Wilderness Survival Merit Badge – The skills of wilderness survival can help make everything right again. Thinking through the challenges that face us and coming up with good solutions are vital to taking care of ourselves in the outdoors, especially when we must get out of difficulties.
Wilderness survival means knowing how to stay alive and well until the emergency is over. It means always having a positive attitude the one essential that can’t be carried in a pack or a pocket.
During trips to the outdoors that are not emergencies, you can learn to light a fire without matches, build a shelter without a tent, the signal for help, and practice first aid.
Earning the Wilderness Survival merit badge will get you started in the right direction, but there is always more to learn.
Let’s get started
Wilderness Survival Merit Badge Requirements
- Do the following:
- Explain to your counselor the hazards you are most likely to encounter while participating in wilderness survival activities, and what you should do to anticipate, help prevent, mitigate, or lessen these hazards.
- Show that you know first aid for and how to prevent injuries or illnesses that could occur in backcountry settings, including hypothermia, heat reactions, frostbite, dehydration, blisters, insect stings, tick bites, and snakebites.
- From memory, list the seven priorities for survival in a backcountry or wilderness location. Explain the importance of each one with your counselor.
- Discuss ways to avoid panic and maintain a high level of morale when lost, and explain why this is important.
- Describe the steps you would take to survive in the following exposure conditions:
- Cold and snowy
- Hot and dry
- At or on the water
- Put together a personal survival kit and explain how each item in it could be useful.
- Using three different methods (other than matches), build and light three fires.
- Do the following:
- Show five different ways to attract attention when lost.
- Demonstrate how to use a signal mirror.
- Describe from memory five ground-to-air signals and tell what they mean.
- Improvise a natural shelter. For the purpose of this demonstration, use techniques that have a little negative impact on the environment. Spend a night in your shelter.
- Explain how to protect yourself from insects, reptiles, bears, and other animals of the local region.
- Demonstrate three ways to treat water found in the outdoors to prepare it for drinking.
- Show that you know the proper clothing to wear while in the outdoors during extremely hot and cold weather and during wet conditions.
- Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.
The following information can assist you in answering the terms of the 11 wilderness survival merit badge.
The best emergency is the one that never happens. Prevention is the result of preparing well, making good plans, and having the proper equipment.
As you begin thinking about what you will do in case of an emergency, it can be helpful to know some of the primary causes of survival situations.
- Not planning ahead, or failing to prepare a trip plan.
- Not having good leadership in your group.
- Being in poor physical condition, wearing the wrong clothing or footwear, or lacking the motivation or skills for the activity.
- Not eating enough, or eating the wrong diet.
- Becoming too tired, too cold or too hot, or thirsty.
- Not recognizing and dealing with a potential problem.
- Encountering unexpected changes in the weather or unexpected terrain.
Commonsense ways to increase your safety and your enjoyment of outdoor adventures are covered in the seven points of the BSA’s Trek Safely plan:
- Qualified supervision. Whenever planning a trek, make sure your group includes a mature, conscientious adult at least 21 years old who understands the potential risks involved in the trip and can take responsibility for the group’s safety. One additional adult who is at least 18 years old must also accompany the group.
- Keep Fit. You can train for a trip in the outdoors just like any other athletic event. Start slowly, gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts, to build your physical fitness and stamina. Staying in good shape helps keep you ready for the physical demands of a trek.
- Plan ahead. Any trip you plan should match the skill level and fitness of the members of your group. Remember to get permission from the landowner if you plan to cross or use private land, and research the terrain, elevation ranges, trails, wildlife, campsites, typical weather conditions, and environmental issues for the period of the trek. Know where you’re going and what to expect.
- Gear up. Before you leave, get topographic maps and current trail maps for the area. Take equipment-including a first-aid kit and clothing that is appropriate for the weather and is in good condition. Wear proper protection against the sun and biting insects and animals, and remember to adjust clothing layers to match the weather conditions. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Communicate Clearly and Completely. Communication is key to a safe outdoor adventure, and staying in touch with the home base is the first step. Complete a trip plan and share the details of your trek with someone back home.
