Wilderness Survival For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

Foolish Assumptions

What You’re Not to Read

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: Stayin’ Alive: Basic Wilderness Survival Principles

Part II: Eyeing Advanced Survival Techniques

Part III: Surviving in Extreme Land Environments

Part IV: Surviving on the Seas, Oceans, and Great Lakes

Part V: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go From Here

Part I: Stayin’ Alive: Basic Wilderness Survival Principles

Chapter 1: Surviving the Wilderness

Being Prepared and Proactive

Keeping the Right Attitude

Identifying Survival Basics

Regulating your body temperature

Signaling for rescue

Avoiding dehydration

Staying nourished

Navigating in the Wild

Relying on tools to navigate

Looking to the heavens

Surviving Injury

Avoiding Some of the Causes of Survival Situations

Making errors in judgment

Losing it: Behaviors that help you get lost

Chapter 2: Preparing Yourself for aSurvival Situation

Being Ready for Mother Nature

Relying on weather forecasts

Watching for weather signs

Carrying Survival Equipment

Five items you need

Building the basic survival kit

Building the complete kit

Gathering equipment for going out on the water

Chapter 3: The Psychology of Survival: Gaining the Upper Hand

Getting into the Right Mindset

Mastering disbelief

Working with stress and fear

Planning and taking action

Understanding discipline

Valuing life and home

Using humor and a positive attitude

Being Aware of Your Emotions




Anger and blame

Misery and fatigue

Improving Morale

Chapter 4: Survival Style: Keeping Warm or Cool

Regulating Body Temperature

The cold continuum: What happens as your body cools

The heat continuum: What happens as your body heats

Relying on Layering for Warmth

Avoiding a cold sweat

Choosing your layers

Improvising Cold-Weather Clothing

Extreme sewing: Using needle and thread to save your life

Using plastic, cardboard, and other materials for warmth

Putting together animal skins

Having the right headwear, handwear, and footwear

Using Other Ways to Keep Warm

Staying active

Staying warm when you’re staying still

Cool Threads: Clothing for Staying Cool

Wearing a hat and eye protection

Considering other clothing concepts to keep cool

A Cool Proposition: Working at Night, Resting During the Day

Chapter 5: Making Fire in the Wilderness

Making a Fire

Looking at fire-building materials

Understanding fire-making basics

Considering your basic fire structure options

Striking matches correctly

Making fire in wet conditions

Trying Other Ways to Start Fire

Starting a fire with common, everyday items

Igniting a fire, primitive style

Extinguishing a Fire

Chapter 6: Home, Sweet Hut: Survival Shelters

Grasping the Importance of Shelter

Before Making Camp: What to Do

Understanding priorities

Selecting a good campsite

Using Natural Shelters


Caves and rock overhangs

Check for current residents

Putting a Roof over Your Head: Building Simple Shelters

Making a tarp shelter

Building a downed-tree or other A-frame shelter

Constructing an insulated shelter

Keeping Your Shelter Clean

Chapter 7: Liquid Capital: Finding Drinking Water

Knowing Your Water Needs

Stretching your water supply

Rationing water

What Not to Drink

Finding Bodies of Water

Locating water in drainages

Knowing other signs of water

Catching Rain

Collecting Condensation

Gathering dew

Making a transpiration bag

Setting up a solar still

Extracting Water from Plants

Filtering and Purifying Water

Boiling water

Going with chemical treatments

Distilling salt water and urine

Using commercial water filters

Improvising filters

Digging a seepage basin

Chapter 8: Gathering and Hunting to Stay Alive in the Wilderness

Managing Food in the Wild

Including Plants in Your Wilderness Diet

Perusing the salad bar: Where to find a variety of plants

Looking at a plant’s edible parts

Naming edible plants

Is it safe? Deciding whether to eat an unknown plant food

Hunting and Trapping Food

Looking for tracks and critter highways

Snaring small animals

Using a throwing stick

Making and using a spear

Making and using a bow and arrow

Making and using a bola

Going in for the kill with a club

Butchering your next meal

Getting Your Hands on Freshwater Fish

Locating fish

Fishing with a hook and line

Making and using fishing spears

Fishing with a net

Creating a fish bottle trap

Preparing fish to eat

The Wilderness Café: Preparing Food Outdoors

Cooking food you can eat now

Drying and smoking food

Part II: Eyeing Advanced Survival Techniques

Chapter 9: Finding Your Way with Tools: Basic Wilderness Navigation

Grasping Navigation Basics

Setting a route with waypoints

Using deliberate offset

Map Reading Made Easy

Deciphering your map’s colors

Measuring map distances

Using contour lines to identify the shape of the land

Understanding your coordinates

Navigating with a Map

Orienting your map

Keeping track of distance traveled: Dead reckoning

Understanding How Your Compass Works

Breaking down the parts of an orienteering compass

Being aware of potential errors

Navigating with a Map and Compass

Understanding common compass usage

Establishing a field bearing

Using your compass to orient the map

Setting your course from a map bearing

Navigating with a GPS Receiver

What to expect from GPS

Setting your receiver

Using GPS in the wild

Chapter 10: Looking Up to the Skies: Celestial Navigation

Finding Direction with the Sun

Finding north and south around midday

Drawing a compass with the stick and shadow method

Finding direction with your wristwatch and the sun

Finding Direction with the Stars

Looking for the North Star

Finding due south with the Southern Cross

Chapter 11: Trekking over Land

Understanding Trail Travel

Knowing where you are

Knowing where you’ve been

Getting Back on Course When You’re Disoriented

Reviewing your calculations

Using your senses to help you find your way

Taking action when you’re disoriented

What to Do When You’re Lost

Staying put so people can find you

Deciding to travel

Blazing Your Own Trail

Understanding meandering

Traveling in a straight line

Marking your trail

Crossing Obstacles in the Wild

Crossing rivers and streams

Going over loose rock and sand

Chapter 12: Signaling for Rescue

Grasping the Basics to Signaling

Picking a good location

Making your signal stand out

Being persistent

Mastering the Language of Signaling

Using three of anything to show something’s up

SOS and Mayday: Calling for urgent help

Sea stuff: Saying Pan-Pan when you’re not in immediate danger

Using ground-to-air emergency code (patterns)

