Topic: Essential Survival Skills

By: Daniel Chabert

Essential survival skills are the techniques required to maintain and sustain life in any type of natural condition. These skills are required in acquiring all basic materials (food, shelter and water) necessary for survival. Survival skills are required in all facet of life including games (indoors and outdoors), accidents and tragedy situations.
Knowledge about specific habitat, situation, conditions and animals is important in proffering and applying necessary skills to survive. Always consider the rule of threes during survival race. We can only survive for three minutes without air, three hours without controlling body temperature, three days without water and three weeks without food. These form the basis of priorities during survival race. It must be noted that safety priority is more germane.
Basic necessity/ survival skill
A shelter is something that can shield you from the cold, temperature, harsh weather. Cold lowers agility, causes general weakness of the body and burn-out a lot of energy while intense sunlight leads to dehydration and weakness. A good shelter is important in both hot weather and cold to prevent hypothermia and dehydration. The shelter also protects one from the danger of animal, wind, storms and the like. Ability to build a shelter is highly necessary for survival situation.
How to build natural shelter
Many types and forms of natural shelter exist such as debris hut, caves, lean-to or snow shelter. To site such natural location, it is necessary to consider the essence, location away from hazards, heat source etc. Get tree stems or bamboo to construct hut as shown below.

Cover all the sides with debris or palm font fully to form a shelter, interlace some plants together to serve as the door or look for log or cloth in that capacity.
According to the rule of threes earlier stated,  human being can survive three weeks without food; however, one might have lost the race for survival before that time. Survival race is an energy draining period, you need to replace lost calories as soon as possible. The food source is either from plants or animals. Not all fruits are stomach friendly, likewise, not all plants are edible, it is therefore advised to consume the one you have good knowledge of. Animal source supplies more calories of energy than plants but plants are easily assessable and requires little energy. The animal sources are the invertebrates such as insects, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Survival hunting tools and skills are required in hunting animals. Avoid nasty and hasty movements, be patient, vigilant and practice stealth walking. This could go a long way in getting you a meal. Survival hunting tools such as throwing sticks, snares, traps, stones etc is also important in achieving your objective.

Man’s need of water is essential as it contains 78% of it and it is required by many organs in the body to function well. At average, a person should drink an average of 4L (1 gallon) of water on daily basis. Many people lost survival race due to dehydration or devastating effect of the water-borne disease.
Source of water
The best sources of water in the wilderness are springs and streams. Other sources include but not limited to;
Underground water
Shallow water
Dew, fog, snow
Plants leaves and stems
Anywhere you find plantain or banana; you are likely to get water. Purification of water could be done by boiling for some minutes to kill pathogens inside. In the wild, look for a place of low altitude, you are most likely to find water there. It is not good to consume natural liquid if it is sticky, milky or has bitter taste.

