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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.
Photo Source: Rick McCharles Flickr
Becoming more knowledgeable about preppers and their lifestyle will reveal how beneficial they are to society as a whole.
They focus on an individual lifestyle and fight for everyone’s freedom. Freedom to preppers includes freedom from government dependence, so they keep resources available to them to ensure they can be self-sustainable.
This way of life was normal, and even necessary for survival, only a few generations ago, yet modern thinking has shunned the entire notion of it.
A true prepper is an independent, free-thinking, innovative individual who devotes a good amount of time to stocking resources and acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to be self-sustainable.
They conserve resources and wealth in contrast to most modern people today.
Most importantly, they highlight valid arguments against the seemingly invincible modern way of life.
They have built an entire lifestyle revolving around having a stock of all necessary resources. If you are in need of some necessary or basic resource, then it is very likely your prepper friend already has the item.
Even in times of non-emergency having resources handy can be extremely helpful. For example, if a low-key storm happens to knock your power out then a prepper will likely have a generator or some strategy for continuing on with the day.
If you need a particular ingredient for dinner, there will be no trip to the store for that one item. Instead, it is probably already in your prepper’s stock room.
Preppers value a wide range of skills from planting gardens to building houses.
A good prepper has a strong knowledge base encompassing various skills that are useful in everyday life. From preparing meals from scratch to knowing the best fishing spots, the information a prepper acquires will prove to be helpful in the most unexpected ways.
Preppers are great partners because they are experts at cutting costs and reducing waste. Prepping strategy involves buying in bulk which will save money and leave you with plenty of spare resources.
Learning valuable skills, such as growing your own food or general car maintenance will also help reduce costs. By cutting wasteful spending and focusing on the future, you will have more money to save, invest, and prepare.
The prepping that is done to protect from an apocalypse situation can also be just the thing that helps you pull through losing your job, the death of a loved one, or unexpected major medical expenses.
These situations are extremely common and you should most certainly expect to deal with at least one of these challenges during your lifetime.
Despite how likely we are to experience these events, most people fail to prepare for these events and have extreme difficulty recovering financially. Having plans and resources available will help you through.
Most techniques that preppers use were actually historically necessary to survive not too long ago.
For example, in your grandmother’s early adulthood, she probably canned food for the winter, had guns in the house for protection, and may have even had a garden to help provide food.
Only a few generations ago people were much more independent and realistic about their needs. Back then it was not considered prepping, but living. Without planning for the future, you were doomed to fail.
The Democratic Party usually argues for social freedoms, whereas Republicans promote economic freedom. Survivalists and preppers fight for all around freedom.
This group has been ostracized by the media and government and labeled as outcasts, doom-seekers, and even domestic terrorists. They strive for less government dependence and have viewpoints more in line with our founding fathers versus the modern socialistic trend.
Obviously a preppers main goal is to prepare themselves for survival in the event of some catastrophe.
They make plans, store up stock, gather resources, and ensure their safety during any kind of natural disaster, economic collapse, or even total societal meltdown. Though it is much wiser to prepare for yourself, if some emergency does happen then you will know right where to turn.
Even if you yourself don’t have an emergency kit or supplies, having survivalists in your community greatly increases your chances of survival in a disaster situation.
The more preppers you have in your community the more likely your area can survive any disaster or economic collapse. Together a group of preppers provide the area with a variety of imperative survival skills, stocked resources for immediate needs, and of course the ingenuity needed to rebuild.
A skilled prepper has all of the necessary resources he needs to survive on his own, independent of any external situation. They have learned to become problem-solvers, innovative, and most importantly, self-reliant.
They generally live their lives without the desire or need to be told what to do, and love the individualism within others as well. They tend to favor freedom, socially and economically, and are rarely swayed by twisted politics.
Preppers and survivalists alike have the knowledge of what it really takes to survive in a completely different world.
Today’s modern human does not take into consideration how convenient and easy meeting our basic needs has become. Preppers, on the other hand, tend to appreciate resources, hard work, and luxury much more than the average person.
They generally shy away from the excessive consumption and waste culture we have created today. A person with a greater appreciation for everything in life is generally a happier person.
Preppers have been portrayed by the main media and government as loners and crazy doomsday-seekers, but they couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are numerous advantages that preppers provide to not only their community but also to the nation as a whole for fighting for our freedoms and independent lifestyles. There are countless ways you will fall in love with a prepper, these ten just top the list!
We like to make sure our families and homes are prepared for the unexpected. We have shelves stocked with disaster-preparedness items: bottled water, canned goods, flashlights and batteries.
