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There’s nothing like a camping trip or a simple walk in the woods with your kids. It is a refreshing and relaxing experience that can bring the family together. Unfortunately, all too easily something can go wrong. You wander off the trail and you’re lost, disoriented, and scared because as a parent, there is more than just your safety at risk.
However, with some basic knowledge, focus, a cool head, and common sense, survival until rescue is possible. I’m going to take you through some of the basic wilderness survival tips every parent should know. Remember knowing these things could make all the difference to your survival.
While traveling or camping with kids, make sure to be aware of your surroundings. Play eye-spy with the kids to help make mental notes of landmarks or things you could use to orientate yourself. Leave a trail. Every so often break branches, make piles of rocks or carve on trees. Anything that will be a signal for you to find your way back. If, however, the worst happens and you do become lost, remember to “STOP!”
STOP– If you think you are lost, stop! You do not want to make the situation worse.
THINK– Do not panic! Keep calm and try to think about the last place you knew where you were.
OBSERVE – Examine your surroundings, can you orientate yourself? Look at landmarks, the weather, the time of day, and if you have one, your map. What supplies do you have on hand, and how can those help you?
PLAN – Create a plan. If it’s early in the day and you think you can orientate yourself you may choose to try and get back on track. If you decide to do this leave a trail so you don’t end up going in circles. If it’s later in the day or you think moving will cause more harm than good; it’s time to start making camp.
Finding or making a shelter is the number one priority in a survival situation. Our bodies are not made to combat harsh conditions such as extreme heat or cold, whereas you can go a few days without food or water.
There are 3 basic shelters you can build quickly with limited resources:
Having sorted shelter, water is the next most important element needed for survival. In generous conditions, humans can survive for up to a week without water, but on average, it’s only 3-4 days. Therefore the need to find a source of water when you’re out in the wild is vital.
Dehydration makes life harder, especially in a survival situation, but you do not want to put yourself in any more danger by drinking contaminated water. While water testing kits and filters are ideal, you may not find yourself with one in a survival situation. Before you drink, there are a few things you can look out for:
Water can be purified by purifying tablets or straws. If you do not have access to such measures. Boiling would be your best option. Start by filtering the water through your sock to remove solid contaminants, and then boil over a fire.
Knowing how to build a fire can make a big difference in a survival situation. Even if you are not faced with cold temperatures, a fire can be used for cooking, boiling water, keeping wild animals and insects away, and signalling for help.
In order to build a fire you need kindling (grass, dry leaves), tinder (small twigs, sticks) and fuel (branches, logs). Start by making a small pile of kindling and tinder, light the kindling using matches and then slowly add more tinder to the pile. Gradually add bigger sticks and branches as the heat builds up, once it’s hot enough, place logs in to the middle of the fire in a star pattern, pushing them further in and replacing them as they burn.
If you have no matches:
Finding food in the wilderness with limited resources is challenging. Therefore it is recommended that every parent carry an essentials bag wherever they go with their kids. It should contain at the minimum a new unused garbage bag, matches or lighter, knife, basic first aid kit, water and basic food. This will become invaluable in a survival situation. If, however, you find yourself without your bag, there are a few options:
Be careful not to eat anything if you are unsure of what it is. Remember your body can go 3 weeks without food but if you eat something poisonous you could be dead in hours.
Every parent should know basic first aid skills and these are even more vital in the wilderness. In your essentials bag you should have a first aid kit that contains at least the following: painkillers, plasters, bandages, sharply pointed tweezers, antiseptic wipes, and antiseptic cream. If you do not have anything with you and find yourself in a survival situation, here are a couple basic tips:
An extra piece of advice:
Make sure you check for and remove ticks immediately. Ticks can cause serious health issues if not handled right away. To remove: grip the tick with tweezers as close to the head as possible and pull it. Make sure you remove the whole tick, if you pull too hard it can break. Be careful not to squeeze as you may release the venom into the bloodstream.
These skills and tips should help to ensure you and your kids survive in the wilderness if the worst happens. While you may never find yourself in these circumstances, kids are unpredictable and parents all too often find themselves in situations they never thought they would face. Knowing this information will help you keep a cool head, not panic, stay focused on the tasks at hand and help keep you and your kids motivated until rescued during an emergency. Always be prepared!