You may be passionate about extreme adventures, but do you got what it takes to survive in a critical situation? Did all the movies you watch or books you read actually help you develop what you need in order to save your and your dear ones’ lives?

Follow this checklist with ten vital skills you should acquire and get yourself ready for (almost) any crucial situation:

1. Finding the appropriate campground

The first thing you must envisage when you’re in a vitally important situation is the place your new shelter will be, be it temporarily or semi-permanent. You should orient towards higher grounds, free from any natural dangers – you don’t want any insect or animals nest near your shelter, neither falling rocks or dead branches that could affect your campsite.

Avoid any area that will later favour any flash-food and try establishing your camp near a rocky wall that will naturally shield you.

After having settled the first criterion (high altitude), the second aspect is the access you’ll have to resources, such as water, fruits (if the case) and dry wood for the fire.

2. Building the actual shelter

Once you’ve found the place you think fits all the requirements above, start making your camp. About how to construct your refuge we already talked in this and this article, but keep in mind: maintaining your body heat at a constant level is one of your primary targets, so isolate the ground with a few inches of debris to avoid any heat loss.

3. Firing up!

This would be the moment to do everything you were told not to because it may lead to fire. Any short-circuit will do, providing you have batteries or a battery-powered device in your survival pack (Bonus: if you also have a spray can, it will enhance the flame). Use a wire or anything metallic to connect the two terminals, and spread the fire!

4. Finding potable water

The human body has its limits, which will be tested in a life-or-death situation, and the first limit to prove will be thirstiness. While you will resist up to 40 days without food, dehydration leaves severe marks on your body. It starts with hypovolemia, nausea, judgement impairment and an increased perception of effort intensity if you lose 1-2% of your body fluids. If your dehydration level increases up to 4%, you will face the loss of muscle, resistance, and effort capacity and your central nervous system will be affected regarding memory loss and decreased reaction time. Losing more than 4% will lead to renal insufficiency, coma and eventually death.

Finding a reliable source of water near the camp might be a solution, but if you have no running water around, here are a few methods that will help you.

5. Collecting drinking water

You will most probably face a situation where you will need larger amounts of water in a short period, so collecting it can spare you a serious headache. Tie a plastic bag to a branch full of leaves and return a few hours later. The green leaves will “transpire”, providing you clean, fresh water.

6. Identifying what’s edible

If you will leave the whole “preys and hunting” story behind, you will find that the best food sources are the smallest – fish and plants. While fish are easy to catch, discerning which plants are and which aren’t edible will save you a lot of time. Buy yourself a book and learn which is which (Hint: dandelions, clover, and wild spinach are your friends).

7. Navigating by day and by night

Navigation is the main issue when you have no landmarks, but there are a few ways to help yourself. If there are trees around you, look for moss, as it points North. Also, if you have an analog clock, use it as a compass following these steps:

  1. While holding the watch horizontally, point the hour hand at the sun.
  2. Find the middle spot between 12 o’clock (13, on daylight savings) and the hour hand, and draw an imaginary line that crosses it. That will be the North-South line.

By night, follow the stars and constellations – once you distinguish Polaris, you know where North is.

8. Tying knots

Rope loops and bends should be part of your skills when it comes to survival. One of the most resistant and easy to do knots is Bowline.

9.Signaling you need help

Whenever you find yourself in a critical situation, think of ways you could ask for help. Sending signals through a mirror, or writing the biggest SOS in the sand are two ways to make sure your need has been seen.

Tip: if you use mirror signals, redirecting sunrays isn’t enough – spread your fingers in front of the mirror to flash the light.

What other skills do you think are vital when it comes to surviving? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section! 

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