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Wilderness Survival


   Wilderness survival is also known as outdoor, bush or bushcraft survival. Normally when you find yourself in a wilderness survival situation, it is because you were travelling, usually by land or by air, and something unfortunate happened or something broke down or crashed in a remote area. If you were not travelling by foot, you will usually have a vehicle or aircraft (or the wreck thereof) nearby. It is easy in a wilderness survival situation to become disorientated, confused or distraught and therefore not effectively deal with the situation. It is really good to already have an idea of what to do. So here goes ...

     Steps to take after an accident or breakdown in the wilderness:
     (The first 3 steps are on this page.)

1.   Safety first.
2.   Call for help if you can.
3.   Tend to the first aid needs of yourself or others.
4.   Stay calm and think clearly - Survival Psychology.
5.   Decide on a plan of action.
6.   Build a signal fire (but don't light it yet).
7.   Build a camp fire.
8.   Build a shelter.
9.   Find water.
10. Find food.
11. Plan for long term survival..
     Wilderness Survival Tip: Experience has shown that during a crash, you often lose whatever you don't have on your person. So it's no use having handy things like pocket knives and cigarette lighters in a bag somewhere. Keep these things in your pocket, even if you are not a smoker (unless there is a security screening that takes away such things). This is especially true if you are travelling in a small aircraft.

Here are more details on each point:

1. Safety first.

     If on the road, get yourself and others off the road. If there is fire around, fuel that could ignite, or live electrical wires, get yourself and others to a place of safety. The only exception to this rule is if someone is lying down injured. They may have neck or spinal injuries. Moving them may endanger their life. Do not attempt to move them unless something else more urgent is also endangering their life. Also, do a "head count" to see if anyone in your group is missing.

2. Call for help if you can.

Wilderness survival - stranded on beach

     If you have a cell phone that works, call 911 or whomever you can get a hold of. If you don't, see if someone else does. Plus, some buses or aircraft may have satellite phones. An aircraft should also have an ELT - an Emergency Locator Transmitter that Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft can home-in on. They usually are in the "Armed" mode, with an acceleration sensor that will turn on during a crash. But if you know where the ELT is, (there are usually small notices on the sides of the aircraft showing the section they are in) turn them from the "Armed" mode to the "On" mode, just in case the arming device did not get triggered.

     When you turn the ELT on, LEAVE IT ON! Some people in the past have turned it off and on in intervals to save the battery. The SAR aircraft may be out of hearing distance, but they may be within radio reception distance. So the time you turn it off may be just the time that they cover your area for ELT signals. So turn it on and leave it on!

     There are also new devices on the market for emergency help that have an internal GPS, (Global Positioning System) which can send a distress signal that includes your exact location, to a satellite at any given time, by pressing a button. An example of this is the SPOT Satellite Tracker (www.spotgpspersonaltracker.com). You can also use it to allow others to keep track of you online, if you are on a long hike or journey.

3. Tend to the first aid needs of yourself or others.

     If you do not know any First Aid, do yourself a favour and do a course on it, including CPR if possible. It's too late to wait until you need it. Do one this week! It may help you save the life of a family member.

     If you know nothing about First Aid, here are some "crash course" tips:

ABC - Airway, Breathing, Circulation:

Airway - Make sure there is nothing blocking the person's mouth that would prevent them from breathing.
Breathing - This is where mouth to mouth resuscitation would come in, if needed, but this is not applicable if you are not trained.
Circulation - Stop any bleeding, even if you just tie a piece of clothing over the area to apply direct pressure to stop any major bleeding. (If there was no pulse, this is where CPR would come in, if you were trained.)

     If someone is lying down injured, they may have neck or spinal injuries. Moving them may endanger their life. Do not attempt to move them unless something else more urgent is also endangering their life.

Disclaimer: This is not official advice, and the author bears no responsibility for any consequences from anyone's use of this information.

Here are a few websites with some quick first aid tips for survival:
British Columbia Adventure Network
University of Maryland Medical Center

Here are the rest of the Wilderness Survival points:

4.   Stay calm and think clearly - Survival Psychology.
5.   Decide on a plan of action.
6.   Build a signal fire (but don't light it yet).
7.   Build a camp fire.
8.   Build a shelter.
9.   Find water.
10. Find food.
11. Plan for long term survival..





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