P.S. Are you still on the fence? Don’t worry, the guys over at Infostack have incredible integrity and offer a 60-day refund guarantee. So, you’ll have plenty of time to go through all the info and decide later whether it’s ultimately wonderful or not (in my opinion, the deal most certainly is)…
But if you don’t grab it now, the deal is gone for good.
As a parent, ensuring your children are safe from harm is a top priority in life. While it’s important to educate and prepare yourself for emergencies or impeding danger, your kids may not always be with you and rely on your survival instincts. Would they have the knowledge and skills to get by on their own if they were faced with a dangerous situation in the wilderness? If the answer is no, then it’s in your children’s best interest to teach them some basic survival skills.
Even if you don’t already have a lot of knowledge about wilderness survival skills, that’s OK. This is the perfect opportunity to learn together and bond. On your next camping trip or hike, you can make the process fun for everyone by teaching and practicing together. Here are some of the best ways to educate your children about survival while involving the whole family.
Best Approaches to Teaching Survival to Kids
Involve and educate them: To keep your children interested in all the important survival information you’re teaching them, make sure to involve them in the entire process. You can let them help you create a survival kit as you explain what items are included along with their purpose. Educate your kids on the various environments they could face in the wild, and use engaging pictures or videos to support your points.
Answer their questions: Depending on the situation or environment, your children may need further explanation if they don’t understand a particular survival procedure. Be sure to leave time for their questions to create a dialogue that will help them feel more included and informed. You can even use this as an opportunity to let your kids do more research to understand the parts of survival they have an interest in. Just make sure you’re monitoring and guiding them to reputable wilderness survival sources.
Make it interactive: Some children understand information better when they can have a hands-on or visual experience. A great way to use this tactic is to talk about various survival scenarios on your next family camping trip or make a game out of it by testing them in a controlled environment. You can take a hike and teach your kids what to do if they ever get separated from the group or even construct an emergency shelter together at your campsite. By doing so, they will see firsthand how important it is to know survival skills if they ever find themselves in a similar situation.
No matter which type of teaching your children enjoy the most, you should ensure they learn the most basic survival skills to stay safe in the wilderness.
Basic Survival Skills Your Children Should Know
There is an immense amount of information on wilderness survival available to teach your kids. Ensuring they know about the following basic survival tactics will give them a foundation to grow from and learn more.
1. Situational Awareness
One of the most essential survival skills to know, but also one of the most challenging ones to teach, is situational awareness. The key to surviving a wildlife emergency is understanding the situation you are in and knowing how to react. You can explain to your children how to stay calm and level-headed in any circumstance by helping them develop their natural survival instincts. However, it’s important to reassure your kids that fear is the natural reaction in an emergency, and it’s perfectly normal to feel that way.
Teaching your children to make use of all their senses, know their exits and look for alert signals can help them become more aware of their surroundings and understand their situation. Tell them that panicking can lead to making rash decisions. Remaining calm and staying put if it’s safe would be best and could help them get rescued.
For certain situations, you can even help them recognize the signs of danger by roleplaying. As an example, have your kids pretend they are lost or stranded in the woods. Make sure they stay where they are, telling them to find a nearby tree or rock to “befriend” that they can name and talk to so they keep calm until help arrives. This is a great way to practice staying calm and in one spot until relief comes.
Since it’s not always possible to leave and find help, it’s important to teach your children how to signal for aid if they are stuck somewhere. Sometimes, yelling can waste precious energy, and it’s possible people nearby won’t be able to hear the victim anyway.
The best way to ensure your children can signal for help is to equip them with a whistle. They should blow it three times to indicate they need help. You can practice with your kids by teaching them the international emergency whistle signal of three short blows. Have them practice this pattern as loud as they can and then have them wait until they hear your response. If your kids hear other calls or whistle blasts, have them repeat the exercise until they make contact with the searcher. Doing so will help your children learn the best signaling practices while getting the entire family involved.
Your children can also carry a mirror or other reflective item they can use to signal passing helicopters and planes. Another way your kids can signal for help is by starting a fire. Depending on the situation and the materials your kids have at their disposal, this can be an extremely helpful survival tactic. Fire has a variety of uses other than for signaling.
[Editor’s note: Breaking branches is another great way to draw attention.]
3. Starting a Fire
Not only can fire be used to attract attention, but it’s also one of the most vital survival skills due to its versatility. Knowing how to start a fire is essential to wilderness survival because it provides warmth and is a way to purify water and cook food. Teach your kids the basics of starting a fire. Show them how to find spots away from the wind, where to find kindling or tinder, and how to keep the fire burning. Fire safety knowledge is a vital part of this skill. Although the majority of children know not to play with fire, they may not know other fire safety tips.
Generally, after building a fire, you should ensure it is completely out before you leave . Ask your child if they know this, and if not, teach them a few ways they can put out the fire they created.
In addition to starting a fire, constructing a shelter is another critical survival skill your children can use to protect themselves from the elements. Teach your kids that retaining body heat is a necessary part of survival. They can do so by creating a refuge out of layers of leaves, tarps or tree branches, or even staying in caves or hollow trees while they wait for help.
As important as it is to build a shelter, it’s even more vital to ensure your children know they should not hide. Concealing themselves within a makeshift shelter could lead to searchers not finding them in the wilderness. Kids should be taught that if they create a refuge for themselves, they need to leave a highly visible marker of their presence. It should be in the open and easily visible to searchers.
Self-defense comes in many forms, whether it’s learning about gun safety and use, exploring different types of martial arts or knowing what to do when faced with a wild animal. Basic knowledge can give your children confidence when faced with a dangerous situation and the comfort that they know how to protect themselves.
As they gain more understanding about shooting or using knives, they can use these skills to hunt for food in the wild. Depending on your area, you and your children can enroll in hunter-trapper education classes together to start conversations about firearm handling and safety.
In general, humans can survive up to three weeks without food. However, it’s impossible to go more than a few days without water, because the human body can only tolerate a 1-2% loss before problems arise. Your children should be able to find both food and water so they can replenish their energy in emergencies. As you hike and camp together, teach your kids how to find natural water sources like streams or creeks and purify what they’ve discovered.
That said, your children might not always be able to get a fire started to heat the water or find something to boil it in. Regardless, it’s better that your child is alive and ill from contaminated water than dying of dehydration. If possible, teach your kids how to recognize which streams are likely cleaner, or even what to do if it rains so they can collect the rainwater for drinking or cleaning.
Foraging for food is another necessary survival skill for your kids to know. Having local edible plant foraging skills can be incredibly helpful for your children, as some of them even have medicinal properties. However, it can be difficult for children to discern one plant from another when caught in an emergency. Eating wild plants and berries might not be wise if they aren’t sure it is safe to consume.
The same goes for wild animals, as they could carry different diseases or be generally unsafe to capture and cook. You can find a reputable foraging guide online that describes the differences between safe and poisonous foods to educate yourself and your children on the best practices.