- Monitor Conditions. The leaders are responsible for making good decisions during the trip, based on their knowledge of the group’s abilities. Keep an eye on weather conditions before and during the trip, and continually monitor your food and water, the group’s morale, and their physical condition. Don’t enter into a dangerous situation.
- Discipline. Make sure everyone in your group understands the rules and procedures for safe trekking. When participants know the reasons behind the rules, they are much more likely to follow them.
The following information might help you in answering requirements 5 wilderness survival merit badge.
1. Emergency Survival Kits
The very fact that you are putting together a survival kit to carry into the backcountry will improve your chances by providing you with a few items that will make your life easier.
Perhaps even more important is that you are thinking about dealing with possible emergencies long before they can develop.
Every survival kit begins with the Outdoor Essentials. Get into the habit of having them with you on every trip into the backcountry.
- First-aid kit
- Extra clothing
- Rain gear
- Water bottle
- Trail food
- Matches and fire starters
- Sun protection
- Map and compass
Adding some or all of the following items to your emergency kit can come in handy during survival situations.
|Duct Tape. Wrap a length of it around a plastic water bottle and you will always have some handy.|
|Whistle. A whistle can be heard for longer distances than shouting can and requires less energy.|
|Signal Mirror. A metal signal mirror can be slipped into your first-aid kit or a side pocket of your pack. Keep it in its case or slip it inside a spare sock to protect it from becoming scratched and dull.|
|Thin Wire. A few feet of thin wire can come in handy for repairing camping gear.|
|Garbage Bag. A heavy-duty 30- to 39-gallon plastic bag, preferably in a bright color, can be used for emergency rain gear, to protect tinder and kindling from the rain, and to shield your sleeping bag and other equipment.|
|Fishing line and Hooks. Fifty feet of nylon fishing line can have many uses for making repairs. Add a few hooks and you will have the gear you need to try fishing in lakes and streams.|
2. Clothing as Survival Gear
Clothing is your first line of defense against the elements. It keeps you warm in the winter, cool in the summer, dry in storms, and sheltered from insects, sun, and wind.
To help decide what you need, learn about the materials from which clothing is made.
|Wool. For generations of backcountry travelers, wool was the fabric of choice. Of course, that’s about all there was for making warm clothing. Wool is still terrific for many cold-weather adventures. It is durable and water-resistant and can help you keep warm even when the fabric is wet. |
A wool shirt or sweater can ward off the chill of summer evenings, too. Wool is also an excellent choice in hiking socks, hats, and mittens. (If wool irritates your skin, you may be able to wear wool blends or wear woolen layers over clothing made of other fabrics.)
|Cotton. Cotton clothing is cool and comfortable. That makes it very good for hot-weather shirts and shorts, especially in dry climates. If cotton becomes wet, though, it loses its ability to insulate, and it may be slow to dry. That can be a real danger on cool days, especially when mist, rain, and wind bring with them the threat of hypothermia.|
|Synthetics. Outdoor clothing made of nylon, polypropylene, and other manufactured fabrics can be sturdy and comfortable and can maintain warmth even when wet. Look for synthetics in underwear, shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, mittens, and hats. |
Lightweight nylon shorts and shirts are ideal for hot weather, drying quickly when wet. Waterproof and breathable synthetic fabrics are used in parkas and rain gear and as the shells of mittens and gloves.
Basic Warm-Weather Clothing:
- T-shirt or lightweight short-sleeved shirt.
- Hiking shorts.
- Long-sleeved shirt (lightweight).
- Long pants (lightweight).
- Sweater or warm jacket
- Brimmed hat.
- Rain gear.
- Appropriate hiking footwear.
Basic Cold-Weather Clothing:
- Long-sleeved shirt.
