Why you should consider learning survival skills

I came across a website once where the writer stated that wilderness survival skills were unnessecary as he had been hiking for 30 years and never needed them. He missed the point - hikers usually have maps, tent/tarp, sleeping bag, water etc. Survival skills are needed in the event that you are stuck out unprepared. Sure the chances of needing bush survival skills are remote for most people but, then again, most people never leave their own city. But for those of us with a bit of an adventurous streak, a few skills could save your life.

There are hundreds of search and rescues organised in Australia each year. Mostly for people who have got lost in the bush, hurt themselves in the bush, or had a vehicle breakdown in an out of the way place. Could this happen to you? Think of how easy it can be to trip and break a leg when out for a short walk on a bush track, you don't even have to be far from civilisation for that to happen.  Many people don't realise how many light planes crash every year. Would you know what to do if you were stuck in the bush with nothing?

Sure, most people are rescued within 48 hours but it is nice to be able to keep yourself comfortable during that time with a fire and shelter - these could even save your life in bad weather. It is sooo easy for a short 2 hour hike to turn into something bad. If you haven't told anyone where you are going - that hike could turn into a week or more.

Even if you never use them, learning survival skills are a great way to boost confidence in any aspect of your life - you know that no matter what happens you will cope/survive. It makes a great topic of conversation also.


If you are lost or can't get back

I am not too fond of acronyms but they can help you to remember. The one for this occasion is STOP

S - Stop and sit down. When you are lost it is very easy to panic and start running to 'get out of there'. When you sit it is much harder to panic. When you panic you can't think properly and you will make some bad decisions.

T - Think. Think about your situation. Do you know roughly where you are? Is someone going to raise the alarm if you are not back within a certain time? Do you need to make shelter for the night?

O - Options. What are your options? Do you stay or go? If someone is going to search for you your the usual option would be to stay where you are.

P - Plan. Make a plan and carry it out. If you are going to try to walk to help or water, decide on a direction and leave markers along the way so any rescuers can locate you.


Whatever you do, stay calm and keep yourself busy. Loneliness and boredom are big issues so keeping busy gathering firewood and making shelter can keep your mind off it.

Food - most websites and books will tell you that food is not important in a survival situation. They say that you can survive 3-4 weeks without food. I suggest that is right if you are lying down doing nothing, but if you are exercising such as walking or gathering water, you will start to weaken within a few days which will make surviving much more difficult, especially keeping warm. Gathering food is also good for your self confidence as well as keeping you busy. 

Fire - Although you can live without fire, I think it is important for many reasons - boiling water, cooking food, signalling and confidence building.If you don't carry a survival kit with you (you should always carry one with you on any trip into the bush, even a short one), always at least carry a cigarette lighter with you.

Shelter - Many sites and books will tell you that water is your most important issue. It depends on your situation. If it is cold and wet, I believe that shelter is more important, even if you just curl up in a hollow tree. If it wet, try to gather water with something plastic like a riancoat, or you can take off an item of clothing to soak up some water that you can then squeeze into your mouth. I recommend your t-shirt rather than a sock. Socks are important for keeping your feet warm (and so, the rest of you), but if you have a jumper and jacket, you will not miss your t-shirt so much.

Water - Luckily in my area, there are plenty of freshwater sources. If you walk for half a day in any direction you will come across a stream or spring. If you are stuck in one place without water, gathering it will depend on your circumstances. You will learn various water gathering methods on my courses. 


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