It’s better to be prepared for the worst than it is to be surprised and defenseless when it arrives. Because it will arrive. While statistically speaking, emergencies will remain strangers at any given moment, every human lifetime edges close to calamity at least once or twice.
This post isn’t intended to scare you with disaster or worst case scenarios. Instead it is intended to educated you about the scenarios that you might face once in your life time and how you can be prepared for them.
This post is inspired by the famous book of JOSEPH PRED “The emergency Survival Manual.”
So In this article I have discussed the most important life saving skills that can help you in an emergency.
1. Getting right mind set
In this article...
Getting the right mindset and the right survival skills is a must when you are confronted with danger. One such skill is situation awareness. It is the perception of environment and events with respect to time or space. The comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status.
It’s a kind of relaxed awareness that is practiced by emergency responders. And people working in complex or sometimes hazardous environments. It allows you to recognize any hazardous or usual circumstances at its early stage before it turned into a big problem.
You need to develop a habit to use this survival skill at all times, before you end up into a dangerous situation. It requires practice like any other skill, and the best time to do it is before problems arise. If you get it right, it might save your or someone’s life from danger.
2. Practice your awareness
Probably the way to practice this survival skill is to practice it in daily life. Be observant towards your environment and pay attention to the usual signs and/or sound. Note anything unusual and determine any danger based on your experience and circumstances.
Consider some alternative options based on your experience and training. If the situation is dynamic and changes from time to time. Take action and keep moving, don’t panic or fail to move and drive yourself out from the danger. Practice all of this, regardless of the environment you’re in. And eventually they will become second nature.
3. Sharpen your senses
You should never miss any opportunities to practice your awareness. Make situational awareness a high priority whether you’re at home, work or chilling out with friends. You can enhance your own natural powers of observation with these simple actions.
a) By eliminating distractions: Eliminating unnecessary distractions make you more aware about your environment. You will be able to spot any unusual sight or sound, easily and prepare yourself for any danger or emergency before hand.
b) By checking your environment: Pay attention to where you are, where you’re going, and what you’re doing. If you find yourself unsafe anywhere or think you’re doing something wrong. Follow your gut instinct and head back as soon as possible.
c) By using all of your senses: Make use of, all of your senses to maintain an all around awareness. Smell, hearing, sight or even the sixth sense make use of every weapon in you arsenal to counteract. Especially when danger might approach you from outside of your peripheral vision. If you feel something is not right. Follow your gut instinct and act accordingly to protect yourself from hazard.
4. Avoid low consciousness
You should at all cost avoid the state of half or low consciousness. Where you are less aware of your surroundings and what you are doing. It is triggered when you are doing something familiar or something that you have been doing daily. Like when you are travelling from home to work or say when washing dishes. It is the most dangerous enemy to your situational awareness.
Being less conscious means that you are not aware of any possible threat coming your way. And therefore most likely to hurt yourself. You can avoid falling into a state of low consciousness by consciously staying in a state of relaxed awareness. The more you practice, you will get better at staying in your full control and take decisions consciously.
5. Try To Apply OODA Loop In Any Emergency Situation
OODA Loop stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. This is a decision making approach that you should always remember in an emergency situation. By applying OODA loop in any emergency situation, you can filter out the available piece of information. And act appropriately in the context of the situation. And you can quickly make a decision best suited for the condition and change it according to data that becomes available.
It is particularly useful in scenarios where the ability to react to changing circumstances is necessary to avoid any harm.
Observe : Use all of your senses and gather as much information as possible from the various sources around you. Look out for things that may directly or indirectly affect or even help you in the future.
Orient :Analyse your circumstances and take conscious decisions before doing anything unconsciously. While keeping note of your past experiences. Use new information to update your perspective on the situation.
Decide : Decisions are crucial in an emergency situation or survival situation. And a correct decision leads to a positive outcome. You should always remember that decisions in a survival situation should not be rigid but flexible. Since the conditions in these scenario changes time to time and must be reassessed as the loop cycles.
Act : Action is necessary in order to get some results. Therefore act according to your decisions and then immediately return to the Observe stage. As you evaluate the results of your actions.
6. Adapt and overcome
During your planning phase keep you mindset flexible. There should be enough room in your plan if you face anything unexpected during the execution of your plan. You should adapt according to the changing circumstances and keep all your options available for any changes in the plan. Your outcomes will be more limited if you are rigid in your approach.
