Monday, April 27, 2015

What I Learned from Survivorman

Some things I learned after watching the season 1 DVDs of Survivorman (nine episodes):

The “Five Ws” of every survival situation –   
1. Wood
2. Water
3. Widowmakers
4. Wigglies
5. Weather
The importance of the Ws depends on the situation.  Wood is needed to make a fire; Water is needed, well, to live.  But if you’re stranded in the snowy mountains or in the middle of the desert, which W takes priority will differ.
Widowmakers are, from what I can tell, such things as: “Don’t sleep under a giant rock ledge with a fire to keep you warm.”  The fire can cause the rock, if heated up to quickly, to fracture, and you have a ton of dead weight falling down on you, and your spouse is now a widow.
Wigglies are, uh, probably the biggest thing that keeps me from camping out in my backyard grass with a book for an afternoon.  In Survivorman episodes, though, they are quite a bit more nasty: snakes, spiders, scorpions.  The relative warmth of your surroundings will tell you the degree in which you need to be worried about wigglies.
Weather will dictate the type and location of your shelter.
I also learned some other basics of survival wisdom:
To stay warm, sleep on a bed of grass – wigglie-free grass, that is – to get you off the ground.  Also, take four flat rocks and warm them by placing them close to the fire.  Put one against your torso and the other down by your feet to stay warm (or less chilled) on really cold nights.  Rotate with the other two rocks as necessary.
If I had to, I now know how to build a shelter, from a basic lean-to to scavenging the area in the hope of discovering something more substantial to create one with.  Also, certain leaves can be pulled apart and very tough threads can be extracted – great for binding branches and whatnot together to form a fairly solid roof (make sure the leaves all point smoothly downward, an essential if you want to stay as dry as possible in the rain).
I think I know how to make a fire if I had a lens, or two rocks, or a couple of bent sticks and a shoelace.  I think.  (Tinder! Tinder! Tinder!)
I also think I know how to set a snare, a basic rock drop trap, and a fish trap to catch some food.  I think – wouldn’t want to bet my life on it.  And I never, ever, ever want to skin a mammal to cook it, though I think – thanks to watching the shows – I could if I absolutely had to.
Boil all drinking water thoroughly, if possible, and cook all caught meat thoroughly, if possible.  One word: parasites.
If you’re stuck on the beach and need some freshwater and you have the materials, put some seawater and some plants in a bucket, cover with plastic, and angle that plastic so its most downward point is over a cup.  Place whole contraption in the sun.  By nightfall, you might – if you’re lucky – have a cup of pure water to drink.
Be careful not to sweat too much, especially if you’re facing cold temps at night.
Oh, and always carry a swiss army knife or other somesuch multitool with you whenever you’re traveling out in Mother Nature ...
and, most importantly, STAY CALM!

[Note: I am the type of guy who can barely survive a couple hours locked outside the house on a sunny afternoon, so every bit helps!]

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