Our family members know a safe meeting spot—the basement or a hallway, maybe— to gather in case of emergency. Being ready feels great. The only problem is, we aren’t always home.
While it might not be practical to spend every possible moment in the safety of our houses, we do have a practical alternative.
One of the best ways we can stay prepared for the unexpected is by keeping a smart stash of survival gear in an everyday carry pack. That way, we will be ready for almost anything no matter where we are.
Many options of bags are available, from army-style backpacks to sleek messenger-style bags. Once you have your pack, optimize its usefulness with the following suggestions.
Without hydration, our bodies shut down quickly. Always keep a reusable water bottle with fresh water in your daypack. A stainless steel canteen or thermos is your best bet, as metal is durable and holds up well despite extreme temperatures. It could also help you with cooking needs.
Pack water purification tablets so you can create more drinkable water when necessary. Consider iodine tablets or chlorine dioxide tablets. Beyond water, all living things also need a small amount of salt to stay hydrated.
Quench your body’s thirst completely by filling a re-sealable, waterproof plastic bag with electrolyte powder. This can be dissolved in drinkable water, and when your supply has been exhausted you can find a new use for the bag.
Hydration, sleep, and sustenance are our top three biological needs. Be prepared with several nutrient-rich, high-calorie meal bars. Also pack some lightweight dehydrated meals, which are optimally consumed with the addition of a small amount of water.
Be ready to find and prepare more food, if necessary. Always carry a small, metal cooking pan with a folding arm. Food can be cooked in it and eaten out of it.
Also invest in a set of metal utensils—again, they can be used for both cooking and eating. Keep a small book with an abbreviated list of edible plants found in local woods.
Small wounds can turn into serious infections, if not treated properly. Pack a re-sealable, waterproof plastic bag with medical supplies.
This should include cloth squares of several sizes. Large pieces can be used as slings or tourniquets, in the case of injury. Small pieces can be used on wounds in place of gauze, and later sterilized in boiling water for re-use.
Pack several individually wrapped alcohol-soaked toilettes that can be used to disinfect cuts. Also pack band-aids, athletic tape, cotton swabs, and cotton balls. A small tub of petroleum jelly is very helpful for treating chapped or damaged skin.
Not knowing where you are can be disorienting. Keep maps of local and surrounding areas in your daypack. Pack maps in a re-sealable, waterproof plastic bag.
Also keep a sturdy compass, and make sure you know how to use it properly.
It can be difficult to know exactly what types of situations you might find yourself in. But a few survival supplies have proven themselves to be so useful that it makes sense to keep them on-hand. Rope can be used for securing branches together when building shelter, or hanging damp clothes up to dry.
Duct tape can be used to patch up damaged supplies, or cut and folded to create new items. A multi-purpose knife can help harvest wild edible plants, carve wood, and tear fabric if necessary. Pack all items in re-sealable plastic bags.
Exposure to the elements can be dangerous to your health. Stay warm and dry by allowing yourself to build a fire anytime, using waterproof strike-anywhere matches.
Keep a super-lightweight emergency thermal blanket in your daypack to help stay warm. Also keep a solar-powered headlamp in your supply kit.
Headlamps are extremely convenient, as they allow you to see and freely use both hands in the dark. A headlamp equipped with solar panels will stay lit for seven hours.
You will often benefit from recording or swapping information with others. Make this possible by stocking your daypack with a leather-bound journal and waterproof pen.
Pack a whistle in case you ever need to sound a distress signal, and memorize SOS. A mirror can also be used to make signals, help you maintain personal hygiene, treat wounds, and stay sane if isolated.
Poor personal hygiene can lead to poor health. Illness is the last thing you need in a survival situation.
Be prepared with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and multi-purpose biodegradable soap. Use the soap for your face and body, hair, clothing, and cookware.
Keep a tiny, travel-sized sewing kit in your daypack. Make sure you have a basic understanding of how to use a needle and thread to repair clothing.
Pack a lightweight waterproof outer layer. Staying dry in inclement weather will help you maintain a healthy body temperature.
Also pack an insulating thermal layer, hat, and gloves, which may be needed to stave off cold weather. Pack extra wool socks to keep feet dry.
Wool is an excellent survival material as it is durable, dries quickly, and repels moisture.
Psychological research has shown how important it is for us to feel a sense of love and belonging.
Feeling connected with others not only tethers us to reality—it often gives us reason to live. Help yourself through the most unexpected and unwanted of times by keeping a personal memento or two in your daypack.