7. Handle everything yourself
In any survival situation you should only rely on yourself and your survival skills. You should not rely on things that are uncertain or changes time to time like weather or luck. You should handle everything yourself and make full use of all limited resources you have. It is better to do it yourself rather than waiting for someone else or something to help you. Even if you fail, you will have some information by analyzing the outcomes to further improve your plan.
8. Get professional help
Unless you are trained, you can never be fully prepared for the wilderness. You can hope to train you all by yourself but getting a professional train you is unrivaled. Under professional help you can easily and quickly. Learn right survival skills to effectively manage any stressful situation. Often we overlook the importance of primitive survival skills and try to learn more fancy things that we like. This can limit our skill set and makes us vulnerable to danger. Therefore getting a good survival skills training program from an expert is very important.
9. Understanding sign of stress and accepting it
Stress is a very integral part of our life and all of us have experienced it in our life. But the stress you experience in a survival situation is different than what you have experienced before. It is normal to feel anxious, confused or overwhelmed. Your emotions may range from frustration to fear. Accepting that all of these reactions and feelings are normal. And can help you to recover more quickly than the people who are lacking this awareness. Therefore understanding of stress is necessary in order to suppress negative emotions or stress in the field.
10. Manage your mental health
Mental health plays a very important part when you’re coping up with the stress. You will give up easily under intense situation if your mental health is not up to the mark. Therefore maintaining a healthy mind before heading towards wilderness should be the most important priority. You can easily take a general care of your mental health by following these things. However if you have serious mental health issues then consulting a professional is probably the smartest thing to do.
TEND TO YOUR BODY : Get enough sleep and exercise, and eat a balanced diet. Establish a moderate balance between work, pleasure, and downtime.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS : Spend time with family and friends. Be open to receiving as well as giving support.
KEEP YOUR SPIRITS UP :Use spiritual resources you have available, and be willing to talk to mental health professionals. Or just openly talk with someone about your feelings.
11. Gear up properly
Gearing up properly is a very important part for any survival. Proper tools and gears will help you to make full use of every survival skill that you have learnt during your training. However, an improper or lack of any tool can be very risky and even life threatening. So it is absolutely imperative to learn gearing up for your needs properly after you have learnt the primitive survival skills.
12. Basic gears to look for
There are a wide variety of different tools/gears in different sizes and shapes, that are useful in the field. But amongst this large selection, there are many that are not useful in every scenario. So packing up these unnecessary tools will only results in taking up precious space in our backpack. Therefore you should have some knowledge of gears that are useful for a wide range of work according to the activities you are doing. Here is a list of such essential survival gears/tools that are functional in majority of cases.
Water bottle filters
These are filters that are meant to be fitted inside a water bottle for purification of water. So you can just fill the bottle with natural water resources and the impurities and contaminants will be filtered. When you are out in the wild, you don’t have the luxury of bottled water so having this really help you a lot to survive. You can also buy a water bottle with a filter for this purpose.
A knife is just the piece of survival gear you need to help you harvest materials for an emergency shelter, get a fire started, open cans. And if necessary, dress wounds and cut bandages. You can use it to prepare food or use it as a weapon to protect your life from any danger like wild animals. There are a ton of different knives available in the market for different uses. You can choose any one according to your use and comfort. But keep this in your mind that a good knife should have a great balance between its survival and tactical aspects.
Tactical flashlight is a wonderful addition to your gears. It provides a strong dependable source of light in the night time. You can positively identify objects and whatever is beyond. They provide enough illumination so that you can also use it as a self-defense tool, both with their light and with a physical strike. It’s essential gear that can be seen from miles away. So even if you are lost and can’t see anyone else there’s a good chance someone else will see you.
Fire starter kit
Fire starter is probably one of the most important things in your gear bag. You can survive without any water and food but it is impossible to survive without fire. With fire you can cook you food, keep yourself warm, have a good visibility around your camping site. And even use it against wild animals. However, it is not easy for everyone to produce fire with primitive methods. Therefore you should have a fire starter kit among your other gears. A good fire starter makes it very easy to produce fire and saves your energy for labour intensive works.
Para cord is one of the most versatile pieces of survival gear that you can carry. It has applications as diverse as helping you set up makeshift tent to create a clothesline for drying wet clothes. To establish a perimeter around your campsite that will warn you of the approach of curious and hungry animals. On top of that you can use it to transcend physical obstacles like small cliffs you might encounter as you attempt to reach civilization. It’s essential survival gear for any eventuality.
It started as the venerable Swiss Army knife and it is a very versatile tool. It has a wide number of fold-out tools including screwdrivers, pliers, saws, wire cutters and knife blades. You can do a wide variety of tasks with this tool and it’s very easy to carry it around. You can buy any multi-tool for your use but always keep quality over price because you cannot take chances with your survival.
