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Desert Survival Skills

Updated on September 4, 2012
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How to survive in a desert


Today we will be discussing desert survival. After living in the desert for two years, I know firsthand just how harsh the desert can be. This is why I wish to address everyone how to survive in the desert. Now, don’t get it into your head that this information is useless to you. With the growth of deserts every year caused by desertification, it is more than likely that you will encounter one within your life time. I’m sure we have all become victim of a flat tire, or a vehicle malfunction. This guide will ensure that you will have the best chance of survival with in the future.

Remember, the best way to survive in a desert is to take preventative measures. Keep water in your vehicle at all times with a way to carry it.

Desert Survival Guide


1) Attitude: I was talking to a friend the other day about “Doomsday Prepping” He said to me that he wouldn’t call himself a true prepper. My response to him was “Well, where does ‘real’ prepping begin? Is it having a ‘Bug Out Bag’, perhaps it is buying an extra can of food every time you go to the store, or do you need to build a bunker to be a true prepper?” He replied “Exactly, I believe it’s the mindset more than anything that makes you a prepper”. The same can be said for a survival situation, your mental attitude is your most valuable tool. Nevertheless, you still might die regardless. But, it is your attitude that may allow you to hang on till help arrives. Without it you will die very quickly.


2) Stay Put: If your vehicle broke down on the side of the road ensure you stay with your vehicle. You are more likely to be found next to a prominent feature. Hopefully, someone will have an idea where you are located to begin searching. Only move from your vehicle for safety and water. If you have been left in the desert, stay where you were last seen if possible.


3) Move at night: If you need to move ensure you do it after daylight. Leave a note with your name, the date & time and the location you are traveling. Ensure you stay in a straight line as you move so you are easy to follow. When farmers harvest their crops, they pick an object in the distance to drive to, this ensures they remain straight; you will want to do the same. If possible leave markers so you are easily located. Lastly, don’t overexert yourself.


4) Drink when you need to: Don’t ration water and conserve your sweat. Rationing water will lead to dehydration. If you have any other liquids you may rub them upon your skin to help you stay cool. If you have another container you should urinate in it. You can then cover it so that evaporation separates the water from the toxins. If you can put a pipe or tube at the top it will allow the evaporation to travel down into another useable container. You can then drink the usable liquid while rubbing the excess upon your body. Another trick that you can use is wrapping a plastic bag around a plant, or a tree branch. Ensure that it is air tight, over time precipitation will leave the plant and fill the bag.


5) Don’t Eat: Water is needed to digest your food; you can live two weeks without food, but, only 3 days without water.


6) Breath through your nose: If you’re a mouth breather, breath through your nose. This will minimize loss of fluids.


7) Shade your body: Never take your clothes off, but, you may loosen them. The sun can dehydrate your body much more than you sweat. If you have sunglasses wear them to avoid sun blindness, even looking at the sand can damage your eyes. If you can make shade to further protect you from the sun, do it.


8) Be Obnoxious: Signal by means of fire, mirror/reflections, and writing in the sand. If you see someone scream and shout letting yourself be seen, participate in your own rescue.


Heat Related Injures


Physical Response to Heat: Blood vessels open up or dialate, sweating begins, heart rate and breathing increase.

Heat Cramps: a result of a salt imbalance in the body which can lead to muscle spasms

Heat Exhaustion: Is a result of excessive sweating, it is so severe that a person can no longer maintain adequate blood pressure.

Heat Stroke: Forty percent of those who receive heat stroke end up dieing. Brain damage usually occurs with heat stroke. Pupils will be like a pin-point, rectal temperature will be 105 degrees, sweating is often present, victims will be delirious or comatose, and flush skin may or may not be present.

Dehydration: I believe we all know what dehydration is. But, what you may not know is that the symptoms of dehydration are very similar to other illnesses. This is why it is extremely important to stay well hydrated 24/7. Symptoms of dehydration include: headache, nausea, dizziness, fainting, constipation, dry mouth, weakness, stomach cramps as well as leg and arm cramps and lastly, lethargy. Lethargy insists that the victim is not mentally there. Some signs that you may be becoming dehydrated are dark colored urine, swollen tongue, and hot dry skin.

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