- Long pants (fleece, wool, or synthetic blend).
- Sweater (fleece or wool).
- Long underwear (polypropylene).
- Socks (wool or synthetic blend).
- Warm hooded parka or jacket.
- Stocking hat (fleece or wool).
- Mittens or gloves (fleece or wool) with water-resistant shells.
- Wool scarf.
- Rain gear.
- Appropriate cold/wet weather footwear.
The following information will help you in answering the requirements 1 of wilderness survival badge.
Wilderness Survival First Aid
Providing first-aid care is high on the list, especially if you or someone with you has suffered serious injuries or illness.
The first-aid emergencies described below are those that you might encounter in the backcountry. The treatments are ways to manage these risks until help can arrive.
You can also prepare for backcountry emergencies by completing training in caring for injured and ill persons in remote settings.
Among the courses available in various parts of the country are those for American Red Cross Wilderness First Aid Basic, Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, and Mountaineering Oriented First Aid.
Check with your BSA local council for opportunities in your area.
Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body is losing more heat than it can generate. It is a danger for anyone who is not dressed warmly enough, though simple exposure to cold is seldom the only cause.
Dehydration is a common factor. Wind, damp clothing, hunger, and exhaustion can compound the danger. The temperature doesn’t have to be below freezing, either.
A lightly dressed hiker caught in a cool, windy rain shower can be at great risk. So is a swimmer too far out in chilly water or immersed too long.
A person experiencing hypothermia might feel cold and numb become tired, anxious, irritable, and increasingly clumsy, have slurred speech, shivering uncontrollably, make poor decisions, and lose consciousness.
Treating Hypothermia. There are some general guidelines for treating a victim of hypothermia.
For starters, prevent the victim from getting colder and, if necessary, use any or all of the following methods to help the body warm again to its normal temperature.
- If the person is fully conscious and can drink, offer small amounts of warm liquids (cocoa, soup, fruit juices, water).
- Move the person into the shelter of a building or a tent and into dry, warm clothes.
- Zip the person into a dry sleeping bag. Cover the head with a warm hat or sleeping bag hood.
- Provide water bottles filled with warm fluid to hold in the armpit and groin areas.
If hypothermia is advanced, aid in rewarming the victim. Be sure to watch the person closely, and be ready to administer other first aid if necessary. Seek medical care.
A frostbite victim may complain of pain on the ears, nose, fingers, or feet and then numbness, but sometimes the victim won’t notice anything. You may see grayish white patches on the skin a sure sign of frostbite.
|Treating Frostbite. Get the victim into a tent or other shelter, then warm the injury and keep it warm. If an ear or cheek is frozen, remove a glove and warm the injury with the palm of your hand. |
Slip a frostbitten hand under your clothing and tuck it beneath an armpit. Treat frozen toes by putting the victim’s bare feet against the warm skin of your belly. Avoid rubbing frostbitten flesh, as that may damage tissue and skin.
You can also warm a frozen part by holding it in warm never hot running water. Or wrap it in a dry blanket.
Have the victim exercise injured fingers or toes, and do not let the injured area freeze again. Get the victim to a doctor.
Water is essential for nearly every bodily function, including digestion, respiration, brain activity, producing heat, and staying cool. A person who gives off more water than he or she takes risks from becoming dehydrated.
The first sign of dehydration usually is dark urine. Other signs can include weariness, headache and body aches, and confusion. Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and hypothermia may all be caused in part by dehydration.
|Treating Dehydration. Protect yourself from dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. That is easy to do on hot summer days when you are thirsty, but it is just as important in cold weather when you may not feel thirsty. Drink enough so that your urine stays clear and lightly colored, not dark amber.|
4. Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion can be brought on by a combination of dehydration and a warm environment. It is not uncommon during outdoor activities conducted in hot weather, especially if participants are not fully acclimated to the conditions.
