Preppers Guide: How to Survive in the woods when SHTF

By James Barton •  10 min read

Each year, about 2000 people get lost in the woods. Some come out alive; others go missing forever, while others are found dead. So while you get involved in your outdoor adventure, it is good to get prepared for anything. Your undying urge to take your adventure may push you to go out there and have the fun, but it is not worth it going in the wild without any idea on how to encounter challenges. So before setting your foot out there, you need to be well equipped with the basic to the most advanced survival hacks which you can apply should you find yourself marooned.

Note also that, you cannot perfect all these skills with one day so you will be required to practice them until you are confident and able to undertake them with ease. And without much ado, here is a lowdown of what you need to know.

Stay calm

It’s normal for humans to lose hope and panic, especially when we get lost. But you shouldn’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the situation. All you need is to relax and take a deep breathe. Be optimistic and try as much as possible to get your shit together.

Look for shelter

forest shelter

When you get lost, you may not think straight and probably can’t remember the way back. So the best thing to do is look for a shelter. If you have a tent with you, you can search for a secure place and set it up. You need to have excellent tent skills to make sure your shelter does not get destroyed by strong winds or rain water.

In case you do not have one, you can look for nearby cliffs or caves. Note that caves can be habitats for wild animals, so you need to the keen before you lay your head. Some animals are active during the night, so you may end up getting attacked.

Bring with you snake repellents to repel any snakes that could be hiding inside the cave. Light fire on the cave entrance to scare away any wild animals and to keep you warm.

If you are not lucky enough to identify a nearby cliff or cave, you can construct a shelter using tree branches. But before you start building a shelter, you need to examine the wind direction. Your shelter entrance or door should be facing the direction the wind is blowing to. This trick help prevents strong winds from destroying your shelter.

Keep yourself hydrated

Studies have revealed that a human being can survive for more than three weeks without food and only for a week without water. So keeping your body dehydrated will kill you faster than hunger would. So before you even start figuring out where to get food, you need to find nearby water sources.

Though it is highly recommended to drink purified water, at this moment, you may not have access to water purifiers. The best thing you can do is drink enough water without worrying about contamination.

In case you do not manage to locate a nearby source of water, you can look for any nearby cave wall and leak it. Snow can also be another great source of water. However, naturally, our bodies will require more energy to absorb snow water.

So instead of subjecting your body to stress or risk developing colds, you should give the ice time to melt. You can collect some in a polythene bag and leave it in the sun to accelerate the melting rate. In case you need water, and there is no sunlight, you can reduce the ice into small pieces and melt them using fire.

Your body heat can also help if you do not have firelighters, but in case you have health complications, you should avoid using this method.

Dew from vegetation is also a great source of water when other options aren’t applicable. You can remove your cloth and place it on grass or plants and squeeze the water in a bottle. The process can be tedious, but it’s worthwhile. Also, note that the dew water collection method will apply during early morning hours before the sun rises.

Tip: While getting the body hydrated is highly recommended, you should not overdo it. Excessive water levels in the body can be risky.

Stay dry and warm

Temperatures keep on changing, and it may get cold out there. Exposing yourself to extremely low temperatures can trigger health complications which can be risky. Worse still; the cold may take a toll on your body and may cause even death.

Try as much as possible to keep yourself warm. Put on your gloves if you have any. You can use socks as hand gloves in case you have an extra pair. Burying yourself in the dirt is also another way to beat the cold, especially at night.

Look for food

If by any chance you had packed some snacks or food in your travel bag you need to ration it. This will ensure that your body is energized as you source for other food sources. Most people who got lost in the wood survived on meat from wild or fish. Before taking your adventure, you should bring with you a small gun for hunting and scaring wild animals.

Before starting your hunting mission, you need to avoid huge animals like wild pigs at all cost. This is because these animals can risk your life, especially if you do not have the right hunting tools and weapons. Worse still; large animals may be hard to skin alone.

Fast animals like the deer may be hard to hunt down and may drain your energy levels. So you need to do your math right.

To keep your meat fresh, you need to apply traditional preservation methods.  But if you lack the hunting tools and the skills, you will have a hard time doing your hunting. And probably you won’t get surprised to go back empty-handed.

