You don’t have to be a contestant on the “Survivor” television program to learn wilderness survival skills. This information was second nature to our ancestors many generations back, but in today’s high-tech world, we have grown out of touch with nature and unaware of how to provide such basic needs as food, water and shelter.
But, with modern conveniences at Survival Skills our fingertips, why should we learn how to build a fire without matches, or how to obtain safe water to drink? The answer is simple. One only needs to look back to Hurricane Katrina to see how quickly natural disasters can strike and deprive people of the electricity they depend upon to get them through each day. Even less predictable than hurricanes are other natural disasters such as earthquakes that strike without warning, and tornadoes that can materialize in minutes.
Many experts say that we are seriously at risk for a worldwide disease pandemic, like the Spanish flu that decimated populations across the globe in the first quarter of the 20th century. It is highly possible that an infectious disease epidemic of the bird flu could put such a strain on community infrastructures that services such as hospitals, police, fire departments and ambulances could not be depended upon, and residents would be forced to fend for themselves. Also, in today’s increasingly uncertain world, the risk of a terrorist attack destroying power stations, water reservoirs or other civic infrastructures is not out of the question.
That is why the wise individual will invest a few hours to learn such survival skills as fire making, finding water, making shelter, finding food and preparing meals with only primitive tools. Gaining this knowledge should not be viewed as a bothersome chore, but rather as a fascinating challenge to become more self-sufficient. And, should disaster strike, these skills may very well prove to be more valuable than any insurance policy.
Some of the best sources for learning wilderness survival skills are the books by Tom Brown Jr. Mr. Brown was taught tracking and hunting at an early age by an Apache elder, and he went on to establish a survival school as well as writing such classic texts as “Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival” which clearly illustrates many ways to start a fire without matches, build wilderness shelters using only natural materials, identifying edible plants and hunting wild animals for food.
It only takes a few minutes and the investment of a few dollars to assemble a pocket size wilderness survival kit that contains a small knife, compass, matches, fishing hooks and line, and perhaps a lightweight, metallic “space blanket.” A visit to most any sporting goods shop or camping supply store will be time well spent if you should suddenly be faced with a survival situation. But more important than survival gear is the learning of wilderness survival skills. This is because the greatest asset in case of emergency is not your technology but your mental attitude. An individual with proper skills and knowledge can survive much more comfortably without any tools than someone who has lots of survival gear but does not know how to use it properly.
And even if you are never faced with an emergency situation that requires the application of wilderness survival techniques, you still might use them to win a million dollars if you should be chosen to be a contestant on the “Survivor” TV show.
Robert Scheer is a freelance writer and consultant to the survival training website [http://survivaltraining.neurn.com] and recommends the book “Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival.”