Landing yourself in potential danger is scary, but it's important to remain calm so you can think. Find out how to survive three dangerous situations here
Even the most experienced hikers and nature-lovers can find themselves in dangerous situations. What's important in times of trouble for any intrepid explorer is to remain calm and to think logically. Here are some tips on how to survive dangerous situations, on land and at sea.
I'm lost in the woods
Getting lost in the woods can be scary. Here’s how to keep yourself alive until someone finds you or you find your way back.
Most people who die as a result of being stranded in the woods do so within 36 hours, but survival experts say the average person can survive without eating for 40 days. Keep your wits about you, and you can last longer than you think.
"The average person can survive without eating for 40 days"
By panicking and running around frantically, you will burn up energy and get yourself sweaty, setting yourself up for hypothermia when the sun goes down.
Staying warm and getting sleep so you can make rational decisions are crucial to wilderness survival. Since your surroundings have changed, your habits may need to change, too. That could mean moving around at night to stay warm—preferably walking in a circle so you won’t injure yourself in the dark—and sleeping during the day when the sun’s out.
Avoid lying down directly on the ground. The cold earth will draw the heat out of your body. Gather a nice pile of leaves and get into it. This will get you off the ground and trap your body heat.
Drink water when you find it
The water may have nasty microbes like giardia in it, but you can always visit the doctor when you get back to civilisation. If you don’t stay hydrated, you might die, survival experts say.
"In a forest, you can often find a creek flowing down between two big hills"
If you’re in a forest, you can often find a creek flowing down between two big hills. Even a dry streambed typically has water in it if you dig down a few feet. Or wipe your shirt on dewy grass and plants in the morning and wring it into your mouth.
The current is pulling me out to sea
The problem is a rip current. A rip current is a panic-inducing threat that can get you into real trouble at the beach. More than 80 per cent of lifeguard rescues at ocean beaches are due to rip currents, say experts who train lifeguards.
When waves travel from deep to shallow water, they break near the shore. When they break strongly in some places and weakly in others, rip currents—narrow, fast-moving strips of water moving sea-ward—can form. Rip currents (also called riptides) often form in low spots or breaks in sandbars or near piers and other structures. Most rip currents head straight back out to sea, perpendicular to the beach, but some go out diagonally.
"Swim parallel to the shore rather than directly towards it"
When people are caught in them, they often struggle in a futile attempt to swim directly towards the shore. But a strong rip current can make swimming seem like walking on a treadmill or up a downward escalator, the experts say. Swimmers may grow exhausted and panic.
Swim parallel to the shore
If you’re caught in a rip current, instead of struggling to swim against the current toward the shore, swim parallel to the shore, experts advise. Most rip currents are fairly narrow, and you don’t have to swim far to get out of their path. Once you’re out of the current, then swim to shore.
Reverse direction if necessary
If you happen to be in a rip current that’s headed diagonally away from shore, swimming parallel with the shore may put you into the swifter part of the current. If you feel as if you aren’t getting out of the rip current quickly, turn around and swim parallel to the shore the other way.
I've cut myself badly, and I'm in the wild
You’ve cut your knee badly and need stitches, but you’re on a hike and are miles from a hospital. Fortunately, you have that backpacker’s staple, duct tape, which you can use to close the wound.
"Applying pressure and duct tape to a wound should allow you to walk somewhere you can get help"
Apply pressure to the wound to control the bleeding and then apply a stretch of duct tape across it to hold the two sides of the gash together. This should allow you to walk to a place where you can get help and a ride to a doctor or hospital.
Banner photo: How can you survive dangerous situations? (credit: Raúl Nájera (Unsplash))
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter
Loading up next...