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Where should you be setting your priorities in a survival situation?
Survivalist and preppers understand that the essentials must be covered in order to sustain them should there be a catastrophic event. Sure, planning has gone into making a bug out bag and there have been some skills which have been honed in order to achieve this, but which element should be the top of the top? Should you focus on your food or your water as your main priority?
The Easy Answer
Focus on Shelter. This may come as a shock to some people, but the reality of the situation is that you have already acquired your water for the first 5 days. Granted, this will not sustain you for the long run and you will need to find a water source, but if you have done your prepping and planning strategically (meaning that you have not waited until a catastrophic event has occurred) you already have located a sustainable water source.
What would cause you to need to find alternate shelter from your plan?
Your disaster preparedness plan should have a definitive location for your shelter and your water. However, the area can become compromised based upon several factors. These can include:
Shelter should be sought over water as the environment is going to be harsh. As you are looking for an area in which to live, simply finding a spot that has water is not going to be sufficient. You need to ensure that there is a food source, water, a means of getting out quick if needed, tactical advantages, vantage points, the proximity to dangers, egresses, natural lighting, and the condition of the soil (just to name a few). Now, keep in mind that during a catastrophic event, you will be battling against the terrain as well as everyone else to find a spot. The best solution: Find multiple spots prior to an event occurring.
The more difficult answer
Where shelter is a priority and will need to be found in order to keep you from over exertion, dehydration, as well as provide the basic functionality of a shelter, water may be the top priority depending upon the conditions. Should an event occur and the heat index rise to a substantial level you will need to find water and find it quickly. Granted, you will need to find a shelter to keep from getting sunburned and dehydrated, but without water you will die anyway.
You should not spend more than 2 days looking for shelter. If you have to think of water vs shelter and you have a 5 day pack, you need to ensure that you will be able to allot time to finding water. If after the end of 2 days you have not found s sustainable shelter, you will need to just make do with what is available and seek out some sustainable water. You do NOT want to totally deplete your bug out bags water prior to finding a renewable source of water.
It’s all about the location
Finally, when you are thinking about your survival plan consider where your plan is located. Are you depending on wilderness survival? If so, you will need to focus on the shelter first, as water is more abundant in the wilderness (usually). Are you planning for urban survival? Water will be your main priority as there will be plenty of abandon buildings and structures which you can choose to take shelter in. Look for residences with external water heaters as a quick way to gain access to stored and safe water.
Be prepared and you will not have to prioritize
Where you cannot fully plan for the worst situation, you can be prepared to survive. Preppers and survivalist who have a plan and a backup plan or two should have a few locations selected in various locations which provide ample shelter as well as have a natural water source. Bug out bags should be equipped with tarps and water to provide for immediate shelter and water if needed, but these should be understood to be temporary solutions. Bags which have water straws and water filters can maximize the time that a person can look for a shelter or a route to their bug out location. Do not limit yourself to one plan or have your location around one main river (For example: you would not want to have 15 locations picked along the Mississippi River. If the river becomes polluted to the point of not being able to use it you have 15 useless locations). Diversify your locations around several natural water supplies to maximize your potential for one of the locations to be functional in a catastrophic event.
It is in the best interest of the prepper/survivalist to perform checks on their shelter and water locations. Revamp your plan if you find weaknesses in your plan or if the shelter and water desirability change (for example a 4 lane highway is constructed cutting you off from accessing your shelter without compromising your safety). Prepare, plan, re-plan, and you should survive.
I’m sure you’ve heard stories of solo hikers or bikers that manage to get themselves lost in the wilderness, and then, after battling with nature and its extremes, they return to civilization because of their will to survive and of course – that handy bottle of water.
We humans can only survive around 3 to 4 days without water, while staying alive without food is much easier, because trying to survive in extreme heat conditions can actually worsen your thirst and your body will start craving more fluids.
While over-hydration is not a good thing either, you will still always need a certain amount of water in your body so that your organs can function fluently.
When you find yourself lost in the wild or venturing through unknown and tricky terrains, carrying enough water with you can be hard.
