Wilderness and Disaster Survival

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Welcome! This section is all about surviving all sorts of conditions be they the typical getting lost in the woods or the exotic such as knowing what to do when the threat of a tsunami looms or a sandstorm is imminent. I have by no means been through all of the situations described on this site. However, all of the tips and descriptions come from reputable sources including survival experts and even the US Army.

What Does “Wilderness” Mean?

Wilderness can be any natural area greatly distant from man. For the purpose of this section, we generally mean woodland wilderness, areas of abundant trees and often undergrowth. On occasion, we include desert environments where some trees or other plant resources are available. This focus was chosen because these are the most common settings for wilderness work and recreation. That doesn't we won't touch on other types of wildernesses (and disasters), but unless otherwise stated you can assume wilderness = forest.

What Does “Survival” Mean?

Survival is a continuum — an ongoing series of incidents that must be addressed. Some of them require a rapid response. If caught in a winter storm, for example, one must build shelter and make fire quickly in order to survive the night. Other incidents have longer time horizons. Having survived the night, you may need to feed yourself for several weeks.

Survival, then, can mean different things and include different outcomes. You may be entirely fit and know exactly where you are, and need only live through a brutally cold night before you can hike out to safety the following day. Or you may be hundreds of miles from the nearest habitation with no one knowing your whereabouts — in which case, survival might mean living off the land for days or weeks before you reach help. Or movement may be unwise or impossible — you may be totally lost, stranded, or forced to stay put because of an injury in your party—and survival then means maintaining yourselves in one place for an indefinite period while you await rescue.

No matter what the challenge, duration, or objective, the skills in the articles below are meant to help you survive.

Where to Start

For those with a general interest in wilderness survival, I recommend you start with this article on constructing emergency shelters whether they be tree shelters or snow shelters. It should be obvious that shelter is a primary concern because without it you may not make it through the first night alive. I also recommend becoming familiar with the basics around building a fire as well as specific techniques for signaling your location to rescuers.

If you're like me, you probably also have an interest in survival gear and equipment. I'm still putting together a complete list of articles about the products I've used so stay tuned! However, there is one I product that I recently wrote about that I wish I had back when I was camping as kid WetFire tinder.

And for those of you that just can't get enough, there are some books worth looking at. I've got two book reviews up so far. The first, The Worst Case Scenario Handbook, is a light read and the second is simply called Wilderness Survival which goes into a lot of detail.

Fortunately for us, TV Networks like the Discovery Channel have caught on to the interest we have in wilderness survival. Whether you're looking for the adrenalin pumping style of Bear Gryll's show or the more sedate, but arguably more realistic Les Stroud, they've got you covered. There are also spin offs such as Dual Survival that showcases the skill of two survival experts that approach challenges in completely different ways or the husband and wife team in Man, Woman, Wild both of which are informative and entertaining.

Thanks for stopping by and please don't hesitate to post comments or questions at the bottom of each article.