Do you ever wonder if you’d know how to react in an actual emergency?
For many people, survival tactics were just a fun part of summer camp, and now that you’re an adult, you barely remember them. But life can give you some unexpected challenges, and it pays to be ready.
In honor of the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared,” here are eight survival tactics absolutely everyone should know.
If you’re in a wilderness situation, you may be in danger from predators. There could be bears or wolves in the woods, or you might need to watch out for snakes and poisonous spiders.
Survival tactics for protection don’t have to be anything fancy. If you can find a sharp stick or happen to be carrying a knife, it’s a good start.
Don’t attack wildlife that approaches you. Instead, slowly back away.
If an animal attacks you, block its mouth with your non-dominant hand and striking it with your other hand aiming for its snout or eyes. If you can get away, find a tree or other hiding place away from the animal until it leaves.
It sounds a bit pie-in-the-sky, but your attitude in a survival situation has a lot to do with how long you’ll make it. If you immediately assume the worst, you’re less likely to be creative in finding solutions, and you’ll be less resilient in the face of the challenges that come.
Remind yourself that you’re creative, capable, and able to handle what faces you. Decide that you’re going to survive and find a way out. Once you’ve set your mind in this way, it will be much easier to find solutions and overcome obstacles.
Create a Shelter and Fire
If you get stranded in the wilderness, your first two needs are to build a shelter and start a fire. Your shelter has two requirements – to block out harmful elements like rain, snow, or too much sun; and to keep you warm.
Even in the summer overnight temperatures tend to be lower than you’d think, so staying warm is a primary concern. Learn how to build a shelter and make a fire with almost anything, and practice doing so before you’re ever in a survival situation.
Even if nothing happens, they are useful survival tactics – and if you’re ever stranded, you’ll be glad you learned them!
Find Drinkable Water
Once you have shelter and can start a fire, the next survival tactics you’ll need focus on food and water. Finding drinkable water is the top priority because you can survive much longer without food than you can without water.
In many cases, you can listen for the sound of water in a running stream and walk toward it. If you can’t seem to find any, here are some additional tactics that can help:
- If it’s near dawn or dusk, look for where animals are congregating – they’re probably getting a drink.
- Flies and mosquitos tend to stay close to water.
- Dew is a good source of clean water. You can collect it by running a cloth through the grass and then squeezing it out.
- In arid areas, you can often find water by digging up a dry creek bed.
- Don’t drink stagnant water, even after boiling!
Once you’ve found a source of water, it’s best to bring it to a boil. Even a beautiful clear stream can have microscopic parasites. If it’s not possible to boil water, at least find a clean flowing stream or drink dew from leaves.
Most survival tactics focus on getting food, and it’s certainly an important skill. If you get lost in an area similar to where you live, it’s easier to have an idea of what plants and animals are available and what are the most edible.
Here are some ideas for food:
- Acorns. The whole nut is edible, and you can readily collect and store them.
- Pine. Nuts and the inner bark of the tree are edible.
- Cattail. You can eat the stalk, use the top for flour, and eat the pollen.
- Grass. You can eat grass, which is also a source of water.
If you see berries, focus on purple and blue ones, and stay away from white and yellow. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a good start.
If you’re unsure, eat a tiny amount and wait a few hours to see how you feel.
Survival Tactics for Navigation
Boy Scouts are taught to Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan when they need to navigate in an unknown area. If it’s late, create your shelter and fire, and get food and water – you can start in the morning.
If you’re near a crashed plane or broken-down car, don’t move unless you know exactly where you’re going. Rescuers and emergency personnel will have an easier time spotting the car or plane than you.
Even if you’re not near a vehicle, search parties will start with your last known location, so it’s helpful to stay put and not wander far. Find a way to be as visible as possible.
If you do move, and you know where you are, find North. That will help you navigate to the nearest town or campsite.
Carry Survival Gear
Gear may seem out of place on a list of survival tactics, but it’s all about being prepared. If you are going to be somewhere off the beaten path, be sure to carry some survival gear.
Some helpful items include a tarp, some rope, a hunting knife, water purification tablets, a compass, a first aid kit, and a book of the edible plants in the area. You might also bring water and food with you, either in your car or your hiking pack.
The most important element of any list of survival tactics is to simply not panic.
No one thinks clearly or makes good plans in a panic. If you hyperventilate, you won’t be much good for making shelter and fire or finding food and water.
If you’re struggling with panic, focus on getting calm and simply bunker down for the afternoon and evening and create a plan in the morning. Sometimes simply being still for a few hours will help settle you down and let you see things much more clearly.
Hopefully, you’ll never be in a survival situation away from help, but if you are it pays to be prepared. By learning and practicing these eight survival tactics before an emergency ever happens, you’ll be much more able to handle the challenge if it arises.
It’s a helpful hobby that may one day save your life!