Using your body to signal

Mastering Signaling Tools

Noisemakers and horns

Mirrors and other reflectors




Dye markers and other color

Aerial flares

Flashlights and electronic lights

Upside-down flags and other things out of place

Signaling with Electronics

Radioing for help

Using cell and sat phones

Using radio beacons: EPIRBs, ELTs, and PLBs

Getting a Lift: What to Do When the Helicopter Comes

Preparing a landing zone

Practicing helicopter safety

Chapter 13: Administering First Aid

Understanding First Aid Basics

Responding to serious trauma

Assessing the ABCs

Using the recovery position

Giving CPR

Controlling Bleeding

Treating capillary and venous bleeding

Handling arterial bleeding

Treating Shock

Handling Breaks, Sprains, and Wounds

Treating fractures

Treating sprains

Cleaning and covering wounds

Closing open wounds

Bandaging a sucking chest wound

Treating infections in wounds

Treating Burns

Handling minor burns

Dealing with more-severe burns

Addressing Hypothermia and Dehydration

Treating hypothermia

Dealing with dehydration

Treating Bites, Stings, and Poisonings

Mammal bites


Spider bites and insect stings


Chapter 14: Survive or Thrive? Advanced Methods and Tools

Keeping It Together: Ropes and Knots

Getting the lowdown on rope

Knowing the types of cordage

Tying some essential knots

Lashings for loads

That’s a wrap: Making a tripod

Making a square lashing

Crafting Your Own Tools

Making stone tools

Carving bone and antler tools

Making Natural Remedies

Using salicin, nature’s aspirin

Preparing medicines for wounds, burns, and bowels

Part III: Surviving in Extreme Land Environments

Chapter 15: Special Considerations for Forests and Jungles

Identifying Hazardous Wildlife in Dry Forests

Preventing bear attacks

Avoiding mountain lions

Avoiding woodland snakes

Evading spiders and ticks

Laws of the Jungle: Surviving in the Tropics

Preventing jungle diseases

Obtaining safe water

The jungle cover-up: Dressing for the tropics

Avoiding mud flats, sand traps, and dangerous terrain

Using a machete

Making camp and shelters

Identifying Dangerous Animals in the Tropics

Insects and other buggy creatures

Jungle snakes

Gators, crocs, and caimans



Chapter 16: The Big Chill: Enduring in Snowy Places

Staying Warm

Cold Comfort: Making Your Shelter in a Snowy Environment

Grasping snow shelter basics

Making a snow-cave

Making Fire in Cold, Snowy Environments

Finding fuel in snowy places

Protecting a fire from the snow

Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow: Safe-to-Drink Snow and Ice