Often people overlook the importance of a good compass and focus on less useful tools. But a compass is the one piece of survival gear that will never let you down when it comes to finding your way out of wilderness. Without a good compass there is a good possibility that you might wander around aimlessly in circles if you’re lost. So you should always keep a good compass in your survival kit. If possible try to go for a multi functional military grade compass to ensure quality and precision. You can also buy a GPS navigation device instead of compass but it has its own advantages or disadvantages, so consider that before buying.
Sleeping bag is a blanket like bag that lets you sleep safely and comfortably. It works close to a bed in situations where bed is not available. There are many advantages of sleeping bags, they offer the required warmth, protection from chilly winds. And precipitation, cushioning and even protect you from water whenever it rains. To enjoy the benefits of sleeping bag it is essential to purchase the right one. A bad sleeping bag would not provide the required cushioning, warmth and prevents you from having sound sleep. If you have limited space then you can opt for a survival blanket. However, it cannot replace a sleeping bag. If you’re capable to go for a sleeping bag rather than going for a survival blanket.
Tactical backpacks are made from waterproofed nylon or polyester material. These types of bags are durable and they can handle heavy duty works under any weather condition. They are perfect for dangerous situations and rough conditions. Most regular bags have two or three sections. But a tactical backpack has a multitude of pockets and ten compartments. With it, you will have a well-organized gear that will help you to be prepared for any situation. They are also breathable and have a padded backing, cushioned midsection belt, and a lot more filling in the shoulder bands. So, using a tactical backpack will help you save energy and time. So that you can perform the task or face the challenges with ease.
13. Be safe in the wild
In addition to situational awareness, there are some specific considerations for your own safety when you’re out on a trip. Tunnel vision is one of the main reasons people end up risking their own safety. If you are determined that the place is not safe then choosing to step back and head towards another place is the smartest thing to do. You can for these things to ensure your safety.
- Look for good shelter.
- Establish area safety near your shelter.
- Beware of wild animals.
- Make sure to stay near water source.
- Avoid tall grassy areas.
- Stay near trails.
- Get close to firewood
14. Get some serious training
Serious first aid and CPR training is very important before heading in the wild. You can learn basic first aid and CPR from the internet or books but it is not enough in a survival situation.
First aid and CPR training are critical for everyone and it is useful regardless of where you are going. Not only it saves your life or someone else’s but also it teaches you what exactly should be included in a first aid kit. This will greatly reduce the size of first aid kit. You can take wilderness EMT training before going out in remote wilderness. The skills learned in this training emphasize improvising and helping others with a minimum of resources.
15. Build your first aid kit
Before heading outside for an adventure, prepare for injuries and illnesses by packing a first aid kit. The items you place in the kit will depend on the length of time you will be gone, where you are going, and any preexisting conditions of people in your group. Here is the list of such items.
- Sterile gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Adhesive moleskin
- Adhesive bandages
- Antiseptic spray
- Antibiotic cream
- Latex gloves
- Mouth-barrier device
- Plastic goggles
- Elastic bandage
- Finger splint
- SAM Splint for immobilization
- Rolled gauze
- Pain reliever
- Cold compresses
16. Know common prescription drugs
If you can’t get medical help in an emergency, knowing what medications do can make a difference. Ideally you should use these only with professional medical advice, as they can be dangerous. At the incorrect doses, and some may be addictive or could trigger harmful interactions with other drugs.
FEEL LESS PAIN :Plenty of prescription painkillers (many of which combine codeine and acetaminophen), can treat moderate to severe pain. These can help you endure pain that the over- the-counter medications don’t handle as well.
TREAT NAUSEA :Zofran (ondansetron), a popular antiemetic that comes in a tablet that dissolves under your tongue. Can prevent nausea and vomiting caused by morning sickness, heat or dehydration, and other issues.
STAY AWAKE :Medications such as Provigil (modafinil) and Adderall (amphetamine) are used by various military forces. And others to keep them alert and focused. Use cautiously; sooner or later, your sleep debt will need to be paid off with proper rest.
KEEP CALM :Stress and anxiety after disaster is common. Benzodiazepines can be an emotional “reset,” helping you to avoid panic and function better. Common forms include Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam), used to treat anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms. These drugs are addictive; occasional use is acceptable, but regular use is cautioned against.
BREATHE RIGHT :Ventolin (albuterol sulfate) inhalers can help an asthmatic or someone suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. (COPD) who is having trouble breathing. Unofficial uses include treating difficulty breathing associated with respiratory infection.
