What Are The Most Important Survival Skills To Learn?
Don’t pretend you haven’t thought about how you’d survive if you found yourself stranded in the wilderness at some time or other, but have you ever thought to do any survival training in the UK just in case?
You never know where you could end up, and Tim Kirkpatrick of military community website We Are The Mighty has just shared what he considers to be the most important survival skills to have under your belt in an article for Business Insider UK.
Top of his list, perhaps unsurprisingly, is knowing how to light a fire. He even noted that lighting a fire in cold conditions is “almost as easy as rubbing two sticks together. The sticks that Tim Kirkpatrick is referring to are matches and those of you that have tried making a bow drill fire will know is not easy at first and considerable practice and learning from failure is required. I would recommend a fire steel as the kit to carry as it can work when it is wet.
At Trackways we would recommend an understanding of the survival priorities as the first piece of information hence this lecture is free on our online course. This puts shelter as the number one priority with water a close second then fire and food. Though our approach is about making yourself at home in the wilds, which is somewhat different from the where Tim Kirkpatrick is coming from that of getting rescued as soon as possible.
This means that Tim’s focus is on turning the fire into a signal fire, which means knowing what leaves and other materials you can use to create smoke that will allow you to send up a signal that can be seen for miles.
Learning to tie strong knots is also a must, with Mr Kirkpatrick explaining that this can help you in a host of scenarios, but not least with building a shelter - another vital skill on his list. He recommended mastering a bowline knot and suggested that learning to make rope from thin and bendable branches isn’t a bad idea either.
Knowing where to source plant fibers for cordage is a crucial skill that is transferable to any environment. The five sources of fibers and techniques for making string and rope are worth knowing. I would include the clove hitch as a knot to know as it is the best knot for shelter building, it is used to hold the three main tipi poles together that form the tipis structure and I have found it to be the best knot for holding the string on a bowdrill bow.
Another of his top tips is to learn how to treat injuries in the wilderness. Part of that is understanding what plants can be used to help with different injuries, he explained.
At Trackways we teach a range of edible and medicinal plants and I have been using plants for medicine for the past twenty eight years. One of the most useful plants is plantain (plantago major) It has a multiplicity of actions; drawing out infection and poison, pain relieving properties, (it contains acetyl salicylic acid, Aspirin like compounds that are available to the skins surface), it also has tissue rebuilding characteristic sand is a mucilage. We tend to teach the plants actions so the student can figure out which plant to use and to what effect. I will be writing a blog shortly about the best ways to naturally treat food poisoning when traveling.
Of course, it might be that you’re stuck in less than ideal weather - such as a blizzard - in which case would you know what to do? We recently offered some advice, part of which involves being prepared for all kinds of conditions when you head out into the great outdoors.