Choosing and treating frozen water sources

Melting snow and ice

Steering Clear of Cold-Environment Terrain Hazards

Avoiding avalanche terrain

Staying off thin ice

Avoiding cornices

Glacial cracks: Avoiding crevasses

Dealing with snow slopes

Making Wearable Tools for Cold-Weather Survival

Creating footwear

Insulating your clothing

Protecting your face and eyes

Making mittens out of socks

Chapter 17: Staying Alive under the Sun

Knowing the Dangers the Sun and Heat Pose

Going skin deep with sunburn

Overheating your body with heat exhaustion and stroke

Wearing Sun Shields

Cool clothes for hot times: Dressing for desert survival

Slathering on the sunblock

Finding Shelter in the Desert

Building a sunshade

Looking for shady places

Warming shelters overnight

Finding Water in the Desert

Discovering standing water

Locating water underground

Squeezing water from mud or sand

Unearthing water from cracks in rock

Making a desert solar still

Collecting water from a cactus

Finding Food in the Dry Places

Fruits of the desert: Eating cacti and other plants

Eating insects

Choosing poultry and eggs

Catching desert mammals

Dining on lizards and snakes

Avoiding Dangerous Desert Animals

Gila monsters and slithering snakes

Stinging scorpions, centipedes, and spiders

Wind and Water: Watching Out for Desert Weather

Staying high and dry during flash floods

Taking shelter from sandstorms

Finding Your Way in the Desert

Traveling at night

Traveling in daylight

Crossing Desert Terrain

Part IV: Surviving on the Seas, Oceans, and Great Lakes

Chapter 18: Staying Afloat and Warm

Recognizing When Your Vessel Is in Trouble


Poor trim or listing

Bad weather and heavy seas



Hatch failure and ship damage

Knowing What to Do If Your Boat Starts to Sink

Radioing for help

Putting on a life jacket

Preparing to abandon ship

Abandoning ship: The how-to

Coping with sharks

Staying Warm as You Float with a Life Jacket

What to do in the water

Staying warm in groups

Floating without a Life Jacket

Inflating your clothes

Understanding long-term floating

Chapter 19: The Great Drift: Aboard Life Rafts and Disabled Vessels

Getting from Ship to Life Raft

Locating the life raft

Knowing when to abandon ship

Launching a life raft

Entering a life raft

Adjusting to Life Afloat

The first ten minutes in a raft

Inside the raft: Giving order to the chaos

The flip-out: Righting a raft

Controlling Drifting Vessels

Taking action with depowered boats

Traveling with current and sail

Restarting outboard motors

Chapter 20: Food and Drink at Sea

On the Water Front: Improving Your Chances for Survival

Understanding your body’s dehydration limits

The first line of defense: Conserving your body’s water

Rationing your water

Avoiding salt water

Making Fresh Water on the Sea

Collecting and drinking rainwater

Collecting condensation

Using water makers

Setting up a still at sea

Removing salt with desalination kits

Considering Living Sources of Water

Drinking the juice of fish

Drinking turtle blood

Fishing at Sea

Tackling hooks and lines

Using a spear

Using nets

Advanced fishing for the hungry

Catching small sharks by hand

Bringing in Your Catch

Preparing and Eating Fish