This is why water purification methods have been devised by survivalists who understand how important constant access to clean water is when you are traveling off-the-grid.
However, many people are left regretting the fact that they didn’t know ‘enough’ about water purification, before venturing into the wild.
So here are a few pointers that can help you understand water purification to upgrade your survival chances.
Be Conscious About the Water Sources You Choose
Your best option for retrieving pure water is from sources of clear flowing water from areas where there are no people around, no manmade buildings or any obvious signs of pollution.
When you are making your way through the wilderness and you run across a stream or a spring, you should try to fill up as many bottles of water as you have.
Ponds, lakes, & Rivers
You should know that ponds, lakes and rivers are less ideal sources of water since the first two are water bodies that are stagnant, which means that it may have a lot of bacteria, while rivers can often typically be heavily polluted.
Be extra careful after the area has experienced any flooding, or if there are population centers or chemical plants operating nearby.
Snow & Ice
As long as this is not frozen seawater, ice and snow are also great and instantly available sources or pure, or at least, clean water in the winter season.
You shouldn’t et ice or snow though, since that lowers your body temperature quite a lot and does not do much to quench your thirst.
You should still purify ice or snow after it has melted, but only as long as it isn’t brown, yellow or black in color. Adding snow to a hot pot and melting it will make for an awful taste.
Filtering & Digging for Clean Water
You can also try to retrieve clean water from mud, dry river beds or any other kinds of low lying terrain.
One thing that I haven’t particularly tried but have heard numerous times about is creating a swamp well which is done by digging up a hole and then trying to shore it up back from the shoreline.
The main concept behind this procedure is trying to find bodies of clean water underground which are usually present in excess around other large bodies of water like oceans or seas.
However, while all of the aforementioned ways of looking for clean water are very useful, sometimes you are stuck with very limited options and the only thing that you can do is look for possible purification methods that can help you.
Also, it is never a good idea to plan a risky trip in water scarce areas, because if you get lost, your survival instincts will be the only thing that can help you stay alive.
The best way to purify water is through boiling, and it is also the easiest.
All you need is a little bit of equipment along with a camp stove or a campfire.
You should try to bring the water you have to a full boil until you have rolling bubbles as the pot simmers over high heat, and make sure that you let those bubbles roll for at least five minutes to ensure maximum purification.
Then cool it down and drink up!
Purification Pumps or Filtration
When you make a visit to a camping supplies store, you will find a number of different kinds of filters and purifying pumps that actually enables you to clean water almost instantly.
This can easily be done by squeezing water though charcoal or ceramic filters, after which it is treated with chemicals to become safe for drinking.
There are a variety of hi-tech water bottles available that have this process built in as mechanism, so that water can be purified without being pumped from bottle to bottle.
The purification takes place as you suck the water into your mouth through the head of the water bottle.
Tablets & Drops for Purification
This is a very inexpensive and simple procedure, but the water extracted through this method will not necessarily be the best in taste.
The easiest way of purifying any kind of wild water is simply by dissolving purification drops or tablets in it and then waiting for a few minutes.
You can either use Iodine, which is more common, but potassium permanganate and chlorine can also be highly effective.
You should let the water be for at least 20 minutes after adding these chemicals before you can think of consuming it, and if the taste is unpleasant, use powdered fruit juice mixes to mask the taste.
Survival Gear; 10 Must Have Items to Survive When SHTF
Whether you have a family or are an individual, there are certain things that are crucial to your survival in the event of a local, national, or worldwide calamity. You will need to provide food, water and shelter; those are the big three you will need for you and your family to survive.
Any creature comfort-related items beyond that won’t be absolutely necessary in an emergency. If you have the ability and resources to satisfy additional needs and desires, that is fine, but the primary three needs are what will help you survive and what deserve your focus.
The following list of basic items should be included in your survival kit, or bug out bag.
This item should be of substantial size to accommodate cutting or chopping down trees for cooking, warmth, and possibly even shelter requirements.
