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July 2012 Issue
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Priorities of survival

Photo: Stu Gilbert

Survival is about preserving life. If you’re in a survival situation, apply and follow the priorities of survival guide in the order listed below. This is your checklist and will offer the best chance of not only staying alive, but also being rescued.

First Aid: Focus on your ability to prevent further injury. It is imperative this is addressed before moving on, or you may be unable to function well enough to carry out the following priorities.

Clothing: This is your first line of defence against the elements. Dress for the environmental conditions, keep fully covered at all times to reduce effects of exposure.

Shelter: This will provide additional protection. The type of shelter chosen will be depend on local conditions and material available but should be accomplished quickly.

Fire: The importance of a fire in a survival situation cannot be over-emphasised. Fire provides us with a way of keeping warm, repelling insects, boosting morale and a means of cooking food and boiling water making it safe to drink. Fire can also be used as a signal for rescue.

Location: In any survival situation you need to make yourself as visible as possible. Think about how you are going to effectively execute your day and night rescue plan with the equipment you have at your disposal. That includes what you have on you – torches, camera flash, emergency blanket, bright coloured clothing – and what you’ve managed to use or build from the environment, like a signal fire.

Water: Dehydration affects us not only physically but mentally so it’s important to replace lost body fluids. Thirst is a poor indicator of degree of hydration – if you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. An easier way to know if you are getting enough water is to monitor your urine.

Food: Eating is given the lowest priority in survival. Provided there is enough water, a fit person can survive for around 25-35 days without food.

– Stu Gilbert is a former Air Force survival instructor now running SOS Survival Training