8. Insulating Clothing
Another essential wilderness survival tip is insulating your clothes to prevent hypothermia in cold-weather areas or during a snowstorm or rainstorm. Since children are smaller in size it puts them at a higher risk of cooling off too much, especially when exposed to the elements. Instructing your kids on how to create insulation in their clothes can make all the difference when they’re in an emergency. When they feel cold, they should find vegetation they can stuff in their clothing to provide extra layers.
To make this lesson more interactive, make a game out of it by telling your kids they’re going to turn themselves into a scarecrow or stuffed animal. Have your children tuck their pants into their shoes and shirt into their pants for maximum insulation. Then, they can fill both articles of clothing with the leaves. Even if they’re wearing a summer outfit, they can still stuff their shirt to keep their torso warm.
9. First Aid
Knowing conventional first aid treatments can come in handy if your kids are injured or develop a health problem during an emergency. Teach your children what to do when faced with insect stings, blisters, cuts and scrapes, altitude illness and other medical issues they may encounter in the wild.
When your family creates a first aid kit, make sure to include bandages, scissors, gauze, alcohol pads, rubber gloves, cotton balls and cotton swabs. As you gather the materials, teach your kids about each item’s purpose and how they can use them. That way, if your children should ever need to treat a wound or other health problem, they already have a basic knowledge of common first-aid practices.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Although it’s scary imagining your children in a dangerous situation, it’s best to help them develop skills so they are prepared for any situation. In generations past, kids learned these skills in their everyday lives. Take the extra step and practice these exercises with your children in pretend scenarios so they have the same level of survival knowledge.
If your children face a life or death experience in the wild, you can have some peace of mind knowing they at least know the basics you taught them. These are skills that will last a lifetime, and someday, they may teach their own children too!
The other day I mentioned the Off the Grid Super Stack and what an amazing offer it is.
Remember that it’s a hand curated collection of ebooks, courses and other top tier resources aimed at those interested in prepping, survival skills, permaculture, homesteading and generally living off the grid and much more.
What I might not have made clear is that I’m also including my own 12 Pillars of Survival program in the Stack which, if I’m being honest, is well worth the cost of the super stack alone. The best part is that you not only get my program, but dozens of other preparedness resources as well.
Personally, I’m honored to be selected and have my program included in the Off the Grid Super Stack.
You’re going to be hearing from me more than usual over the next few weeks, but I promise you’ll be glad you did because I’ve got some good things coming your way…
For starters, my next book, The Get Home Bag and Compact EDC Kit, will be released by the end of the month. Plus, I’m releasing a second edition of my 28 Powerful Home Security Solutions too, both which I”ll explain more in a future email.
Today, however, I want to share with you something that I’ve been excited about for a while, but which I haven’t been allowed to say anything about until today, and that’s the Off The Grid Super Stack.
It’s probably the BEST collection of survival advice I’ve seen bundled together in years!
In fact, the Off the Grid Super Stack is a hand-curated collection of premium ebooks, ecourses (including my 12 Pillars of Survival program), membership communities and other resources from top experts that will show you the best ways to implement permaculture, survive in the wild, live fully off the grid and safely and efficiently bug out if and when the SHTF.
Inside Off the Grid Super Stack you will discover how to:
Make sure you and your family are ready for any emergency or disaster;
Plan your escape into a new world possibilities through self-sufficient living;
Develop fundamental skills to survive outdoors;
Grow your own food, even if you have limited space and resources;
Learn the ins and outs of homesteading on budget;
Discover new skills that will help you survive any emergency or disaster, big or small;
Design, build & manage your own off-grid electrical system.
And that’s just scratching the surface, trust me…
Now, typically, you’d have to spend over $700 + to get your hands on everything packed into Off the Grid Super Stack…
But this week, you can get everything for an unbelievable 95% off!
P.S. If Off the Grid Super Stack sounds like something you’d like to get access to – don’t hesitate, because this deal expires at midnight eastern time on Tuesday, September 17th. After that, it’s gone for good.
P.P.S. More to come about this awesome deal over the next week, stay tuned!
One of the many goals of today’s society is to constantly find new ways to make life easier for everyone. That’s what brings about products such as phones with Internet access or green energy machinery.
While these products make our daily lives easier, advancements could still be easily wiped out. Natural disasters happen all the time, in addition to devastating events such as acts of terrorism. If a big enough disaster occurred, the modern world could get wiped out! Do you have what it takes to survive in a world without the tools and technology people use every day?
Read on to discover 10 skills that can boost your survival chances and make all the difference between surviving or dying in a survival situation. And remember to practice them regularly, so you’re always prepared for any scenario.
1. Follow Gravity to Find Water
Most people know it’s more important to find water than food if you’re ever in a situation where you lack both. The human body can go weeks without food, but only if there’s access to fresh water. Without water, people die within days.
Let’s say you’re in an unknown area and need to rely on your skills to survive. The first thing you should do is follow gravity to find water. Travel down hilly areas since water will always flow downhill. Listen as you look for rivers or streams, since many may not be obvious at first glance.
Another good tip to keep in mind is to not drink from stagnant water if you can help it because standing water is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. It also attracts insects and rodents, specifically mosquitoes who are likely to carry disease. It’s always in your best interest to boil whatever water you can find. When the water reaches its boiling point, bacteria die off and it becomes safe to drink. This means you’ll have to wait longer to take a sip, but you can prevent illness.
If you can’t find water, know how to build a tripod water filter. You can make this out of tall sticks and some triangular strips of fabric. The water will filter naturally as it drips between the layers, ensuring a long-term solution to purifying water if you don’t have access to a modern handheld water filter.
[Editor’s note: you should still boil water or treat it if using a makeshift water filter, such as a tripod water filter.]
2. Start a Fire Immediately
Starting your own fire is also extremely important. You’ll need the warmth at night during most months of the year, as well as a way to cook your food and possibly even defend yourself if you need to. In the best-case scenario, you should find dry tinder, such as wood shavings, leaves or dried moss. Top it with small branches for kindling, and then follow that layer with your traditional firewood.
There are a few ways to build your fire, depending on its purpose. The first is the crisscross fire, which uses, as you might have guessed, a crisscross fashion to maintain a lasting burn. There’s also the log cabin fire. This is where you build a square of firewood around your kindling and top it with your lightest kindling for extra burn time. You may also want to build a teepee fire for cooking. This will look like a teepee since the kindling is piled up and the firewood leans in over it to form a triangle shape. Whatever you choose, make sure you build a reflector wall to redirect the heat and keep your fire strong.
To get the fire started, you can use traditional matches or lighter fluid if you have them. If not, there are plenty of ways to start a fire without them. You can use flint and steel to strike sparks onto your kindling, or a glass lens to capture the sun’s rays.
3. Build a Shelter
There are a few ways to build a basic shelter in a survival situation depending on how many people need to use it, although a traditional lean-to is the perfect option for survivalists who are on their own. You need to find branches long enough to lean against a wall or rock face. Pile on other branches and leaves to deter rain and you’ll have a successful shelter.
Survivalists who also need to house family members may want to try other shelter options. Areas with thin trees you can bend into place may be a great location for a teepee lodge. You can tie the trees together with rope and reinforce it with other branches.
Snowy locations are the perfect place for snow huts, and groups can always look for nearby caves to act as a place of shelter.
