So, you’ve gotten lost while spending some time among nature, and you don’t have much in the way of supplies. Or perhaps your car broke down. Whatever the situation, it’s important that you’re able to make it at least 72 hours, because people are usually found at some point within that time period.
Surviving for three days in the wilderness is one of those experiences that demonstrates just how much people take everyday amenities for granted. It can push you to your limit, and some people don’t make it. Here’s what you need to know to give yourself the best chance of survival.
The More Prepared You Are, the Better
The smartest thing you can do is be prepared for a worst-case scenario, which means you should have a survival kit in your car and supplies you take with you on every hike or other outdoor excursion.
What you pack depends somewhat on you and the situation, but there are a few essentials you should always have with you. These include non-perishable food, water, a flashlight and waterproof matches. You don’t want to end up trying to start a fire with two sticks, because it isn’t easy.
Another good way to prepare for outdoor survival is a wilderness therapy program. Utah has plenty of these for children and adults, and these programs teach essential survival skills.
Prioritize Water and Shelter
Let’s say that you don’t have much in the way of supplies. The two things you’ll need most are water and shelter. You could last up to three weeks without eating, but three days without water is often fatal.
A few common water sources are streams, ponds and rock depressions. Use a handkerchief to filter this water and take out any bugs or dirt particles. Although this doesn’t purify your water, it makes it more drinkable, and remember that the important thing is staying hydrated.
You also need a place to sleep at night. Any blanket can protect you from the elements, although a Mylar blanket is best. If you don’t have that, look for an area with some shade to protect you from the sun. At night, leaves and pine boughs can help you retain more body heat.
Conserve Your Energy
The most difficult part of a survival scenario is that it’s in your best interest to do as little as possible. If you’re active, you’ll burn calories and work up a sweat, which are both detrimental when you have a limited or non-existent supply of food and water.
Since you need water and shelter, the first thing you should do is find the nearest water supply and set up your camp there. Once you do that, it’s time to play the waiting game. It will be boring and you’ll likely be very hungry, but expending energy is a bad idea. You could soon end up delirious and exhausted at a time when you need your strength.
This may be simple advice, but it could save your life in a crisis. Panicking will only make your situation worse, and it doesn’t do you any good. Even though hunger and dehydration will make you feel terrible, your body can survive without food and water for longer than it seems. By staying in one place and keeping your energy expenditure to a minimum, you give yourself a much better chance of being found by rescuers.
Now, is staying in one place always the best survival technique? Not necessarily, as it will depend on your specific situation. However, for the vast majority of these survival situations, the method outlined above is the optimum way to stay alive long enough for rescuers to find you. Since it's the method that's applicable to the widest variety of situations, it's also the one that you should be most familiar with.
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