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5 Steps for Survival Guide

Updated on March 25, 2015

Survival Skills

While every survival situation will be different and present you with new challenges, I will attempt to provide you a basic guide that can help you out. In the event you find yourself in a survival situation remember these steps and they will certainly help you to survive.

Remember, every situation is different so these steps may need to be rearranged based on your situation.

If you end up stranded in front of a freshwater lake, then staying hydrated may not be as high on the list as if you were located in the desert where finding water should become a top priority.

This guide is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, there are many other things beyond the scope of this guide, but I will cover basics to better prepare you.

1. Hydrate

Hydrating is one of the most important things one can do in their daily life and it makes it that much more vital in a survival situation. If you end up somewhere one of the first things you should do is try to locate water. If you locate water then that is a great step in securing your safety.

There are a lot of rules for boiling water at different elevations but one great thing to know is that boiling water at any elevation for 10 minutes will make it potable. That means a full rolling boil for ten minutes, no matter where you're located, will render the water drinkable.

The Rule of Three's

Always remember that humans will rarely survive 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, or 3 weeks without food. (Read my hub on "The Rule of Threes")

Avoid Dehydration

It may sound gross but if your urine is colored, especially dark, or you are finding it difficult to urinate then you're dehydrated.

Debris' Tips:

Don't Sweat It: Whether you are in the snow, or blistering heat, avoid sweating. It dehydrates you, and if in the cold it can freeze and cause you to become hypothermic. If you are in the desert, seek shade as soon as possible.

2. Maintain Body Temperature

Maintaining your body temperature is important whether in the arctic or in the desert.

In Cold Climate

In cold climate it is obvious that you can freeze to death, so it is important to stay warm. But in contrast, it is also dangerous to make yourself sweat. If you are doing a lot of hard work and heavy lifting and you begin to sweat, you run the risk of that sweat freezing and making you hypothermic. In cold weather it is harder to stay hydrated because when you are cold, the last thing you are thinking about is a nice drink, but it is important to force yourself to continue taking in water.

In Warm Climate

In warm climate it is important to keep yourself cooler. Seeking shade and staying hydrated will be the best steps to maintaining your body temperature. If you are in a desert climate then avoid the wind as well. It might seem like a good idea to enjoy a nice breeze in the desert, but because the air is so hot and dry it will suck all of the moisture out of you and dehydrate you faster.


If you end up in the unfortunate situation of having to survive overnight in an extreme climate then make sure that you do not sleep directly on the ground. The ground will zap the heat out of you overnight. Lay a bunch of sticks on the ground to form a platform and lay a bunch of leaves for cushioning.

3. Prepare Signals

Once you have the primary survival functions taken care of it is important to make sure that people know where you are.


First, setup signal signal fires, or one large one. If you have the wood available to you then you can start burning it right away, if not then you may want to setup a smaller fire to keep you warm but setup a larger signal fire that you can start easily if you hear a plane of helicopter.


With sticks, rocks, and other debris you can spell out the word "Help." If you are on an island or near a beach you could use seaweed as well. If you have an extra shirt, or something bright colored you can tie it onto a tree where a helicopter or plane might be able to see it. Sometimes if pilots see this they will land to see if anyone needs rescue.

Debris' Tips:

A shelter needs only to be functional, so do not invest too much time making it pretty. You can help to weatherproof the shelters by draping a tarp if you have one, or you can layer leaves in the style of shingles. All you do is lay leaves across the bottom of the shelter, then do a layer that overlaps this bottom layer, then continue to layer working your way from the bottom up.

4. Find or Build Shelter

It is always best to shield yourself from the brutal weather so finding shelter is an important measure to do this.

Caves make good temporary shelters, make sure animals are not already using it though! You can also dig a hole and cover it with branches.

Another popular temporary shelter is called a lean-to. The idea is take a bunch of sticks and lay them leaning against something.

You can lean them against a boulder, a fallen tree, or it necessary you can try to construct your own frame by pushing two sticks into the ground and laying a stick across them, then you can lean your sticks against this to make your lean-to.


5. Procure Food

Though many are against hurting animals, in a survival situation you are not left with many food options. If you have enough knowledge about plants then you can try eating edible plants, but many do not have the proper knowledge to identify plants so it may become a reality having to hunt in order to maintain your survival.

The type of animal that you hunt will vary from location.  If I were caught in a survival situation on an island I would first start looking for sea snails, and other mollusks that are slow moving, or nearly stationary.  Not that I have a taste for them, but being that they are slow moving, I would not need to expend much energy trying to locate them.

Saving energy is probably the most important thing that one can do in this kind of situation.  Make sure that you are not spending a lot of your energy searching for game that might be tastier; at this point, you just want something in your stomach.  Do not try to stuff yourself full!  Not only will you be ending more life than you need to, to survive, but having a full stomach will hasten your dehydration as your body attempts to digest all of that food.


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    • johnsams profile image

      johnsams 7 years ago

      I would love to read more on the mental aspects of survival in your hubs. Cheers!

    • debris profile image

      debris 7 years ago from Florida

      Hi Johnsams,

      Thanks for stopping by! You're absolutely correct. I definitely approached the more physical aspect of survival but you are entirely correct that there is a whole other side that is the mental side. I may have touched on it in other articles, but I definitely suggest anyone reading this to research the mental aspects as well.



    • johnsams profile image

      johnsams 7 years ago

      Very informative. I would like to add that mental control is also quite important in such situations because sometimes we get anxious, lose control and this may be fatal.