The advances in the development of
outdoor clothing, equipment, emergency food and techniques have
been growing rapidly in recent years. For those beginners interested
in using the outdoors there is unlimited information available.
However, experience is the best teacher in any outdoor situation
and your reaction in a survival situation depends on your education.
Always keep in mind that it can happen to you. Those who are
mentally and physically prepared to survive are more likely to
do so. To deal with an emergency situation one must be able to
make decisions, improvise and remain calm.
Fear - For anyone faced with an emergency situation,
fear is a normal reaction. Unless an emergency situation has
been anticipated, fear is generally followed by panic then pain,
cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue, boredom and loneliness. It is
extremely important to calmly assess the situation and not allow
these seven enemies to interfere with your survival.
Pain - Pain may often be ignored in a panic situation.
Remember to deal with injuries immediately before they become
even more serious.
Cold - Cold lowers the ability to think, numbing the
body and reducing the will to survive. Never allow yourself to
stop moving or to fall asleep unless adequately sheltered.
Thirst - Dehydration is a common enemy in an emergency
situation and must not be ignored. It can dull your mind, causing
you to overlook important survival information.
Hunger - Hunger is dangerous but seldom deadly. It
may reduce your ability to think logically and increase your
susceptibility to the effects of cold, pain and fear.
Fatigue - Fatigue is unavoidable in any situation so
it is best to keep in mind that it can and will lower your mental
ability. Remember that in an emergency situation this is often
the bodies way of escaping a difficult situation.
Boredom & Loneliness - These enemies are quite
often unanticipated and may lower the mind's ability to deal
with the situation.
Build a Fire - Building a fire is the most important
task when dealing with survival in the wilderness. Be sure to
build yours in a sandy or rocky area or near a supply of sand
and water as to avoid forest fires. The most common mistakes
made by those attempting to build a fire are: choosing poor tinder,
failing to shield precious matches from the wind and smothering
the flames with too large pieces of fuel. The four most important
factors when starting a fire are spark - tinder - fuel - oxygen.
The most common ways to create spark are:
1. Waterproof, strike-anywhere matches are your best
bet. Matches may be water-proofed by dipping them in nail polish.
Store your matches in a waterproof container.
2. A cigarette lighter is also a good way to produce
a spark, with or without fuel.
3. The flint and steel method is one of the oldest
and most reliable methods in fire starting. Aim the sparks at
a pile of dry tinder to produce a fire.
4. The electric spark produced from a battery will
ignite a gasoline dampened rag.
5. Remove half of the powder from a bullet
and pour it into the tinder. Next place a rag in the cartridge
case of the gun and fire. The rag should ignite and then may
be placed into the tinder.
6. Allow the suns rays to pass through a magnifying
glass onto the tinder.
Dry grass, paper or cloth lint, gasoline-soaked rags and dry
bark are all forms of tinder. Place your tinder in a small pile
resembling a tepee with the driest pieces at the bottom. Use
a fire starter or strip of pitch if it is available.
It is important to keep in mind that smaller pieces of kindling
such as, twigs, bark, shavings and gasoline, are necessary when
trying to ignite larger pieces of fuel. Gather fuel before attempting
to start your fire. Obviously dry wood burns better and wet or
pitchy wood will create more smoke. Dense, dry wood will burn
slow and hot. A well ventilated fire will burn best.
Build a Shelter - A small shelter which
is insulated from the bottom, protected from wind and snow and
contains a fire is extremely important in survival. Before building
your shelter be sure that the surrounding area provides the materials
needed to build a good fire, a good water source and shelter
from the wind.
Wilderness shelters may include:
1. Natural shelters such as caves and overhanging cliffs.
When exploring a possible shelter tie a piece of string to the
outer mouth of the cave to ensure you will be able to find your
way out. Keep in mind that these caves may already be occupied.
If you do use a cave for shelter, build your fire near its mouth
to prevent animals from entering.
2. Enlarge the natural pit under a fallen tree and
line it with bark or tree boughs.
3. Near a rocky coastal area, build a rock shelter
in the shape of a U, covering the roof with driftwood and a tarp
or even seaweed for protection.
4. A lean-to made with poles or fallen trees and a
covering of plastic, boughs, thick grasses or bark is effective
to shelter you from wind, rain and snow.
5. A wigwam may be constructed using
three long poles. Tie the tops of the poles together and upright
them in an appropriate spot. Cover the sides with a tarp, boughs,
raingear or other suitable materials. Build a fire in the center
of the wigwam, making a draft channel in the wall and a small
hole in the top to allow smoke to escape.
6. If you find yourself in open terrain,
a snow cave will provide good shelter. Find a drift and burrow
a tunnel into the side for about 60 cm (24 in) then build your
chamber. The entrance of the tunnel should lead to the lowest
level of you chamber where the cooking and storage of equipment
will be. A minimum of two ventilating holes are necessary, preferably
one in the roof and one in the door.
CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT
Clothing - Clothing must provide warmth and offer protection
from the elements. Layers of light, natural fibers are best.
Hats are a must, as they offer protection from both the heat
and cold. Water proof outer layers are necessary.
Equipment - Equipment must be easily manageable and
promote survival in any situation. Items to carry in your pockets
may include a fire starter, waterproof matches and/or lighter,
a pocket knife, goggles, compass, small first-aid kit and some
sort of trail food.
Survival kit - Items should be packed in a waterproof
container that can double as a cooking pot and water receptacle
and be attached to your belt.
Backpack - A good, comfortable backpack
is mandatory. Loads of about 18 kg (40 lb.) are average. Items
to include are; flashlight, extra jacket, socks and mittens,
a pocket saw, gas camp stove, first-aid kit, emergency food,
and a tent and fly.
Useful items to include on your hike are:
1. A map and compass.
2. A large, bright plastic bag will be useful as a shelter,
signaling device or in lieu of raingear.
3. A flashlight with extra batteries.
4. Extra water and food.
5. Extra clothing such as raingear, a toque and gloves,
a sweater and pants.
6. Sun protection such as sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat
and long sleeved clothing.
7. A sharp pocket knife.
8. Waterproof matches, a lighter and/or
9. Candles and fire starter.
10. A first aid kit.
11. A whistle, flares, a tarp.
into the wilderness check weather forecasts and hazards.