Ever wonder what you would do if you got lost in the wilderness? Probably freak out. Yeah. Definitely freak out. But once you’re done freaking out, what then? Here’s a jam-packed chill session of readable goodies on how you can use the everyday objects you carry with you to stay the eff alive.
The Shirt Off Your Back
Ever hear the phrase, “That person would give you the shirt off their back”? It’s a phrase that means that someone is a nice guy or an all-around cool kid, so cool in fact that they’d lend a helping hand and even, just maybe, give you the shirt off their back if it came to it. Well, out in the boonies, having a shirt can be a great tool for survival.
Say you’re lost in the woods, lost your sense of direction, just about lost your marbles too. You stumble over a fallen log and wipe out in some branches. Ouch. Next you know it you’ve got a wicked gash. A pretty cool battle scar any other day maybe, but a threat to your life when you’re out in the middle of nowhere.
An untreated flesh wound can go from a cool-looking battle scar to an infected, life-threatening injury if left untreated. Take your shirt off (but no shirtless gym pics okay guys?) and tie the shirt around your wound. Be cautious not to cut off circulation to that area of the body, but ensure that the wound is sufficiently covered to prevent dirt and other particles from entering the open cut.
That Plastic Bag Though
Try as we might to become the generation of recycling children of the Earth, there’s still a great deal of plastic bags floating around in the wind. You’ll likely have one or two in your car, or maybe on your person. Walking your dog on a wooded path? That poo bag might end up being a real life-saver.
When stranded in the wilderness, one of your primary concerns is going to be on staying hydrated. If you end up having to spend the night stranded outside, use the plastic bag to suffocate yourself, because no help is coming anyways…. (just kidding, don’t do that). Instead, use local sticks or twigs to prop up the bag and fashion a make-shift receptacle, facing open to the sky. The purpose is to catch potential rainwater. If there are no sticks nearby, dig a hole in the sand or earth and line the hole with the empty bag. Boom. Instant rainwater catcher thingy.
Girl Your Perfume on Fire Though, Literally
If you went through that “pyromaniac” phase you probably already know where this one is going. If you’re a fashionable gal or bro, you might carry some hairspray, nail polish remover, perfume, body spray, spray-on deodorant, or other aerosol-based sprays. Any of these products that contain Ethyl Acetate will be highly flammable, and being able to make a fire in the wilderness is a great way to stay alive.
Need to stay warm? Fire. Want to cook something and not get totally sick from eating raw meat? Fire. Want to tell stories and share warmth and prevent yourself from going totally nanners? Fire. You might not have a traditional Fire-Maker on you, (like a lighter or some hipster matches) but an aerosol spray and two rocks could help you get a lovely blaze going. Make a small pile of dry twigs, pine needles, and dry moss, anything available that is light and dry. Douse the pile with an aerosol spray next. Then, with patience and fortitude, knock two rocks together above the pile and try to get a spark to land on the pile. With some patience and maybe a little help from Baby Jesus, a spark should fly from the rocks and ignite with the collected pile of aerosol-soaked fire-starters. Once you have a spark on the pile, give it a good, slow but steady breath to add oxygen to the mix.
And don't think that you must start a fire with twigs, leaves, and moss. As a side note, the micro-fibers that comprise your everyday tampons are some of the most reliable fire-starting material on the planet. If you have any tampons on you and there isn’t much in the way of fire-starter moss or dry twigs and leaves around, tampons can get a rapid blaze going.
As They Say, A Knife in the Hand is Better than a Knife not.. in.. the.. Hand?
If you’re a cool millennial, you might be carrying a pocket knife around, because why not? You’re cool. Pocket knives are cool. It’s a match made in heaven. A pocket knife can be one of the most versatile tools for surviving a night or two in the wilderness. Need something cut, sliced, pierced, or split? Knife. You can use a pocket knife to cut small branches to fashion a shelter to spend the night in. You can use such a knife to sharpen straight branches to carve yourself not only a great walking stick, but a handy self-defense tool as well.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg in how knives help us in the boonies. One of the top priorities for wilderness survival is getting found. This is second only to the obvious, which is staying alive, and we don’t mean the old 1970’s disco song by the Bee Gees. We mean actually staying alive. But your ability to stay alive depends a lot on getting found, or on finding others. Particularly during daylight hours and in high sunlight, the flat side of a pocket knife’s metal blade will reflect sunlight. If you see someone but they can’t see or hear you, try angling the pocket knife to the sun, but still within that person’s sight range. The glint of sunlight off of your pocket knife should alert them to your presence.
Momma Always Said Tie Your Shoelaces…
But this time we’re going to break that rule a bit, and instead of using our shoelaces to keep our shoes tied, we’re going to use our shoelaces to stay alive. Remember that section from earlier about using the shirt off your back as a makeshift bandage? Shoelaces can help secure that bandage and do about a dozen other things too. Two shoelaces tied together should give you a good two feet or more of makeshift mini-rope. You can use the shoelaces to tie off your shirt bandage, keeping it in place and keeping you safe. And if you have a really bad wound and require a tourniquet, shoelaces can be used for that purpose too.
Shoelaces can do a world of good when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, as lost as a basic white chick when the Pumpkin Spice Latte gets discontinued for the year. You can use your shoelaces to tie down a garment or branches to hold a shelter together. Shoelaces can also be used as a fishing line, a bowstring, or a trap.
Signal for Help with… Snacks?
We’ve all heard that food is a valuable commodity when you’re stranded in the wilderness, but it’s still not as important as getting found. If you happened to be going for a stroll with a bag of chips or munchies and you lost your way, don’t throw aside that chip bag, and don't eat all of the chips. When night falls, you can use a few oil and fat-covered chips to start a fire easily, and the next day, you can turn the bag inside out to expose the shiny, mylar interior. The reflective mylar surface can be used to reflect the sunlight and signal for help.
Welcome to the Sock-Free Nation
Ever hear of “Earthing”? Where scientists have proven that walking barefoot is good for your mental health? We’re not encouraging you to run barefoot through the woods looking for help, but we do have a good reason for you to take your socks off.
In a pinch, socks can be used as a great water filter. They won’t keep extremely small particles or contaminants out of the water, and you should always boil water that you find if you can, but if you find a pond, lake, stream, puddle, or another body of water, filter the water into a container through the sock to prevent larger contaminants from getting into the container. Dehydration is one of the top causes of death when stranded in the outdoors, so use a fire to boil water if possible, or a sock to filter it if a fire is not available to you.
Car Keys, Condoms, Jewelry, Pop Cans, Shoelaces… Need We Say More?
Ready for some rapid-fire amazingness? Here we go…
- Car keys can be used as a miniature saw to cut small branches and twigs off of trees, or they can be used as prying instruments to open things.
- Got condoms? We hope so. Condoms have incredible tensile strength, for obvious reasons (wink wink). You can store water and other soft items in the condom itself, as a miniature, expandable storage device. A condom can expand to several times its initial form, and some experts have even indicated that a condom can hold up to one liter of water or even more, (though we don't recommend a shot at the Guinness Book of World Records in condom storage capacity when you're trying to stay alive).
- If you have a bit of jewelry, a pop can, and some string or a shoelace, you can make a fishing line and have some fine, seafood dining. Take the tab off of the pop can, cut the loop of the tab to fashion a hook, and tie the jewelry and hook to the shoelace to create a makeshift fishing lure. Say hello to a trout dinner, say goodbye to a depressingly empty stomach.
Good Luck Kids
Remember kids, when you’re lost in the woods and you don’t know what is what or which is which, your two priorities must be:
- Stay alive.
- Get found.