Some survival knives even have tools in the handle, things like: compass, string saw, light fishing tackle and even a small sewing kit.
A multi-purpose tool has a number of elements that go beyond simple cutting, making the multi-purpose tool an exceptional item to have.
The additional tools can be used for animal skinning and constructing or maintaining a functional shelter.
Fresh water may be contaminated; that will require purifying or desalinating water to satisfy hydration needs.
It is highly recommended that your survival kit includes several.
Matches are fine, but they can be easily ruined by water or even humidity and mildew. It is best to go with what is called a permanent match, or a flint or magnesium rod.
In the eventuality that you do not have any tinder or paper, cotton balls soaked with petroleum jelly will work exceptionally well.
There are far too many practical, helpful uses for duct tape to list here.
There are entire websites devoted to the use of duct tape for a vast array of uses. Include as much duct tape in your survival kit as you possibly can; you will not regret it.
Include basics like band aids, material for tourniquets, eye pads and cloth compresses, safety pins, thermometer, compass, antibiotics and painkillers.
A double-zippered plastic bag is one option to consider.
Para-cord is the cord that keeps parachutists safely attached to their parachutes when jumping.
FYI – paracord doesn’t work as a suitable replacement for climbing rope, however in an emergency situation it may be a last resort that you can use while still keeping your bug out bag light enough to carry. If you have extra room, we highly recommend adding climbing rope if you absolutely believe you’ll need it.
If you have enough room for a fishing rod and reel, that’s great. However, only the basics are really necessary: lures, fish eggs, and fishing line will work.
If you can dig up worms with a flat stone, or even your axe or knife, that will help too. Grubs, caterpillars and other bugs also make great bait.
In addition to being good as rain gear, a poncho can also be used for shelter and even for warmth if necessary.
It can also be used as an over-the-shoulder bag for carrying stuff, or it can be used to construct a travois, or litter, to carry wood, supplies, or an injured person.
A reliable, compact LED flashlight is indispensable for the purposes discussed here.
If you’ve ever prepared for an extreme expedition — scaling one of the Seven Summits or traipsing the wilds of the Amazon — then you know that things will go wrong all of the time.
A courageous adventure into the wild means that you have to be prepared to face the challenges and the obstacles that come from being in a remote part of the world without the conveniences of the modern world.
That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead as much as you can and to anticipate the mishaps that could occur.
I’ve been through enough situations out in the wilderness to know that if something is going to wrong, it probably will.
Sometimes you can’t change the fact that danger or extreme conditions are ahead.
What you can do is prepare for the worst and be happy you can survive with the very best of them when the situation presents itself.
If you are ready to prepare for your adventure of a lifetime, then follow my guide listing the “Top 10 Survival Gear Mistakes To Avoid.”
When you find yourself lost in the Arctic tundra, you’ll be happy you packed the right gear to get you through the night and into the next day of trekking.
This guide will get you there, so let’s get started with these tips to avoid disaster with your gear!
The first mistake many novice trekkers make when they are planning their first expedition is to not fully think through their emergency plan.
You can mitigate disaster simply by having the right gear to get you out of a terrible situation.
That means purchasing a Personal Beacon Locator (PBL), a small battery-operate device that you can activate with the push of a button.
It communicates with global satellites, and let’s emergency responders know where to find you. Hopefully nothing will go wrong.
But if it does, your PBL will get you out of a hairy situation.
Don’t skimp on the rain gear. It’s going to rain most locales you go — at some point.
It’s better to have a weather-resistant outer layer, a rain jacket, rain pants and weather-resistant boots packed in your backpack for the times when the thunderstorms wreak havoc on your campsite.
You don’t want to be wet and cold.
You can get hypothermia, and at the very least, you’ll be miserable.
It takes a long time for drenched camping clothes to dry out — especially if it is damp for several days.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is fail to pack too little food. You need food to keep up your energy.
There are resourceful ways you can pack high-energy food that does not take up a lot of room and that is lightweight.
For example, pack a mix of energy bars, trail mix, dried fruit, vitamins and dehydrated food that comes alive when boiled.
