In a disaster scenario your survival depends on fulfilling certain human needs, and having certain knowledge and skill sets. The needs and the necessary responses are basically the same in any environment; wilderness, city or suburb. You have to ask yourself these questions:
What is it that will take my life if I don’t have it, and how soon?
What are my most urgent needs?
You should come up with these answers:
I will need uncontaminated air to breathe, and I’ll need it within 3 MINUTES.
I will need to sustain a 98.6 body temperature within 3 HOURS.
I will need uncontaminated water to drink within 3 DAYS.
I will need nourishing food to eat within 3 WEEKS.
I will need to protect myself from harm immediately.
These are the survival needs and the time factors within which their lack will cause danger, or death, to the human body. In a disaster situation you may be deprived of one or more of these basic needs. To survive the lack of these priorities you must develop a set of skills that will allow you to locate, provide or improvise that which is needed. In addition to the skills you must learn, having the right tools can make these tasks much easier. Above all, a “survivors” attitude is the greatest asset you can have.
All of this can be factored into a basic set of priorities that I call the Principles of Survival:
These principles are derived from the above needs and time requirements, and they need to become the foundation of your survival intellect and philosophy. These five principles should be your very first thoughts in a survival situation. They should become automatic and your concentration given to their implementation before anything else, except for immediate rescue or first aid needs of yourself and others.
Let me explain the Principles of Survival:
The equipment or gear that you may have with you, or around you, that can help you with providing the other elements. This element encompasses “protection” and can run the range from band-aids to bullets. The most important tools to have in this category are: knives, hand axes, multi-tools, saws, shovels, fire-starters, first aid kits, signaling devices, self defense items (lethal and non-lethal), air filters and masks, food procurement devices (hunting, fishing, trapping), etc. A wise person realizes that unstable world conditions, both natural and man-caused, could precipitate a survival situation anyplace or anytime. He/she therefore makes sure that, as far as possible, such tools are readily available at all times.
The purpose of shelter is to protect your need for a constant body temperature of 98.6 degrees. Shelter can be considered in three parts. First an external barrier to the elements of wind, wet, cold or heat, that can affect your body core temperature and cause hypothermia/hyperthermia. These conditions can be serious threats to your life and well being. Such barriers can be buildings, vehicles, overhangs, waterproof sheet materials (tarps, tents, etc.), debris and wreckage (plywood sheets, wood or metal panels, etc.), anything that can effectively protect you from the weather.
Secondly, the clothing that you wear on your body is shelter. Your clothes can insulate you from the cold, or protect you from the heat (providing you are wearing appropriate materials for the season). Additional outerwear items such as rain gear or ponchos provide further protection.
The third consideration is an external source of warmth…fire. The ability to make a fire has been to the benefit of mankind since the very beginning. We will discuss more about fire shortly, but a wise person (for the same reason given above in tools) will have the implements of fire-making on hand at all times.
Fire is perhaps the most useful of the five principles. With fire you can provide warmth, as we just discussed, and use it to purify water, cook food, signal for help and keep the lions, tigers and bears away (oh my). In addition a crackling fire can be of comfort and cheer in a stressful situation, and have an uplifting effect on one’s attitude (which is vitally important). As mentioned above, a wise person will always have a fire-starting tool handy.
After three days without water your body will develop detrimental effects that can lead to death. Your body will need from a minimum of one quart to a maximum of one gallon, depending on the climate and exertion levels. Having a substantial source, or supply, of water is therefore essential to survival. Water needs to be pure or uncontaminated when you drink it, but not necessarily so when you find it. You can purify some pretty nasty water by boiling. It might not look good, or taste good, but it will not make you sick or kill you to drink it. There are several water purification devices that can be carried as well. Carrying sufficient water in a survival kit is difficult as it requires a lot of space, and is very heavy. A boiling pot and/or a purification filter are much better options.
You can survive for three weeks or more without food. However, (after only a couple of days) your body will be seriously depleted of energy and your attitude in bad shape. These conditions can lead to terrible consequences in lack of judgment, fear and panic. It is essential that you have a food source or supply. Of course lightweight, dehydrated food supplies can be carried in an emergency survival kit, but consideration should be given to hunting, fishing and gathering as an alternate necessity. A healthy survivor’s attitude is valuable here. It must be accepted that food is food…bugs to bagels, it’s all good (if not tasty).
So, there you have it…the Principles of Survival. If, or when, you find yourself in a survival situation I hope that these principles immediately pop into your head and you start looking all around you for the things you will need to provide for them. Better yet, I would want to see you confidently give that little belly pack, backpack, or messenger bag, an affectionate pat, knowing that you are prepared. To stay prepared follow me on Facebook for more survival suggestions. …..Rudy