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Wilderness Survival

April 16th, 2010

You never know if you’ll be in a wilderness survival situation, but if you mentally prepare for it you’ll have a better chance at making it through.   Most of these tips are common sense but in the heat of the moment might not come to mind.

SHELTER—-

It must be large enough and level enough for you to lie down comfortably.
It must also have escape routes.
Provides protection against wild animals and rocks and dead trees that might fall.
Is free from insects and poisonous plants.
Avoid flash flood areas in foothills.
Avoid avalanche or rockslide areas in mountainous terrain.
Can be seen by rescuers from the air.  For best results when signaling for help, select a signal site close to your shelter with good visibility such as a clearing, hilltop, or a lakeshore.

Low ground such as ravines and narrow valleys could be damp and collect the heavy cold air at night and are therefore colder than the surrounding high ground. On the other hand, the tops of mountains are exposed to higher winds. The best is to seek shelter somewhere in between.

WATER—-

Finding water is critical. If not, dehydration will inevitably occur. The first symptoms you will face are weakness and decreased mental capacity. Your health problems will become more serious until they result in death.

To prevent water loss just rest, keep cool, stay in shade, seek shelter. Avoid fatty foods and alcohol as they can cause water consumption by the body when broken down. Do not wait until you run out of water before you look for more.

First look for surface water such as streams, rivers and lakes. Running water such as springs or streams in isolated areas at high altitudes is probably safe for consumption. Be aware that melted water from ice and glaciers contain bacteria in abundance.

In areas where no surface water is available, dig into damp soil and allow this muddy water to settle and become clear.  If you have iodine tablets or a filter then use it.

FOOD—-

Use food from the nature as your food survival supply before using your rations.   This can include insects, edible plants, fish, bird eggs.

Hot rock cooking

Simply light a fire above a bed of non-porous rocks. Don’t use soft, porous stones with high moisture content, which might explode on heating.

Let the fire burn for half an hour or more. Meanwhile, prepare your food. Brush away fire and embers with, for example, a handful of long grass.

Cook food directly on the hot rocks. Use it in the same fashion as you would a frying pan. This survival cooking method is ideal for fish, thin meat slices and frying eggs.

SIGNALS —-

Visual signals

If you do not carry a two way communication radio, cellular phone or a whistle as an emergency signaling device, you mainly will have to use visual signals. Depending on your situation, and the material you have available, you can use either fire and smoke, signal mirror, flares and flashlight or strobe light to create your visual distress signal.

Search

Will there be a search for you? Put yourself in the searchers place. Will they be looking for you from air or ground? A search will probably start from your last known location and sweep over your proposed route.

SOS signal

SOS (Save Our Souls) is the best known internationally distress signal.  Everyone who ventures into the wilderness, should be at the least familiar with SOS. The SOS signal can be transmitted by any method, visual or audio. The code for SOS is 3 short, 3 long and 3 short signals. Pause. Repeat the signal.

The SOS signal can, for example, be constructed as a ground to air signal with rocks and logs, or whatever material you have available. At night you can use a flashlight or a strobe light to send an SOS to, for example, an aircraft. At day you can use a signal mirror.

SOS

If it is difficult to produce long and short signals you should know that almost any signal repeated three times will serve as a distress signal. Use your imagination.

Signal fires

When signaling for help, the most noticeable signal is your fire. It is easily seen at night, and during the daytime the smoke from your fire can be seen for many miles.   Green branches give off more smoke.

Build three fires in a triangle, or in a straight line, with about 30 meters (100 feet) between the fires. Three fires are an international recognized distress signal.

Signal mirror

On a sunny day, a mirror is your best signaling device. Any shiny object will serve – polish your canteen cup, glasses, your belt buckle, or a similar object that will reflect the sun’s rays.

A flash can be seen at a great distance. Sweep the horizon during the day. If a plane approaches, don’t direct the beam in the aircraft’s cockpit for more than a few seconds as it may blind the pilot. Use the code for SOS.

Use your signal mirror properly when signaling for help. Determine where your signal is going, use your free hand as a sight line.  As with any wilderness survival skill this one also requires some practice to master, long before you really have to rely on it.

Audio Signals – Whistle

——–
Never forget that your brain and your ability to remain calm and not to panic are your most important survival skill.

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