If you are going to overpack anything, then overpacking lightweight food that is high in energy and protein is always Okay.
Invest in water bottles and water filtration systems. You can’t rely on just one water bottle.
Pack at least two traditional water bottles — some have built-in purification systems. Also consider a water pack that you can wear on your back.
It has tubes that you can use to drink water as you walk.
Finally, have a backup supply of water purification tablets or a water purification wand that literally can turn dirty freshwater into clean drinking water.
Another big mistake you can make with your gear is to fail to pack the clothing and gear that will keep you warm.
That means everything from a sub-zero sleeping bag that helps to regulate your body temperature, to warm wool socks, to hand and toe warmers for emergency situations.
Always prepare for the onslaught of a chilly night.
You don’t want to risk hypothermia or frostbite — especially if you are out on the trail all alone.
Prepare ahead to stay warm.
Don’t leave home with without several gadgets and tools that can give you light in the midst of darkness.
For example, consider packing a headlamp, a solar-powered lantern, a batch of strike-anywhere matches, a lighter, and a battery-operated heater.
You’ll want to be able to light a fire and see what you are doing no matter what the conditions are.
Sometimes you will find yourself at a rainy campsite and you won’t be able to start a blazing fire.
That’s where your mini, battery-operated heater will come in handy.
You’ll also be loving your situation when you can just flip on your handy headlamp to read, prepare dinner in the darkness, set up your tent, and do a myriad other activities that require more hands than you have to spare.
It’s likely that at some point you will get lost.
Two of the most economical and important gear items you can pack is a compass and a set up maps.
Compasses are lightweight and crucial. They can always get you back on the right track. Paper maps are easy to pack and to pull out — just make sure you are protecting them.
Either buy foldable plastic ones that cannot get damaged by water, or pack your paper maps in a plastic baggie.
You may not think of it at first, but packing some simple items like duct tape, rope, a hunting knife and a small toolkit with a hammer, nails and fish hooks will be helpful to you when your gear ruptures or breaks.
There is nothing worse than to get to your campsite only to find a raccoon ate through part of your sleeping bag.
Patch up that hole with duct tape! Find that your tent is swaying in a gusty wind? Secure it with a length of rope.
You may think it’s trivial at first, but it’s really important to make sure a personal memento is on your gear list.
When you get lonely out in the woods or when you face a real disaster that forces you to consider whether you are willing to fight for your life, your personal memento (photos of loved ones, a sentimental item, a love letter) will motivate you to continue working hard to get out of your current situation.
Many people have endured extreme conditions by the sheer motivation of a photo that reminds them that love is worth fighting for — so don’t forget the memento.
It may have more power than you think in the long run.
Now that I’ve given you a list of gear mistakes to avoid and told you the top things you need to pack, I want to remind you that there is something as packing too much.
One novice mistake is to overpack your gear.
Sometimes it takes more than one go-around to get the right mix of gear and to get your pack to feel manageable. Remember that it is going to be on your back and you have to carry it for hours at a time for many days. So choose your gear wisely.
Are you someone with a sense of adventure?
Do you plan trips that are a far cry from a day at the beach?
If you are an adventurer who likes to get lost in the wild, then it’s extremely important to pack the right gear so that you are protected and safe throughout your journey.
Preparing to survive in remote locales can be an expensive undertaking, but there are a few simple tweaks you can make to your current supply of survival gear that will improve the efficiency of your gear and that will help you out in times of distress.
No hiker or adventurer wants to get to the end of an arduous day only to find that her firewood is too damp to light or that his water is undrinkable.
Those are just a few of the common mishaps that occur for many adventurers.
Follow our guide of the top 10 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Survival Gear, and you’ll be on your way to staying safe, happy and warm on your next trip. Here’s what to do:
It’s easy to get lost when you are navigating unfamiliar territory, and that’s why it’s important to keep tabs on your steps.
With each step you take, you should be noting your surroundings.
Mark landmarks in your mind and via your watch so that you have an idea of how long you have been trekking.
