This is an abbreviated excerpt from Prepare Now-Survive Later and worth a read.
The most important tool for survival is having the right mindset. All the training, preparation, information, tools, etcetera, are useless without the will to survive. This will is birthed from having the right mindset.
Don’t be intimidated. The will to survive is in every person. Luckily, for most of us, we haven’t had to tap into it. But when you have to, you will. Human beings are amazingly adaptable. I’ve talked to people who say: If it’s that bad, I don’t want to survive. But my experience says you’ll react differently.
The word Survival provides you with the first letters of the keys you need.
S: Size up the situation, your surroundings, yourself, and your equipment
Focus on what exactly is the threat in order of priority? This might seem obvious, but consider the situation in Japan in 2011. The initial event was the earthquake. That, however, wasn’t the primary threat. The resulting tsunami caused much more devastation. And following that, the problems at the nuclear plants presented immense issues that are still having an effect.
Size up your surroundings: When in a situation, tune in to the environment. Wherever you are, you are part of a system. This is key to survival. You don’t want to fight your environment; you want to work with it. There is a pattern to nature. In an urban environment there are also patterns. Make note of the patterns and also focus on any time the pattern is disturbed.
Size up yourself: Have you, or someone on your team, been hurt or wounded? Often, in the initial rush of a trauma, we miss potentially lethal injuries.
Keep yourself healthy. Dehydration, which we’ll cover under water, is a major problem that can easily be avoided. Notice how this is emphasized in The Hunger Games. The first piece of advice the mentor gives to the two candidates from his district is to find water. We can survive quite a while without food, but water is critical. Cold and wet are also enemies that you have to monitor and deal with.
Size up your equipment: What do you have? What can you get? What condition is your equipment in?
U – Use All Your Senses, Undue Haste Makes Waste
Use all your senses. A key trait, which mystifies many people, is called 6th sense. Great point men in the army are valued for this trait. They’ll be leading a patrol along a trail and suddenly stop. Something has alerted them, but they can’t pinpoint it right away. We all have 6th sense, but many of us don’t pay attention to it. 6th sense is one or more of your other 5 senses picking up something real and alerting your subconscious. You actually saw or smelled or felt something, but didn’t consciously register it. Trust that feeling. Focus and shift whatever it is to your conscious mind. Listen, smell, taste, touch, see. All are critical.
Undue haste makes waste: Unless you are in imminent danger, slow down and think things through. Panic is a killer. If you don’t think and plan, you could do the wrong thing and in some cases cause a “no do-over” action, which is usually fatal. Don’t take an action or move just for the sake of doing something. Every action and movement must have a purpose.
R – Remember Where You Are
Know your location at all times. Also, know where the people on your team are. Stay oriented. Often you can use significant terrain features for that, whether it be a coastline, a mountain range, a river. They can also give you boundaries.
V – Vanquish Fear and Panic
Courage is acting in the face of fear. We are all capable of being heroes. And it’s easier to be a hero when you’re prepared, which you will be.
Don’t let your imagination run too far in a fatalistic direction, much like the one soldier in Aliens who kept screaming “We’re all going to die.” You don’t want someone like that on your team.
Think about times in your life when you were in a crisis. How did you react? How did those people you want on your team react in a crisis? How someone reacts in a crisis gives you a very good idea of someone’s core personality type in a survival situation.
Panic and fear also drain your energy. You’re not focused on what needs to be done; you’re focused on what could possibly go wrong. One way to help lower fear and panic is to be prepared, have a plan, and practice aspects of survival training so you build your confidence.
Which you’re doing right now, by reading this.
I – Improvise
Look at the things around you with a different mindset in a survival situation. What might have one particular use in civilization can have a very different use in a survival situation.
No matter how well prepared you are, in an extended emergency, some of your gear will wear out. How can you use other objects around you? We’ll cover some readily available objects and how they can be turned into other useful tools. I cover scavenging in Survive Now-Thrive Later because it’s mostly over-looked, yet is a key phase during extreme emergencies.
V – Value Living
The will to survive. You have it; tap into it.
Two men with similar, survivable wounds. One lived and one died. What was the difference? The one who lived wanted to with every atom of his being. The one who died succumbed to his fear and pain. He didn’t value his life enough.
We tend to be creatures of comfort. Civilization has advanced to the point where few people have the day to day survival skills that many people had just a few generations ago. We buy our food prepared and pre-packaged. Our water comes from a tap. Electricity is taken as a given, rather than a precarious luxury. However, don’t let that make you think you can’t handle a survival situation.
One thing I have seen is that when people value living, they adapt surprisingly quickly. Most of our life consists of habits. When we are forced to change our habits, we rapidly adopt new ones.
No matter how hard it gets, never quit.
A – Act Like the Natives
If you are out of your natural environment, then observe those around you, both human and animal. Those that are native to the area have adapted to it. What do they eat? Where do they get their food and water? Are there places they avoid? What are their customs and habits? Remember, even customs that seem very strange, often have a very practical root.
Watching animals is key. They also need water, food and shelter. Animals can also be an alert for the presence of other humans. And they can alert others to your presence.
If you are a stranger, gain rapport with the locals. In order to get respect, you have to show respect first.
L – Live by Your Wits, But for Now, Learn Basic Skills
There are skills you need to practice, actions you need to rehearse before having to use them in an emergency. I highlight these skills in both Prepare Now and Survive Now. Preparation is the key to success, both in terms of equipment and training.
Cool Gus and I hope you find this useful!
Prepare Now–Survive Later
Survive Now–Prepare Later