Watching the film; Into The Wild, recently, I was immediately struck by a key element. If I were stranded in the wild, would I actually be able to survive?
The will to live is an important factor in survival. If you manage, in your lifetime, to speak to any survivors, you will discover that they discuss the will to live. The will to live being so great, that there was simply no other option, than to survive their ordeal. A positive mental attitude is essential for survival.
Four Basic Needs – Water, Shelter, Warmth, Food
There are four basic needs to surviving in the wilderness. If you can provide for these needs, then your chances of survival are greatly increased.
Three days. Three days is the average time a person can survive without water. After that, you start to feel some serious effects. Dehydration is the biggest threat. One of the first things you need to do, when you realise you will be in the wild for some time, is to source a location of clean desalinated water and ensure you can access it easily and conveniently.
Shelter is incredibly important in the wild. It can provide some much needed warmth, but it can also provide a safe haven from wild animals and insects. Do ensure you place your shelter on dry, flat land. If you are lost, it is perhaps best not to camouflage it too well. You want to be found after all! Use foliage and ferns to fashion a bivouac between two trees; use the natural materials around you if you are lost without camping equipment. Once you have built your shelter you can dig out a trench in front with which you can build a slow burning fire to keep you warm throughout the night. A good shelter will also help you to sleep. Sleep is imperative to maintaining a rational, clear head. An important factor if you find yourself in the wild for long.
Keeping your body warm is very important. If you have not packed essentials such as thermals or a waterproof or windproof jacket, for your duration in the wild, you may need to use whatever materials are at your disposal. Use leaves and grasses to insulate your body against the cold and to furnish the base of your makeshift shelter to make warm strong covers against the cold. Hypothermia is a critical problem for survival and your core temperature should be maintained at 36.5 – 37.5.
A week is the average duration that an adult can survive without food. Therefore, this doesn’t seem like the first priority you will have to consider straight away. There are some great books such as the SAS survival guide by John Lofty Wiseman which will instruct you what sorts of berries and mushrooms are safe to eat and how to fashion rabbit traps. A key component of creating a great trap is hiding any evidence of its placement. Animals have a keen sense of smell and can detect human activity which will trigger alarm. A great trick is smoking a trap to mask your scent – as fire occurs normally in the wild. There are many types of trap such as drag noose, twitch-up snares, each with their own ingenious ways of crushing, throttling or catching your prey.
Whether you have planned a trip to the wild, or find yourself there by accident, you will discover a whole new way of life. A simple way, life stripped bare. Consider your basic needs and find ways to provide for them to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible. Survival often depends on basic instincts. Your instinct is, naturally, to survive.