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Most of us have very specific lives that we lead and we don’t often think about survival skills in everyday living. But the truth of the matter is that any day could be the day when your life is put to the ultimate test. It doesn’t have to be something sinister, such as terrorism, to throw our normal, everyday lives into turmoil; it could be the simple act of taking a leisurely stroll through the woods on a lovely autumn afternoon, making a few wrong turns, and realizing too late that something when terribly awry.
Or it could be an infrastructure breakdown, such as an electrical power grid failing, leaving you stranded in the middle of your nice rural home without power for many days. Or it could be a snowstorm or major natural disaster that isolates you from the rest of the country, and the most important factor – professional help.
Every day there are stories from around the world about survival and the struggle for it in the face of incredible circumstances. The common theme that most of these survivors share is that they never thought that it would happen to them. Often, the stories that we never hear about are of those that weren’t prepared, the ones who didn’t know what to do, and the people who waited for someone else to take the load off of their shoulders. We don’t hear about them because they often don’t live to tell their tale.
Make no mistake: we are heading into a world of peril. There are a thousand ways, a thousand reasons why it’s crucial to know at least some basic survival skills. But the most important reason to learn some of the most basic is the one that you won’t often think about; the one that will come as a surprise to just about everyone. Comets? Forget about it. Colossal earthquakes? Maybe. Snowstorms that bury entire cities for months? Could be. Each instance brings new challenges, but the core elements of survival skills remain. Let’s introduce you to a few.
Your home is nice and warm. It’s comfortable. You have electric, you have heat, and you have running water. It’s pleasant. If you’re caught in a situation where you are far from home and there are no buildings or bivouacs within walking distance, then you need to find shelter of some sort. If it’s summertime in your region, then you don’t need to worry about warmth, or so you may think. Depending on where you are, night time can be quite frigid, regardless of the daytime temperatures. For example, being trapped in a situation in the Southwest, such as the desert of Southern California can leave you in the grip of heat during the day, but down close to freezing at night.
You will also need to be concerned about wildlife, such as coyotes, bears, and rattlesnakes, among others. The first thing you will want to do, before taking on any other challenge of survival, is to determine your best location for shelter. Even if you think that you will be rescued before nightfall, it’s important to plan for shelter.
Night comes on awfully quick when you’re fighting for your very survival. The first emotions that kick in are generally panic and fear. You spend countless minutes and energy looking for the quick way out. This may be okay in some situations, but your shelter should be the first and foremost thought on your mind.
If you’re in a desert, look for any rock structures or caverns in the ground. They may be occupied by other creatures, so use care when investigating them. If you’re lost in the rugged mountain terrain, there are generally many potential shelters that will work, from caves to trees that have collapsed, creating a perfect lean-to, to hollow-up nooks in the side of a steep slope. Determine your situation and if you find the perfect location to bear down for the night, make sure to mark it well and also be certain to mark your path so that you can follow it back to this shelter relatively easily, even if nightfall climbs on top of you too fast.
Signals for Help
Basic survival skills should include a method of signaling for help. Again, this will all be determined by your particular situation and surroundings. Laying out some sticks on the ground in the middle of a thick, wooded forest isn’t going to do much good. You have to think in terms of search parties. Aerial searches with planes and helicopters generally take place at several hundred to a few thousand feet up in the air. Anything too small to be seen clearly will likely be missed.
Fires are helpful at night, but be careful that they don’t get out control or you could end up in a more dire survival situation running for your very life. Survival skills are lengthy and dependent on your location and situation, but these two are the most basic that you should consider first, before any other aspects of your survival are considered.
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