For those people building a backyard bunker style shelter, you have more time to make it as strong as possible. Take your woodworking skills to the next level by cutting boards at precise angles that will totally seal off water and give you an air-tight roof to protect you from rain. You can also build shelving to stock up on canned goods.
4. Always Carry a Map and Compass
One of the easiest survival techniques you can use is to carry a map and a compass with you. While you may end up leaving the area on the map, the compass will always help guide you in the right direction.
Review how to read topographic maps and standard map symbols. This skill will allow you to pick up any map and understand how to use it, so you never have to worry if you lose the map you started with.
5. Know How to Hunt
Once you’ve found water and a place to make a shelter, you’ll need to find food. In some survival situations that means learning to hunt. While you may rummage through some buildings in an apocalyptic scenario, eventually the food will run out or go bad.
Hunting is the best way to ensure you’ll always have access to your next meal. There are a few ways to hunt; which you choose will depend on what tools you have and the skills you’ve developed.
The first method of hunting is the most basic. You can use a distance weapon–such as a gun or bow–to bring down prey. The benefit of this method is you don’t need to get up close and personal with potentially dangerous animals, but you may be unable to replace the ammo or arrows you use.
You could also trap your food. Once you learn how to build a small game snare, trapping will become second nature to you. Look for footprints in the snow, droppings on leaves or burrows in the ground to first locate small prey such as rabbits or squirrels.
Next you’ll construct a snare. Snares typically have four parts — the noose, trigger, leader line and engine. As you build these make sure you have some bait to place inside the hook, so it’s more likely you’ll catch something. You can also use snares for fishing if you replace the noose with a line, hook and some bait. Other methods of fishing you may want to try include constructing a fishing rod or sharpening a spear.
6. Learn to Forage
In some situations, you may not be able to immediately go out and hunt down meat for your next meal. That’s when you want to know how to forage. There are plenty of plants out there that can help sustain you if you know what to look for.
Take the time now to review foraging tips and techniques. Commit plants to memory so you know exactly what they look like and where they grow. Some plants get easily confused for poisonous ones. Don’t let yourself accidentally pick the wrong ones because you couldn’t tell the difference!
Another plant tip you should learn is what plants are typically around edible ones. These are called companion plants since they’re so often found together. Foraging for companion plants too makes it more likely you’ll find even a small amount of edible food.
No matter what, it’s important to stay patient with foraging. You won’t have a refrigerator to store everything in, so plants will go bad quickly. As such, you should also leave some to continue growing. Never take the entire plant, or else it may not begin to grow again in that area.
7. How to Cook Safely
Once you have a rabbit or fish in hand, the process of cooking it will be much different than frying up some ground beef from the supermarket.
First, remove all the guts. While some restaurants may serve liver and heart, they’ll just make you sick in the wild.
Second, always try to overcook your food to ensure safety. The meat will probably be tougher to chew and may lose some flavor, but the alternative is to ingest harmful bacteria or pathogens. Being sick in a survival situation is very bad and, sadly, you may then lack the energy to filter water or find food, ultimately starving to death or experiencing organ shut down from dehydration.
Third, always properly dispose of the waste. That means you need to dispose of it far from your campsite so no animals try to fight you for their newfound snack. Try to bury your waste if you have the means to dig a few feet deep.
8. Know Crucial First Aid
Even if you’ve learned everything you possibly can about skills such as hunting, starting a fire and filtering water, things will probably still end up going wrong at some point. Perhaps you’ll have some kind of accident and hurt yourself, or others around you will get injured. Don’t wait and hope you come across another survivalist that also happens to be a doctor. Figure out basic first aid techniques now so you can help yourself.
Read up on how to suture a cut. Always have a needle and thread on hand to close a wound, tying each stitch separately for easier movement afterward. If you need to care for a gunshot wound, always apply pressure directly to the wound. You’ll also need to construct a tourniquet and place it between the wound and the heart if possible. For torso wounds, just keep pressure to stop the bleeding.
You can use a clean cloth or bandages as a way to slow or stop any bleeding. Always use something fresh as a bandage and regularly replace to check on the healing and prevent the growth of bacteria around the wound.
Another thing to keep in mind is how to spot an infection. The area around a healing wound will naturally look red because of the increased white blood cells trying to heal the area. Signs of a more serious infection are things such as yellow or green pus, red streaking around the wound, swelling and fever.
9. Take Care of Your Weapons
Every survivalist should have some kind of weapon on them for self-protection. You may choose a knife, gun, bow or other means of self-defense. Always keep an eye on your weapon, so it’s never lost, but also keep in mind you’ll need to take care of it. Learn about the weapon or weapons you’ll have access to so you know what that care should look like.
Cleaning your gun regularly is always a good idea, as well as sharpening knives and arrows after a few uses. You can sharpen weapons against rocks if you don’t have a sharpening block available.
10. Study the Stars
People have roamed the earth for centuries by studying the stars. They’ll guide you where you need to go, which is especially useful in survival situations where you may not have access to a GPS. Learn the stars above your campsite, so you always know how to get back to your shelter. Memorize the constellations, which will line up with important facets of the stars. Polaris will always point you north, which you can find in the Little Dipper.
The rotation and position of the stars will also help you tell what season and time of year it is. When clock and watch batteries run out, this will prepare you for oncoming changes in the weather and seasonal foraging.
Always Keep Your Mind Open
These are just some of the survival tips that will keep you alive in a situation where you can’t access modern tools and technology. Study these as much as you can, but always keep your mind open to learning other survival strategies. The more you learn, the better you’ll be prepared to survive against the odds.
No one wants to consider the thought of getting lost at sea. You might think that it couldn’t happen to you, but the truth is, it can happen to anyone. Even sailing experts have been caught in a big storm and left without supplies.
It’s not easy to survive when lost at sea — but it’s possible. Consider Salvador Alvarenga living proof, a man who drifted across the ocean for 438 days. In 2012, Alvarenga left the coast of Mexico in a 25-foot boat, along with a young crewmate named Córdoba. Out at sea, they got caught in a storm. Water flooded the vessel and, soon after, the engine died. The GPS stopped functioning, along with the radio.
In the beginning, Alvarenga would catch fish with his bare hands, digging his nails into their gills. After two months, he caught birds and turtles to eat. Córdoba, unfortunately, was on the decline and died soon after. Alvarenga eventually drifted to an island beach, where he was rescued — 6,700 miles from his initial location.
Thankfully, being forewarned is forearmed. Here’s what you need to know to survive at sea.
How to Survive: Before You Go
The best way to ensure survival when lost at sea is to prepare before you go. Follow the steps below before your next trip.
1. Inspect Small Details
Clean the hull, deck and topsides of your boat before an inspection so you can get an unhindered look. Search for blisters and distortions. Check the propellers for cracks and dings. Damaged propellers can cause unwanted vibrations and issues with your drivetrain. Ensure the propeller is secured in place and replace bearings regularly.
Look at all belts to ensure they fit snugly. One sign of an old belt is black residue nearby. Check cables and hoses, which can crack or get brittle when in storage. You should also search for swelling and cracks on the outer jacket of the throttle, which can be a sign of internal corrosion and imminent failure.