Setting up the sushi bar

Knowing which fish aren’t on the menu

Identifying Other Delicious Things to Eat in the Sea





Chapter 21: Emergency Travel and Navigation at Sea

Swimming Back to Land

Measuring distance to shore

Figuring out where the current is taking you

Moving in the water: Float or swim

Swimming out of a rip current

Improvised Open-Sea Navigation for Life Rafts

Getting your bearings

Estimating current at sea

Understanding signs of land

Coming Ashore: A Dangerous Ordeal

Basic landing principles

Procedures for landing

Chapter 22: First Aid on the Water

Responding to Water Casualties

Getting someone out of the water

Understanding hypothermia

Treating cold shock response

Handling near drowning

Treating Common Sea Ailments


Sunburn and heat maladies

Water-glare blindness

Skin chafe and saltwater sores

Treating Bites and Stings


Sea snakes

Stinging fish and stingrays

Cone shells and terebra shells

Part V: The Part of Tens

Chapter 23: Ten Ways to Practice Wilderness Survival Skills

Make a Fire with Two Matches

Make a Fire with a Magnifying Glass

Make a Fire with a Bow Drill

Make a Flotation Device from Your Pants

Find North with the Sky’s Help

Make a Tripod

Make a Bow and Arrow

Make a Transpiration Bag

Use a CD to Practice Signaling

Practice CPR

Chapter 24: Ten Quick Escapes

Escaping a Sinking Car

Escaping a Small Plane in Water

Righting a Small Boat or Canoe

Escaping a Forest Fire

Escaping a Bee Swarm

Surviving a Bear Encounter

Encountering a Mountain Lion

Surviving an Avalanche

Surviving a Whiteout

Getting Out of Quicksand

Wilderness Survival For Dummies®

by John Haslett and Cameron M. Smith, PhD


About the Authors

John Haslett is a veteran expedition leader and adventure writer. He is the author of various adventure books, magazine articles, and academic papers, and his work has been featured in National Geographic Adventure, Archaeology, QST, and other magazines. He has spent decades catching unpleasant tropical diseases, explaining himself to local authorities, fleeing from various misguided animals, and putting into practice many of the tenets of this book.

In the 1990s, with the help of an isolated community of Ecuadorian mariners, John built four 30,000-pound wooden rafts and then voyaged on the Pacific Ocean aboard those primitive vessels for hundreds of days. He and Cameron are now preparing their most extensive expeditions to date.

John lives in Los Angeles with his wife, film director Annie Biggs.

Cameron M. Smith’s mountaineering, sailing, archaeological, and icecap expeditions have taken him to Africa, South America, arctic Alaska, Canada, and Iceland. In 2004, he made the first solo winter ski crossing of Iceland’s storm-lashed Vatnajökull icecap, an expedition televised on the National Geographic Channel. He is currently documenting arctic Alaska in winter by trekking on, piloting a paraglider over, and scuba diving beneath the sea ice.

Cameron has written for Scientific American Mind, Hang Gliding & Paragliding, Archaeology, and Spaceflight magazines and in the books The Best Travel Writing (2008, 2009), Science under Siege, They Lived to Tell the Tale, The Top 10 Myths about Evolution, and Anthropology For Dummies.

