Hikers, campers, backpackers and even the casual outdoor enthusiast who just wants to take a walk in the woods all should be aware of survival tips for the wilderness. James Neill from Wilderdom.com references a California study, which showed that accidents befell a little more than nine people out of 100,000 national park visitors over a three-year period. Deaths in the wilderness were commonly caused by heart attacks, drowning and also falling. But knowing how to stay safe and alive during an unanticipated extension of a wilderness stay, or in the wake of a medical emergency, has the potential to protect you from further injury or even death.
Know the Flora and Fauna
Familiarize yourself with the wild plants and wildlife you are likely to encounter on your hike or camping trip. Pay close attention to edible plants while also learning about the plants that you must avoid. Know if there are predatory animals in the area, such as mountain lions and bears, and bring along repellent for protection. Learn to recognize the tracks of these predators to avoid sudden encounters.
Each and every hike in the mountains or walk in the woods may lead to a wilderness survival situation. That being said, you should anticipate other reasons that might increase your personal risk. For example, hiking in an area you are not familiar with may have you losing the way, potentially necessitating an unplanned night outside as you try to find your way back. Another example is the potential for weather hazards, such as lighting storms or flash floods.
Wilderness Survival Supplies
Bring along a basic survival kit, even if you are just going on a day hike or plan on a leisurely walk with the dog in the woods. Successful survival depends in large part on being prepared in all circumstances. Commercially available basic survival kits---such as the Pocket Survival Pak---contain most everything you need to put up a shelter, fish for food, signal for help and stay warm. Familiarize yourself with the contents, add a few water purification tablets if needed and do not forget to also bring along a first aid kit with extra doses of any medication you are currently taking.
Put Your Priorities in Order
Basic priorities for wilderness survival include drinkable water, food, shelter and a means to stay warm. Depending on your locale and the season, the order of your priorities will differ. For example, if you are caught outside in a blizzard, your first priority is shelter. On the flip side, if you are spending an unexpected night in the balmy outdoors during the height of summer, shelter is most likely not as important as drinking water and food.