2. Survey the Fluids
Pay special attention to your fuel system, including connections, hoses and tank surfaces. A damaged hose may be soft, brittle or cracked. If you notice worn down or broken components, it’s crucial to replace them before your next outing. Make sure all the ventilation systems, along with the engine and exhaust, are working correctly.
Check the fluid levels on your boat, including coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and power trim reservoirs. If you take your boat out of storage, change the oil and filter, as well as the drive lubricants.
3. Assess the Deck
Take a look at all the gear you have on deck and consider if anything needs replaced or upgraded.
Review items like:
Rig jacklines between the stern and bow pulpits. Some sailors like shrouded wire jacklines while others prefer flat webbing. No matter what you choose, your line should be taut and easy to adjust. Tape lifeline entry shackles shut to keep them from accidentally opening while at sea.
4. Look Down Below
Down below deck, hidden from the crashing waves, you might feel safe. Expert sailors, however, say it’s nearly as dangerous as up top. Before you head out to sea, install handholds that are easy to grab from any spot. All supplies should be stowed securely. Check that floorboards are still in good condition.
You should have easy access to all the boat’s through-hull fittings. Secure these fittings to prevent water from entering the hull in case of failure. Make a laminated chart of all the access points and tape it to a spot where everyone can see it.
5. Consider Your Electronics
When drifting at sea, electronics are what tether you back to land. Your boat should have a GPS, which uses signals from satellites to track your location. You should also have a chart plotter and a VHF radio with a tall antenna. Invest in a single-sideband radio you can use for offshore communication, including weather forecasts and emergency calls. Satellite phones, equipped with internet access, are becoming an increasingly popular way to get information and make calls.
Invest in an EPIRB — electronic position indicator beacon — which uses a satellite signal to connect to a rescue center. Some boats come equipped with a small computer designed for navigation and communication while at sea. Be sure to bring along a spare mouse and keyboard. Electronics should be easy to access, yet protected from the water.
6. Think About Safety
Prepare your boat for an emergency. One must is a life raft, not just a small dingy. The vessel should be big enough to fit all the crew members on board. Have a dedicated storage area specifically for the raft, near the foot of the companionway. Lash it down to keep it from sliding around.
Set up a grab bag in case of evacuation. Include flares, food rations, a first-aid kit, flashlights and an EPIRB. You should also add a handheld VHF radio. Near the grab bag, stow a couple of jugs of fresh water you can grab in a pinch.
7. Pack the Right Gear
Before your next adventure, pack the essentials. Buy gear that can keep you warm in cold weather. Look for clothing with wicking, which keeps moisture away from your body and dries quickly. Invest in a heavy-duty raincoat and waterproof socks. Look for durable gloves ideal for handling rope. Plus, add a warm pair of gloves for freezing temperatures.
Get a hat with a brim that will protect your face and eyes from the sun, and a warm beanie or winter hat. Look for a pair of durable boots you can wear if you find land. Pack essential equipment like a pocket knife, whistle, headlamp and tether. Plus, you should pack a lot of sunscreen.
How to Survive: After You Go
Once you’re out at sea, there’s nothing you can do to change how much you’ve prepared or what you brought along. Instead, you have to rely on what you have, including your instincts.
1. Set Multiple Anchors
There are several types of anchors, including helix, mushroom and deadweight. The best are helix, as they screw into the seabed. You can improve the stability of your boat during poor weather with multiple anchors, if necessary. One method is to set two anchors, chained together, in a line to anticipate the direction of the wind. Another approach is to place three anchors in a formation of 120°, all of which lead to a single swivel and line at the boat’s bow. Both techniques give the boat little room to swing.
2. Reduce Windage
You want your boat to sway around as little as possible. To accomplish this, take down all canvas, including dodgers and biminis. Remove mainsail covers, mainsails and furling genoas. Attach halyards to a small line and run them to the top of the mast. Even a storm that doesn’t damage your boat has the wind power to destroy canvas, especially if debris is kicked into the air.
3. Grab Your Gear
If your ship starts sinking, you need to act fast. Gather as many supplies as you can. If you’ve prepared your go bag, grab that and the fresh jugs of water. You should also try to take additional items like a mirror, sunscreen and batteries. Head to the raft and get it into the water. Be aware that even expensive life rafts aren’t always leakproof. However, modern vessels come equipped with pumps and a repair kit in case of emergency.
4. Try to Drift
Most life rafts have sea anchors to help keep the small vessel stabilized. However, your goal is to find land, so you want to reduce drag and drift. Pull the anchor up during calm weather to move as quickly as possible. When the wind picks up, you can drop it back down. At a rate of 2 knots — 2.3 miles per hour — you can travel 50 miles per day.
5. Assess Your Ailments
If you make it to land, it’s time to make an assessment. What supplies were you able to grab and bring along? How long will your food and water supply last? Did you suffer from any injuries during the evacuation? Heatstroke is one major cause for concern, with symptoms like a rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, headache, nausea and a confused mental state. Try to find shade during the day, even if it’s your raft’s cover.
6. Look for Shelter
If you reach land, one of the first things you should do is find or build a shelter. Almost all vegetation, including sticks, vines and palm fronds, can be used. If your life raft survived the trip, prop it up against a tree or branch to fashion a lean-to. Cover the ground with palm fronds to keep yourself insulated and dry. You can also search for a natural shelter, like a cave formation or rock overhang.
7. Fish for Food
Near the ocean, fish are a plentiful resource, one that can keep you fed. There are several ways you can catch fish without equipment. Try to fashion a random item into a hook, such as a paperclip, soda tab or sharp twig. Then, attach the hook to a makeshift line, something like a vine, shoelace or thread from your clothing. You will need to add bait to the hook as well. Look for colorful plastic, leaves, dead insects or shiny jewelry. Now, all you need is a bite.
8. Look for Insects
If you’re not having luck with the fishes, you can always head inland to try your hand at foraging. The wild is full of edible treats that can keep you alive. Most insects — which have a crunchy exoskeleton, six legs and a pair of antennas — are safe to eat. Crickets, ants and termites are all up for grabs. However, you should spiders, centipedes and bees.
9. Drink Lots of Water
You can only survive a few days without water. While many believe it’s possible to drink urine in the event of an emergency, it’s a myth. In fact, urine will exacerbate dehydration. You should also never drink seawater. Try to use objects on hand — like a backpack or piece of clothing — to collect rainwater. If you have the right materials, like a container, straw and plastic, you can build a solar still. Condensation will build on the plastic, which is safe to drink.
10. Use Your Smartphone
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for signs of airplanes and ships that can rescue you. If you have a smartphone, use the screen to reflect the light from the sun. You can also use a mirror. The signal, which can reach up to 10 miles, may alert someone nearby to your presence.
11. Stay Relaxed
It can be easy to panic when lost at sea. However, it’s crucial to stay calm — that’s how you stay alive. Being lost isn’t something you can control. Instead, you have to remain rational, assess the situation and make calculated decisions. You can’t predict how long you will be lost and what might happen during that time. Take advantage of every moment of daylight.