If you don’t have a compass, buy one.
Carry maps with you and place them in resealable plastic bags to help keep them readable even if they get wet.
Every adventurer has turned into a scavenger at some point in his or her journey.
It’s inevitable if you are a thrill-seeking adventurer because you will end up off the beaten path somewhere far from a river where you can fish or in a rain-soaked countryside where there is no chance of starting a fire to cook a hot meal from your provisions pack.
That’s where it can really help to know the kinds of plants you can find and eat in the forest.
Of course, not all forest plants and fungi are edible.
Some, in fact, can be the end of you, and that’s why you should educate yourself now. So make sure you pack a lightweight booklet that identifies forest plants and fungi that are safe to eat.
You can use these plants and fungi as a backup when you aren’t able to cook on an open fire or when you run out of your emergency supply of energy bars.
Water is the most important item you can have on an adventure.
You need to be drinking at least eight glasses a day — and even more when you are venturing into the wilds of the world.
Without proper hydration, you are likely to get sick and dehydrated — and who knows if someone will find you on your trail. Protect your water supply by investing in packs of water purification tablets or a purification wand.
You want to be able to take any freshwater water source and make it safe to drink. It’s that important, so grab a packet of those tabs and slip them into your pack.
It’s likely that you will encounter a campsite that recently has been doused with a good amount of rain.
At that point, you aren’t going to get wood to burn at all.
So make sure you’ve packed some strike-anywhere matches and a small batch of dry kindling. It may not produce a huge fire, but it will produce enough warmth to help you dry off a little.
If you don’t have waterproof shoes and you don’t want to invest in them at this time, then at least purchase a waterproofing spray.
This will give your boots a weather-resistant coating.
Your feet are going to be happy at the end of the day if you are traveling through rain-soaked countryside.
Adventurers who are trying to survive in extreme temperatures really do need to invest in the proper sub-zero clothing, tents and sleeping bags.
But if you are traveling in cold temperatures that are above zero, make sure you’ve got several packets of hand and toe warmers in your pack.
These packs are very convenient.
Usually you just shake them and them insert them into your shoes and gloves. Many packs provide a good amount of heat for at least four or more hours.
That’s enough to get you through at least half a night of sleep, and it will make a daytime trek all the more comfortable and enjoyable.
After every trip, make sure to pull out your first aid kit and refill the items you used.
A good rule of thumb for a first aid kit is that it have basic items for sanitizing and bandaging small scrapes and wounds and it also have some supplies for triaging a freak accident.
Brush up on your emergency triage skills and carry a small booklet of emergency medicine instructions with you.
It’s always better to be prepared with the right items in case something goes terribly wrong while you are on your trip.
Before heading back on the trail, make sure you have replaced all of the batteries in your battery-operated gear. Some of those gadgets might include a headlamp, a flashlight, your Personal Beacon Locator (PBL), a handheld radio, your electric toothbrush and so on.
Carry extra batteries with you, as some of these gadgets you will be using for many hours a night. In addition, consider upgrading some of your gadgets to solar-powered ones.
A headlamp, for example, can get powered up for the night if you are walking around with it on your head during the day.
You’ll be green and efficient at the same time.
If you travel alone, you know how lonely it can get out there.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a memento or personal item that reminds you of the people you care about and love.
If, for any reason, you find yourself fighting to survive out in the wild, a memento has the powerful psychological effect of motivating you to keep fighting and to try to continue to live.
This may sound morbid, but psychiatrists have proven that a personal connection to the world is perhaps the most motivating factor in willing someone not to give up in the midst of excruciatingly painful circumstances.
Finally, make sure you are prepared for the unexpected. Put together an odds-and-ends kit that is complete with things like a hunting knife, rope duct tape, safety pins, carabiners, and other small tools and supplies that might make the difference in a situation in which your gear malfunctions.
For example, if there is a sudden rip in your tent, then duct tape could be a temporary fix to at least keep the inside of your tent dry.
There are many different uses for odd-and-ends supplies, and your job simply is to have them available when the occasion rises for them.