Top 10 survival skills

1)    Finding and Purifying water- Without a doubt, the most crucial survival skill, to someone who is in good physical condition, is the ability to find and purify water. Water is essential to the smooth operation of physical and mental functions. Besides breathing air, drinking water is something that will keep you in motion and prevent you from becoming ill with involuntary life-threatening illnesses.

3 days without water is a known quantity in survival. However, your ability to perform even the simplest physical tasks and think clearly will be dramatically reduced within 24 hours without water. Beyond those 24 hours, a person begins to experience headaches, dizziness, and lightheadedness.

The more a person is dehydrated, the worse the symptoms of dehydration become and the capabilities of a person to survive to begin to spiral downward quickly.  Somewhere at 20 plus hours, a person will become more lethargic and confused. It will be impossible to survive if you become so dehydrated that you can’t stand because of dizziness, lightheadedness, and fever. Eventually, there is a risk of chest and abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, seizures, coma, and shock.

So while it is said that a person can survive 3 days without water, this is simply a general blanket statement and one that should be taken with a grain of salt. Obtaining sources of water and purifying them to prevent sickness should be the number one priority in any survival situation. The skills to find and obtain it should be the most focused on skill set.

2)    Building a shelter – Depending on the environment, how severe the weather is and conditions a person can die from exposure within a very short time. Extreme environments such as scorching deserts or icy cold northern regions will lead to hypothermia, extreme dehydration, sunburns if the human body is exposed for just a few hours. 140f 60c @ 10mins + hypothermia 70f 21c-lowest body temperature fore death

Beyond the obvious exposure to icy chilling winds or searing oven like heat index, a person needs a place to sleep partially shielded from predators and surprise changes in weather. Only one night without sleep impacts motor skills that are needed to survive effectively. After three days without solid sleep, a person will become so delirious as to basically be unable to function with any real level of effectiveness. This leads to missed opportunities and poor judgment.  These two things lead to finding oneself in increasingly dangerous situations. Dangerous situations lead to mistakes, and those mistakes ultimately lead to death.

There is also a genuine psychological factor to having shelter. It makes a person feel safer and allows a better quality of sleep. Provides a place to escape to in the event of rain and helps to keep gear dry.

3)    Starting and managing a fire – Gathering materials and knowing how to set a fire with various methods is a mainstay of survival. The benefits are numerous; warmth, a technique to dry wet clothing, a means to cook food, protection from predators, helps dissuade mosquitos and other vermin.

In the event of catastrophic failure of one method, having other ways to rely on will be an incredible boon to the survivor. The benefits simply outweigh the cost of energy to make one.

Beyond simply knowing how to make a fire there are other factors to consider. Learning how to keep the fire burning, using little fuel, signaling with light and maximizing the heat from a fire as well as preventing the fire from spreading outside of the area that you want it are all skills that should be learned as well.

4)    Orienteering and Navigating (with and without a compass) – Knowing where you are and where you are going is a must of any hiker, camper, trapper or anyone who leaves their home.

The easiest method is simply knowing how to read a compass and a map. There are other considerations as well, like knowing how to orient your map in relation to your location. Without knowing this one thing a map and compass are useless items.

If you should find yourself lost in the wilderness or in the city, having some idea of your position will help you to regain the sense of where you should be heading. Learning to use the natural or manmade constructs of a landscape will help to pinpoint your location and set the goal of where to go to.

If you should lose either item for whatever reason, having a fallback method of orienteering and navigating will help to prevent you from becoming irrevocably lost in the wild. Knowledge and practical application of techniques such as sun and star navigation, reading the landscape, knowing how to find cardinal directions with different means and a general understanding of the area that you have headed into will help to keep you from wandering in circles and wasting precious time and energy in a survival scenario.

5)    Knowledge of plants – There is a direct correlation between your personal knowledge level of the wild plants in the area that you are surviving in and that of your own level of comfort and capability. Knowing which plants can be used for food will increase your longevity in a survival scenario. Knowing which plants are dangerous will help to keep illness at bay and help you to survive longer as well.

Beyond the basics of knowing which plants to eat and which not to eat, knowing where to find the best materials to construct fires with, making natural cordage with, treat scrapes, cuts, bruises and other medical ailments with are all within the realm of survival horticulture (plant knowledge).

