under a tarp.
Your greatest navigational tools are going to be found by looking up. The sun, the moon, and the stars are your guides home in this situation. So it’s vital that you know how to read them properly.
Signaling for Help
Sick of all this surviving? Ready for a steak dinner and a bed without rocks? It’s time to get rescued.
Again, I’m going to assume you are not currently lost in the woods while reading this article. That being the case, it’s time to stock your bug-out bag. Flares, mirrors and a power bank to keep your phone charged on the off chance you can catch a signal are all vital survival equipment.
Lacking those items, you can use fire and the hard surfaces found in nature to create visual and audible signals.
No matter who you are, the unexpected can happen and you can find yourself in a life or death situation. With these nine tips, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.