Someday, a special photograph or trinket might be just what you need to keep on pushing forward.
You find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere with the sun setting fast.
It’s too late to try to find your way back to civilization, and you only have about an hour of good sunlight left to seek shelter and protect yourself from the chill that is coming.
Luckily, you know the six most important survival skills that every person must master.
By thinking quickly and putting your skills to good use, you can find a suitable location, build a shelter and protect yourself from the elements.
Survival training protects you in the event that you find yourself battling the elements. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself in a situation where you need to call upon this training.
However, knowing how to protect yourself can mean the difference between life and death if you do get stuck in the wilderness.
You may not have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a place to set up your camp. Look for a location that is high, and avoid paths and valleys that make it easy for water to flow directly toward you.
Look at the area around you and make sure there aren’t any dead branches hanging above you that might fall during the night. When possible, look for an area close to running water and against a rock face to help protect you from the elements.
The best shelters are made from natural elements. Look for a downed tree that is firmly secured by rocks or other trees. Cover the tree with any debris you can find like moss, leaves and branches.
Finally, cover the inside of the lean-to with debris to help insulate you from the ground.
No survival training course would be complete with instruction on how to build a fire.
Building a fire requires tinder and kindling ranging in size from a toothpick to a pencil. Place a large log as the base and then add your tinder. Tinder consists of fibrous material that tends to burn easily and quickly.
Look for dry brush, leaves or shred branches to create your tinder. Light the tinder and then start stacking the smaller pieces of kindling. Gradually add larger pieces of kindling in the shape of a lean-to.
This allows air to flow through and fuel your fire. Once the fire gets big enough, add additional logs to the fire. If the logs are damp, keep them close to the fire to dry them out and make it easier to keep your fire going strong. A fire can act as a signal for help and protect you from the cold.
Ever wondered why cats tap water with their paw before they drink it?
It’s a behavior that stems from a knowledge that stagnant water is not safe to drink. Running water is your best option for clean water.
Avoid anything that has been standing for a long time, such as water you might find in puddles. The best option is to boil your water, but that isn’t always possible.
Rain, snow and dew are also fairly safe options for water. If there is a waterfall or a river with water that cascades over rocks, that source should be your second option.
You can filter the water by taking some clean clothing, soaking the water in the clothing and then wringing it out. Maples trees and cacti contain good sources of water if you cut a hole and let the water drain out. Water can also be squeezed from vines and thistles.
Finally, consider filtering the water yourself if you have good sunlight. Find a leafy branch and tie a plastic bag around the leaf, come back later in the day and drink the condensation that formed on the inside of the bag.
One of the biggest mistakes people in a survival situation make is trying to hunt big game. In a survival situation, you need to conserve your calories and the time and energy required to hunt, cook and prepare game might overextend you.
Plus, if you fail to find food or can’t cook it correctly, you’ve just wasted a day’s worth of energy. Look for easy to catch and find foods like edible plants.
Additionally, you can catch small game like fish, frogs and even lizards. Just make sure to cook anything you catch properly. This is where good survival training becomes important.
Being able to identify the plans that can kill you from those that are safe to eat is crucial to surviving. Memorize the plants common to the area you frequent most often. Safe plants common to many areas include cattail, dandelions and wild spinach.
If you are injured, you won’t have time to find your way home.
You need to send out a signal for others to find you. In fact, sending up a signal is a good idea even if you aren’t injured. Each day, find time to create a signal so that any planes overhead or search parties can find you more easily.
Use a signal fire on top of a clearing or hilltop. Create large amounts of smoke by piling on green branches, pine boughs and other green plants.
If you have a mirror, cell phone screen or any other reflective surface and use it to reflect the light from the sun. A reflective signal can often be seen for miles at day or night and is far more effective than a flashlight.
While surviving, you also need to make progress towards civilization. If you’re lost and you don’t have GPS, you can use your environment to ensure you don’t go in circles.
If you’re on a mountain, choose a direction and head down. Follow any streams or lakes when possible, since these natural flow along the line of least resistance and will lead you to the mountain’s base.
If there is no sun, then look for moss on trees. Moss doesn’t grow exclusively on the north side of a tree, but it does grow the most on the north side. This only applies to the northern hemisphere. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, it’s the reverse.
If you find a trail, road or any other indication of civilization, stay on the trail. The important thing is to make a decision on a direction and stick with that choice. Create large markers every 500 feet. This way, if a search party is looking for you they can follow your trail markers.