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Survival Basics - What You Need to know

We humans all like to imagine that we're outdoor survival experts but, in reality, most of us haven't got a clue. Well, fear not, because that's where Mpora comes in with this handy little guide.

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Here you'll find some of the things you need to know about surviving in the wild, the important pieces of information that will help you live through the worst that nature can throw at you. From this basic introduction, you'll be able to go on and develop the necessary skills and knowledge that are essential to outdoor survival.

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Whether you're a keen outdoor and adventure enthusiast, or just curious about camping, this is well worth a look. Who knows? These tips might just be the difference between life and death. Survive, thrive, and stay alive. Then make a career out of it, like Bear Grylls.

What Is Survival?

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Survival is, in a nutshell, the complete opposite of dying. If your pulse stops, and your breathing ceases, you're obviously dead. But what are the essential physical needs of your body, the things you can't do without, the key areas that need to be attended to?

Water

 

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The common school of thought states that your body can go no more than three days without water. And while there have been some remarkable survival stories of people going ten days without water, it's essential that you get some as soon as possible. Without access to water, your chances of surviving will shrink rapidly.

Food

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shopping with grocery cart

Incredibly, the human body can go three weeks without food. That might make it sound like food isn't a key area.

However, while water is certainly a more immediate concern, you are going to need to eat survival food at some point if you're serious about surviving prolonged periods in the wilderness.

Shelter

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Finding shelter might sound like a weird thing to get so worried about. After all, What's wrong with sleeping beneath the stars once in a while?

Shelter, in and of itself, isn't the key to survival but staying warm most certainly is. If your body temperate drops below 35 C, for example, hypothermia will set in and your chances of surviving will diminish quickly.

Naturally-formed shelters aren't always an option, so you might have to create your own from nearby resources. Fortunately there's plenty of books and articles, out there, that give their readers detailed instructions on how to build a survival shelter.

Where To Survive?

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Vintage compass on the old world map. Travel concept.

Of course, the survival-location isn't always up to you (shipwreck on a desert island, plane crash on an Arctic tundra etc) and that's why it's good to know about the various environments that are out there, and the challenges they can throw up.

The extremities of the weather patterns, the remoteness of certain locations, the living things that call it home, and the first responses if you should find yourself trying to survive in them.

It's all about building up a wealth of knowledge, so that you can become a master of surviving whatever the world throws at you. As we've mentioned a number of times already, learning about what's out there and how to cope with it is the key to your survival.

Surviving In The Cold

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Glacier Perito Moreno National Park in Argentina, Patagonia

Surviving in snowy conditions is all about staying warm, first and foremost. Building a shelter, making a fire (which can then be used to melt down the snow for water), and getting out of the elements as quickly as possible should be your first priorities. Wrap yourself in anything you have close to hand, and don't go to sleep outside.

The coldest temperature ever recorded on earth was −89.2 C in Antarctica. Survival in environments such as that come down to minute-by-minute decisions, and that's why it's a good idea to learn everything you need to know about every eventuality. Read up on incredible winter survival stories, to give yourself an edge.

Surviving In The Desert

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Death Valley National Park

The hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was 56.7 C in the appropriately-named Death Valley in the United States. Just like surviving the cold of Antarctica, the choices you first make in such an extreme environment can be the difference between surviving and dying.

Finding shade, conserving what water you have with you, and limiting activity wherever possible are just some of the things to consider if you find yourself trying to survive in the desert. If you need to read up on famous desert survival stories, the internet is chock-a-bloc with them.

Surviving In The Oceans And Seas

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Stormy sea

The history books are filled with remarkable stories of ocean survival. None of these ocean survival stories are, as far as Mpora is concerned, more remarkable than the 133 days Poon Lim spent at sea between 1942 and 1943.

Read up on these astounding feats of endurance and let them be a source of comfort to you if you ever find yourself trying to survive while adrift at sea or in the ocean.

Roughly 71% of the Earth's surface is covered in water, so there's as good a chance as any that you could end up using your newfound survival skills in amongst the rolling waves of the ocean.