Surviving at Sea: What to Do When Lost
If you should ever get lost at sea, try not to panic. In the 21st century, it’s hard to stay lost for long, though it does happen.
Just recently, a crew of eight fishermen was found who had been lost for 10 days. The 60-foot vessel, which originated from Indonesia, was located by the U.S. Coast Guard 170 miles off the coast of Palau. During this time, the boat’s crew had no electricity, food or water.
If the worst should happen, be prepared. Ensure your boat is in tip-top shape and pack the essential supplies. In the event of an evacuation, let your life raft drift and search for land. When you set foot on land, the first three steps are to find shelter, food and water. You need all of these things to survive.
Don’t forget to stay on the lookout for possible rescuers. When you get home, you’ll have quite a story to tell.
I’m not into bows, but this is a really neat idea! Can’t believe I’ve never seen this guy’s channel before. Anyway, you can skip to about the 4:50 mark to get to the “Instant Ghengis Khan” bow idea he talks about…
Bear Grylls might be able to walk across the road to a McDonald’s when production gets too difficult, but were things not so peachy, you get the feeling he’d be just fine without it. That’s because despite sometimes misrepresenting it, Grylls and other celebrity survivalists have put years of effort into becoming skilled outdoorsmen and women, understanding their surroundings and how to cope in difficult situations.
Would you have the skills to stay alive, keep your wits about you and find a resolution that leads you back to civilization if you were faced with a survival challenge? It’s no easy feat. To be competent at self-preservation, you’ll need a selection of well-honed survival skills. Here are a few places to put your focus.
1. Get Fit
Even though we don’t necessarily think of physical fitness as a “wilderness” survival skill, it’s certainly a survival skill. Keeping yourself healthy is just a necessary part of surviving the stress of our modern world. You don’t have to be into trail running and mountain biking to get the benefit of being fit if you find yourself in a challenging situation, although it might make you feel more comfortable if you’ve spent some time outdoors.
Survival situations often arise out of confusion or misinformation. You read a map wrong and lead yourself several miles off of the trail. The weather turns and you can’t get oriented. A vehicle breaks down, leaving you stranded with little knowledge of how to get home. Physical stamina is important in these situations where getting back might mean stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Strengthening your body to withstand putting a foot wrong while hiking a rocky trail or endure carrying your heavy bike back 10 miles after a flat tire will truly increase your chance of survival. In fact, there are full exercise routines developed with the idea in mind of becoming more resilient in wilderness situations. These exercises will prepare you for physical tasks and help you develop the mental toughness required to effectively navigate such trying situations.
2. Stay Mindful
Speaking of mental toughness, it might be the single most important component to resolving a wilderness survival situation in good condition. When something goes wrong while you’re outdoors, the last thing you want to do is panic. Making hasty decisions or judgment calls without having all the information you need — or when you’re in a traumatized state of mind — can cause the situation to escalate rapidly. Instead, you need to remain calm and have the presence of mind to determine the best course of action.
Wilderness College calls this technique SPEAR, for stop, plan, execute, assess and re-evaluate. Regardless of how you help yourself remember it, keeping your head on straight and not panicking in a wilderness situation is the best way to prolong your survival. The human body is capable of incredible feats, but if you panic, your brain will turn you into your own worst enemy. There could be other people relying on you in a survival situation too, so be sure that you’re capable of making clear-headed decisions to find the best outcome.
3. Practice Building and Finding Shelter
Depending on your locale, the conditions associated with your survival challenge could vary dramatically. You might face blowing winds, extreme cold, flooding or debilitating heat. You might have to deal with a combination of weather conditions or the presence of predatory animals. In all of these situations, you’ll need to understand how to protect yourself from the elements and potentially from animals as well.
Many types of terrain lend themselves well to making shelter. Heavily wooded areas can provide you with tree boughs to build a lean-to, and in the snow, you can dig yourself a cave to preserve body heat. That said, other locales aren’t so benevolent. In a more desolate area, you might need to huddle up against a prominent rock or terrain feature to shield yourself from sun and wind. Remember that as a basic rule, you always want to stay “high and dry.”
It can be fun to practice building shelter. The next time you’re in the wilderness, set some time aside and see what you come up with. Consider whether your makeshift shelter would helpful in a real survival situation, and how you might refine it. It’s more fun to practice it when you aren’t relying on the structure to keep you alive.
4. Figure out How to Get Potable Water
Thirst is one of the quickest killers when someone is stranded in the wilderness, which is why you need to understand how to find or make safe drinking water very well to maximize your chances of survival.
Of course, if you have a means of filtering, chemically treating or boiling water, that’s a reliable method of purifying it for drinking. However, that might not be realistic in some scenarios. Look for fast-moving water that’s clear to the eye — the higher the elevation, the better. If you’re not able to find good-looking water in a river or stream, you might need to resort to collecting water using other means.
In all but the most arid climates, you can create a moisture trap to collect water in the mornings if you have access to a large piece of plastic, which could mean salvaging something you have on you. Plants are another good source to forage for water. Many trees can be tapped for sap with high water content, and some even produce leaves or fruit that can be consumed for small quantities of water. You’ll want to study up on these options, as recognizing them could save your life.
5. Build Your Ability to Forage for Food
We’ll discuss hunting for food shortly, but it’s not safe to rely on the presence of game to provide sustenance. You need a method of finding reliable nutrition, even if it’s little by little. Most wilderness areas have some form of edible plants available, but you’ve got to know how to recognize them.
Nutrient-rich nuts and seeds provide a great caloric value relative to the effort required to find them if you can recognize the plants that grow them. Edible fruits and berries are also a great source of calories but be sure that you know how to recognize those that are safe to eat.
In addition to plant-based foods, insects and bird’s eggs can contribute protein and fat to your diet while you’re surviving in the wild, and they shouldn’t be ruled out. You can learn how to harvest large numbers of insects using some basic techniques. The key to enjoying a fresh bird’s egg is to know where to find nests, so you’ll need to be well-versed in the types of bird life in the area and where they like to lay eggs. Once your foraging skills are well-developed, you can move on to more proactive methods of finding food.
6. Improve Your Shooting Skills
Having access to a firearm when you’re in a survival situation can be a game-changer. Guns are a great tool for self-defense and for hunting food, but chances are, you didn’t bring an unlimited supply of ammunition with you on your journey into the wilderness, so you should plan ahead and practice your shooting to make every shot count.
If you have a choice when you’re traveling into the wilderness, a shotgun or rifle will afford you a better means of hunting food than a handgun. When you’re practicing your shotgun marksmanship, remember that shooting clay pigeons and trap will help build your coordination to allow you to hit birds on the wing. Rifles are best for larger game such as deer and elk. Just make sure that if you’re going to hunt any animal that you have an idea of how to break down your kill — it’s not good to waste anything when you’re in a survival situation.
Since wild animals aren’t likely to walk right out into the open to provide you with an easy meal, it’s a good idea to learn some basic tracking skills to complement your marksmanship. Without an understanding of how animals move in the brush, what signs to look for and how to know if you’ve scored a hit, it’s going to be much more difficult to find food.
