I have read several articals and watched several documentaries and movies about normal people going hiking, flying or whatever and finding themselves lost or crashed and dying out there or barely being able to survive. Most died from the cold – and most were non-smokers, an interesting point which I will elucidate on later. To me, watching the films, in most I could find ways in which the people could have either lived or made things easier for themselves and I’m not a SURVIVALIST.
I was a Boy Scout. I smoke. I camp and, having grown up through the cold war, especially the 60s, learned much about emergency survival.
If you were a hiker, taking the usual hiking stuff and got lost in the COLD north woods, could you survive several days until found?
I could. One of the major things which has killed lost hikers or hunters (aside from hunters getting drunk and shooting each other) has been not smoking. Why? Smokers ALWAYS carry a lighter or matches. Non-smokers do not. Even many hunters and campers, who stay overnight, often leave their matches or fire starters at camp.
Exposure to the cold kills many, and lack of fire deprives them of not only warmth but a way to signal others for scores of miles day or night, plus to protect them from animals and to cook any food they happen to catch. Non smokers out on a day treck would not think of packing matches, yet many day hikers and hunters have found themselves lost for days. Especially in the colder climates where hikers tackle snow covered mountains or ranges.
There is a little thing out called a survival blanket. It is so small that it will fit into your back pocket and costs about 5 bucks. Very few day treckers think to drop one into their geer or shove it in their pocket along with their wallet. It is plastic, reflective and seals in body warmth and protects one from rain. It is remarkably sturdy.
I have one and have never used it. When going out for the day or just a few hours away from people, fishing or exploring, it goes with me. Since I smoke, so does a lighter.
Can you get drinkable water where there is none? Yes. Snow or frost is obvious. Piled into a folded survivalk blanket, tilted slightly towards the fire you lit with your Bic, it melts and remains cupped in the plastic. The survival Blanket laid out along the ground at night catches the dew, which can be consumed. Then there is the solar still.
You dig a conical hole in the ground, place a container for water at the bottom - a cup, a ripped open beer can - plastic bottom of a bottle or even a cupped piece of the blanket. Line the sides with cactus, or any green vegitation, sliced or crunched up. Place part of the blanket over the hole, secure it in place with sand around the sides and drop a pebble in the center to form a sharp V. During the day, the sun will vaporise the water from the plants and it will drip into the container. Not much, but enough to keep one going.
I’ve always carried a pocket knife ever since I was a kid. Even one of those dinky keychain things can be invaluable if lost.
I also know how to gather brush in great masses to place on the ground as bedding and more to pile over me as a blanket. Used with the survival blanket, it works great!
You will not survive in great comfort and you can go a week or two without food, but you can provide yourself with water, heat, cover and light. Even without the survival blanket or knife, if you can make fire, you have a good chance. If you locate a water source, it is probably contaminated with bacteria. If you have a container you found or made, you can boil the water to sterilize it. (Water can be boiled in a paper cup in a fire. Even in a plastic bottle.)
Small, tin cups, folding or otherwise, designed for campers can be purchased for under $2.00 each. Most hikers carry a plastic water bottle, which, good ones, don’t toss away on the trail. That can be used to boil water.
Could you survive today if you got lost in the woods, stranded on an island (no, not the magnificent Gilligans Isle, which produced everything except serloin steaks), up in the hills, out in the dessert? Hikers and travlers who have died out there or almost lost their lives did not expect to ever get lost either.
The stupidist things I ever read about were hikers in cold, snow country getting lost and not one had any way to make a fire on them. (I’m not talking about those areas where there are no woods, like on mountains and so on, where even if they had matches, they could not find fuel.)
Could you survive until rescued? Do you carry a lighter in your pocket? A cheap pocket knife? Have you ever owned a survival blanket? Think it could never happen to you?
“Think of it as Evolution in action.”