A Life Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Fellow of the Explorers Club, and a member of the Society for Human Performance in Extreme Environments, Cameron is currently writing a narrative of his Iceland expeditions and preparing for balloon exploration of the stratosphere as well as another Pacific expedition with John Haslett. You can track his expedition at


John Haslett: This book is dedicated to Annie Biggs, Cameron Smith, Alejandro Martinez, Cesar Alarcon, and Dower Medina — five extraordinary people who know a thing or two about surviving in bad conditions.

And to the boys and men of Troop 100, BSA, wherever you are . . .

Cameron M. Smith: Like John, I dedicate this book to my companions in adventure: namely, John himself; my mountaineering partners, Dr. Chiu Liang Kuo, W. McRee Anderson III, and Jamie Anderson; my flight instructors, Larry Pindar and George McPherson; my diving partner, Todd Olson; Arctic Expedition Coordinator Chuck Sullivan; and Dr. Evan T. Davies. Thank you all for throwing your dice with me. I also dedicate this book to the indigenous people across the globe — the Samburu of East Africa, the fisher-folk of West Ecuador, and the Inupiat of Alaska — who taught me how to survive in places where suburbanites like me would otherwise just vanish.

Authors' Acknowledgments

John Haslett: I would like to send my thanks to my wife, Annie Biggs, for her editing, proofing, scheduling, strategizing, and solid backboned, fighting spirit. I am lucky. I would also like to acknowledge Cameron McPherson Smith, PhD, my coauthor. Not only did he write roughly half of this book, but he also hand-drew some 120 technical illustrations at the same time. Thanks to Literary Agent Matt Wagner at Fresh Books, Inc., who represented this book and who has been exceedingly supportive. I’d like to thank the editor of this book, Chad Sievers, who has been excellent to work with and someone I would work with again, as well as copy editor Danielle Voirol, who made important contributions to this manuscript. Lindsay Lefevere, Acquisitions Editor, deserves credit for believing this would be a worthwhile book. Search and Rescue veterans Gary Cascio and Rick Goodman, both of New Mexico, were generous with their time, advice, and facts. Finally, I’d like to send out my deepest thanks to all the readers and supporters of my previous work — all the letter writers and e-mailers and lecture attendees.

Cameron M. Smith: I thank John Haslett for inviting me aboard one of his extraordinary raft expeditions and for his rock-solid friendship over more than a decade. I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to thank John’s wife, Annie Biggs, for supporting John’s expeditions. I thank Literary Agent Matt Wagner for suggesting this project, Acquisitions Editor Lindsay Lefevere for managing it, and our primary editors, Chad Sievers and Danielle Voirol, for deftly improving the text. I thank our technical reviewers for their helpful comments, and like John, I thank my friends and mentors from Boy Scout Troop 616, among whose company I first learned the rewards of an outdoor life. I thank Angela Perri for her limitless patience during this time-devouring project and Search and Rescue Technician Jeff Parsons of the Idaho Falls Fire Department for his technical comments. Finally, I thank my parents, professors Donald E. and Margit J. Posluschny Smith, for granting me the freedom to weave reality from my dreams. There is no greater gift, and I know that the price — their worry while I’m on expedition — is real.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Chad R. Sievers

Acquisitions Editor: Lindsay Lefevere

Senior Copy Editor: Danielle Voirol

Assistant Editor: Erin Calligan Mooney

Editorial Program Coordinator: Joe Niesen

Technical Editors: Jeffrey Hunt Mantel, Edward Sobey, PhD, Alan Searle, MD

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistant: Jennette ElNaggar

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: Image Source Pink

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Lynsey Stanford

Layout and Graphics: Melanee Habig, Christin Swinford, Ronald Terry, Christine Williams

Special Art: Cameron M. Smith

Proofreaders: Caitie Copple, John Greenough, Nancy L. Reinhardt

Indexer: Anne Leach

Special Help: Megan Knoll, Jennifer Tebbe

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


Welcome to the realm of the extraordinary. Survival situations can bring out greatness in some people, and they can also bring out foolishness or terror or spiritual renewal or changes in perspective or sometimes, just enormous gratitude for being alive. We, your friendly authors, have crawled like fleas in the face of enormous winds and waves, and we, too, have experienced these extraordinary states of mind — and many more.

