Mother Nature is a scary creature.
The beauty and splendor of the wilderness can lull you into a false sense of security, but danger can always be just around the corner.
Here are seven grave mistakes that get people in trouble in the wild.
- Neglecting the survival “Rule of 3”
The survival Rule of 3 follows: you can survive three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in harsh conditions, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
People often forget these basics and don’t properly plan.
Make sure to prioritize those needs in that order.
- Aimlessly moving without navigation
It’s easy to get lost in the woods, so be sure to have a map, compass, and a GPS tracker handy.
If you don’t have these items—and you don’t know how read constellations—staying in a secure location is often wiser than venturing deeper into the woods.
Also, it’s important to know how to signal for help.
- Ignoring your environment
The climate you’re in will determine strategy.
In extreme heat, shelter and water are essential.
And depending on other factors, it might make sense to move at night in order to reduce the possibility of heat stroke.
In frigid climates, shelter, fire, and food are necessities.
It’s imperative to consume more calories in order to endure the extreme cold.
- Not staying dry
It’s important to stay as dry as possible, especially in cold climates.
Wet clothing lowers your body temperature, which brings an increased risk of hypothermia.
Wet clothes can also bring on hygiene issues, which makes you more susceptible to illness.
- Not knowing how to start a fire
In keeping with number four, the ability to start a fire is crucial.
Fire helps keep you dry and warm.
It also provides light in the darkness, allows you to cook meat, and permits you to sterilize instruments.
Fire also helps you send signals if you’re in need of being rescued.
Matches and lighters are a must, but learning how to start a fire with sticks and shrubbery as kindling—and various other methods—will make you much more versatile in the wild.
- Drinking unsafe water
Drinking from a crystal-clear stream might appear to be safe, but it’s impossible to know what kind of impurities exist.
Drinking dirty water will make you sick, and inconvenient illnesses like diarrhea can become life-threatening in the wilderness.
If you have the proper utensils and a fire, boil water to kill any bacteria.
Fresh snow and rainwater are also safe without boiling.
A clean plastic water bottle can also be used to purify water.
If the water is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for a day, any existing bacteria will be killed.
- Eating inedible things
Unless you’re an expert at distinguishing between edible fruits and greens and poisonous ones, don’t take the risk.
The same goes for fungi.
Fruits that look perfectly harmless can be incredibly toxic.
Some trees are so toxic, standing underneath them during a rainstorm can be hazardous.
Cooked meat and fish are generally safe.
It’s best to stick with those sources of food until you’re ready to branch out.