SKILLS: How to Survive in the Forest


  • By: Brandon Garrett
  • Posted on: May 9, 2014


p>Forests are beautiful, serene landscapes, which is one of the reason millions of Americans choose them as vacation spots every year. They offer great terrain for camping and enjoying all of the beauty natural wilderness has to offer. But forests can also be dangerous places, and if you are not prepared for how to survive in a forest for extended periods of time, you could find yourself quickly in serious trouble if you become lost or separated from your group.

The key to forest survival is knowing how to read signs in the terrain to glean information about your surroundings. It’s imperative to know what steps to take in order to maximize your resources and survive until you can reorient yourself or until help arrives.

Stop & Think
First, when you realize you are lost and potentially in a survival situation, stop and think. In every survival situation, one of the most important actions you can take is to remain calm and aware.

As best you can, you should attempt to retrace your steps – but be careful not to waste time following false leads or walking in circles.

Orient Yourself
Whenever possible, orient yourself on landmarks such as mountain ranges in order to get your bearings.

During the day, you can use the stick and shadow method to orient yourself on the cardinal directions. Find a sunny, relatively flat clearing, and drive a stick into the ground. Mark the end of the stick’s shadow with a rock. Wait fifteen minutes or so until the shadow has moved several inches. Mark the end of the shadow again. Repeat this process several times until you have a straight line. Because the sun moves from East to West through the sky, the line will also follow this route. The first mark will be point to the west, and the last will point east.

Finding Water

Water will be extremely important to your survival. Springs are the best source of clean water, followed by fast-moving streams and rivers. Hopefully you will have water purification tablets in your survival gear, but if not, you’ll have to sterilize the water by boiling it.

Dew is an excellent source of safe water, but it is difficult to gather effectively. Collecting rainwater is the safest and most efficient way of accessing clean water, although this leaves you dependent on the weather.

If you are in an alpine area, snow can be an excellent source of water, but you will have to make sure it is completely melted so it does not lower your core temperature when you drink it.

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Updated: May 10, 2014 — 8:11 pm

The Author

Rich Fleetwood

Rich is the founder of SurvivalRing, now in it's 24th year, author of multimedia CDs and DVDs, loves the outdoors, his family, his geeky skill-set, and lives in rural southern Wyoming, just below the continental divide (long story, that...). Always ready to help others, he shares what he learns on multiple blogs, many social sites, and more. With a background in preparedness and survival skills, training with county, state, and national organizations, and skills in all areas of media and on air experience in live radio and television, Rich is always thinking about the "big picture", when it comes to helping individuals and families prepare for life's little surprises.

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