Fresh Air / Oxygen
Breathing is the most important aspect of survival, be it in water or on land, one must find a means of taken in air. The human can only survive for few minutes without air. Fresh air could be contaminated with unpalatable gas which can lead to air poisoning; it kills very fast. The first thing to do after perceiving pungent, chocking or unusual odour is to control breathing rate, cover nose with a hanky and move away from there. The best form of survival is to move away in the quest for fresh air.
Surviving materials
Fire making
Making fire is one of the most important tasks while trying to survive in the wilderness. Fires are useful in producing heat (warmth) needed during cold weather, smoking or cooking food, dries cloth, boil water and also serves as a rescue signal. The fire could also ward away wild animals as such serves as protection, however, it could also attract some. Making fire is inevitable and therefore one must learn how to make, sustain and restrict it. Fire is best built in a place where they can be easily controlled such as in rocky or sandy area, barricade it with stones or near a supply of sand or water to avoid fire escalation or forest fire. In setting up a fire, the easiest way is using matches or lighter however, it could be made with natural flint and steel with tinder, solar spark lighter and fire piston.
It is necessary to build a fire pit in order to sustain and control the fire in case there are no enough fire making materials. Having the knowledge of how to build a fire pit is important to aid one’s survival in the wild. The fire pit is best located in a flat dry cool place away from dry vegetation, trees (whole, branch and roots underground), shrubs and other materials that could be consumed by fire. Clear away dry leaves, sticks, branches from the fire pits for about 3 to 5 meter away because fire generates little force, coupled with environmental wind, could blow coal out of fire pit. The size of the fire pit depends on the purpose, duration of use and number of people to use it. The log could be placed in the fire pit to maintain the fire. In this case, it is necessary not to let the fire have a full burnt but just to burn as coal. Coal can hold the fire for a long time, and fire could be made from it subsequently. Wet woods can be arranged around the fire pit to dry it up for subsequent use. Dry woods burns faster, better and hotter compared to wet which burns slower and produces more smokes or not burn at all.
Dried soft leaves, small branches, dries bamboo leaves, dried grass are useful in kindling for starting a fire. In the absence of modern fire making equipment, a fire could be made from primitive methods such as the bow and drill and flint and steel. This technique works in most environments.
Flint and steel
Flint making is one of the primitive methods of making fire. It begins with the creation of char cloth by incompletely combusting 100% cotton in almost air tightened tin. Make some tinder from any natural material (dry grass, dried flower head and cottonwood tree) that will spark and ignite. Roughen your tinder to make a thin fibre. Mould the roughened tinder to form a nest shaped up to 3’’- 5” in diameter. Put the char cloth on the tinder. Hold small steel in your strongest hand and strike it against the flint stone downward on towards the char cloth on tinder. As the steel strike against the stones, it produces a spark. When the sparks fall on the char cloth, it begins to flame and then light up. Always have it at the back of your mind that creating fire requires three essentials – heat, fuel and oxygen, therefore, make all available at all times.
The fire could also be ignited through the use of spark from a car battery. Place something extremely flammable near a positive battery terminus, connect a wire to the other terminus, the other end of the wire is then used to torch the opposing terminus to produce a spark. This spark is enough to ignite a fire. Another method is by carefully breaking the glass of a bulb without damaging the tungsten inside. Place something flammable like cotton near it, it will flame up and can then be gently blown to produce fire. Magnifying glass/lens could also be placed inside intense sun rays. The heat converged (beam of sunlight) through the other end of the lens could light up a cigarette which you can then use to set up your fire.
First aid
Basic first aid is an important skill to learn in other to survive during an emergency in all facet of life. Be it on the playing ground or in survival mission in the wilderness, accidents and unexpected happens such as fall, injury, heart failure, animal bites and stings which could lead to serious unrest, collapse and death. First aid is, therefore, important tool to survival. First aid skill in survival is numerous but few of the skills will be mentioned.
Snake bite
Snake bites could either be histolytic or neurolytic depending on the snake, but irrespective of the type of venom, the same principle is applied. Note, it is necessary to look at the type of snake that inflicts the injury for medication purpose. Firstly, tie string, rope, cloth or any material tightly to the upper part of the sore (some inches away) to prevent circulation of the venom to other parts of the body. Secondly, lacerate the sore to make it more open and gently press out the blood and venom. Thirdly, wash the opening with a copious amount of water. Lastly, go for medication (antivenin injection). This principle also applies to the scorpion sting.
Breathing problem
In the case of collapse, lay the victim flat on the floor or on a flat hard surface, place your head near his nose, mouth and chest to know whether the victim is breathing or not. Look through its mouth and nose to ensure no foam is coming out, if there is, remove them with your fingers. Tilt the head backwards to open the airways, block the nose with your fingers, take a deep breath in through your mouth and place your mouth tightly on victim’s mouth, and then exhale into his mouth. Let loose its nostril.
Repeat this on two occasions and watch the victim whether it has regained his breathing back. If the victim hasn’t regained his breath, place your two hands on his chest and then press on several occasions. Repeat the whole cycle again if needed. When one is feeling discomfort in his heart and unable to breathe well, take a deep breath in and cough out hard, enough that you feel it in your chest. Repeat this on several occasions until you regain your normal rhythm. Never forget to consult your doctor immediately.
Fire accident
Fire burns can be fatal and inflict serious pain on the victim. Fire accident occurs through several means. The most important thing during fire outbreak is safety. During fire incidents, both the fire and smoke are hazardous; leads to burns and some smoke could lead to death in few minutes. Always look for escape routes and fresh air. If one’s cloth catches fire, roll on the floor to smother it, after which should be removed immediately.
Should in case one surfer either major or minor burns, there are first aid techniques which can be applied to lessen the effect. Firstly, subject the burnt area to running water for several minutes, remove all metallic objects and cloth from the burned area. Apply ointments, moisturisers, lotion on the area to relief from pain and dryness.
Essential survival skill is the basic technique needed to survive in the natural environment, be it in water or on land. The skills are needed in getting you basic needs for survival which include, air, shelter, water and food. Safety measure in all situations is also very important if you really want to survive. These basic techniques are necessary for survival race.

Daniel Chabert