During a Cessna air tour of some remote islands in Indonesia, your pilot suffers a heart attack and dies mid-flight. You manage to steer the plane down to a flat sandy strip of beach making a hard landing which destroys the landing gear and a wing. You have 2 party members in a shocked but stable condition and one more with severe injuries who is likely to die of blood loss without some form of medical attention.
The island is about 4km (2.48mi) by 3km (1.86mi) long, covered with tropical trees and fairly thick vegetation with a mountain forming the centre of the "U" shaped mass of land. There are multiple islands dotted all over the region - none of which look inhabited. Nobody knows you're there as you took a cheap deal where a local pilot shows you around the region. What do you do?
We've likely all played these kinds of games growing up, choosing only one type of food or movie that you would survive the rest of your life on. Unfortunately reality is much more ominous with possible injuries, deaths, the fear of an unknown piece of land and what it contains, the real threat of dying at every turn and the lack of almost every resource needed for survival. This is where the survival category comes in handy, containing information on surviving in some of earth's most hostile environments such as deserts, forests and the arctic as well as tips on the usefulness of various terrains and weather phenomena local to each region.
If you're interested in what you need to do in the scenario above I recommend taking a look at the "PERSONAL DISASTERS > Disaster Recovery" section of TPE which contains a step by step procedure of the actions you should consider taking. As a fun side project I recommend watching Cast Away starring Tom Hanks who is stuck on a tropical island and has to survive and return to civilization.
Survival can be distilled down to a few key requirements for staying alive: Hope, Air, Shelter, Water, Food and Company.
You can only survive 3 seconds without hope. This is arguably the most important one as people simply won't be able to see the good anymore and will give up trying to survive. On the other hand you often hear about people who are up against such profound odds that they shouldn't have survived their ordeal. These people have such strong hope that they would even cut their own limbs off to free themselves to continue living. Your source of hope could be seeing family members again, religion, getting old and dying naturally or even just surviving this disaster.
It takes about 3 minutes without air before you either suffocate or drown. This is your number one priority in a survival situation and will come to the front of your mind as soon as the air supply is cut off, such as when diving underwater for too long. Occasionally you won't even realise you're lacking air, such as using a generator indoors which slowly fills the room with carbon monoxide causing you to feel nauseous and eventually pass out.
You can last about 3 hours without shelter in extreme conditions such as snow or blizzards. This makes seeking shelter essential in those or similar circumstances such as bear country. In fairer climates shelter isn't as necessary early on but it's still worth looking for a shelter early on in case of surprises.
It can protect you from the elements like heat, cold, wind, rain and snow as well as from dangerous creatures and camouflage from prying eyes such as other humans who wish to cause you harm and assist in giving you a good nights sleep through the comfort and perceived protection they provide. You should be well versed in creating your own wilderness shelters from any sourced materials as this will be a huge advantage in any survival situation.
As you probably know you can survive around 3 days without water. However this is reduced considerably if you're performing heavy work or sweating profusely under a hot sun. Water is a necessity for life and can luckily be found almost everywhere on earth, even if deserts if you know where to look. Knowing how to find water when it doesn't seem like there's any and understanding the fundamentals of purifying it with makeshift materials is essential to living off the land and surviving any kind of disaster.
It takes about 3 weeks to die of starvation. This may seem like a long time but over the duration your body will slowly break down and begin consuming itself for energy. Food should only be consumed if you have an ample supply of water as it takes a lot to digest it. Knowing how to source your own food from the wild either by hunting or growing it are great skills every survivalist or prepper should invest in.
If you aren't planning on sourcing your own, you should invest in a stockpile of various long life and shelf stable foods to cover any future disasters for extended periods. Some people rely on their ability to forage food from the wild as they travel around. This could be highly dangerous when there's a lack of food as a lot of people will be starving and will seek any way to acquire it. There's also the possibility of wild food not growing due to a flood, drought or other environment destroying disaster.
The timeframe varies and may not apply for everyone, but it generally takes 3 months without company until you start to go insane. This may seem like one you can live without, but once you've gone through the toughest experience of your life and it feels like there's nobody left on earth you will start to crave company and contact of some sort or another whether it's an animal or human. We are social creatures and require contact to thrive whether or not you're introverted or extroverted.
On the Tv series 'Alone' the majority of participants had great survival skills and could potentially last indefinitely out in the wild, but the real killer after so many weeks solo was the need for human interaction which is often the primary reason they tapped out. Company could also include spiritual company such as chatting to God, animals or even AI such as game NPCs.
For the next part in this series, head to: Gear
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