K12 Articles

By Rob Krolikiewicz "K12"
Priorities of Survival

There are many types of scenarios that are considered a “survival situation”. From being lost in the wilderness, to surviving an aircraft crash, vehicle crash or a natural disaster such as a hurricane, and tornado. Although these catastrophes are very different, they all have one thing in common. That commonality is called the Priorities of Survival. Regardless of the situation you may find yourself in, your survival priorities will always remain the same.

The order in which you address the survival priorities may vary based on your situation. The Priorities of Survival are: Positive Attitude, First Aid, Shelter, Water, Fire, Signal, and Food. Depending on your situation, Security and Navigation may be added.

Adapt to your situation. But in most cases, stay where you are, build a shelter right away, and prepare a signal for help. It’s easier for a search and rescue team to find you if you stay close to the scene of the incident.

- K12

1) POSITIVE ATTITUDE:    Surviving is psychological battle. Maintaining a survival mindset is essential to your survival. The physical challenges you may experience combined with other stressors like fear, anger, fatigue, boredom, depression, and isolation, validate your need to be mentally prepared. Identify those stressors and overcome them with something to live for like family, friends, faith or revenge. There are numerous real life examples where people have survived unfortunate circumstances only because they wanted to get back to their loved ones. Realize that you are in a survival situation and self-reliance will get you and the people that are with you home alive. Be a leader and apply your survival skills. Other factors come into play when you have elderly people or children in your group. You now need to consider the possibility of different dietary needs and or medications. You need to rest. You should incorporate a rest plan with your daily chores. Sleep deprivation significantly degrades your ability to make sound decisions.

2) FIRST AID:      First aid is important because you first need to treat any injuries, especially life threatening, to ensure you or anyone with you is in proper health to continue. You will have a difficult time performing any other tasks if you do not tend to the injuries first. Hypothermia is the number one killer of all outdoor enthusiasts.

3) SHELTER:     Shelter is designed to get you out of the elements and retain your core body temperature. Your clothes are your first line of shelter. Stuffing debris such as leaves and pine needles into your clothing will increase heat retention. You can also look for natural shelter such as fallen trees and caves. Your next line of shelter is man-made items such as tents, tarps, emergency blankets, even a trash bag can be used as a shelter.

4) SIGNAL:     There are two types of signals – audio and visual. Three of anything is international sign of distress. Three whistle blasts, vehicle horn blasts, or signal fires. Signal fires should be smoky during the day and bright at night. You can use anything shiny as a signal mirror, ie: a cell phone or music cd or dvd.

5) WATER:     Water naturally runs down hill. To enhance your chances of finding water, travel down hill and it may lead you to a water source. Other places to look are within natural crevices such as trees and rocks. Simply laying a piece of waterproof material such as plastic, emergency blanket, or even a jacket in a bowl shape on the ground will catch rain and provide you with some potable water. There are many effective water purification devices on the market. Boiling is the best way to kill all living pathogens to make potable water. Bring water to a rolling boil for five minutes.

6) FIRE:     There are unlimited uses for fire. Heat, signal, light, cooking, and entertainment are only a few. It is important to understand the components of fire making to ensure you get a fire every time you try to start one. The components are ignition source, tinder, kindling, and fuel. Fire preparation is essential and you must have all components ready before you try to start the fire. Types of ignition sources are: lighters, matches, and ferrocerium spark rod. Tinder is a thin, dry, fluffy, flammable material with a low combustion point. ie: dry leaves, dead grass, and pine needles. Kindling is small, dry twigs up to pencil thick sticks. Fuel is categorized as wood that is about wrist diameter and larger. The fuel is what maintains the fire.

7) FOOD:     It is extremely important to maintain your energy level and stamina. Prepare yourself with freeze dried foods, trail mix, and high protein bars before you head out into the wild. If you find yourself in a survival situation where you are without food, there are other options for you. You can eat almost anything with fur, feathers, and scales when cooked. Plants, bugs, nuts are also a way for significant nutritional sustenance and are an easier way to provide needed vitamins, minerals, calories and fat. All animal food must be cooked thoroughly to kill any parasites.

8) SECURITY:     Firearms, blades, pepper spray, or any method of security that you choose, ensure that you obtain the proper training before you need to use your choice of weapon. Although you are in a survival situation, safe handling of all weapons is a necessity in the field. You cannot risk injury due to the mishandling of weapons.

9) NAVIGATION:     Before you head out to the wilderness you need to have a map of the area and a functional compass. Also check with the United States Geologic Survey (USGS) to get an up to date and accurate declination for your area of travel. Here is a way for you to navigate without a map and compass using the moon. Both the sun and moon rise from the east and set in the west. When the moon has two points as in a crescent moon, draw an imaginary line starting from the top point to the second point and continue down to the ground. That is roughly South.

10) TOOLS:     Necessity is the mother of invention and tools make any situation more efficient and easier. Tools may include modern devices such as: multi-tools, ax/hatchet, saw and more primitive options such as: rocks, sticks, and bone. Try to have a few basic tools on you at all times.