For the person who has never spent any significant time in the wild, it can be quite overwhelming to find yourself in a situation in which you had to engage the wild for the sake of survival. There are some simple methods that you can use that will allow you to acclimate to the elements and challenges associated with being exposed to mother nature in her purest form.
Size Up Your Situation
The first thing you want to do is evaluate your situation. If you find yourself in the wild by some strange turn of events – meaning anything that you did not plan yourself – take the time to determine if there is an immediate danger. If you are in a potentially hostile situation, you will need to find the best possible way to conceal yourself from the immediate threat.
Don’t panic; this is one of the most common mistakes made by those who are not experienced with surviving in the wild. When you panic, one of your first inclinations is to run. The problem is that you will probably become lost and disoriented in the process, placing you in further danger. Unless you can identify an immediate threat that demands your retreat, take the time to acclimate yourself to your surroundings. Get a bearing on where you are and what is going on.
Part of sizing up your condition is gaining an understanding of the terrain and the challenges that it creates for the navigation process. Take the time to learn the pattern of your particular surroundings. Every natural environment – whether forest, desert or jungle – has a natural pattern. Gaining an understanding of that pattern will help you understand how to navigate through it.
Evaluate Your Physical Condition
Your physical condition will determine your capability to engage your situation. If you have any type of diminished capacity, you will be limited in what you can do. Understanding your physical condition will help you determine the best course of action. For instance, you would not attempt scale or climb a steep ridge or cliff with significant damage to your lower extremities.
Utilize your Senses
Even if you have never been exposed to the wild, you still have some natural instincts that are connecting to your senses. Remember that haste is not the answer, especially without a plan in place. Energy is a precious commodity in this situation, so use it wisely. Empty effort is waste. Calculate and plan each and every move with a specific goal in mind.
Know Where You Are
If you have a map, use it to spot your location. Take note of your movement to plot your progress. If you don’t have a map, take notice of your surroundings so that you will know if you are traveling in circles.
Keep Fear and Panic in Check
As mentioned earlier, fear and panic will cause you to act in haste, more than likely placing yourself in further peril. The frenetic behavior associated with fear and panic will cause irrational and unproductive decisions. Even in the direst of situations, calmness is the most powerful asset you will have at your disposal.
Every situation is different but the fundamental elements of survival remain the same. Your situation will determine your actions.
Find the Sun or Moon
Take a look at the Sun or Moon and determine what direction they are going. This will help you find out east and west directions. Now that you have figured out east and west, you can pinpoint north and south.
Follow the water
Water only runs in one direction, down hill. Most people live in valleys where the climate is warmer and the water is more plentiful. If you can find a river, stream, or ravine, follow it. This will keep you around water sources and also most likely lead you to help.
Basic survival needs
Remember that the order of priority for survival is:
Warmth and Shelter
You can live quite a few days without food. But living in exposure to the elements or without water will kill you fast. If you need food, be willing to eat whatever you find. Hopefully you’ve brought along some freeze dried food for camping or hiking. But if not, bugs and lizards are a great source of energy to keep you going. They don’t taste the best, but they will keep you alive.
If you are smart, you can live in the wild for quite a long time. In most cases you’ll only be a few miles away from help.