Survival skills are essential for anyone venturing into the great outdoors or preparing for unexpected emergencies. Whether you are an avid hiker, a camping enthusiast, or simply someone who wants to be ready for the unexpected, having a basic understanding of survival skills can make all the difference. This beginner's introduction to survival basics aims to provide foundational knowledge of essential skills and knowledge needed to survive in the wilderness or during a crisis. From building a survival mindset and understanding the importance of critical tools and gear to navigating, finding water, starting fires, administering first aid, and sourcing food, this article will serve as your guide to mastering the fundamental principles of survival. So, let's dive in and equip ourselves with the knowledge and skills required to survive and thrive in challenging situations.
1. Understanding the Importance of Survival Skills
The Basic Concept of Survival
Survival. It's not just a reality TV show; it's a skill set that can save your life. The basic concept of survival is simple: it's all about staying alive in challenging or dangerous situations. Whether you're lost in the wilderness, facing a natural disaster, or stranded on a desert island, having survival skills can mean the difference between making it out in one piece or becoming the star of your adventure gone wrong.
The Benefits of Developing Survival Skills
So, why should you bother learning survival skills? Besides the whole staying alive thing, there are plenty of other benefits. Developing survival skills increases your self-reliance and confidence and helps you become more adaptable and resourceful in your everyday life. Plus, you'll gain a sense of empowerment knowing you can handle whatever curveballs nature throws.
2. Building a Survival Mindset
Maintaining Calm in Stressful Situations
Picture this: you're lost in the middle of nowhere, the sun is setting, and you can feel the panic rising in your chest. In these situations, maintaining a calm mindset is critical. It's easier said than done, but reminding yourself to take deep breaths, focus on the present moment, and avoid catastrophic thinking can help you stay level-headed.
Adapting to the Wild: Mental Preparedness
Surviving in the wild isn't just about physical strength, outdoor skills, and mental preparedness. Adapting to changing circumstances, thinking outside the box, and maintaining a positive attitude can make all the difference. So, cultivate your inner desire to live and start embracing the mindset of a survivor.
3. Essential Survival Gear and Tools
Choosing the Right Survival Knife
Regarding survival gear, one tool reigns supreme: the trusty survival knife. It's like the Swiss Army Knife's more relaxed, rugged cousin. A good survival knife can help you with tasks like cutting rope, building shelters, or even defending yourself in extreme situations (though we hope it never comes to that). Just make sure to choose a durable, versatile knife that fits comfortably in your hand, like these from Justin Case Tactical.
Think of it as your Excalibur, ready to assist you on your survival adventures.
Must-Have Gear for Survival Kits
A survival article would only be complete with mentioning the beloved survival kit. Think of it as your emergency go-bag filled with all the essentials. Some must-have items include a fire starter, a compact first-aid kit (because bumps and scrapes are bound to happen), a compass (because getting lost is never fun), and some energy bars (because even survival experts get hungry). Customize it to your needs, and you'll be prepared for whatever life throws at you. Check out this excellent little kit from Echo-Sigma.
4. Finding and Purifying Water in the Wild
Identifying and Sourcing Water Sources
In survival situations, finding water is a top priority. Knowing how to identify and source wild water sources can be a lifesaver. Look for streams, rivers, or even morning dew on leaves. Just make sure to avoid stagnant water that could be contaminated.
Methods for Water Purification
Once you've found water, it's time to make it safe to drink. Enter water purification methods, the superheroes of survival. From boiling to using water purification tablets or filters, there are various ways to ensure hydration doesn't become a gastrointestinal nightmare. Remember, even though that pristine mountain stream might look crystal clear, it could still hide some unwelcome surprises. So, purify your water like you're preparing a Michelin-starred meal. Safety first, people.
5. Navigating and Sheltering in the Outdoors
Using Maps and Compasses for Navigation
Getting lost in the great outdoors is a challenging adventure. That's why bringing a map and compass with you is essential. Your phone's navigation app will only cut it in the wilderness if you want to be caught in a low-battery situation. Learn how to read maps and use a compass to return to civilization or your campsite.
