Eight Common Pitfalls of Outdoor Survival
Whether you are a seasoned veteran when it comes to bushcraft or dabbling in it for the first time, there are a number of fundamental skills that should be in the armoury of any bushman. Should you find yourself in an outdoor survival situation, you will be reliant to a large extent on the natural resources around you. Yes you are likely to have equipment that will help you to make the most of what you find, but these will count for nothing if you do not have the requisite knowledge or skills.
The following list accounts for the eight most common mistakes associated with outdoor survival. Knowledge in these areas and preparing yourself properly by ensuring you have the right equipment is absolutely vital:
1. No shelter
The first rule of survival is staying dry, so making a mistake here could be fatal. The mistake could be embarking on your journey without a proper shelter. This can be remedied if you have the knowledge to build a shelter from the natural resources at your disposal. Not having either of these things would be catastrophic in any outdoor survival situation and in all probability would lead to the onset of exposure through hypothermia or heatstroke.
2. The wrong clothes
Having the wrong clothes or insufficient appropriate clothing could have fatal consequences because of the threat posed by hypothermia. As a rule you should always dress one layer warmer than you need. Extra layers can always be removed and stored for later use, but layers that are left behind are useless. Pack clothes that retain their warmth even after they become wet, something that cotton does not. A shell jacket and pants are advisable for minimising exposure to the cold arising from rain and snow.
3. Getting drinkable water
The human body does not last long without water, so the dangers of not finding a drinkable source of it are obvious. Knowing whether water is safe to drink is important as is the ability to collect and purify water if required. Learning the methods and being prepared for all eventualities is essential.
Not knowing how to make fire and maintain it is unthinkable in any survival situation. Together with water, it is your most precious resource and has many life-saving uses. Not only is it a source of warmth, but a strong fire also offers protection against predators. It is also a vital tool for signalling to others the location of your whereabouts and acts as a purifier by enabling you to boil water so that it is safe for drinking. Retain the ability to make fire in a number of ways and learn how to make it using two sticks.
5. Lack of navigation tools
Venturing into the bush without a map, compass, and GPS is a recipe for disaster. The ease with which you can become disorientated in thick vegetation means that good navigational devices are essential. Having a back-up method is advisable in the event of one of them failing, as is an understanding of being able to find your way using the position of the Sun and stars.
6. Poor knowledge
Poor knowledge in survival situations can be attributed to most, if not all of the mistakes that are made. Being prepared is not only about embarking on an expedition with the right equipment; it is about having knowledge of the most fundamental survival skills. Sadly, most people do not possess these.
7. Miscalculating the risk
Most survival situations do not start off that way. They normally arise when a something goes badly wrong, so being prepared for the unexpected is vital. Plan your trip carefully; taking into account all risks no matter how small they may appear.
8. No signal plan
The ability to signal for help is a fundamental skill in survival situations. Not knowing how to draw attention to yourself or give an indication to a search party as to your whereabouts could be the difference between life and death. Make sure you have devices for attracting attention, such as a whistle and torch, but have an understanding of how to create emergency signals using natural resources as well.
Greenman Bushcraft has a wide range of outdoor survival accessories that can help you to avoid these common mistakes. Make sure your knowledge is not wasted with substandard equipment.