Symptoms can include pale and clammy skin caused by heavy sweating, nausea and tiredness, dizziness and fainting, headache, muscle cramps, and weakness.
|Treating Heat Exhaustion. Place the person in the shade and encourage the victim to drink fluids, ideally cool water. Hasten the cooling process by applying wet cloths to the skin and then fanning the person. Activities can resume when the person feels better, though it can take a day or more for the full recovery.|
Heatstroke occurs when a person’s core temperature rises to life-threatening levels (above 105 degrees). Dehydration and overexertion in hot environments can be factors.
Symptoms can include hot, sweaty, red skin, confusion and disorientation, and a rapid pulse.
|Treating Heatstroke. Get the patient under qualified medical attention as quickly as possible, monitoring the person closely during the evacuation to guard against a relapse. The person’s temperature must be lowered quickly and hydration restored.|
Move the victim to a shady location and loosen tight clothing. If the person is able to drink, give small amounts of cool water. Pour water on the person and further cool by fanning. If you have them, wrap ice packs in a thin barrier (such as a thin towel) and place them under the armpits and against the neck and groin.
Sunburn is a common but potentially serious result of overexposure to the sun. Long-term exposure can result in skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
In survival situations, serious or extensive sunburn can be painful enough to limit a person’s ability to function well.
|Treating sunburn. The best treatment for sunburn is prevention. Limit your exposure to the sun, wear loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs, and wear a broad-brimmed hat to shade your neck, ears, and face.|
Protect exposed skin by liberally applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, reapply it often. If you have no sunscreen, stay in the shade as much as possible, especially in the middle of the day when the sun’s rays can be most damaging. Smoothing a layer of mud on exposed skin can offer some protection, too.
7. Minor injuries
Minor cuts and scrapes usually require only cleaning and disinfecting with soap and water. Allow them to heal in the air, or cover them lightly with a dry, sterile dressing or bandage to help prevent infection.
Unless a cut is serious, bleeding probably will stop on its own or with slight pressure on the wound. If a wound is so severe that it does not stop bleeding readily, apply direct and firm pressure using a sterile dressing or compress.
It may help to raise the injured limb (if no bones are broken) above the heart level. If the bleeding is prolonged, treat for shock and seek medical attention immediately.
8. Treating Blisters
A hot spot is a warning that a blister may be forming. Treat a hot spot or blister as soon as you notice it. Gel pads can be taped directly over a hot spot or blister to reduce friction and speed healing.
Follow the instructions on the package. To treat a hot spot or blister with moleskin, cut the moleskin slightly larger than the shape of the blister.
Used together, a gel pad and moleskin can provide maximum relief for hot spots and blisters. Change bandages every day to help keep wounds clean and avoid infection.
9. Treating Bites and Stings
The bites or stings of insects, ticks, chiggers, and spiders can be painful. Some may cause infection.
|Treating stings. To treat bee stings, scrape away the stinger with the edge of a knife blade. Don’t squeeze the sac attached to the stinger that might force more venom into the skin. Use an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling.|
|Treating Tick Bites. Ticks are small, blood-sucking creatures that bury their heads in the skin. Protect yourself whenever you are in tick-infested woodlands and fields by wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. |
Button your collar and tuck the cuffs of your pants into your boots or socks. Inspect yourself daily, especially the hairy parts of your body,
and immediately remove any ticks you find.
If a tick has attached itself, grasp it with tweezers close to the skin and gently pull until it comes loose. Don’t squeeze, twist, or jerk the tick, as that may leave its mouthparts buried in the skin. Wash the wound with soap and water, and apply antiseptic. After dealing with a tick, thoroughly wash your hands.
|Treating Chigger Bites. Chiggers are almost invisible. They burrow into skin pores, causing itching and small welts. Try not to scratch chigger bites. You may find some relief by covering a chigger bite with calamine lotion or by dabbing it with clear fingernail polish or mud.|
|Treating Spider Bites. The bite of a female black widow spider can cause redness and sharp pain at the wound site. The victim may suffer sweating, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain and cramps, severe muscle pain and spasms, and shock. Breathing may become difficult and convulsions may occur.|
The bite of a brown recluse spider might not hurt right away, but within two to eight hours there can be a pain, redness, and swelling at the wound. An open sore is likely to develop. The victim may suffer fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and a faint rash.
