The Will to Survive

When in a survival situation your will to survive is always the deciding factor. Alone or with a group of fellow survivors, you will be faced with the hazards of fear, despair, loneliness, and boredom.

In addition to mental stress an injury, pain, fatigue, hunger and thirst may greatly tax your ability to survive. Remember the keyword S-U-R-V-I-V-A-L:

SSize Up The Situation. Take into account yourself, the environment you are in, and potential search and rescue operations.

  • Yourself
    – Hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.
    – Remember your survival training and be confident in your abilities.
    – Seek safety and make yourself comfortable.
    – Inventory your equipment, state of health, food, and water.
    – Remain calm. Think things over and form a plan.
    – Think about where you are and where you want to go.
  • The Environment
    – Find out where you are by using your knowledge of the area, landmarks, compass or GPS readings, your maps.
    – Note the landscape. Try to obtain a vantage point from which you can observe the lay of the land, streams and other bodies of water which may lead to safety.
    – Check the weather it’s potential for change and how it will affect your need for preparation should you choose to stay put or to travel.
    – Locate the directions of the compass. There are a variety of ways to discover North, South, East, and West even if you do not have a compass. Or make your own compass.
  • Rescuers
    – Try to envision what your would-be rescuers will do.
    – Will Search and Rescue know where to look for you?
    – How difficult would it be for Search and Rescue to locate you in your current position?
    – What can you do to aid search and rescue operations in finding you?

UUndue Haste Makes Waste

  • Stay put and spend some time to formulate a plan.
    – It will do you no good to travel without knowing where you are going. In fact, it may cause you to become lost even further.
    – If you do not know where to go for help, your best course of action may be to simply stay put.

RRemember Where You Are

  • Formulate a plan according to the survival needs of the area.
  • Can you expect to travel in this area and find help?
  • How far do you think you are from the nearest people?
  • Considering where you are and your abilities, should you attempt to extracate yourself?
  • What are the risks of staying put vs seeking help?

VVanquish Fear and Panic

  • Recognize fear for what it is
    – Fear is a normal healthy reaction
    – Fear often results from the physical conditions of hunger, cold, and fatigue.
    – Injuries and pain can lead to fear and panic. Treat your injuries as best you can and keep a cool head.
    – Loneliness can cause fear and panic and lead to carelessness and feelings of hopelessness.
    – Carefully consider your situation and determine whether or not your fear is justified. In nearly all cases it is not.
  • Use fear as an aid to survival
    – Use the energy fear invokes to your advantage.
    – Keep busy. Improve your situation. Build a fire, create a shelter, eat some food, drink some water. Get some rest.
    – Make plans. Keep your mind occupied in a positive way. Prepare means of signaling Search and Rescue.


  • Take stock of what you have.
    – Gather up and inventory your equipment.
    – Consider alternate ways of using your equipment to overcome that which you lack.
  • Take stock of what your environment can offer.
    – Observe resources that can be used to improve a shelter.
    – Sources of food and water.
    – Means of making and maintaining fire.
    – Ways to signal search and rescue.

VValue your health and life

  • Hope gives you the mental strength to do what you need in order to survive.
  • Planning will reduce your fear of the unknown and increase your odds of survival.
  • Conserve your strength so that you will have the energy to perform when you really need it.
  • Take care to stay healthy. Ill health and injury can greatly reduce your chances of survival.
  • Hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue lower your stamina and efficiency.
  • Concentrate on what you can do to improve the situation and you will improve your chances of survival.

AAct like the natives

  • The people who have lived in the area for generations are experts at surviving in the particular environment you are in.
    – Where are the natives likely to be at this time of year? Can you travel to that location?
    – What means of travel are the natives likely to using and how can you apply this knowledge toward rescue or your own travel?
    – What kinds of shelters do the natives use when outdoors during this time of year?
    – What are the natural food resources of the local people?

LLearn survival skills

  • Learn the basic survival skills so that they become automatic even in times of panic, surprise, or injury
  • Learn the survival skills that apply to the particular environment in which you are traveling
  • Develop the ability to improvise
  • Know the areas in which you travel. Study maps and talk with people familiar with the territory