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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wilderness Survival

Wilderness Survival

Studies show that staying alive in a survival situation is:
80% Mental
10% Skills
10% Equipment

So, what’s this 80% or mental attitude made up of? 2 things: The Will to Live and your Problem Solving Ability! How does a person improve these 2 aspects in an emergency?

By following the S T O P acronym:

  • S – Sit
  • T – Think
  • O – Observe
  • P – Plan

We live our lives in a modern society where we know many points of reference and can almost always find help. The problem (or blessing depending on how you look at it) with the wilderness is that when trouble hits, we’re usually on our own. As a result, whenever an individual is placed in a survival environment our basic fears kick in (i.e. fear of death, dark, unknown, injury, animals, etc…) and we begin to panic.

If an emergency happens, you should always deal with the immediate life threatening aspects first and then follow the STOP acronym. Each letter represents a step to follow, when you get to the final step (the planning stage), you can remember the 3 Phase of Survival and plan accordingly.

3 Phases of Survival

1 - Initial Response Phase [Emergency]

  • Control Panic (STOP acronym)
  • 1st Aid
  • Planning

2 - Life Support Phase [Post-Emergency]

  • Remember the Rule of 3’s
    You have:
    3 minutes without AIR.
    3 hours without SHELTER.
    3 days without WATER.
    3 weeks without FOOD.
    So food is last and 1st aid is first. You need to prioritize your time and efforts around what matter most or the most important steps first. After any emergency care, shelter should be your next priority along with rest. Next you need to focus on water and then last is food. Most people have quite a lot of calories stored up with in them (i.e. undigested food and fat stores).

3 - Rescue Phase [Final Phase]

  • Signaling
  • Transport/Evacuation
    Search and rescue research shows that most people are rescued within 72 hours, so if you can keep yourself alive most likely you’ll be found. The goal in the Rescue Phase is to help out or increase your chances.

So, after you’ve taken care of the above steps and you’re safe and secure, start to thinks of ways to signal for help. A few points to remember in this area are contrast, color, movement. As for fires - smoke during the day and flames at night. And don’t get fancy “HELP” and “SOS” are always recognized.

Finally, the more knowledge and skills you have, the less equipment you need, and the better your state of mind in an emergency. If survival is 80% mental, than the goal of this Blog is to provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to improve that mental state.

See you on the trail,

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