Questions tagged [survival]

Questions relating to staying alive in the wilderness and learning survival techniques.

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94
votes
14answers
40k views

My car broke down in Siberia. What do I do now?

Some time ago, while driving on a snowy road, someone told me a kind of horror story. It involved a guy who was driving alone with an old car on an overland road in Siberia during winter, so the ...
79
votes
7answers
24k views

Is it actually useful to ration food?

Is it actually useful to ration food? What is the difference between eating a little bit of food at an interval and eating enough to be full at once? I'm getting the same amount of calories/...
65
votes
5answers
4k views

What are essential items in an emergency kit?

What are must-have items in an emergency kit for a multi-day hiking trip?
58
votes
12answers
29k views

Is it warmer to sleep in a car or in a tent?

Is it warmer to sleep in a car or in a tent? Suppose that our old internal-combustion-engine car breaks down in a remote place at -30°C, -40°C, or -50°C, and the engine won't run at all. Suppose we'...
57
votes
8answers
54k views

Does eating snow help dehydration?

I have heard many people say that eating snow actually can increase dehydration since the energy required for the body to heat up and melt the snow is greater than the benefits received from the ...
55
votes
3answers
185k views

How long does water need to be boiled for to kill all bacteria / viruses?

This has come up a few times in a few other questions, but I've heard varying opinions from different people in a number of answers and comments on here - some saying that just boiling for a moment is ...
53
votes
7answers
18k views

Does cotton really kill?

For outdoor hiking, backpacking or camping trips, I always hear people saying Cotton Kills. That means don't wear cotton anywhere (underwear, shirts, pants), and no cotton blends. Usually it's given ...
53
votes
4answers
32k views

Is drinking urine safe?

We've all heard stories about how people saved their lives by drinking their urine. Is drinking urine safe when there are no other water sources available? Can I filter it with a water purifier?
51
votes
10answers
17k views

I am lost, I found a trail, which way do I go?

If I am lost in the woods, and I find a trail or a road, how do I decide which way to go? Autumn Veatch was 16 years old in 2015, when her grandparents small plane crashed in the North Cascade ...
48
votes
10answers
5k views

How can you navigate without a compass or GPS

What are the ways you can navigate when you don't have a compass or a GPS? For example how can you tell which way is north.
46
votes
16answers
31k views

How can I tell if I am dehydrated or have low electrolytes (need salt, etc.)?

How can detect, in the outdoors with minimal equipment, if I am dehydrated or need electrolytes? Update Some background: I get overheated very easily, possibly because I don't sweat as much as most ...
43
votes
2answers
33k views

Can I eat rotten meat and carcass given enough cooking?

I've met often with the concept that rotten meat and carcass is inedible because of bacteria and toxins. The most harmful is the botulinum toxin. However, in the question Can any waterborne pathogens ...
41
votes
9answers
14k views

How can I identify edible berries/fruit from poisonous?

How can I identify edible berries/fruit in the wide and avoid the poisonous varieties? Is there a general guideline that can be followed or is specific to each plant?
40
votes
6answers
19k views

What essential items should go in a small first aid kit?

Another question asked what survival equipment should be carried in an emergency kit. But very little was about medical or first aid supplies (band-aids, gauze, tylenol, moleskin, etc). What items ...
37
votes
4answers
12k views

Ways to desalinate water when “lost at sea”?

In recent news reports that all seem to be saying the same things: Jakarta Post Indonesian teenager survives 49 days adrift in Guam waters NPR: 19-Year-Old Survives 49 Days At Sea After Floating Hut ...
37
votes
4answers
4k views

If I have to cross an icy, flowing river, what are some ways I can cross safely?

If I'm alone in a survival situation and I have to cross a very cold river that's still flowing, how should I accomplish this safely?
32
votes
4answers
10k views

What do mountaineers eat and drink on the day of an Everest summit?

I was watching Everest (2015) on the weekend and was wondering what the mountaineers do for sustenance on the day they attempt to summit. It appeared they left around midnight, aiming for a 2pm ...
32
votes
7answers
7k views

When will a rattlesnake strike?

There are a few questions about how to avoid rattlers, and what to do if you're bit, but at what point does a rattler actually strike? I had my first rattler encounter ever yesterday, just out in ...
31
votes
3answers
3k views

Surviving a forest fire by starting another fire

Awhile back I heard on CBC radio about a man who got trapped in a forest fire (surrounded on all sides) and survived. The way he survived was so ridiculous that he was brought to court and almost ...
30
votes
5answers
5k views

How do you aim a signal mirror?

Say you are in the middle of a desert where there is lots of sunshine, and you are trying to signal for help with a signal mirror. Either in the distance there is a person, or there is an airplane ...
30
votes
12answers
5k views

What gear should I carry along for winter emergencies?

This question is prompted by a real accident, in which a young, healthy and experienced hiker I knew was found dead from hypothermia ridiculously close to civilization. The assumptions behind it: a ...
30
votes
2answers
3k views

If I cross paths with a bear, what should I do?

If I'm out hiking, and I come around a corner and stumble upon a bear, what's the best course of action to take to minimize the chance the bear will act aggressively? Do different types of bear (...
30
votes
2answers
6k views

Is it possible to 'live off the sea'

I've recently become aware of the american 'survivalist' or 'prepper' phenomenon. The general idea seems to be that 'something bad' (exactly what seems to vary) is going to happen, civilization will ...
29
votes
5answers
2k views

Keeping warm in an emergency

When roaming the outdoors, it might happen that one finds oneself in a situation that is much, much colder than one planned for. What can one do in such an emergency, especially when it's so cold ...
29
votes
4answers
55k views

How can I start a fire by rubbing two sticks together?

