"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." -Charles Darwin
Life can change in an instant. One moment you're trekking along a mountain ridge, and you're suddenly struck by a rattlesnake. One minute you're skiing down a mountain, the next you're facing an oncoming avalanche.
Navy SEALs are trained to face dangerous situations all over the world - at sea, in the air and on land. We understand that every time we launch a mission, unforeseen circumstances - flash floods, aircraft crashes, poisonous insects, animal or marine life bites, etc. - can cause us to be trapped in an unfriendly environment, cut-off from communication to outside support. With every tick of the clock our situation can become more desperate.
We are trained to deal with these emergencies - to survive in the harshest of environments without food and water.
But what if, God forbid, something like that happens to you? Will you know how to treat yourself if bitten by a poisonous snake? Will you know what plants you can extract water from if trapped in the desert with your loved ones? Or how to protect you and your teammates from freezing to death in the mountains? The answer to all these questions should be "yes."
The U.S. Navy SEAL Survival Handbook [Skyhorse Publishing, $14.95] is all about developing the SEAL survival mindset, and arming yourself with the appropriate survival techniques for numerous potentially fatal scenarios.
We live in a dangerous world. It's your responsibility to be prepared.
No one else can give you the mental will, physical stamina, and common sense that you're going to need to survive. So don't depend on others - since you may be alone! Make your plans, pack your own survival kit, and if something unplanned happens when you are on your own in the wild, be prepared to take care of your own needs as well as the needs of your teammates. This self-sufficient attitude is empowering in itself. Remember that your life depends on what you do, not on the chance that a teammate will be there to do for you what you can't do for yourself. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/shutterbc/734191623/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by Rich Moffitt</em></a>
...with a trusted person. That way, if you're missing, a search party is likely to be sent out sooner than later if you fail to arrive back when expected. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joelanman/366190064/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by Joe Lanman</em></a>
-Becoming lost. It's not enough to rely on your good sense of direction. Always carry at least one compass, a map, and GPS. Don't move unless you know where you are and where you are going. Many very experienced point men and navigators have become lost or disoriented in the wild. Remember that the consequences of panic can be fatal. Do a good map study, reevaluate your situation, and allow the adrenaline that has flooded your system and put you in fight or flight mode to subside. -Darkness. With darkness we shift from relying primarily on seeing to relying primarily on hearing. This is an uncomfortable change for some people. -Being stranded. There are countless contingencies under which you could be stuck in the wilderness for an extended period of time. Anticipate that this could happen and plan for ways to alert others and make your way to safety. -Illness or injury. Treat any injuries --yours or your teammates. Self aid and buddy aid. Your health is most important for survival. Any time you go into the wilderness there's always the possibility that you can become injured or ill. Practice and develop your own wilderness first-aid skills. -Extreme weather. There is no such thing as bad weather, just different types of weather. Always be prepared. Snow, rain, or extreme heat or cold can impact your ability to survive. Before heading out, make sure you have the proper clothing, water, and the ability to shelter yourself for extended periods of time. Dress using layers to avoid overheating. Seek or build a shelter in extreme conditions. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chefranden/99006850/sizes/o/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by chefranden</em></a>
What needs to be done to assure your safety? Do you need to move to a a safer area? Observe the area of your location. What are the hazards? Are there enemy or friendly forces in the immediate area? What are the advantages? Is there water nearby? What can you take advantage of to help you survive? Plan your next move carefully. Work out a plan in your head first. If you're satisfied with it, proceed. If not, give yourself time to come up with a better alternative. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/giglogo/6189582533/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by Social Media Sass</em></a>
A healthy person can survive for several weeks without food, and several days without water. So water is your most important requirement. Under normal circumstances, the human body requires two quarts of water daily to maintain adequate hydration. Don't ration the water you have to last for many days. Drink what you need. It's better to have water in your body than in a bottle or canteen. Conserve water by minimizing sweating by wearing a hat, sitting in the shade, moving only at night, and so on. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/creative_tools/4332092657/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by Creative Tools</em></a>
Always carry a whistle, mirror, and matches to start a fire. Smoke is visible from far away in the day. <em><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/3830812620/sizes/o/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr photo by stevedepolo</a></em>
Food isn't an immediate concern unless you're reasonably sure that rescue is many days or weeks off. As a general rule, avoid plant life unless you know for a fact that something is edible. If it walks, swims, flies, slithers, or crawls, it's probably safe to eat. ALL fur-bearing mammals and ALL six-legged insects are safe to eat are safe to eat, and will provide you with nutrients and calories. DO NOT eat spiders. All birds are edible. Grubs found in rotten logs are edible, as are almost all insects. Carry high-calorie energy food such as protein bars in your second and third line gear. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/izik/3632793855/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by izik</em></a>
Fire works for signalling, staying warm and cooking. Fire requires three elements: Oxygen, fuel, and a source of heat. Is your fuel thin and dry enough? Is your heat source hot enough to light the tinder? Is there enough oxygen reaching the point where the heat meets the fuel? Indentify the problem and proceed. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewvenn/366986755/sizes/o/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by matthewvenn</em></a>
Understand and master each part of this definition. -Ability. Be proficient at building shelter, starting a fire, signaling for help, and staying hydrated. -Desire. Regardless of how bad the situation might be, never lose the will to survive and always maintain a positive attitude. -Stay alive. Your ability to effectively deal with life-threatening medical situations is of the highest priority. Stay current with your emergency medical skills. -Under adverse conditions. The more you know about your environment ahead of time, the greater your advantage. -Alone. Never count on the help of others. Be self proficient since you may end up alone. -Until rescued. Be patient. It's your job to keep yourself and your teammates alive. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/avaweintraub/2771488135/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink"><em>Flickr photo by Ava Weintraub Photography</em></a>