DIY Man Vs Wild: Complete Wilderness Survival Guide

Synopsis for Surviving in the Wild areas

Survival in wild areas.  Stranded;  staying alive:  When you travel in the wild area, whether on foot or propelled by motor, be prepared with three essentials for survival...food, water, and protection from the elements.  Carry a kit that includes waterproof matches, emergency rations, a signal mirror, a whistle, a pocket or boot knife, first-aid supplies, flash light, water-purification tablets, compass, a survival information pamphlet, and 25 feet of light line for securing a lean-to. 

A lean-to is an easy overnight shelter to build in a wooded area.  All you need to carry are 25 feet of light line and an 8 x 10 foot plastic tarp or drop cloth, equipped with tie lines or grommets.  Look for two trees 3 to 4 feet apart to serve as upright supports.  Then find three straight poles for the framework...two 7 or 8 feet long, and the other about 1 foot longer than the distance between the two trees.  If you must cut saplings for these poles, choose young birches, poplars, or aspens that grow close to larger trees; they will soon be shaded out anyway.  Lash the pole to the windward side of the two trees 2 feet from the ground if the shelter is just for sleeping; 3 or 4 feet if you plan to sit up and cook.  Rest the ends of the long poles on the crossbar so that the lean-to's open side will face leeward (down-wind), and lash them in place.  Stretch the tarp over this framework and lash it to the crossbar.  Fashion pegs from sticks to hold down the edges; then pile dirt to seal out the wind. 

In an emergency, you can make a lean-to that is almost as weatherproof by covering the framework with slender branches and evergreen boughs.  Or find an evergreen tree with a low branch, and lean evergreen boughs against it.  In Winter, pack snow over the boughs for insulation.  In Winter, add a mylar "space blanket" (it can double as a light tarp), a closed-cell foam pad, a collapsible snow shovel, a stove, and fuel. 

Choosing a camp stove is simple once you recognize that your basic choice is between the high-heat output of a gasoline stove and the easy operation of a stove fueled by canisters of pressurized propane or butane.  Each has advantages and disadvantages.  If you camp in chilly weather, the gasoline stove will heat water quicker than the propane or butane stove; in fact, butane won't work below 32 degrees F.  But you get that performance at the cost of fussier operation.  Most gasoline stoves require refueling (use only special cook-stove fuel), pressurizing, and preheating before they are ready to cook.  Repairs and maintenance must be done on a cold stove, and the fuel tank should be de-pressurized and emptied before removing any of the unit's elements. 

The generator tube can get plugged with carbon; to prevent this, clean it before each outing by blowing it out with compressed air.  If your stranded:  Your chances of being rescued are best if you stay where you are.  Keep calm; signal for help.  If you're in distress in the wilderness during the day , signal with sounds (gun, whistle, tin pans), in series of three, each followed by a brief silence.  Continue until someone responds.  In areas where a sound's effect might be limited (a valley or heavily wooded area), use visuals. 

Build a fire with fuel that will burn slowly and send up a thick, steady column of white smoke; use hardwood, leaves, moss, and ferns.  Before igniting the pile, clear the ground around it.  Stack the pile so that the signal will have a long life.  When rescue comes, extinguish the fire completely, (remain in the area for at least 30 minutes, to insure the fire doesn't re-ignite). 

If there are aircraft in the area, flash a mirror, a shiny metal object, or glass.  Draw attention to yourself by spreading bright-colored clothing on the ground.  If you are on a large expanse of snow, tramp out the words HELP or SOS 30 feet high with a 10 foot space between each letter. 

At night use a flashlight to signal SOS (3 short flashes, 3 long ones, 3 short ones), to an airplane.  Knowing international Morse code will enable you to relay and receive detailed messages.  Carry a copy of it with you.  On water:  Maritime distress signals include red flares, an orange smoke signal, a signal mirror, an upside-down national flag, and continuous foghorn blasts.  Announce "Mayday" (m'aider, French for "help me"), on radiotelephone channel 16 (156.8 MHz), the VHF-FM distress, safety, and calling frequency. 

On the highway: tie a white cloth to your vehicles antenna or door handle and raise the hood.  In any situation, stay calm and conserve your energy while you await help.  Strike out on your own only after carefully considering the weather, your physical limits, and the probable distance to help.  (also to keep in mind your abilities to navigate the terrain).  If you have to spend a night out, find shelter or build a lean-to or snow trench; wait for morning or for better conditions.  Build a fire and sit between it and a rock or wind shelter.  To preserve body warmth, stuff dry, fibrous material (leaves, pine needles), between layers of clothing, wiggle your toes & fingers.  Dessert survival:  To prevent heatstroke, travel at dawn or at night;  rest in the shade during the day.  Above all, conserve water.  If you run out of it, dig in damp sand (water may seep in), or dig up to 6 feet deep in the lowest point between dunes;  if the hole dampens, dig deeper until you strike water.  Reed-like desert grass may indicate nearby water.    COMING SOON... Campfires; Kids; & Compasses...  TY

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