Building Emergency Shelters
Have you ever watched Bear Grylls build a shelter from broken branches and leaves? While we can't promise you'll become a survival expert overnight, knowing how to make an emergency shelter can be a lifesaver when weather conditions worsen. Learn a few basic shelter-building techniques to keep yourself dry and protected in the great outdoors.
6. Fire Starting Techniques and Campfire Safety
Basic Fire-Starting Methods
Ah, the warmth and comfort of a crackling campfire. But how exactly do you start one? Don't worry; you don't need to rub sticks together, although this is a great skill to acquire, and you will impress your friends. Learn a few essential fire-starting methods that will have you roasting marshmallows and telling camp stories in no time. Try out this compact little fire starter by SURVIVE.
Practicing Campfire Safety Measures
While campfires are fantastic, safety should always be your top priority. No one wants to start a forest fire by accident (that's not an excellent way to make friends with park rangers). Understand the essential campfire safety measures to protect yourself and the wilderness while enjoying the cozy flames.
7. Basic Wilderness First Aid and Emergency Procedures
Common Wilderness Injuries and Treatments
Injuries happen, especially when you're adventuring in the great outdoors. Get acquainted with common wilderness injuries, from sprained ankles to insect bites, and learn how to treat them effectively. No medical degree is required, but you should check into an introductory first aid course like the one the American Heart Association offers!
Emergency Signaling and Communication
What if you're injured and need help? That's where emergency signaling and communication come into play. Discover the various techniques for signaling distress and communicating with potential rescuers. Remember, Morse code might be outdated, but it could save your life!
8. Nourishment: Hunting, Foraging, and Food Preparation
Essential Hunting and Trapping Techniques
Are you feeling like you're in an episode of Survivor and need to catch your dinner? Learning some essential hunting and trapping techniques can increase your chances of a successful meal. Just be sure to check local regulations!
Identifying Edible Plants and Fungi
Foraging for food in the wilderness can be a fun and tasty experience. But before you start munching on random plants, knowing which ones are safe to eat and which could send you on an unpleasant trip to the hospital is crucial. Learn how to identify edible plants and fungi to avoid unwanted gastric adventures. Check out the other blogs on Firekeepers and the RiverWinds for great blog posts on wild edibles and food foraging techniques.
Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Foraged Food
So, you've caught some game or foraged delicious edible plants. Now what? Time to put your culinary skills to the test! Learn the basics of preparing and cooking wild game and fed food because nothing beats a satisfying meal after a day of adventure.
Remember, survival skills are not just for hardcore adventurers or doomsday preppers. Knowing these basics can make your outdoor experiences safer and more enjoyable. So, embrace your inner survivalist and confidently embark on your wilderness journey! By familiarizing yourself with the survival basics outlined in this article, you are taking an essential step toward being prepared for the unexpected. Survival involves physical skills, mental resilience, and adapting to unforeseen circumstances. Practice these skills regularly, seek further training and knowledge, and prioritize safety outdoors or in emergencies. With a solid foundation of survival skills, you can confidently approach any challenge, knowing you have the tools and know-how to navigate it successfully. Stay prepared, stay vigilant, and stay safe.
Michael Hoskins (Blackfeet), a retired combat army veteran, and his wife Melissa are dedicated to promoting self-sustainability and sharing valuable life-saving skills with their community. They own and operate a 10-acre off-grid mini farm in Southeast Tennessee, where they work to bring back traditional ways of living and move away from modern materialism.
With certifications as an instructor in BLS/First Aid/AED from the American Heart Association, as well as SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) and Combat Life Support qualifications from the US Army, Michael is committed to teaching these critical skills to anyone eager to learn. He believes that in today's uncertain world, empowering others with these abilities is more important than ever.
In his spare time, Michael indulges in his passion for survival camping, honing his skills and passing on his knowledge to others. He also finds joy in Native American drumming, playing the Native flute, and creating Native arts and crafts.
Together with Melissa, Michael continues to inspire and educate others on the path to self-sustainability and traditional living.