Like so many other boys, I grew up in the Scouting program. I learned many valuable things: how to tie knots (just use duct tape), which types of wild mushrooms were okay to eat (none of them), and how to stay warm when camping in a blizzard (solution: don’t go camping during a blizzard).
One week, at an organized scout camp, a survival expert named Ephraim Feather Cloud came in to teach us how to stay alive in case there were some emergency where we found ourselves separated from our troops and, subsequently, our clean socks and two-liters of root beer. This man, clad in buckskin pants and a flannel shirt, could survive an entire day on the dew from a blade of grass. Animals came at his call. His hair moved mysteriously in the wind every time he spoke.
Later on, we found out he was a high school math teacher named Dave, so that shattered some of the mystique. However, the most important lesson we took from our encounter with Mr. Feather Cloud was that survival skills are nothing to be taken lightly. Here are the five most essential and basic survival skills you need to know:
- Don’t Panic- Anyone who is put in a survival situation is scared, but they channel that fear into action. Mental preparedness is crucial to survival, as is staying calm and exercising common sense.
- Drink Water- When Mr. Feather Cloud asked us how long we could survive without drinking water, we responded with what seemed correct: four or five days. Yet, Mr. Feather Cloud, like most survival experts, said we shouldn’t even care what the answer was—drinking water (clean water) is more important than fire, shelter, food or medical attention. Since plants need water, signs of vegetation typically indicate that water is nearby. Don’t use too much effort making fire or building shelter, because sweating is just losing precious water. Conserve what water you do have and consider adding a water filter to your emergency essentials. Dehydration is your greatest enemy.
- Keep Warm or Cool- At any cost, stay warm and dry if it’s cold or wet, and cool and if it’s hot. Seems like common sense, but instead of running around, plan on being found where you currently are, and try to be comfortable where you’re waiting. Get to the very nearest place where it looks like you’ll stay safe and dry—a cave, a fallen tree, under a tarp, your home—but don’t expend too much effort getting a shelter ready.
- Start a Fire/Heat Source- If at all possible, get a fire or power source going. Fires mean warmth, dry clothes, clean water, cooked food, the signal of smoke, and an often underestimated sense of security. Emergency equipment and 72-hour kits will contain the necessary supplies to start a fire, stay warm, and cook food. Not to mention, these emergency essentials will contain first-aid kits and signals, which can save your life.
- Eat (and conserve) Food- In survival situations, food isn’t necessarily an immediate concern. While our brains may tell us we’re starving, food is often overrated in comparison to the other things we need to stay alive. Therefore, only eat food when you know it’s safe, or even better—be prepared with emergency food supplies. The more nourished you remain, the better your body will be able to endure tough survival situations.
Yet, as all of us at Food Insurance know, the most important survival tip we (and Ephraim Feather Cloud) can offer is to prepare. Survival starts with disaster awareness, emergency preparedness plans, and a perseverant attitude.