Survival Basics

Survival Skills


The Survival Basics



with David Michael Scott

Dealing with Panic:

  • Deep breathing
  • Mindfulness
  • You are fine for now…
  • Do something you know
  • a.      Carve a spoon
  • b.      Start a fire
  • c.       Eat a snack
  • What if you get lost?:
  • Don't panic
  • Get busy making your camp
  • Look for sources of water
  • Construct distress signals
  • Make traps, set up fishing lines, gather plant food. (Maybe)
  • Gradually map out your area you are in by hiking from your camp.

Rule of 3’s:

  • 3 Seconds: Panic, avalanche, flash flood, lightning
  • 3 Minutes: Air
  • 3 Hours: Exposure, cold injury
  • 3 Days: Water
  • 3 Weeks: Food
  • 3 Months: Human contact

Making Camp: 5 W’s

  • Wood: plenty nearby for shelter/fire
  • Water: to drink
  • Wigglies: sleeping on an ant hill sucks!
  • Widow makers: don’t die from a fallen tree
  • Weather: a shelter that is open to the rain does not help much

Making Fire:

Making Shelter:

Use natural terrain

  • Downed trees
  • Tree wells
  • Rock overhangs

Tarps and string are your best friend

Insulate yourself

  • Pine boughs
  • Pine needles
  • Leaves

Heat Transfer:

Heat flows from hot to cold

  • Conduction
    • Touching cold objects
  • Convection
    • Brrr… Wind chill
  • Radiation
    • Put on a jacket!
  • Respiration
    • In your sleeping bag?
  • Evaporation
    • Sweaty then cold

Fire vs Shelter

Fire Pros:

  • Warm
  • Comforting
  • Dry stuff out
  • Cook
  • Fire Cons:
  1. But is it really warm?
  2. Messes with your night vision.
  3. Burn all the stuff you try to dry out.
  4. Burn yourself
  6. Signal

Shelter Pros:

  1. Keep the wind, rain, and ground away
  2. Once its built, its built
  3. Nice to have a home

Shelter Cons:

  • As warm as the ambient air
  • Takes materials
  • Takes work

Hyperthermia (Heat Illness)

  1. Burns. Where do they come from in the backcountry
    1. Sunburn
    2. Cooking food
    3. Boiling water
  2. Heat Exhaustion (Not life threatening)
    1. s/s Fatigue, vomiting, cramps, dizziness, loss of appetite
    2. t/x Remove heat, rest, hydrate
  3. Heat Stroke (Life threatening)
    1. s/s LOR changes (D.I.C.U.), hallucinations, seizures, ataxia, temperature above 104
    2. t/x Aggressive cooling! Evac.

Hypothermia (Cold Illness)

  • Frostbite is an isolated freezing injury. What are the most common body parts to freeze?
  • Face, hands, and feet. Take a Wilderness Medical Course
  • Hypothermia(Life threatening)
    • s/s of mild:
    • cold and shivering, the “umbles”
    • s/s of moderate:                                                

i.      uncontrollable shivering

c.       s/s of severe:

                                                              i.      stops shivering, change in LOR

d.      t/x of mild to moderate: change environment, insulate, hot water bottles, calories

e.      t/x for severe: rapid gentle evacuation

Hypo-wrap: Use multiple sleeping bags and hot water bottles!

Emergency Signaling

Ground to Air

1.       2-way radio

2.      Mirrors

3.      SOS

a.      18’x 12’

4.      Geometric Patterns

a.      XXX or Triangles

b.      Contrast

5.      Orange anything

6.      Fire

7.      Smoke

8.     Flares

9.      Tarps

Ground to Ground

1.       Whistle

2.      Surveyor tape

3.      Clothes

4.      Stack rocks, carve trees, make designs

What would you like to add to your car?

·         Sleeping bag and pad

·         Water

·         Snow shovel

·         Extra jacket or layers

·         First Aid and Survival kit

·         Flashlight

Accident Matrix

1.       Conditions

a.      Potential force that can hurt you

b.      River conditions, bad weather, steep slope

2.      Acts

a.      The action that started the cascade of tragedy

b.      Slipping on an icy slope, deciding to run the rapid

3.      Judgments

a.      The belief that everything will be fine

b.      I am good enough to run this rapid, the weather will hold

The David Michael Scott survival kit:


·         Drink mix for electrolytes or sugar

o   Instant coffee

o   Emergen-C packets

o   Instant soup

·         Chewing gum

·         Energy Goo

·         Honey packets

·         Water purification tablets*


·         Signal mirror*

·         Whistle*

·         Orange surveyor tape

·         Flare


·         Compass*

·         GPS


·         Knife*

o   Swiss army knife

o   Leatherman

·         Saw

·         Kit container:

o   MSR Alpine 1 liter pot*

o   Enamel mug

o   Coffee can

o   Empty paint can

·         Small LED flashlight*

·         Sewing kit

·         1 bandana

·         Dental floss*

·         2 Ziploc bags

·         20 Dollars*

Hunting and Fishing:

·         Snare wire

·         Slingshot

·         Fishing line and hooks


·         Tape

·         Gauze

·         Steri-strips*

·         2nd skin*

·         Band-Aids*

·         Pencil and paper


·         Para chord > 15 feet

·         Space blanket

·         Tarp

·         Poncho

·         Large orange garbage bags

Fire Starting:

·         Lighter*

·         Metal match*

·         Tinder

o   Cotton balls and Vaseline

o   Store-bought tinder*

·         Candle


·         Photos of a loved one or favorite dog*

·         Playing cards

·         Bible

Automobile Preparation:

·         Old sleeping bag*

·         2 gallons of water

·         Peanuts, bars, jerky

·         Tarp

*Core Components

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