Bear down on your survival skills

If you ever find yourself out in the wild following a disaster, you’re going to have one major goal in mind. And that’s staying alive.

Fortunately, that’s the exact issue Bear Grylls addresses. This 44-year-old adventurer from northern Ireland wrote How to Stay Alive: The Ultimate Survival Guide for Any Situation.

He was also host of the television show Man vs. Wild, which aired from 2006 to 2011.

As a teenager, Grylls was taught how to climb mountains, skydive and sail. He started a mountaineering club at his college, hiked in the Himalayan Mountains, served in the British Army reserves and taught a survival course.

A year and a half after breaking three vertebrae in a parachuting accident, Grylls climbed to the summit of Mount Everest in Nepal at age 23. Later, he and a team crossed the north Atlantic Ocean in an open, rigid inflatable boat.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Grylls and two others established a Guinness world record for longest continuous indoor free fall. It lasted nearly 100 minutes.

Grylls has provided hundreds of survival tips through the years, but today we’re just going to look at a few of them.

How to make a survival shelter

  • Lash a branch between two upright tree trunks.
  • Gather branches to lean up against the main, horizontal branch.
  • Cover the sides with leaves, earth or moss to waterproof it.

Your entrance should face away from the wind. If you build a fire, set it about three feet from your entrance. Build a horseshoe shape around the rear to deflect heat toward the shelter.

How to survive in the snow

Stay below the tree line for food, shelter and warmth. Regarding the all-important issue of clothing, remember the acronym COLD.

  • Clean – Dirt and grease make clothing lose its insulating quality.
  • Overheating – Sweat means wet; damp clothes reduce your body temperature.
  • Loose and layers – Air pockets between your clothes act as an insulator.
  • Dry – Wet clothes, especially wet socks, will kill you.

If you have to cross a frozen lake or river, remember that thick and blue equals tried and true, but thin and crispy is way too risky. Get into dry clothes as quickly as possible.

To dry your clothes with no fire, hang them on branches until the water freezes, then bang the clothing to shake out the ice.

How to survival an animal attack

  • Travel in groups – more humans equals less risk.
  • Make noise – if animals hear you coming, they’re likely to avoid you.
  • Keep your camp clean. Sleeping, food storage, cooking and washing areas should all be away from each other, and downwind of your tent.

These next few tips are specific to bear attacks:

  • Always carry bear spray or other deterrents.
  • Don’t try to outrun a bear, or escape up a tree. You will lose.
  • If a bear looks like it might attack, back away calmly or play dead. A defensive bear will make noise, slap the ground with its paws and rear up on its hind legs. An aggressive bear is quiet and maintains eye contact.

You can find much more about Bear Grylls and his survival tips online.

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