TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SURVIVAL IN THE DESERT WHEN LOST OR STRANDED

1. Hold on to a Survival Attitude – Your most valuable asset in any life threatening situation is a positive mental attitude. If you aren’t certain you can live – you will die.

2. Stay where you are – Stay Calm – If you are driving a vehicle, remain with it. Relocate only to reach safety and water.

3. Move only when Absolutely Necessary and Only at Night – If your position is unendurable, change your location during the cooler night hours. Move only when you know you can get there safely by doing the following:
a. Leave a clear trail with notes and directional signs.
b. On the note, give your name, date, time, direction and reason you are going.
c. Proceed in a specific direction, change your line of movement only after you have left a sign or marker.
d. Go slowly and carefully – beware of overexertion.

4. Conserve Your Sweat, Not Your Water – Rest by day, work on shelter and signals during cool of evening/morning. DRINK as often as you need water. Rub your body with urine and other liquids to keep cool.

5. Protect Your Body – When in the sun and heat remember to:
a. Keep your clothes on. Loosen but do not remove them.
b. Keep your boots/shoes and headgear on.
c. Relax in deep shade, keeping your eyes protected from the glare.
d. If in the open with no shade nearby, use anything available to make shade.

6. Make a Fuss When You Hear or See Others Nearby
a. Signal by any means at hand. Use a shaving mirror to reflect the sun. Wave a brightly colored item.
b. Make marks in the sand or lay out rocks large enough to be seen from the air: SOS or HELP.
c. Start Fire – smoke in the daytime and flame at night.
d. Get involved in your rescue but conserve your body water.

7. Do Not Eat, or Eat Very Little
a. All food is water demanding. Water is drawn out of your system to process, digest and eliminate what you eat.
b. No salt or salt tabs – they will dehydrate you.

8. Keep Your Mouth Closed – Breathe through your nose to minimize evaporative water loss.

9. Think Like a Searcher – Do the things that will make it easier for your rescuers to find you:
a. Leave a clear trail with notes and directional signs.
b. On the note, give your name, day, time, direction and reason for you going.
c. Have a goal in mind – go in one direction with care. AVOID INJURY

10. Use Your Head, Not Your Sweat; Drink the Water You Have – Never ration water! Drink what you have as you need it. Discipline is essential to survival.

  • Special thanks to Marine Corps Training NCO’s “Coyotes” , Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, CA, for their advice and support.