7. Learn to Make Fire
Heat for warmth, light and the ability to cook food all rely on your ability to make fire — unless you’ve lucked out and gotten lost with a camping stove. Basic fire-building skills are an essential component to any survivalists’ repertoire and can safely be practiced and developed on a family camping trip or solo outing in a more controlled environment.
Many backpackers have learned to carry fire starting “kits” consisting of a flint and steel and/or some lightweight kindling. Some people even use corn chips — the grease makes them easy to light, and they can be eaten in emergencies!
Perfecting your fire-making can be fun, and with time, you can learn advanced techniques that will make you a more competent outdoorsman, such as how to create a fire in the snow or rain. It might sound impossible, but it’s not — you just have to know what you’re doing. Making it through a cold night without fire can be miserable, so it’s a good skill to have.
8. Master Basic Fishing Techniques
Like shooting, if you’re stranded with a functional fishing rod and reel, you’re in luck. However, unlike with shooting, you can go fishing using only the things you can find around you if need be. Granted, this tip assumes you’re in an area with fish. It’s best to head up in elevation to find lakes and streams with the best chance of fish being present.
The most basic technique of hand-lining fish can be performed with very basic equipment. All you need is a sturdy thread and a hook that can be fashioned from some tough plant matter, but this process might not be the most productive method of fishing. Instead, consider learning how to build a fish trap. A trap and basic spear will afford you a much better chance at eating well than attempting to hand-line from the shores of a wild lake or stream.
9. Work on the Best Ways to Clean and Cook Food
If you do have the good fortune to successfully catch or shoot a meal, you’ll need to know how to prepare it. There’s a whole lot that goes on between the ranch and the grocery store that most people don’t typically know how to emulate. In the wilderness, there’s no one there to process the kill for you. Hopefully you’ve got a good knife available, as one will be required for much of the game you’ll have the opportunity to hunt in a survival situation.
You should learn how to suspend and drain blood from a fresh kill, how to remove entrails and how to skin a carcass so that you can break down the kill and prepare small portions of meat. Fish are slightly simpler than large game. Begin by removing scales, then make an opening along the fish’s belly and scrape out all of the internal organs.
If your fire-making skills are good, you can smoke smaller portions of meat. It’s also possible to create a basic spit and roast larger portions. A grill plate is a wonderful complement to a kit that will open the door to many lovely wilderness meals, but it’s not something you can plan on always having with you.
10. Get Outside!
There’s no replacement for real-world experience. We’re not saying you should go and get lost all the time. Practice safety first, bring friends and tell people where you’re going, but the more time you spend in the outdoors, the more comfortable you’ll be. Experience will help ensure that you don’t end up in a bad situation going forward.
All of this information is meant to help you navigate a difficult situation, but ultimately, we go outdoors because it’s enjoyable. So put the work in to be prepared, but do it also to get the wonderful benefits of being in nature. Do you have a favorite survival story or skill-building technique? Let us know in the comments below!
Hurricanes are violent. They can bring a handful of serious and dangerous hazards- from storm surge, high winds, heavy rains, and even tornadoes. If you and your family aren’t prepared, you’re risking your safety.
As a guide, here are the following steps you can take to ensure your family’s safety.
Before A Hurricane
Learn your hurricane facts
Knowing your hurricane facts is important in understanding hurricane forecasts and knowing exactly what the news reporters are telling you.
You can start with the following important terms:
Eye- This refers to the clear and well-defined center of the storm. It usually has calmer conditions.
Rain bands- These bands create severe weather conditions, like tornadoes, wind, and heavy rain.
Hurricane watch- These watches are typically issued about 48 hours in advance of the expected onset of the tropical storm.
Hurricane warning- These warnings are usually issued 36 hours in advance.
Create a plan
One of the most important things you need to prepare prior to a hurricane is a plan.
To start, you and your family need to know where to go. If you aren’t sure where your local hurricane evacuation areas are, you can contact your local emergency management agency.
If family members get separated during a hurricane, they need to know where to go. You can assign out-of-state relatives or friends to act as your family’s point of contact. Let everyone know that person’s name, address, and contact number.
In case you have pets at home, be sure that each of them has identification tags. Ask your veterinarian about any other emergency preparation instructions.
For kids, you may want to practice evacuation drills with them. This will help them remember what they should do in case of a disaster.
Complete Your Emergency Supplies
Another thing you shouldn’t miss is your inventory of emergency supplies. Your family should have:
A manual can opener
3-day supply of non-perishable foods (minimum)
A gallon of water per person per day (minimum of 3 days)
Flashlights with extra batteries
A sleeping bag per person
Personal hygiene products
A solar charger for mobile phones
A complete change of clothing per family member
A full tank of gas in your car
Don’t forget to include some bandages and antiseptic products in your emergency supplies. You may also want to add some pain relievers, eyewash, and ammonia inhalants as these are some of the most frequently overlooked first aid kit items
Secure your home
In case you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes, it’s a good idea to secure your home even before the actual season for tropical storms hit.
Begin by checking the gutters if they are free from debris and clogs. They should also be stable and secure. Next, clear nearby trees and remove any dead or dying limbs.
It can also help if you build a safe room inside your home. There should also be a functioning generator. Every three months, make sure to start it. This is one way to guarantee that it’s working properly.
In case you have a shed, lock its doors tightly. With a hurricane, it will be easy for them to be blown off the hinges and become dangerous projectiles. Remember to bring in any outdoor house ornaments, like wind chimes and wreaths.
Keep your potted plants inside your garage and remember to keep your cars inside it, too. Don’t leave any vehicle under trees.
Keep important documents safe
Your passports, insurance information, deeds, and other important documents should be stored in a stormproof container to keep them safe in case flooding happens. For added security, you may want to keep digital copies. Store them on a portable device which you can take with you everywhere.
During a Hurricane
Remain inside your home during a hurricane
If you live in an area where the storm is expected to create the greatest impact, remember to keep everyone inside at all times. Stay away from windows, glass doors, and skylights.
Stay away from your basement. Although it sounds like an ideal place to hide during a storm, it’s not your safest option, particularly if your area is prone to flooding. You can easily get trapped there.
Your power and water mains should be turned off if instructed by your local authorities. This is one way to avoid a power surge after electricity has been restored. While the power is out, avoid using candles for visibility.
In case you’re outdoors when the storm hits, get out of your car right away. Move to higher ground to avoid getting undertaken and trapped by the water. As much as possible, stay away from low spots, canyons, underpasses, and dips as these areas are prone to flooding.
Don’t use a generator
Well, you can actually use one as long as you have a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector.
Carbon monoxide is tasteless, colorless, and odorless. It’s easy for people to get poisoned with this gas, particularly if they aren’t aware of the risk.
Know when to evacuate
While it might feel safer to just stay at home, follow your local authorities when they tell you to evacuate for your safety. Below are some of the conditions that may require you to leave your home and stay in an evacuation area:
If you are in a high rise building
If you are in a mobile home
If you live near a river, on the coast or on a floodplain
Even though you don’t find yourself in any of those situations, follow your gut. If you sense that you’re in danger, get out of your house and go somewhere safer.
