Preparing Yourself for a Survival Situation

By making a few preparations before going into the wilderness, you can take a quantum leap in self-sufficiency and survivability. You need to consider the weather in particular, and how it can affect your situation. In addition, a discussion about being prepared is not complete without mentioning the importance of having a stocked survival kit in the event that something happens to you or your group. We ‘re giving you some practical suggestions in this chapter to predict bad weather and know how to handle it, and we’re showing you a practical survival kit, and how to carry it.

Being Ready for Mother Nature

Different authorities and surveys can tell you that judgmental errors cause more emergencies in the wild than just about anything else. Improperly suited to the condition is high on the list of mistakes. Judging exactly what you are going into — and having the right gear for the area — will go a very long way to keeping out of survival situations.

By knowing what weather to expect, you can take care when choosing which clothes to wear and when and where to wag. This section helps you gain a firm grasp of weather issues.

Watching for weather signs

Usually you don’t have a chance to search the Web while you’re in the field. However, you should watch out for signs of changing weather — especially changes that were not expected or that had little chance of happening. Look out for the winds and clouds to help you make weather forecasts.

Considering the winds Keep an eye on the wind you ‘re feeling now, and the wind you ‘re not feeling yet. When the wind rises, or shifts course, things shift around you. When the wind changes significantly, this typically means a major weather transition.

Try to size up the terrain around you to gage the wind you don’t feel, and then estimate what a big wind would do if it suddenly came upon you. Here’s what wind can do on different terrains:

· Hard winds will cause a dramatic drop in temperature if you’re on an exposed mountain side.

When you have open fields, note that wide open spaces are the speedway for high winds in nature.

· If you’re in the vicinity of an exposed cliff, the wind can come in, blow the cliff and create havoc.

Watching the clouds

Within a few hours or minutes, two forms of clouds signal the arrival of rain. Here are clouds with nimbus (rain):

Every dark, low, heavily laden cloud: obviously the rain is coming, right? These grey, blanket-like clouds are clouds with nimbostratus.

High, dense, fluffy clouds: this second type of rain cloud, although less evident, indicates heavy rain and thunderstorms. Usually, an anvil head (a cumulonimbus cloud) is tall, dense (like a big island in the sky), and as puffy as cotton. If you see this type of cloud growing very tall in the sky during the day, or worse, you begin to become lopsided at the top — blown sideways by high altitude winds — you see an anvil head. Usually these storm clouds bring rain, lightning, high winds, and occasionally hail.

If you’ve got a 20 percent rain chance forecast and an anvil head or low, gray clouds are nearby, feel free to lift your chances of rain to 50 percent (or more), all by yourself.

Carrying Survival Equipment

Always bring a forest survival pack with you. If, as we have done, you spend enough time in the dark and in danger, you will find that almost always one little thing is what saves you. Being prepared and carrying a survival kit can often transform at least one tolerable situation into a bad one. We’ll discuss different types of kits in this section. Each equipment list is a little bit more detailed than the previous one. Often we mention a piece of equipment twice, since having two forms of a specific object is perfect for being completely prepared.

Five items you need.

You must always have five simple things with you, even though there are those in your group who have them too. You ‘re completely defenseless without these items — naked, really. You can put three of those things on a keychain, and in one pocket can fit four of the five.

Torchlight

You need a flashlight to perform complicated tasks in the dark, and also to be able to signal for assistance at night. Many times, particularly when you have plenty of moonlight, you can try to do something with your natural night vision; however, you may not have time to adapt to the darkness, or you may need to perform a crucial function, such as reading maps in a dense forest on a moonless night. Fortunately the choices for flashlights are almost infinite.

Fire maker

A fire maker, such as a lighter or magnesium bar, is important as it gives you the power to produce flame, and hypothermia presents an even greater danger than dehydration in most cases. To die of dehydration takes from one to ten days, but in less than 90 minutes you can die of hypothermia.

Penknife, pocketknife, or multitool

You don’t need to have a big, impressive knife in the wild (although it certainly helps), but you need some sort of blade to have. Your three principal options — all of which have blades folding down.

Water container

Staying hydrated keeps you going high and at your best. Carrying a good container means you can easily refill it. Two things to bear in mind when buying and bringing a container: