Wilderness Survival - Heat Loss - Priorities


If you are injured, then First Aid becomes your top priority. In the case of a major medical emergency, you must prevent shock and stop bleeding. Even minor cuts and abrasions should be treated immediately because they can quickly escalate into infection and bigger problems. Once you have addressed any medical situations, your next priority will be to protect yourself from the elements with shelter. Shelter will help keep you warm in a cold environment and cool in a hot environment. This initial shelter should be found or constructed relatively quickly and can be temporary. Its purpose is to protect you from the elements and provide a place to evaluate your situation and start planning for survival. If you are in a temperate climate, you may not need shelter until later.

The next priority is to build a fire. A fire can help keep you warm, allow you to boil water, cook food, be used for signaling, and most importantly it will help build and sustain your morale. As a general rule, the worse the weather is, the more important it is to have a fire. Unfortunately, this means that the more you need a fire, the more difficult it will be to start.

Once you have stabilized any medical issues, gotten protection from the elements, and started a fire, you should then start to search for a source of fresh water. Once found, this water should be made drinkable to prevent health problems caused by waterborne viruses and bacteria. However, if there is no way to treat the water, you should still drink because the effects of dehydration are so severe.

Now that you can sustain life for an extended period of time, your next priority is signaling for rescue. After all signaling devices and methods are in place you can then look for a source of food. Your need for food is the lowest priority, no matter what your stomach is telling you.

Rule of 3's

  • You can survive without oxygen or with major bleeding for 3 minutes
  • You can survive exposure to extreme cold or heat for 3 hours
  • You can survive without water for 3 days
  • You can survive without food for 3 weeks


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