BUSH SURVIVAL: THE INSIDERS
THINK: As a society we need to recapture the survival skills and empathy with nature our ancestors instinctively knew. True appreciation and understanding of our natural environment may be the only factor that saves it and, on occasions, us.
CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS: Many irrational fears cloud people’s engagement with wilderness areas. Fear of snakes, spiders, being lost or alone plus many more are mostly unnatural and acquired. They will override common sense. Knowledge is the key to dispelling fears; learn your basic-first aid and survival skills before you set out on your travels.
SHARE YOUR PLAN: Remember, plans don’t usually fail; it is failure to plan that causes concern. Always notify someone reliable about your intended adventure with a written contingency plan, in case you are not back at the given time. Take adequate water, a small comprehensive emergency kit, rescue blanket and snakebite bandages on every outing.
STAY CALM: In a survival situation, fear will lead to panic. Your strategy is to satisfy the priorities you need to sustain life. Water: find it, manage what you have. Shelter: think about it for day and night. Warmth: avoid wind chill and light a fire. Signals: they should be visual and audible by day and night. Food: manage what is on hand and search out opportunities for foraging and fishing.
WATER INTAKE: Sipping water does not prevent dehydration anywhere anytime; not knowing this is a major factor in mishaps turning into tragedies. Your body requires a minimum of a cupful (250 ml) of water each time you drink. This is important because drinking any less will mean the other organs in your body will “steal” it first, robbing the brain of its necessary supply. This can lead to poor decision making, irrational thinking and deteriorate to a condition known as dehydration dementia, increasing the chances of making critical errors.
Bob Cooper is the go-to survival expert for ABC radio and television. He has delivered outback safety and survival courses since 1990. An updated edition of his book Outback Survival includes a new guide on outback driving (Hachette Australia, $24.99); bobcoopersurvival.com.