Survival situations are highly unfortunate twists of fate that just about anyone can fall into: be it a day hiker, an earthquake victim, or a serious nature enthusiast, everyone is equally prone to life threatening situations. While many people are aware of basic first aid, self defense, and even distress-signaling popularized by stranded-on-an-island movies, there are some interesting tips and tricks that are easy to understand and remember which would help you survive in potentially life threatening circumstances. Here I will present a selection of tips for various possible situations, and maybe someday one of these will save your life!
Water, of course, is one of the most obvious and most urgent needs in a survival situation. It is surprising how many people in such circumstances wouldn’t know what to do if they could not find a pretty little brook bubbling along for them. Well, did you know that you can actually survive on the water usually lost by plants everyday? Transpiration from plants can be collected by tying a plastic bag around a leafy shrub or tree branch, and leaving it for a few daylight hours. Enough water will gather in it to at least keep you alive, although it will probably taste like the plant it came from! Water can be obtained even if you are stranded at sea. Old sea ice can be melted to release water very low in salinity, although fresh ice is extremely salty. You can recognize old ice by its bluish tint, while fresh ice is cloudy white or grey.
When you do manage to deal with your immediate physical needs, your concern will be to get out of that situation as soon as possible. For this, you need to know signaling techniques. Many people realize the need for a signal fire to attract the attention of low flying planes or military aircraft; few know how to make the fire most effective. For this, you need to ensure that the smoke from the fire contrasts with the surroundings. For example, in a green jungle, you can add some green vegetation to your fire to make it give white smoke. Against snow, you can burn a tire from your car to raise a long column of black smoke.
One easy, sure-fire way to attract attention would be to improvise a bright, long tailed kite. If a pilot, flying his plane over apparently uninhabited wilderness, catches sight of a bright kite flying merrily about, he would be sure to realize that someone may be in very big trouble down there. Low flying plane pilots are usually trained to spot these things, so you would not go unnoticed.
In order to escape, you will need to travel at least some distance. One problem for people traveling in the wilderness is in marking the passage of time. You can actually make a rough estimate of how many daylight hours are left using this method. Extend your arm towards the sun and bend your wrist inward. Now hold out your fingers and place them immediately below the sun. The number of fingers between the sun and the horizon can show the time left before sunset, with each finger representing fifteen minutes.
However, if you are lucky and have an analogue watch, you can do much more than count the hours. By pointing the hour hand at the sun and then drawing an imaginary line that bisects the angle between the hour hand and the number 12, you can tell which direction is the north south axis. The angle bisector is a rough representation of this line.
Survival is no joke, and none of these situations are pleasant little adventures. However, since you may at anytime land in such a situation, it is best to read some survival tricks now and then, for they are easier to remember than in depth survival information, although that is certainly worth your time too.