Why People Die in Survival ScenariosMay 31, 2013 by Melanie Swick | 9 Comments
Are you a couch commando? One of those guys (or gals) like the tubby fellow to the left who has seen every episode of Man vs. Wild but never spent a night in the wilderness? If so, pardon my bluntness, but you will likely die in a survival scenario.
Your bookshelf may be filled with every survival book written in the last twenty years, but without what I call the survival trifecta, your chances of walking away from a life or death situation are pretty slim even on your best day. Survival comes down to three factors: knowledge, proficiency, and capability.
It’s simple to acquire the knowledge to survive any scenario—simple, but not easy. The first challenge is that there are an unlimited number of scenarios to prepare for, so you have a lot to learn. It’s going to take a considerable amount of time and dedication to gain enough knowledge to survive most scenarios, and it’s an ongoing process. There will always be more to learn.
The second challenge is separating the misinformation from the truth, and unfortunately, there is an obscene amount of misinformation online, in print, and on television. The solution is to acquire as much survival knowledge as you can from a variety of sources and test it in the real world to learn first-hand what works and what doesn’t, which leads into the second factor…
Most people graduate college and quickly realize that they are unable to apply what they “learned” in school—the same applies to survival. You may “know” how to start a fire with a bow drill, but have you ever done it? Have you done it more than once? Have you done it in the rain with cold, numb hands? All survival skills require constant practice to achieve and maintain proficiency. That’s why infantry troops spend so much of their time in the field training.
In order to live through a survival scenario, you must become proficient in the necessary skills needed before you need them. That means practicing often. Practice finding food and water, navigating, starting fires, etc. Practice everything you would need in a survival scenario—this, like acquiring knowledge on the subject, is an ongoing process.
Last winter I took a friend on a hike through a swamp. It didn’t go well for him. He was overweight and out of shape so he had a hard time moving through the brush, sunk as he trudged through the thick mud, and became exhausted quickly. We had only made it about half way to our destination by the time that we should have reached it. Based on our progress and the fact that my friend would have become increasingly slower as we continued, I determined it would take us until nightfall to reach our destination. The unprepared have no business being in the middle of a swamp at night, so I decided it was best to bring him back out. He could barely move for the next few days because his muscles were so sore.
Don’t be that guy. Make sure you stay healthy and in shape. Eat properly and exercise regularly so when you do find yourself in a survival scenario, you are physically capable of doing what you need to do. That might mean trudging though miles of swamp, traversing mountains, or even crawling through a burning building to stay below the smoke. You never know what you’re going to encounter, so ensure you have an adequate blend strength, endurance, and flexibility.