When trying to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, what does one need to consider? I am assuming I can't just grab any two sticks and start rubbing... Should they be dead or green? Hard ...
29
votes
4answers
5k views

Should I eat when I don't have anything to drink in a survival situations?

I've had a pretty interesting discussion beneath this survival question. A source given in the answer to this question states that you shouldn't eat when dehydration can become or is a problem: (......
29
votes
2answers
4k views

What makes certain mountains more dangerous than others?

Why do mountains like K2, Nanga Parbat and Annapurna (36 successful attempts, 47 failed) have higher fatality rates than, say, Everest or Cho Oyu (79 successful attempts, 28 failed)? (source) Can I ...
28
votes
7answers
30k views

How to check if a fence or cable has electricity without having special tools?

You run across a wire cable, or wire fence in the wild, with which you would have to interact in some way. How to check if electricity runs through it without having special tools? EDIT: As the ...
28
votes
9answers
4k views

How can you navigate / determine your location in thick fog?

Are there any good hints, tips and ways you can use to navigate around and find your location in thick fog (apart from a GPS)?
28
votes
5answers
8k views

Are there any techniques for starting and maintaining a fire in snow?

What are the techniques for starting and maintaining a fire in a survival situation when snow is present? I would like to know if there are any known techniques for starting and maintaining a fire in ...
27
votes
2answers
14k views

Can groundwater still be consumed if after boiling the water turns brown with an oily substance floating on top?

This weekend we went "pole camping". A pole camp site (dutch link only) is a camp site offered by the departments of forestry in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is very basic. What is offered is a ...
27
votes
2answers
36k views

Is whiskey a good disinfectant?

You see this a lot on films, the hero/heroine is injured and disinfects their wound(s) by pouring whiskey on it. I'm a bit sceptical. If I'm in an emergency scenario and need to prevent infection. ...
26
votes
4answers
3k views

Why are people so worried about Giardia?

Everyone I have ever been camping with seems to have an unwritten rule never to drink from streams no matter how clear they might seem, for fear of Giardia. I have also heard people telling about ...
26
votes
2answers
5k views

In a survival situation, should I drink unpurified water?

If I am in a survival situation, is there any reason I shouldn't drink the available water? I am aware of Giardia and cholera. Are these worthy concerns, or are there good enough cures available that ...
26
votes
4answers
14k views

What are the rules for eating raw, wild meat?

Can you always eat raw meat (wild) as long as it is fresh?
24
votes
8answers
8k views

Are there any natural materials found in the wild that can be used as an effective sunscreen?

There are animals such as pigs and elephants that wallow in mud which possibly serves as protection from sunburn. There are also some plants such as Aloe vera (Aloe vera) and Jewelweed (Impatiens ...
24
votes
4answers
3k views

What should I do when I'm lost?

What should I do when I get disoriented or lost? How can I find help or make myself easier to find? This is a general question to do when lost in the wilderness, whether it is a meadow or mountain.
23
votes
3answers
2k views

Are carabiners useful tools to have in the wilderness? If so, what would they be used for?

Carabiners are obviously essential in certain circumstances, such as with any type of climbing / rappelling. But are they a good tool to have generally as well, and if so what might be some example ...
23
votes
4answers
1k views

What pattern for casual planes should a castaway create on a desert island?

This answer has inspired me to a question: say you are a castaway on a desert island. There might be a plane flying casualy but you can miss it. So you want to create some pattern (e.g. put some ...
22
votes
5answers
37k views

Can you eat pine needles in an emergency?

If you are in a survival situation in the woods and really hungry, and you are unsure about which plants are edible, can you eat pine needles?
22
votes
3answers
11k views

How do you locate the “North Star”?

What if it's night and you want to find north? How do you locate the North Star in the night sky?
22
votes
6answers
49k views

Can I shoot a bear in self-defense?

Can I shoot a bear in self-defense? Will I face fines and jail time if I do?
22
votes
5answers
11k views

Ration or consume water?

In a situation where you don't know when you will find water again, is it better to ration the water you have over time (and ever increasing dehydration) or to drink it to quench thirst as soon as ...
22
votes
6answers
7k views

Reacting to tornado warnings while camping with no buildings nearby

This afternoon there was a tornado warning - TAKE SHELTER IN A PERMANENT BUILDING IMMEDIATELY - for the west half of Algonquin Park issued through the usual channels including Twitter. I believe by "...
22
votes
4answers
9k views

Can you boil/decontaminate water with heat from a magnifying glass?

A bit hypothetical, but ruling out being able to use a solar still, or the SODIS method, could you make water drinkable by using the suns heat through a magnifying glass? Paper self ignites at 451° F ...
21
votes
5answers
67k views

What do I do if a black bear is right outside my tent?

Even if I was to follow the advice of letting bears know I am in the area, keeping my cooking and anything that smells at least 100m from my camp & downwind, etc, suppose a bear finds my tent and ...
21
votes
7answers
472 views

Good books to learn survival? [closed]

Does anybody have a recommendation to a good book about how to survive in the Norwegian woods and similar?
21
votes
3answers
1k views

What steps should I take if someone starts sinking?

What are the steps that should be taken if someone you're hiking with starts to sink uncontrollably into say a marsh? What are some good techniques and points that should be used to get them out ...
21
votes
4answers
40k views

Is it possible to develop immunity against mosquitos?

For me, every bite by mosquito results in heavy itching and the blister, which size is dependent on how long the mosquito was sucking the blood, in worst cases even 1 cm in diameter. If I would stay ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the first thing to do, when buried in an avalanche?

Are there set rules I should follow which would increase my chances of survival if I get buried by an avalanche? Should I try to do anything if I get caught-up in one, before it has settled?