But more often than not, survival situations aren’t so romantic: You’re on a day hike, 5 miles from a major city — hopelessly lost — and even though you can hear and see signs of civilization, you’re still in danger of dying from hypothermia in the next hour. Unfortunately, this situation can kill you just as fast as being lost on an expedition to the North Pole. Perhaps even worse, when you do finally make it out, you don’t get an ounce of respect for it from the folks back home! Well, we wrote this book with sympathy for both — those involved in exotic adventures and those who just got a little turned-around while taking pictures.

You may worry, understandably, that wilderness survival requires you to bite off the heads of snakes and eat them raw or perhaps leap from a cliff into a raging river. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many survival skills are much more mundane. For example, you can extend the life of your batteries by taking them out of your flashlight and putting them inside your shirt (or better yet, in a plastic bag taped to your armpit) — against your skin. Keeping batteries warm makes your flashlight run much, much longer during the cold and dark night. There. That wasn’t so bad, was it? You picked up a basic survival skill and you didn’t have to shiver or go hungry. You’re already rolling.

About This Book

This book is designed to thoroughly cover the basics of wilderness survival. To compile the information, we’ve used the most tried-and-true sources, such as The U.S. Army Survival Manual and Essentials of Sea Survival, by Frank Golden and Michael Tipton (Human Kinetics), but we’ve called upon our own practical experiences as well. We give you much of this information in a cheerful voice, but we also interject a more serious tone when we have to give you grim news. You can find both voices in these pages.

Conventions Used in This Book

Throughout this book, we use the word we when we, Cameron and John, both want to say something personal to you, our reader. This book comes from the combined experiences of two people who’ve been through a lot of misadventures and who are very close friends. We’ve been in enough trouble — and scared enough — that we think alike, basically, and therefore we speak with the same voice.

We define the wilderness as just about any place out-of-doors. We know from bitter experience that it’s easy to freeze to death in places that a geographer wouldn’t necessarily think of as “wilderness areas.” With that in mind, you should know that this isn’t a camping book; it’s a book for anyone at risk of perishing from exposure to the elements, whether camping or off on a harmless stroll.

We try not to use too much technical terminology in this book, but when we do offer new vocab, we italicize the term the first time we use it. Shortly after giving you the new term, we always define it.

Foolish Assumptions

Although we know that you don’t fit every description in this list of assumptions we make about you, our reader, we do assume that you have a least a few of the following characteristics:

You want a basic survival book that gives practical, tried-and-tested advice, whether you’re solo or with a group.

You’ve tried other manuals, but they seem just a little too, well, dry.

You want a comprehensive survival manual that you can throw in your car or backpack (or carry-on luggage), just in case.

You’re already in a wilderness survival situation and you have this handbook nearby.

You’ve seen a survival show on television and it has intrigued you.

You’re not someone who is into bushcraft (at least not yet), which is the art of being completely self-sufficient in the wilderness. You can find numerous, excellent books if you want to live off the land, long term. We simply want to help you survive so you can find your way back to civilization or signal a search and rescue team.

What You’re Not to Read

Although we hope you enjoy reading every word that we’ve written, we also realize that you’re a busy person, juggling a career, family, and friends and handling ten other responsibilities. If you just want the bare essentials of surviving in the wild, feel free to skip the sidebars that appear in the gray shaded boxes. The information in the sidebars is additional information, purely for the curious. You can also skip over any paragraphs marked with the Technical Stuff icon, which marks info that’s fun or useful but not essential. We hope you read them, but if you don’t, you won’t miss any vital information.

