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Do you know the 5 W's of outdoor survival

  • Feb 5, 2017

Outdoor survival is relatively straightforward if you know what to prioritize. There are any number of skills and areas of focus to keep in mind, and in his show "Survivorman," seasoned woodsman Les Stroud explained that regardless of the location, there are five key things to look for. Whether you're faced with a life-and-death situation or you are simply setting up a campsite, consider these essential elements to stay safe:

1. Water
According to Live Science, a human can survive just over a week without water, but only under ideal circumstances. If you're physically exerting yourself, however this number drops considerably. For that reason, in any outdoor situation, one of the first and most important things to sort out is finding clean drinking water.

Even if you have a bit of water with you, it's best to track down a reliable source of hydration. Make note of where the closest fresh water is, and proceed carefully. Sometimes clear streams or ponds can still harbor infectious bacteria. And when it comes to eating snow, boil water before consuming it whenever possible.

2. Wood
Boiling water does, of course, require building a fire. And even in warmer conditions, nighttime weather can leave you chilled to the point of hypothermia. For that reason, useable wood should be your next consideration.

In a survival situation, gather as much useable material while you have energy. When camping, be sure to observe all posted ordinances related to firewood. Build yourself a solid stock, but a general rule of thumb is to double or triple your pile when you first feel like you have enough. This way you can ensure your fire will last long through the night. Work slowly and steadily to avoid injuring yourself when breaking down larger logs or branches.

3. Weather
Depending on where you are, weather can be a critical factor in survival. Storms or inhospitable temperatures demand immediate attention. This means using your Pro Trek Triple Sensor watch to monitor any changing conditions. Otherwise, be mindful of what might be coming your way and plan accordingly. For example, windy, wet climates require you build a shelter or set up your tent sooner rather than later. As Princeton University's Outdoor Action reported, getting your clothes or equipment wet can exacerbate your risk of hypothermia.

4. Widowmakers
‚ÄčAs you set up your camp, you need to look out for widowmakers. This refers to any naturally occuring thing that could cause injury. For example, avoid settling in alongside a riverbank that could flood or underneath a tree full of dead branches that could fall without warning. All in all, be cautious about the world around you.

5. Wildlife
Protecting yourself from the Mother Nature means being cautious about everything from plants and insects to big predators. Take steps to protect yourself and avoid any living creature you are unfamiliar with.

Start by being very selective when it comes to eating or using plants and fungi. If you aren't sure whether or not something is poisonous, it's best to leave it alone. Use a pocket guide if you have one. Next, keep yourself safe from biting insects or other ground-dwelling animals. In the desert or tropics especially, do what you can to get off the ground and avoid an unwanted encounter with snakes, ants, scorpions and other creatures that could cause you harm. As for larger animals, always keep your distance and look for obvious warning signs. If you do try and hunt wild game, stick to smaller options such as rabbits, fish and other wildlife that won't fight back.

Use these five W's as your framework for any survival situation. This way you know where to focus your attention and efforts and better your odds of staying safe.

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