Top ocean survival tip: don't drink the water you're floating on, no matter how tempted you are. The sea water won't help, and you'll get seriously dehydrated from it.

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Surviving in the woodlands of the UK, let's face it, offers up extremely different challenges to those thrown up by the Amazon rainforest. What these environments do have in common, however, is that they're both teeming with plant and animal life (especially the Amazon).

If you can develop hunting skills, and learn what plants are edible, you should be able to stay relatively well fed. Making shelter in such a place should also, with all the wood available, be relatively straightforward.

How To Survive?

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So, you know what your body needs in order to survive and the basic set-up you'll face in a variety of locations. But, how do you actually go about surviving? Many notable survivors are those that were prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Preparation is essential because while there's a strong chance you'll never need to use the knowledge, equipment, and/or survival skills you've learned; you don't want to find yourself in the middle of a life-and-death situation wishing you'd been more prepared (because, by then, it will already be too late).

Of course, by reading this guide you're already well on your way to becoming an accomplished survivor. That being said, there's always room to learn new things.

Research And Learn

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Familiarise yourself with famous survival stories, read books written by notable survivors, learn essential first aid, watch movies about surviving, and attend survival courses.

Every piece of information you absorb has the potential to be useful, and will increase your chances of surviving. A failure to prepare is the same as preparing to fail, so do your research and learn as much as you can about survival.

Know The Difference Between Edible And Inedible

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One of the things that should come from all the survival research and learning, you've been doing, is an increased knowledge of what's edible and what's inedible. Knowing how to spot a poisonous plant, for example, can be the difference between life and death. Read up on survival food, and become an expert.

If you'd prefer something you can hold with your hands, rather than an internet post, your local library or bookshop should have a good selection of essential survival books that deal with this sort of stuff.

It's worth keeping one of these close at hand, as often as humanly possible, in case you should ever be faced with the dilemma of whether it's a good idea to eat that weird-looking mushroom (while locked in a struggle for survival).

Get The Essential Survival Kit

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The world wide web is filled with essential survival kit guides, and it's important that you pay attention to stuff like this. These articles are filled with survival knife suggestions, detailed descriptions of why one survival blanket is better than another, and recommended survival backpacks.

If you want to be a survivor, you're going to need the appropriate gear. It's going to cost you, but can you really put a price on your own survival? Get equipped, and get your friends to call you 'Mr Survival'.

Learn First Aid

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The reasons for learning first aid, and having a first aid kit close kit close at hand, are fairly obvious. Don't let minor injuries get in the way of your survival hopes or allow a preventable death to happen occur because of a lack of basic medical knowledge.

Take a course, read a book, however you do it; getting to grips with essential first aid is one of the most important things you can do as an adventurer.

Hunt Or Be Hunted

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Of course if you're a diehard vegan or a vegetarian this section might not apply to you, but everyone else should consider learning how to hunt, prepare, and cook wild animals. Similarly, learning how to fish in the wild is another skill that's worth learning.

It's grisly, and not necessarily a nice thing to think about, but being a competent hunter could well play a key part in your survival attempt. Food, as we've already mentioned, is an essential part of surviving.

Don't Rely On Your Phone

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Help me

When you're trying to survive in the wild, don't rely on your phone. There's a good chance you'll end up somewhere with zero phone signal, and a lack of plug sockets.

You're going to need your wits and survival knowledge to get you out of this situation. By all means keep your phone in your pocket, conserve battery and see if it works at various intervals, but don't go into the situation thinking your phone will do all the surviving on your behalf. The world doesn't work like that.

Focus On Survival

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Survival struggles are, by their very nature, a pretty primal experience. You'll be hungry, you'll be thirsty, you'll be uncomfortable but if you do things the right way you might just pull through and live to tell the tale.

Forget about your comfortable sofa, or the gourmet food in your kitchen cupboards, people who have survived against-all-the-odds did so because they focused on the only thing that mattered: staying alive.

Why Survive?

Being dead is boring; surviving, and staying alive is what it's all about.

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