STOP SERIOUS ALLERGIES :EpiPens (epinephrine) are used to treat anaphylaxis—a serious allergic reaction that causes severe swelling and respiratory obstruction—experienced by some people from insect stings or various other substances.
GO (ANTI) VIRAL :Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is used to treat and prevent influenza. Thought somewhat controversial, it may be used in a pandemic to reduce the risk of death. STOP RADIATION:Potassium iodide (KI) helps to prevent radioactive iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid gland during a radiation incident. People should only take KI if advised by public health or emergency management officials. As there are health risks associated with its use.
17. Know common allergies
Allergic reactions are generally caused by a few major categories of allergens. Here is an overview of the most common types that may trigger a reaction.
FOOD: Eggs, fish, milk (not to be confused with lactose intolerance), peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, wheat
DRUG: Anticonvulsants, insulin, penicillin, sulfa drugs, and related antibiotics
INSECT/POISON: Fire ants, bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets
OTHER: Animal dander or hair, mold, dust, latex, cosmetics, and pollens from trees, grasses, or weeds
Have a knowledge of Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. This type of allergic reaction occur in minutes because of peanuts, bees and other things. Human body reacts very quickly to these allergies. Our immune system starts to produce various chemicals. And it leads to sudden shock, low blood pressure and blocking breathing. Our body starts to show these signs and symptoms: nausea, skin rash, excessive vomiting, weak pulse rate etc.
Common triggers include certain foods, medications, insect venom and latex. It requires an injection of epinephrine and a follow-up trip to the emergency room. If you don’t have this medication then you immediately need to go to the emergency room. Anaphylaxis can be fatal if it isn’t treated with proper medication and procedure.
Be prepared for Anaphylaxis
While anaphylaxis is uncommon, it can be deadly. Therefore it is much better to be prepared earlier. However, there are only limited actions you can take in this situation. And you must act early and decisively.
Be prepared: When you are going out for a trip with also ask if they have any issues with allergies in the past. If you find out they have such problems then make sure to carry an injection of epinephrine.
Act quickly: Beware of the symptoms of Anaphylaxis like rapid, weak pulse; a skin rash; and nausea and vomiting. Act quickly at the very first signs. Don’t wait for symptoms to worst.
Get help: Get help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Try to quickly take patient to the emergency room.
Give first aid: Be ready to perform CPR if the patient is having a problem in breathing. Use over-the-counter diphenhydramine such as Benadryl to suppress the symptoms for sometimes.
Use epinephrine: If the situation get worse and patient’s condition is getting really bad then use epinephrine injection. And closely monitor him/her after being injected.
18. Handle a heart attack
A heart attack happens when there is a sudden complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of your heart.
Heart attack symptoms and signs:
- Constant pain in the centre of the chest and uncomfortable pressure around the whole chest.
- Discomfort or pain spreading beyond the chest to the shoulders, back, neck, jaw, teeth, or one or both arms, or occasionally upper abdomen
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
- Nausea Since, this is a potentially life-threatening condition, call 911 or get them to a hospital quickly. Also, have the patient chew an aspirin to help minimize blood clots that may be causing the heart attack.
19. Recognize a stroke
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to an area of the brain is cut off. When the brain is not getting proper blood supply to some area then it cause change in sensation. If you suspect someone is having a stroke or showing signs of stroke then you need to hurry up and act fast.
Use the FAST technique to recognize the following signs and symptoms of stroke:
F: Face is drooping: Ask the person to smile, and see if the person is drooping on one side. numbness in one side of face, and see if the person’s smile is uneven or not.
A: Weakness in Arms: Request the person to lift his both arms and see if one of the arm is drifting downwards.
S: Having problem in Speech: Check if the persons speech is Incomprehensible and not clear( slur speech ). Ask the person some simple questions and look for abnormality.
T: It’s Time to call 911!: You need to hurry up and call 911 for emergency. Just describe the signs and symptoms and hospitalize the person.
20. Types of wounds
An open wound is an injury involving an external or internal break in body tissue, usually involving the skin. Most open wounds are minor and can be treated by yourself.
Four types of open wounds, classified depending on their cause.
When skin or scrapes are rubbed on hard surfaces then and abrasion occurs. This type of wound doesn’t involves excessive bleeding. But the wound needs to be cleaned with appropriate medicine (anti infective).
Deep cut or tearing of your skin is called Laceration. Lacerations mainly caused because of knife, tools and machinery accidents. If the cut or tear is deep then there are chances of heavy or excessive bleeding.
