It can happen to anybody — you’re on a car trip, flying on a plane, or out boating. Suddenly, something happens and you’re stranded. What do you do? Most people aren’t prepared for this. Here’s how to fight the odds, even if you don’t have any survival training.
Find Water and Food
The first thing you’ll need is to figure out your food and water situation. If you’ve no water, start with this first. Look for streams, lakes, and rain water sources. If you can’t find any of these, it’s time to think about how to build a solar water still.
A solar water still is basically a hole in the ground with a container you put in there to capture water. The hole also contains vegetation – the water source. Place a piece of plastic over the hole and hold it down with heavy rocks, a small rock is placed in the center, just enough to cause the plastic to sag a little. Heat from the sun will cause condensation to occur from the vegetation, filling the container in the hole.
Food is another matter. Food can be tricky to find in the woods unless you have a deep understanding of edible plants and vegetation. Ideally, you’ll have non-perishable foods. Basically, you want clean, organic, dried, food that can last for 20 or more years.
Build a Fire
Building a fire can be difficult, but not if you have the right tools. All you need are waterproof matches or flint and steel. A small piece of lint can be used as the fire starter, or you can use magnesium to start a flash that will light almost anything.
You cannot survive for more than maybe a day or so without shelter. The most common types of temporary shelter include the “lean-to shelter” options. This is basically a large tree branch that’s leaned up against a tree with foliage piled on top of it to protect you from the rain and elements.
Building a Weapon
There are a lot of wild animals in the world. Hopefully, you can avoid them. But, in the unlikely event that you run into a bear or something, you’ll need something to protect yourself. You can fashion a spear or some other long-range weapon from a long tree branch using a knife or even a sharp stone.
You can also gather up small stones and rocks to use as a weapon to defend yourself from wild animals. Finally, many animals are afraid of fire, so making sure you have a strong, healthy, flame going will help protect you too.
Building a Deathfall Trap
A deathfall trap is an animal trap you use to catch food. It’s comprised of three branches and a heavy stone. Basically, you cut notches in three different-sized tree branches and use a heavy stone as the “death trap.” When an animal takes the bait, the stone falls on it, killing it. This diagram shows you how to make one.
Food is probably the most important thing, next to water and shelter, that you’ll need when you’re stranded. So, knowing how to catch food to eat should be near the top of your survival training checklist.
People Who Have Survived
Do these survival tactics work? Yes, even for people who aren’t trained in survival strategies. Take the case of Matthew Allen. He is an Australian teenager who disappeared into the Australian outback for 9 weeks during a brutal heatwave.
He had no formal training in survival, but he managed to catch fish and keep himself alive. He did suffer gangrene in one of his legs, however, and had to be treated once he was found.
Nadia Bloom is another example of a child who vanished into the swamplands near her home in Winter Springs. Bloom, who is diagnosed with Asberger’s syndrome, went on a bike ride with the intent of taking nature photographs and became lost during the adventure.
She survived for four days eating plants and sleeping inside a hollow log under someone from her church found her sitting on a log.
Finally, the story of Paul Kinrade is a cautionary tale for fearless teenagers who believe themselves to be invincible. Kinrade found himself lost while attending an outdoor program called Kiatou.
He survived for three days eating blueberries. He managed to build a shelter for himself and avoid an electrical storm that swept the countryside.
If these children can do it, so can you — and you can certainly survive if you have the right tools and a little forethought.
Allen Baler is a Partner at 4Patriots LLC, a Tennessee based small business that provides products to help people be more self-reliant and more independent. Allen founded the company in 2008 after 14 years as a corporate executive leading profitable business for the Easton Press and the Danbury Mint. He graduated with honors from Harvard University and resides in Nashville with his wife and 3 daughters.