5 Essential Survival Skills that will Save Your Life
Do you love getting outside? Do you drive your vehicle on mountain roads? Do you travel more than 200 feet from your vehicle or camp? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to consider these 5 essential outdoor survival skills:
When the Boy Scouts created the motto always be prepared they were right on the money. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself from potentially dangerous threats in the outdoors is to be prepared. What kind of threats are we talking about? Lightning, particularly in the high country, is a threat to your safety. Never be, or be connected to the tallest object in the area. If you find yourself in a lightning storm get to a lower elevation. If you feel the lightning is getting close to you then crouch down in a tight ball. Metal on your body won't attract lightning but it will tell the doctors where to look for burns. Remove any jewelry or metal from your body. Hypothermia (your body temperature drops) and hyperthermia (your body temperature is too hot) is a threat. It is important to understand how to maintain your body temperature in the outdoors. Altitude sickness, especially in Colorado and other high elevations, is always a threat. If you are from sea level, plan a day or two to acclimate to the high elevation and drink plenty of water the day or two prior to your trip. Leave a flight plan with your loved ones before your trip. Include everything you know about your trip, where you will start and end your trip and where you plan to be in between. Include any remedial plans you may have. This information will be essential if you find yourself in need of being rescued. Additionally, it is always a good idea to carry a survival kit stocked with items that will protect you in case you do find yourself in an unforeseen situation.
Your clothing is your first shelter. Cotton Kills. Never wear cotton clothes in the outdoors. Why not? Cotton retains water and takes an extremely long time to dry in the outdoors. If you are wearing cotton and find yourself wet and cold it is much more challenging to dry your clothes and therefore your body. Wear synthetics clothes. Synthetics dry much faster and wick the moisture off your body to help you maintain your normal body temperature. Learn how to instantly shelter yourself in case you find yourself in an unforeseen situation. The majority of survival situations occur when people become lost while on a day hike and are forced to spend the night outside. To prevent this carry a heavy-duty shelter that will protect you from harsh conditions instantly. Also, using a shelter that traps your body heat around you to help maintain your body temperature is essential. Also, find a shelter that will not condensate on the inside by allowing you to breathe on the outside. As an added bonus, find a shelter that is colored royal blue so search and rescue crews can see you from far distances. Royal blue is the most effective color to be used as a visual signal in the outdoors and kills two birds with one stone when used as a survival shelter. Royal blue is even better than hunter's orange (safety orange), especially in the fall when the orange can blend into a lot of the fall foliage that can tend to be yellow, orange and red.
Learning to start a fire under harsh conditions can be one of the most valuable skills you can learn to keep you alive in an unforeseen situation. We recommend using a metal match (ferrocerium rod with steel striker) and pure cotton balls saturated in petroleum jelly (Vasoline). Find a metal match with a wood handle, as the wood can be shaved to be used for tinder in case you run out or lose your cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly. Break apart the cotton balls and fluff it up as much as you can. Smear the petroleum jelly throughout the cotton balls and store it in a match case or another watertight container. Some people recommend using lint from your dryer. However, cotton balls are much more effective as they are made of long tail fibers while dryer lint is much shorter. The long tail fibers of pure cotton balls allow more air to penetrate the mixture and will burn much longer than dryer lint. Now you have the best fire starter money can buy. Much better than all the cubes, sticks, pastes and goo you can buy at the sporting good stores. When it comes to starting your fire, start with building a platform. Especially in wet conditions as the platform will isolate your tinder from the wet ground. On the windward side of the platform put a big chunk of wood. This is called a brace log. Place your cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly in the middle of the platform, preferably on a piece of tin foil or aluminum foil from the top of a coffee can, peanut can, the bottom of a pop can or even a seashell will work. When the cotton balls and petroleum jelly is lit it will liquify and the tin foil will trap the liquid allowing the mixture to maximize its burn time. Break apart your cotton ball and petroleum jelly into a wick, preferably with no clumps so plenty of air can reach it. Place it on top of the tin foil. Another bonus of the cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly is that it is sticky so it won't blow away. Direct sparks from the metal match onto the cotton balls/petroleum jelly mixture. Once lit, you don't have to rush because the mixture will burn for up to 12 minutes. Now place a smaller pile of twigs on top of the burning tinder so they are leaning on the brace log. Once those begin to burn through then pick up another pile of sticks and place them on top in a perpendicular fashion. Keep adding piles on top until you have a nice fire going.
This one is simple. Always be prepared with the bare minimum to purify water and you will nearly minimize one of the most dangerous threats out there: dehydration. What are we talking about here? With a collapsible water bottle and some water purification tablets, you can easily purify water in case you run out or find yourself in a predicament with no water. This skill is one of the easiest yet most overlooked when it comes down to what gear to invest in for your wilderness survival kit. With a collapsible water bottle and a pack MP1 Micropur Chlorine Dioxide Tablets you can ensure you will always be able to get water in case you find yourself in an unforeseen situation.
Last but not least the ability to signal is can be one of the most important pieces of gear you can have in your survival kit. Why is this so you ask? Well, if you find yourself lost and stranded you will need to be able to signal those who are looking for you. One of the easiest and most effective ways to signal someone from a far distance is by using a signaling mirror you can aim. By reflecting the beam of the sun you can aim the reflection of the sun that can be seen from over 26 miles away! This technique can be learned in minutes and will make search and rescue crews were able to find you much faster, especially if you can place yourself at a higher elevation where you can clearly see far distances.