Pointy objects such as nails, needle causes puncture. Bleeding in puncture may not be much but the wound can be deep and it can also damage internal organs. If you have even a small puncture wound, visit a doctor to get a tetanus shot and prevent infection.
Partial or complete tearing away of skin and the tissue beneath is called avulsion. They bleed heavily and rapidly.
How to stop bleeding?
You need to put direct pressure on the wound with a clean cloth until bleeding stops. If the cloth is soaking the blood then don’t remove it. Just put more cloth on top of it and apply pressure. If the bleeding is on the arm or leg just raise the portion to slow bleeding. Make sure to clean your hands after every procedure. If the bleeding is not severe don’t apply tourniquet, just stop it with direct pressure.
21. Hairline fracture
Stress fracture is the other name for hairline fracture. It is a small crack or severe bruise within a bone. It is caused when the damage is done to the bone overtime by repetitive actions. These types of fractures are mostly occurs in the leg area. Pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising is the most common symptom of hairline fracture. The pain is lesser when you’re resting and greater when you’re doing some activity.
First aid fractures : Fractures usually aren’t life threatening, but they do require immediate medical care. You need to provide first-aid treatment on the wounded person.
Stop any bleeding : If there is any bleeding then you need to treat it with a clean cloth and first aid kid.
Immobilize the injured area : If the suspect have a broken bone in the neck, back or limbs. Then ask them not to move and stay still Until the help arrives.
Apply ice to the area : Put some ice in a piece of cloth and apply it to the injury for up to 10 minutes at a time.
Treat them for shock : Try to make injured person comfortable, calm and encourage them to rest. If they are shivering then cover them with blankets.
Get professional help: You need to call 911 for an emergency situation and calmly. Describes the situation and location.
Hypothermia mostly occur during cold conditions. In hypothermia your body starts to lose heat rapidly and produces heat in negligible amount. Most of the time this happen because of bathing with cold water in ice cold season. You need to dress properly in cold environment. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37°C). Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 F (35°C).
First aid hypothermia :Be gentle with the victim of hypothermia(Handle him/her gently). Don’t massage or rub the person. Cardiac arrest may occur because of excessive rubbing and shaking.
Try to relocate the person to a warm and dry place : If you don’t have a dry place or warm shelter for the victim then just try to cover them with blankets or other warm stuff. If the person’s clothing is wet then remove them. But make sure he/she is not exposed to cold winds. Cover their heads while changing clothes.
Unconsciousness is more common in severe hypothermia with no signs of pulse or breathing. You need to give CPR if the person has stopped breathing.
Provide warm beverages : If the victim is able to swallow then provide them sweet and warm beverage with no alcoholic and caffeinated property.
Use warm, dry compresses : Use a first-aid warm compress or warm water in plastic bottles. Apply a compress to the neck, chest wall or groin. Make sure you’re not applying warm compress to arm or legs. When you apply heat to legs and arms. Then the cold blood force back towards the heart lungs and brain. Which can cause the core body temperature to drop. This can be fatal.
Don’t apply direct heat : Don’t use hot water or a heating pad to warm the person. Don’t apply direct heat to the skin it’ll cause an irregular body response(in some cases heartbeat might even stop).
23. Avoid frostbite
Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Frostbite is most common on the, toes, ears,fingers, nose, cheeks and chin. Avoid frostbite when you are going out for a trip in winters.
Cover up : Wear different layers of warm clothing and avoid restrictive or tight clothes. Trapped air between the layers of clothes acts as resistance against the cold. You should wear wind and waterproof outer garments for protection.
Mittens can be a good option rather than gloves: Mittens provide better protection against the cold. You can try wearing a pair of gloves under the mittens.
Watch for signs of frostbite: Red or pale skin, prickling, and numbness are the signs of frostbite. Seeking a warm shelter if you notice signs of frostbite.
Plan to protect yourself: If you’re travelling in a cold weather then make sure you’re carrying warm clothings and other important supplies.
Dehydration: Dehydration occurs when the amount of water is not sufficient in your body. Without enough, your body can’t function properly. If you lose too much water from your body, you can get dehydrated.
These are the early signs and symptoms of dehydration: darker urine, thirst, less urine production. Followed by headache, dizziness, dry mouth, weakness in muscles, unconsciousness etc. Consuming plenty of fluids and foods that have high water content (such as fruits and vegetables) is enough to prevent from dehydration. Remember, risk of dehydration is more in cold than heat so, keep drinking water in small intervals.