There is no supermarket, Wi-Fi or bottled water when you’re cut off from civilisation. It’s just you, nature and the hard-wired human instinct to survive even when faced with impossible odds. This begs the question: are you made of the right stuff?
These are the basic survival skills you should know. Just remember, it’s not a fight against Mother Nature, you need to be at one with her and all she has to offer if you’re going to pull through. That’s right: The Revenant has got nothing on you.
Humans can survive for about 3 weeks without food, but we doubt you want to go that long. Good thing there’s grub available right on your doorstep.
You will have an energy and protein rich snack when you munch on ants, larvae, grasshoppers and beetles. Don’t ignore plant food either: nettles, dandelions, primroses and acorns are there for the taking. But do some investigating before heading out to ensure you know how to prepare them, so as to avoid poisoning.
If you intentionally plan to test yourself in the wilderness, you can pack essential food for energy: we’re talking whole grain cereal, dried fruit nuts and other sources of high calories, to keep you going when you’re pushed to the edge.
Survival tip: If you don’t have a pot, use aluminium foil for steaming, boiling and cooking food. Just wrap your food in the foil and place it in the embers of a fire. The pliable material also offers protection against the cold when used as a base or outer layer.
Your body is 78% water so it comes as no surprise that this is one of the most vital elements of basic survival. Dehydration is one of the biggest killers of people who become lost, and a person ideally needs to drink two litres of water a day.
The best sources of clean drinking water are springs, lakes, rivers and streams, as well as the option of collecting morning dew. You need to be careful what you choose though; flowing water is better than standing water, and clear is always preferable to cloudy, warm water.
Survival tip: To kill bacteria and germs, you can boil water for 2-3 minutes. Alternatively, you can use handy filtering pumps or chemical tablets such as iodine.
There are some considerations you need to take into account when choosing a place for shelter if you want to avoid life-threatening complications like hypothermia. If you have a tent, great, but if not, there are natural replacements such as hollow stumps and caves, or you can build something such as a debris hut or scout pit.
Just make sure you choose a location that is away from hazards and which is well insulated from rain, wind, open air and the ground.
Survival tip: Man made fire for a reason, so remembering to take matches or a lighter can make a big difference to your survival. It’s essential for keeping warm, cooking food and boiling water. Knowing how to make a fire from scratch is also a great skill to possess.
If you’re carrying a GPS navigation device, you still need a compass as backup. If you don’t have one, you can always construct one: a needle from a cardigan will do just fine as it should be magnetised from the friction. Place this gently on a leaf in a container of water and wait for it to align with the north-south axis.
Survival tip: You can recognise a northwards direction by the fact that trees on this side have fewer branches and are overgrown with wetland plants such as moss or lichen, while south side plants are covered more densely.