Three Don’ts in Wilderness Survival that may Save Your Life

20161015_072014Getting lost in the wilderness even for just one day can mean the difference between life and death. You might succumb to heat stroke, hypothermia, a fatal concussion from falling, drowning in a raging river, among others. Despite the immense challenge, you can still make it out alive with determination and especially knowledge. The key to survival sometimes lies in what to avoid.

1. Don’t Eat Berries and Mushrooms You Find in the Wild

Berries growing on bushes and mushrooms lying on the ground seem readily available snacks for alleviating hunger. Yet these can make you sick or even become your last meal. As a general rule, toxic mushrooms have bright colors to warn animals- or people – not to eat them. There are exceptions though, such as some from the genus Amanita that look innocent but deadly when consumed. Among berries, those of the holly shrub look luscious but eating them will result in nausea and diarrhea. Edible fruits and fungi do grow in the wild. However, it pays to steer clear and be safe.

What to do:

Hunting is more difficult than foraging but it does not come with the risk of ingesting toxin from plants and mushrooms. You may catch birds, small mammals, and even non-venomous reptiles and then prepare them as food to survive. Keep in mind that taking down bigger animals like deer require hunting implements or even ingenious traps. Additionally, you may consume birds’ eggs if a nest is found. If you come across a body of water, fishing guarantees a rather plentiful source of food.

2. Don’t Drink Water When You See It 

Dehydration presents a more urgent problem than starvation. The human body lasts longer without food than without water. Yet drinking water does not always come in plenty when you get lost in the wilderness. Lakes and rivers may be brown or gray with sediment, especially after rain. No matter how clear a pool looks, it still has microbes that can give you gastro-intestinal illness. Simply refrain from rushing towards water and drinking from it even if you are severely thirsty.

What to do:

Get a drink from bodies of water that flow, such as streams and brooks, instead of those that are still, such as lakes and ponds. Ensure your health by boiling the water too. Iodine tablets and portable water-purifying devices also do the job.

3. Don’t Enter a Cave Hastily

If you get caught under harsh weather, such as during a rainstorm or a blizzard, a cave offers excellent shelter from the elements. You can also spend the night there. Finding a cave eliminates the need to build a lean-to from branches, leaves, and even a large piece of water-repellent material in case you do not have a tent. Yet bears, big cats, and similar predatory animals also call caves their home. The last thing you want to happen is to get clawed, bitten, or worse. On the other hand, you might encounter venomous snakes.

What to do:

Before you approach a cave, listen for rustling noises or snoring inside it. Otherwise, you step back for a considerable distance before yelling at the entrance. Throwing a rock into the cave works better. If minutes pass and nothing happens, the cave is likely unoccupied. Be wary of a deep cave network. Venturing into it presents unknown risks. As further advice, always travel with a flashlight or a similar device. You may want to learn how to make a fire too.


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