There are hundreds of things that you can do with plants. The only trouble is being able to recognize them, knowing which parts to use and for what. There is also the trouble in knowing which plants have toxic look-alikes.

6)    Trapping and hunting – Being able to follow the natural highways and recognize signs of animals passing will lead you not only to food but also possibly to water. Being able to make and set traps within your first days of being in the circumstances on you being able to provide yourself with food will be a significant benefit in terms of energy level and overall mood.

Of the two, trapping will yield the highest return on time investment in the long run. Effectively allowing you to be in multiple places at once. Take the time to learn how to manufacture a variety of traps and where to construct them to give yourself the best possible results.

Hunting will require more effort on your part but can be done as an add on to supplement your traps. It can also be as part of a typical everyday survival scenario whenever the opportunity arises while doing other tasks. Techniques such as game stalking and ambush predation will allow you to hunt game and other wildlife successfully. While learning how to craft essential hunting tools will increase your odds of a successful hunt. While it is never guaranteed (even a Lion only succeeds in every 8 attempts at a kill) the benefits in terms of food source and raw materials can dramatically increase your survival rate if done correctly.

7) Basic survival medical skills – The harsh conditions of the wilderness lend itself to cuts and abrasions and blisters. Having a basic first aid kit will come in extremely useful in treating minor injuries and keeping the infection from setting in. The more you know about medical treatments, the more comfortable you will be in handling increasingly complex problems.

The trade-off could be that you may begin to feel the need to carry more equipment to treat possible conditions. The good news is that most first aid items don’t weigh very much at all. The value to weight ratio is so high that you won’t even think about adding in that tourniquet or some other item that you may not have thought of bringing initially.

Most items can be used for multiple purposes as well.

Beyond the basics of using store-bought supplies, there are also older folk remedies that can be made if your knowledge of plants is high enough. Many plants can be used as an alternative medicine for various different ailments. You may begin to learn how to use the pharmacy of the wild to treat conditions like a sore throat or headaches should you experience them in the wilderness.

Will they ever replace your first aid kit? Probably not, but they can definitely supplement it. They could also be used in an extreme survival scenario if you ever find yourself in one.

8)    Knot tying – Knowing how to tie knots and what is the best application for each style of knot is incredibly essential to survival. It is one of the often overlooked skills because most people will simply make one knot that they know how to tie work for all situations.

However, having a lousy knot or lashing, or the wrong kind can lead to catastrophic failure of shelters, traps, fishing lines,  and harnesses.

Knowing the right style and making it foolproof is a sure way to ensure a safe and secure visit to the wild. It is a skill that could be of serious value even outside of a wilderness scenario as well. There are many knots and lashing styles and even more methods to use them in everyday life.

9)    Develop a good Attitude – I’ve seen people freak out while diving and afterward tell me that they didn’t know which way was to the surface. I’ve seen grown men nearly drown in a small amount of water and others that almost fall to their death because they were too frightened to pay attention to what they were securing a rope to. These are all symptoms of having the wrong frame of mind.

It’s very easy to lose your composure when it seems like the odds are stacked against you. Developing a positive attitude will keep those ruinous thoughts at bay. It will help you to overcome obstacles that will destroy others.

I can’t stress the importance of it enough. Although it isn’t one of those things that sell items, it is one of those things that are indispensable in matters of life and death. It prevents you from panicking and panicking leads to disasters.

There are some easy things that you can do to help fortify your mental attitude. It costs nothing and means everything not only in survival but in all aspects of regular life as well.

10)    How to clean and keep equipment dry – knowing how to waterproof items and keep them dry will make sure that you have items which are ready and in excellent condition to use. It helps keep malicious funguses and other infestations at bay.

Keeping your feet dry is one of the best ways to prevent painful infections. Keeping your food dry is a great way to make sure that you have a little more food to eat.

Knowing how to keep yourself dry will make your dirt time a little more bearable and enjoyable. It will also help to maintain a high level of morale and keep you from mentally dipping into the uncomfortable world of self-pity.

It makes sure that your equipment is in good working order by inhibiting the formation of rust. So it is, in fact, a survival skill that is worth knowing more about.

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