How This Book Is Organized

Though you can turn to any section in this book and start reading, we’ve organized the information so that we start with the most basic needs and then work up to the extremes. Whenever we talk about a basic idea that we think has an exception in an extreme situation, we tell you where to look for that exception. We also try to do the reverse: In extreme environments, we frequently send you back to the basics to help you review the foundations of survival. Here’s what you can find in the various parts of this book.

Part I: Stayin’ Alive: Basic Wilderness Survival Principles

In this part, we start with basic survival protocol — what you should do and in what order you should do it. We show you how to make improvised clothing, how to make fire, how to make shelters, and how to find water and food. We also spend some time showing you how to prepare for the wilderness — what to carry and what to keep an eye out for.

Part II: Eyeing Advanced Survival Techniques

This is the part that we hope gives you the upper hand over your surroundings. In this part, you discover how to navigate, trek through trails and the bush, make sure someone sees you so you can be rescued, handle a bleeding wound, and tie knots and make tools from wood and stone.

Part III: Surviving in Extreme Land Environments

In this part, we address all the special problems (and miseries, frankly) that jungle, desert, and polar environments can present to you, the survivor. We delve into topics such as tropical disease prevention, snake avoidance, cactus eating, and avalanche safety.

Part IV: Surviving on the Seas, Oceans, and Great Lakes

This part takes you from the moment your vessel begins to sink to the moment you make it back to shore and every place in between. It shows you how to abandon a ship safely, how to float for extended periods of time, how to inflate a life raft, and hopefully, how to catch a fish — without accidentally deflating the raft!

Part V: The Part of Tens

In this part, we give you ten fun exercises that you can do to improve your survival skills in the field. We also show you ten scenarios that aren’t so much about survival as escape.

Icons Used in This Book

In this book, we place icons, little pictures in the margins, next to some of the paragraphs that we feel need a little extra emphasis.

Tip.eps This symbol gives you a little added info that (hopefully) makes the survival skill we’ve just explained a little easier. Sometimes, a tip is also a small qualification — a little explanation that tells you when you should use another method.

Remember.eps This symbol is a reminder to do a particular action that makes a survival skill successful, or it makes you think about common sense before you rush out and try something!

warning_bomb_.eps This symbol means danger. When we use this symbol, we’re trying to emphasize some aspect of a survival situation that can really get you into trouble.

technicalstuff.eps This symbol tells you that we’re giving you some background info on the topic, but you don’t necessarily need to know the info to be able to execute the actions outlined in the text.

truestory_uk_.eps This symbol marks true stories of survival and some of our own accounts of close calls, foolish mistakes, and improvised solutions.

Where to Go From Here

Feel free to start reading this book anywhere you like. The five parts are completely modular, so you don’t have to read them in order. However, Chapter 1 is certainly a good place to start because it tells you exactly what to do first if you find yourself lost in the woods.

Part I is a great place to start to get a good foundation for all things wilderness survival. If you’re planning on a trip to an extreme environment, you may want to start with Part III. On the other hand, if you’re looking for adventures on the sea, you can go straight to Part IV.

Of course, when you’re in a survival situation, you can check out the index or table of contents and simply flip to the information you need. If you’re bleeding, or if you’ve twisted your ankle, or if you’ve been bitten by a snake, check out Chapter 13. Or if your ship has gone under and you find yourself in a life raft, go to Chapter 19.

Part I

Stayin’ Alive: Basic Wilderness Survival Principles


In this part . . .

Whether you’re adrift at sea or lost on a day hike, survival situations throw the same basic questions at you: How can you stay warm overnight? How are you going to prevent dehydration or get something to eat?

In this part, we show you how to prioritize your actions. For instance, we let you know that while you’re waiting for rescue or planning your escape, your first priorities are to keep warm (or cool), find water, and take shelter — only then do you start looking for food. We also give advice on psychological preparedness, talk about improvising clothing, and name some practical methods for making fire, building shelter, finding water, and harvesting food from the wilderness.