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SAS Survival Guide (Collins Gem)
By John Wiseman
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 John Wiseman
All right reserved.
Essentials For Survival
The human species has established itself in almost every corner of the Earth. Even in territories too inhospitable to provide a regular home mankind has found a way to exploit their resources, whether by hunting or by taking wealth from the ground, and has often pitted its skills against nature simply for the satisfaction of doing so.
Almost everywhere nature provides the necessities for survival In some places the provision is abundant, in others very meagre and it takes common sense, knowledge and ingenuity to take advantage of the resources available. Even more important is the will to survive. Men and women have shown that they can survive in the most adverse situations, but they have done so because of their determination to do so -- without that, the skills and knowledge in this book will be of little use if you find yourself really up against it.
Survival is the art of staying alive. Any equipment you have must be considered a bonus. You must know how to take everything possible from nature and use it to the full, how to attract attention to yourself so that rescuers may find you, how to make your way across unknown territory back to civilization, if hope of rescue is not on the cards, navigating without map or compass. You must know how to maintain a healthy physical condition, or if sick or wounded heal yourself and others. You must be able to maintain your morale and that of others who share your situation.
Lack of equipment should not mean that you are unequipped, for you will carry skills and experience with you, but those skills and experience must not be allowed to get rusty and you must extend your knowledge all the time.
We are all used to surviving on our home ground -- though we may not think of our lives in that way -- but the true survivor must learn how to survive when taken from familiar surroundings or when those surroundings are drastically changed by man or nature. Anyone, young or old, from whatever walk of life, can find him- or herself in a survival situation. As more and more people fly the globe, sail small boats or cross the sea in large ones, walk the hills and climb mountains and take their holidays in ever more exotic places, the situations to which they could become exposed are increasingly diversified.
But survival skills are not only concerned with the extremes of the air crash on a mountain peak, a shipwreck in the tropics or a vehicle breakdown in the middle of a desert. Every time you fasten a seat belt in a car you are giving yourself a greater chance of survival. Checking each way before crossing a road or ensuring that an open fire is safe before you go to bed are survival techniques that you carry out instinctively. It is these habits of mind that you must develop as much as acquiring skills.
The main elements of survival are Food, Fire, Shelter, Water, Navigation and Medicine. To put these in order of priority we use the acronym PLAN. No matter where you are in the world this will never change be it the arctic, desert, jungle, sea or seashore.
P - for Protection
You must ensure that you are protected from further danger, ie impending avalanche, forest fire or exploding fuel. Always stay on the scene of the incident as long as it is safe to do so and then make sure you are protected from the elements. This means making a shelter and often lighting a fire. There are several reasons why you should always stay at the scene:
- You can utilize the wreckage for shelter, signaling etc.
- It's a bigger signature on the ground, making it easier to find.
- There are probably injured people that cannot be moved.
- By staying where you are you conserve energy.
- Because you have booked in and out and have stayed on the route, rescue time will be minimal.
L - for Location
The next step after building a shelter is to put out emergency signals. You must draw attention to your position. Do this as soon as possible to help the rescuers.
A - for Acquisition
While waiting to be rescued, look for water and food to help supplement your emergency supplies.
N - for Navigation
Good navigation will keep you on route and will often avert a survival situation. But if you find yourself stranded, always stay where you are.
You must become your own doctor and carefully monitor yourself at all times. Treat blisters as they occur, don't let them become sceptic. Keep an eye on your companions and deal with any unusual problems as they arise. If they are limping, falling behind, or behaving strangely, stop and treat immediately.
The Boy Scouts' motto is the right one. Anyone setting out on a journey or planning an expedition should follow it by discovering as much as possible about the situations likely to be faced and the skills and equipment called for. It is the most basic common sense to prepare yourself, to take appropriate gear and to plan as carefully as possible.
Your kit could make the difference between failure and success, but, especially when back-packing, many people initially take too much and have to learn from bitter experience what they really need and what they could have done without. There is no fun in struggling with a huge pack full of superfluous items while wishing that you had a torch or can opener with you. Getting the right balance is not easy.
Make sure that you are fit enough for what you plan to do. The fitter you are, the easier and more enjoyable it will be. If you are going hill-walking, for instance, take regular exercise beforehand and wear in your hiking boots. Walk to and from work with a bag weighted with sand and get your muscles in condition! Mental fitness is another factor. Are you sure that you are up to the task, have prepared enough and have the equipment to accomplish it? Eliminate any nagging doubts before you set out ...
Excerpted from SAS Survival Guide (Collins Gem) by John Wiseman Copyright © 2006 by John Wiseman. Excerpted by permission.
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