Shelters, however, aren’t always comfortable. With that in mind, try to stay with relatives or friends if possible.
If not, you can take some snacks and food with you. Most of the time, meals aren’t available in shelters for the first 24 hours.
To ensure your comfort, bring your own blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags. The supplies in shelters aren’t always enough.
If you have a baby, don’t forget to take his supplies, too. If you have special needs, bring a caregiver with you if possible. This is because shelters don’t provide hands-on care but they can do medical monitoring.
Take your identification and other valuable papers, too. If you are currently taking medications, bring them in their original containers.
To pass the hours, you can bring some books, cards or games to the shelter. Remember to take flashlights and battery-operated radios, too.
For pets, only service animals are allowed to stay in public shelters. You may need to make other arrangements for them.
Monitor the weather condition
With a battery-powered NOAA weather radio, keep yourself updated with the latest report on the storm path. Don’t leave your house or evacuation area until you’re sure that it’s safe to do so.
Turn off electricity
For your safety, it’s best if you don’t wait for your home to lose power. Turning off electricity at your main breaker will reduce damage. As much as possible, don’t use any electrical appliances during a hurricane.
Use your phone for emergencies only
Since electricity is cut, you need to conserve your phone’s battery. Make sure to use it only for communication.
Keep your pets safe
You should keep your pets in a designated area in your home. Place enough food and water in that area. If your pet has needs for special care, make sure to provide it. Animals, just like humans, can also feel scared
After A Hurricane
Use caution when entering buildings
Hurricanes can leave a lot of dangers behind. The list includes compromised electrical wiring, structural issues, and even carbon monoxide poisoning. With that, it’s best to avoid buildings with questionable safety.
If you really need to enter one, make sure that its electricity is turned off at the main breaker. Do it without immersing yourself in standing water.
Listen for any unusual noises as they can indicate weakening of the walls or floors. If you notice clear structural damages, get out of the building and stay away from it.
Be careful in inspecting your home
It’s normal to feel concerned about your home. After all, it’s one of your most expensive investments.
If you’ve evacuated your home and you need to inspect it after the hurricane, remember to exercise caution. If possible, try to visit your home during the day. This is to make sure that you’ll have light to check every area and room.
Remember, after a hurricane or any disaster, it may not always be possible to restore electricity right away.
If you happen to find your electricity on during your inspection, be extra careful. Being in standing water and powering up an appliance often ends up badly.
Don’t forget about contaminated water, too. If there’s flooding in your area, expect contaminants in the water. Stay away from floodwaters and remember to clean any open sores or cuts that have been exposed.
Clean up molds properly
With flooding and water, you can expect mold and it’s quite challenging to kill it off. While it’s tempting to just leave it alone, particularly during the first few days after the hurricane, it’s best to tackle the problem on the first day.
You see, mold can bring a lot of health problems to the family, like asthma attacks, skin irritations, and even infections. If you have any of these issues, don’t attempt to fight the mold by yourself. Consider hiring professionals or get someone else to do the job for you.
Check your insurance policy
If you have existing insurance, look at it closely to know who you can contact as well as the extent of your coverage.
As a rule of thumb, the first thing you need to do is document everything. Take pictures of all the things affected by the hurricane.
While you are repairing and cleaning your home, save your receipts as they may be eligible for reimbursement. Take note of all the expenses incurred.
Don’t start any major repairs until your home has been checked and evaluated. Your insurance company will need to conduct an inspection.
Don’t eat anything left in your refrigerator
Don’t eat anything from your refrigerator or drink tap water until you are sure that they are free from contamination. It’s also a good idea to clean your refrigerator first before placing new foods inside.
Check for reptiles and rodents
Be careful in entering every room in your home. Check for snakes and other animals that may have been driven by floodwaters to higher ground. If you happen to find one, don’t deal with it along, particularly if you aren’t trained to do so. Call your local authorities as they are much more skilled in catching wild animals.
Don’t forget to inspect your outdoor property
Just like the interior of your home, your yard may also experience damages. For security, check your fences to see if there are still intact. You may want to check their hinges and locks, too.
Check your roof and see if there are no dangling power lines there. Because of strong winds, it may also be possible for large tree branches to get stuck there.
If you have a pool, avoid swimming in the current water. Because there’s always the risk of contamination, drain the water first and clean the entire pool. You can only take a swim after it has been filled with fresh water.
Hurricanes can’t be prevented but there are ways to minimize the damages they can cause to your property. The key is early preparation and being aware of what. Learning the tips on how to be safe during a hurricane should start even before disaster strikes.
As much as possible, plan ahead of time and make sure that everyone in the family is involved. Orient your kids about what they need to, who they should contact, and where they can go in case the family gets separated from each other. Don’t forget about your pets, too.
The most important thing to prioritize is your safety. If your local authorities tell you to evacuate your home, then leave. Even if it feels like the hurricane has passed, don’t go outdoors. Wait for the official clearance before you step outside or return home.
Death Valley’s Zabriskie Point, the Slickrock trails of Moab, Utah and the vast array of amazing hikes that surround the Grand Canyon are just a few examples of outstanding hikes located in the middle of the desert. If you’re not a fan of warmer climes, you might think to shy away from these iconic trails. However, with the right preparation, you can enjoy them just like you would any day hike.
As with any outdoor activity, it’s possible to conquer hiking desert trails if you spend the time to learn the tricks of the trade. Lots of experienced desert outdoorsmen and -women have come before you in this discipline. Here are some of their best teachings when it comes to hitting the trail in desert territory.
Study the Climate
Imagine how difficult it must have been to get outside before the invention of weather satellites! A well-prepared traveler can make themselves more comfortable on a hot day, but to ensure your hike is enjoyable and not miserable, it’s best to check the weather well ahead of time and plan to hike outside the hottest parts of the day. Usually, that’s mid- to late afternoon.
Are you a morning person? That’s perfect for desert hiking. Watching the sun come up from the trail is a magical experience, and you’ll be through with your walk before things get too toasty out. Night owls can make their preference work as an advantage too, although you’ll want to be careful to check whether trails remain open, understand park laws and regulations and bring plenty of lighting equipment if you’re planning to night-hike.
Even though heat is the primary antagonist when it comes to desert trekking, it’s not the only one. Flash floods and monsoons can make your sandy hike into a sloppy nightmare. Understand if your hike crosses land where flood weather can manifest, and whether it’s flood season when you hike. If you get caught in a flooding trail, move to high ground as quickly as you can and wait for help or better conditions.
Have a Trail Map
Getting lost anywhere is frightening and dangerous. In the desert, it can be deadly. Before heading out on your hike, make some time to look at a topographical map of the trail. Print or acquire a trail map beforehand, and regularly track your progress using GPS if possible.
This advice is particularly relevant for longer hikes like the Grand Canyon’s Rim-to-Rim adventure. Even if it’s reasonably straightforward to see which way the trail leads, you need to have an understanding of your progress. If you find yourself moving too slowly and don’t have the supplies or energy required to finish the hike, you should call for help.
