Bob Cooper

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - NEWS - BOB COOPER SAFETY EX­PERT AND AUTHOR In­sid­ers ed­i­tor: Gra­ham Er­bacher Gra­ham.Er­bacher@news.com.au

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.

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