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The Basic Outdoor Survival Skills Everyone Should Know

the basic outdoor survival skills everyone should know

The more time we spend out in the wild learning how to keep ourselves alive, the more we tend to pick up and the more we know.

But our brains can only hold so much information at a time and when thing start to go it is mostly the basics that tend to go first.

So even if you are a seasoned veteran survivalist or just a beginner starting out it is good to keep being informed on the basics of survival.

It is the basics of survival that keep you alive when you’re out there on your own.

Learn to Perform Basic First Aid Techniques, Kit or No Kit

Cut and Scrape First Aid

In most cases, you can ignore small cuts, but keep the wound clean and watch it for infection. If the injury is deep and you can’t stop the blood your last resort is a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood. Tourniquets should be at least one-inch wide (a strip of shirt, belt, anything like that will work) and tightened around the limb above the injury. Tighten the tourniquet until the bright red bleeding stops and cover the injury with any clean material you have.

Mend Fractures and Dislocations

If you dislocate a bone you need to get in back in place. For shoulders, you can roll on the ground or hit it against a hard surface to reset the bone. Kneecaps can be popped back in place by stretching your leg out and forcing it into the socket. For fractures, you need to find material to create a splint. In the woods, a couple sticks will do the trick. Stabilize the fractured bone with the sticks and tie them together with shoelaces to hold the brace in place.

Self Protection

The Boy Scouts recommend a simple approach for wolves, coyotes, and cougars: face the animal and slowly back away from it. Don’t play dead, run, or approach the animal. If you’re cornered, make yourself as big as possible. Spread out your arms and make a lot of noise. If this still doesn’t work, throw anything you can find at the animal.

Physical Needs: Build a Shelter and Start a Fire

Build a Shelter to Protect You from the Elements

Even if you can start a fire with everything ranging from your glasses to a bottle of water, you’re going to need a shelter at some point. Thankfully, the human body doesn’t need the Hilton to survive, and your shelter only needs to meet two requirements: it has to block the elements and insulate for warmth.

The A-frame shelter in the video above is the simplest to build in a hurry, but anything that gets you out of the snow, rain, or sun will work.

How to Start a Fire with Nearly Anything

Firefighters recommend keeping two things in mind when starting a fire: the wind direction and the surrounding area. A fire is an important part of your survival, but you don’t want to catch the entire forest on fire just to attract the attention of rescuers. The USDA Forest Service recommends building your campfire away from overhanging branches, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Fire might have been one of the first things we humans learned how to make, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to start a fire.

Physical Needs: Learn How to Find Water and Feed Yourself

How to Find Water to Drink

In many parts of the country you can find water by following the sound of a flowing river, but that’s not always the case. If you have trouble finding water, a few pieces of knowledge will help you on your way:

  • Grazing animals usually head to water near dawn and dusk. Following them can often lead you to water.
  • Flies and mosquitoes tend to stay within around 400 feet of water.
  • Dew that hangs on grass in a field is an excellent source of water. You can collect this by running an extra piece of cloth through the grass as you walk.
  • Stagnant water is not usually suitable to drink even if you can boil it.

Learn the Big Four to Always Find Edible Plants

The easiest solution is to remember plants indigenous in most areas.

  • Acorn from Oak: The entire nut is edible and they’re easy to stockpile.
  • Pine: The nuts and inner bark of the tree are edible. You can also make pine needle tea.
  • Cattail: This is one of best options out there. The base stalk is like celery, the root and tuber can make flour, and the pollen is very healthy.
  • Grass The corm (aka the base) is starchy, but edible and filled with water and carbohydrates.

Learn the Universal Edibility Test

You can follow the Universal Edibility Test, which requires you to place a small piece of plant against your lip, then your tongue, and finally in your whole mouth. Unfortunately, you have to wait for eight hours before you know if the plants safe to eat and it’s still possible a plant can poison you.

To see more useful wilderness tips and info, check out Life Hacker.


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