Don’t Hike Alone, and Leave Your Itinerary With Emergency Contacts
Like most activities, hiking is better with friends. When you go out alone, your risk of getting lost with no one able to find you increases significantly. Solo hiking trails you know and can complete in a relatively short period are OK, as long as you notify someone you’re going. Unless you’re a highly skilled hiker and camper, do not attempt long distances alone. And regardless of whether you bring company, always tell at least one person outside your party where you’re going and when you expect to return.
Dress in Layers
Layers are always a smart idea for physical activity. For desert hiking, you’re looking for the ability to add some warmth if things cool off quickly, or shed layers to a breathable base if it warms up. Go for moisture-wicking technical fabrics that will dry quickly if you need to douse yourself to bring that core temp down. Want a pro tip? Moisture-wicking underwear from brands like Exoficcio and Patagonia can help make your day more comfortable when it’s warm on the trail.
A backpack is another essential part of your kit that can contribute to overheating. Technical hiking packs will often incorporate breathable fabrics, and you should only choose a pack as large as you need to accommodate the supplies you’ll bring on the trip. Also, many modern hiking packs include water bladders, which are the simplest way to bring along critical hydration during a warm-weather hike. Have some extra water with you to refill your bladder and help cool yourself down if you’re planning a longer hike — more on that later.
Wear Sunscreen and a Hat
This tip probably seems obvious, but when you hike in the desert, you’re signing up for a whole lot of sun exposure. Your head, along with any other exposed skin, is likely to absorb some UV rays. So slather on some SPF — a good trick is to put your first application on before you leave for the trail. Doing so will allow it time to absorb before you’re in the heat, which will help you stay comfortable.
Keep your SPF with you on the trail. Some hikers like to bring multiple types of sunblock, including zinc, aerosol-based spray and more conventional cream for re-applying to their face and body throughout the day. Don’t forget lip balm with SPF as well. And, of course, a wide-brimmed hat will go a long way to shield your head, face and neck from the sun’s rays. Even a ball cap is a great addition to your kit if you haven’t got something a little more David Attenborough.
Pack Food and Water
Dehydration can be a killer when you’re hoofing it through the desert. You can die of thirst in a matter of days, so do not leave home without plenty of water. A good rule to go by is to bring about two cups of water per hour of estimated hike time. If you’re always thirsty, bring more. If you’re planning to camp out, have a good understanding of where you can find fresh water, and bring a means of filtering it to make it safe to drink.
If you’re bringing pets along, don’t forget plenty of water for them to drink, as well as a vessel for them to drink out of. We’re not always advocates of bringing pets — be sure it’s safe for your four-legged friend to come along. Overcommitting your dog to a long hike in the heat can be dangerous, because dogs can’t sweat and don’t know when to stop following their owner if they get dehydrated.
As for food, will you need snacks for a two-hour jaunt, or is this going to be a longer-distance journey? You can probably guess what kinds of snacks work well on a hot trail. The typical selection of fruits, trail mix, energy bars and dried foods comes to mind. Don’t go overboard with caffeinated gels and snacks, because they can lead to dehydration if you use too many. Always pack more snacks than you think you’ll eat. You don’t want to get caught in a pinch if there’s an emergency or you have to stay out longer than planned.
If you’re planning a longer-duration hike, you should think about meals to bring. The time-honored tradition of sandwiches can make for a fun trail lunch and should provide enough protein and carbohydrates to get you through a longer pull. You can meal-prep ahead of time or find some pre-made at a nearby market.
If you’ll be spending the night on the trail, there are many tasty options to cook up. Depending on the size of your pack, you may be able to bring a legitimate camp cooktop and grill up some meats or veggies — extra points for s’mores.
Those who are more interested in saving weight should check out a camp stove such as a Jetboil or MSR. You can use these highly packable stoves to boil water, which you can then use to rehydrate freeze-dried meals. The selection of these types of meals is impressive these days, with everything from chicken casserole to beef stroganoff to mac and cheese and even stir-fried vegetables. Not willing to pay the premium for fancy backpacking food? A box of dried pasta and dehydrated vegetables cooks up in a snap, too.
Bring First-Aid Items
A basic kit with bandages, a tourniquet, cold compresses, tweezers and painkillers is probably all you need for shorter hikes. If you’re staying out longer, it’s probably smart to come prepared with additional supplies. Treatment for foot conditions like blisters can come in handy if you’re covering lots of ground, as can aloe vera gel for sunburns. Make sure you have a supply of any medicines you need to take regularly, even if you don’t plan to stay out long. In case of emergency, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Go at a Safe Pace
Even if you feel like you typically keep a fast pace, the effects of the sun and heat can slow anyone down. Moving too quickly can cause dehydration, cramping and other issues. Ultimately, your best bet to complete your hike in a reasonable amount of time and still feel good is to go at the pace your body tells you is OK. If you’re part of a group and need to move slower than your friends, say so. They should understand you don’t want to push yourself too far, and should be willing to adopt a slower pace if you need to.
Treat Wildlife With Respect
There’s a real chance you’ll see some wildlife while you’re on the trail. It might even be part of your motivation to go hiking. However, remember when you spot wildlife on the trail, you’re not looking at a domesticated animal. The best policy is always to remain at a safe distance. Don’t pursue wild animals, which could turn aggressive or could hurt themselves while trying to evade you. Many endangered species are under legal protection, and you’ll be breaking the law if you bother them — but more importantly, trying to force a wild animal encounter could have negative consequences for everyone involved.
That rings true of all animals you spot on the trail, but use particular caution when you encounter larger animals and predators such as bears, mountain lions, coyotes or even larger herbivores. It is not safe to approach these animals. Remember, you’re a visitor in their habitat. Be respectful and don’t attempt to bother them. Doing so could result in a tragedy.
Have a Supply Stash in Your Vehicle
Imagine taking a wrong turn on a hike. You recognize you’ve made a mistake, but not before you’ve made your way far off the trail you had planned on taking. You’re going to have to dig into your extra supplies, which means by the time you get back to your car, you won’t have anything left, and you’ll have had to make the extra effort to get back. In this scenario, you can understand why it’s critical to keep extra supplies in your car.
Extra water, snacks and even a change of clothes are all great things to have on hand in your car for when you return from the trail. If all goes as planned, you may never use them, and that’s OK. It will give you peace of mind to know they’re at the ready in case you or a fellow hiker needs the help.
Know How to Get Help
Cell phones have made venturing outdoors much less daunting than it once was, and that’s all for the best. Before you head out, though, make sure you have mobile service while on the trail. Many remote locations still lack cell coverage, which is why it’s smart to have a radio or GPS beacon, some additional means of summoning help if you need it. If you find yourself on the trail with no means to reach anyone, go back. It’s not worth the risk.
Desert hikes can expose you to vast arrays of plants and wildlife and bring you to new and fascinating places, all while you’re getting fresh air and good exercise. You’ll have the chance to spend some quality time in the great outdoors with your friends and family, in places many people never make an effort to enjoy. So get outside and have a great time — just keep the tips we mentioned in mind to ensure things go smoothly and safely. Where’s your favorite desert hike? Let us know in the comments below.