Survival has many parts that one must know in order to survive for a long period of time. There are several things that I will brief you on. I will be teaching: Best prevention, five elements of survival, shelter, ways of getting food, kinds of food to get, signals, how to determine the weather, natural compasses, ways of getting found, winter and summer survival, as well as, survival in the mountains, desert, and ocean.


Best Prevention ( STOP )

There is really only one way to avoid a survival situation. If you follow one rule, you will never become lost. This rule is very important. This rules is - STAY FOUND! If you know where you are, then technically, you are not lost. You might be stuck by not knowing how to get back to help, but you will not be lost. To prevent a simple wandering off the trail scenario turning into a life or death survival situation. Just remember one thing: STOP

Stop - Don't take another step in any direction. Stay calm, and know what you're doing. Chances are, your absence has been noticed and people are already on their way.

Think - Think about the situation. If you think you remember how to get back, grab some rocks and take your shirt off and put it in a very visible place with an arrow pointing in the direction you have gone. This is in case the search party finds where you are camping so they know where to look for you and the rocks are so you do not lose your way back and get separated from all of your supplies.

Observe - Look around, find an open spot where you can be seen easily and use it as a base camp. Do not explore your surroundings. Chances are, your absence has been noticed and a search party is already looking and possibly en route and if they find where your base camp is, and you're not there, they will continue looking.

Plan - Take inventory of your supplies and prepare to spend the night. Only focus on the basics: Shelter and getting found. Do not waste energy on finding food. Most people are found between a few hours and less than a week. A healthy person can survive for three weeks without food so there is nothing to worry about except a little discomfort.


Five elements of survival ( in order of priority )

(1) Attitude - Your brain is the most valuable resource you have. If you treat it well by maintaining a positive attitude, it will keep you alive. In the movie "The Matrix" a character says that the body cannot live without the mind. In a survival situation. That is entirely true. You absolutely have to keep busy. This will help you in many ways. It will generate heat, keep you sane, and it can be used on simple luxuries that make your situation more bearable. I did mention sanity in there. If you are not doing something, you automatically start thinking about stuff and that will lead to insanity. I'm not joking. I heard this from an experienced survival instructor.

(2) Shelter - Shelter is a little bit complicated. It depends a lot on your supplies and your resources. If you are in a heavily wooded area, a small house (only big enough to sleep in) is possible. It is actually a lot like building a log cabin. You just prop it against a tree and fill the bottom with soft leafs and fill the cracks and the roof with lots of pine needles or a "fluffy" plant.

(3) Water - Water is the next thing you want to get. A fully hydrated person can go three days without water. This can be found by making a water still by digging a hole about three feet deep and four feet across. You spread a plastic bag across the top after placing a bucket or water bottle in the middle of the hole. You place a small weight like a rock or piece of wood so that the water will be directed into the container.

(4) Fire - Fire is the Swiss Army Knife of survival. It can be used for more than many people think. It can be used to make you feel better (mentally), to cook, for heat, and to signal. To signal, you want a smoky fire during the day (throw green leafs and rotten wood on) and a bright fire by night (throw soft woods on. They burn hot, fast, and bright).

(5) Food - Food, like I said in Best Prevention, is relatively unimportant. when all of the above are done, then you may start looking for food in plants. If the plants are not providing enough food to take the edge off your hunger, then, you may go for bugs. Ants and grasshoppers are best due to their high nutritional value for their size. The roasted abdomens of black ants make a black, sweet, sugar like substance. You may not kill an animal for food purposely out of season unless your very life depends on it. This is a law! When you do make the jump, you want to start with fish if there is a river nearby. They are relatively easy to catch. You just outsmart the fish, make it so they get stuck. Do not go out and try to kill a bird. The energy used to catch the bird is not worth the amount of nutrients they give.




These are the absolute minimum as far as shelter goes. Both in Work to create them, and in protection they provide. You basically, prop a pole up, and then start laying sticks that will cover the distance across between the ground and the pole. See drawing below for a better explanation.

Debris Hut:

These are the bare necessities of shelter. They provide shelter, warmth/cool, and they are relatively easy to build. There are downsides to them, although they provide more protection than a lean - to, they sill have a large open spot where heat can escape and animals can get in. They are made by Propping a long pole up with ONE Y shaped stick that is of the desired height (that's right, only one. You need to figure out how to do it. It's pretty simple). Then, you lay sticks across the sides and put pine needles or other plant parts that are full of dead air space (in summer, you need about 1 1/2 feet of insulation and in winter you want about three feet of insulation). See figure.

from Rick Curtis' "The Backpacker Field Manual"


These are basically made by piling branches to make a point at the top. then you put grass and leafs on top of these branches and you do this until you have about 2 feet of insulation.

from Larry Dean Olsen's "Outdoor Survival"

Note: The order you should build these shelters in is as follows: Start with either a lean-to or a debris hut (depending on daylight you have left) Then for the next few days (if you're still there) begin construction of a Wickiup.


Ways of Getting Food

First you want to eat plants. what you do is long and complicated. the whole process of just finding out if a plant is edible takes about 20 hours. First you take a piece of the plant and you break it open and smell it. If it smells like almonds or peaches, throw it away. If it passes that test, then you break it open and rub it on your wrist. Wait two hours and if any redness or irritation occurs, then the plant isn't edible. If it doesn't cause any problems, then you rub it on your lips. If there is any irritation, then its bad. Then, if nothing changes, you can take a tiny bite of the plant. You don't want to swallow it, just hold it on your tongue. If it starts to burn, spit it out and try another plant. If not, you may swallow the piece. Wait 12 hours and see if it causes any problems. If not, eat to your hearts desire, sort of.

If plants are not enough for you, then you may begin to eat bugs and fish. To get bug you can just go out in the early morning while it's still cold and look where you would normally find bugs (sheltered spots). Grasshoppers and ants are best due to their high nutritional value and ease to catch. With grasshoppers, you want to break off their heads, legs, and wings so they don't get stuck in your mouth or try to crawl out of your stomach. Ants should be fried and eaten in soups as a kind of sugar or flour.


What Kind of Food to Get

This is a very difficult topic and is too broad for me to explain in full. Any information I were to give would be specifically suited to the San Diego plant life. I recommend professional/volunteer wild edibles classes.

Also with animals, I know how to catch and cook the wild life around San Diego but that's about all. And besides, we both know that I don't want to write out directions and you don't want to read them. I again suggest a qualified class.