If this is the case, you need to be creative and come up with ways to get food. Insects come in handy during such times. Mushrooms can be used as food. Some species are poisonous though and before you could decide which ones to consume, you need to do research right.

Wild fruits can also be a great source of nutrients and essential minerals. However, you should be keen on the type of fruits you eat. Not every wild fruit is fit for human consumption. Some are poisonous and may cause death.

Also Read: How long do MREs Last?

Make use of your pocket knife

One of the items you should never miss in your backpack is a pocket knife. A pocket knife can be used to prepare wood, skin your wild animals after hunting or cut the meat into small pieces among others. Better still; you can use your knife as a defense mechanism should you be attacked by wild animals.

Waterproof matches

Throwing a few boxes of waterproof matches will help you start a fire to keep you warm and for your cooking needs. But before you kindle your fire; you need to be extra vigilant to prevent any chances of causing wildfires. So before taking your adventure, you need to be well versed with different fire kindling skills and safety measures to undertake.

Never forget your First aid kit

When going for an adventure, it is good you take precaution since you cannot predict what is bound to happen. A first aid kit is one of the must-have requirements you should never miss in your bag. However, for you to be in a position to handle accidents when they happen, you need basic skills to use your kit.

But you should also be well versed with other survival hacks to handle emergencies should you run from first aid supplies.

Save energy

Sometimes you may lose your mind and get yourself involved in strenuous activities which can quickly drain you. You should be creative and find better ways to conserve energy. One way of conserving your energy is making use of a rope. Tie knots to help you pull tree branches, firewood, or even animals after hunting.

Be smart

Walking in the wood alone can be risky, and you may get attacked by wild animals. But as much as you cannot fight back some of these animals, you need to outsmart them. Bring pepper repellent spray to prevent attacks should you encounter these animals.

Learn other tricks on how to respond to attacks by different animals. This helps you take proper measures and reduce any chances of attack. Also, when walking, it is a good idea to look around for any possible attacks.

 Track your location

If you have a GPRS receiver, you can track your location faster. But at times the device may not receive signals from the satellite, which means you need to find other alternative methods. One of the effective ways to locate your destination is by use of a compass.

If this doesn’t work for you, you can still find directions by observing the sun. Usually, the sun rises on the east and sets on the west. But this can vary depending on the time of the year. However, the difference will vary slightly.

In case the weather isn’t sunny, you can still use spider webs on the woods. Examine how the spider web appears. Use the entrance as the southern side to determine the true north.

Send emergency signals

smoke signal help

If finding your way out of the wilderness seems futile, then you need to signal for help. There are different ways you can try, and here are some of the proven ways you can use.

1. Whistle

When going out, make sure you have a whistle. It can save you the hassles of having to spend long in the wilderness or making screams. However, you should make sure you buy one which can produce a loud sound.

If you do not have a whistle, you can use your mouth to send signals. But if you are not an expert in this, then you will need to try out other methods.

2. Mirror

A signaling mirror can send signals as far as 10 miles away. You can create an intense flashlight which can signal people on foot, aircraft, vehicles, and even boats. But before you bring your mirror with you, make sure you know how to use it or else it will be of no help.

3. Send visual messages

If you have duct tape, you can bring in your creativity and send visual messages to passersby. You can cut your tape and stick it on the wood or the ground with SOS message. You may never know, someone may come across it and rescue you.

4. Fire

Sending smoke signals is also another great way to send emergency signals. The smoke should be visible to people miles away; otherwise, your signal may go unnoticed. Before kindling your fire, make sure you have prepared a large area and clear any dry leaves that may trigger a wildfire.

You can use the dry leaves and wood for kindling fire then place branches or wet wood on top to generate intense smoke.

Also Read: 7 Simple but Effective Tips on How to Signal for Help in the Wilderness

Wrapping it up

Taking an adventure in the wood is fun and exhilarating. But when you get marooned, you need to figure out the best way to get out alive. You may encounter challenges here and there, but you shouldn’t lose hope. Your life is so valuable to lose it in the wild. If you master the above tips, you shouldn’t have challenges taking your adventure.

If you have ever got lost in the wood, share your comments on how you got out of the situation. Your ideas may help someone.