One of the most important survival skills may not be what you think. The most important skill is the ability to recognize the need to make personal safety a priority. I have spent years training in the bush, and have developed the 6 Principles of Survival.
Shelter, fire, and water become irrelevant when you do not have the cognitive skills to meet those needs.
The first principle of survival is to Mitigate Risk and Fear. This consist of having an ISOPREP Report and P.A.C.E. Plan in place before you even step into the woods. This will ensure your odds of staying found and avoiding a survival situation in the first place.
Understanding the Principles of Survival will improve your odds.
ISOPREP REPORT (Isolated Personnel Report)
No one goes out into the wilderness planning to get lost or injured, it just happens. Murphy’s Law kicks in, and you better hope you have made proper plans for rescue. The #1 cause for a survival situation is a careless attitude toward personal safety. Ego comes into play, and we step out into the bush with our own wits and skill, only to find out that we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble if we would have only left behind an Isoprep report and estimated return time with a responsible adult. The Isoprep report is a single sheet of paper that includes your personal info, destination of travel, and emergency contacts. You should always carry a copy on yourself, and leave a copy with someone you trust to reach out to authorities in the event you don’t return. We have created this free print friendly ISOPREP REPORT for you to download. (Click image)
The P.A.C.E. PLAN is a simple action response plan that provides you with a back-up plan in the event things go wrong. Always have a Primary plan, Alternate plan, Contingent plan, and Emergency plan. By thinking ahead this will mitigate the fear of uncertainty and will ensure that you take practical steps to avoid unnecessary risk and increase your survival odds.
When all else fails, and survival becomes your only choice it is important that you S.T.O.P. (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan). This simple act will help you with your natural fight or flight response, and will allow you to rationally think through your circumstances. The simple act of slowing down your breathing will help lower your heart rate, and reduce that overwhelming feeling of fear. Confidence in your skill set and a proper action plan will help you effectively evaluate risk vs reward.
Safety has to be a priority. Always cut away from yourself when using a knife, reduce your speed and stride when traversing, stay on the trail, avoid any unnecessary risk, and remember to always stay calm. I also encourage you to get proper land navigation training and a good compass. We offer courses throughout the year.
Be sure to check out Part 1 of our 6 Principles of Survival video, Share, Download Isoprep report, and stay tuned for Principle 2.