If you are bitten by a snake, assume that it is venomous unless it can be absolutely identified as nonvenomous. Learn to recognize venomous varieties to know when there is danger and what action to take.
Two types of venomous snakes are found in the United States. Pit vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths) have triangular-shaped heads with pits on each side in front of the eyes.
Coral snakes have black snouts and bands of red and yellow separated by bands of black. Pit viper venom affects the circulatory system, coral snakes inject a powerful venom that works on the victim’s nervous system.
|Treating Nonvenomous Snakebites. The bite of a nonvenomous snake requires only ordinary first aid for small wounds scrub with soap and water, then treat with an antiseptic. Snakes are not warm-blooded and so cannot carry rabies.|
Treating Venomous Snakebites. Get the victim under medical care as soon as possible so that physicians can neutralize the venom.
A person who has been bitten by a venomous snake might not be affected by the venom for an hour or more. Within that time, the closer to medical attention you can get the victim, the better off he or she will be.
The victim might be able to walk, but carrying the victim also might be an option. Before setting out, do the following.
- Encourage the patient to stay calm; reassure the person that he or she is being cared for.
- Remove rings and other jewelry that may cause problems if the area around a bite swells.
- Immobilize a bitten arm with a splint and a sling, keeping the wound lower than the level of the victim’s heart.
The following information can help you in answering requirements 9 of wilderness survival merit badge.
Hazard in the Wilderness
Making good choices to protect yourself from insects, reptiles, and wild animals is one of the many challenges of wilderness survival.
Keep this information in mind on any hike, campout, or other situation where you are sharing the backcountry with wildlife, small and large.
Mosquitoes, chiggers, black flies, and other biting insects can make you miserable in the outdoors, and that can threaten morale. If you have it, use insect repellent. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hat.
Tie a bandanna around your face or use a spare T-shirt to protect your head. Guard your hands with gloves or pull a pair of socks over them. Try smoothing a layer of mud on exposed skin.
Build a fire and stay close to the smoke. Consider moving to a higher ground that might be breezier and less infested with bugs.
While snakes are common in many parts of the country, snakebites are rare and seldom result in death. Snakes try to avoid humans, usually striking only when cornered.
The bite of a nonvenomous snake causes only minor puncture wounds. The bite of a venomous snake may cause the victim to feel a sharp, burning pain. The area around the bite may swell and become discolored.
However, a venomous snake does not always inject venom when it bites. The best advice is to treat every snakebite as if it were inflicted by a venomous snake.
Use a hiking stick to poke among stones and brush ahead of you when you walk through areas where snakes are common. Watch where you put your hands as you collect firewood or climb over rocks and logs.
3. Predatory Animals
Be especially aware of the kinds of predatory animals you might meet during your adventures.
Wolves, coyotes, and cougars (or panthers and pumas) are curious. So, if you happen upon such an animal, face the creature and slowly retreat from the area.
Do not approach the animal, run, or play dead. Make yourself as “big” as possible by waving your arms and clothing above your head. Make a lot of noise. If you have no escape or become cornered, throw rocks and sticks.
Remember, no matter what kind of wild animal, give all wildlife a wide berth especially young animals and their mother. You can read about other dangerous animals in the following link.
You might need to adapt the guidelines bear safety checklist to fit the circumstances of a survival situation.
- While hiking, alert bears to your approach by making noise. Never approach or provoke a bear. If you encounter a bear, do not run or shout. Stay calm, back away, and avoid eye contact with the bear.
- Set up your sleeping area at least 200 feet away from where you will cook and eat.
- Allow no smell able food-soiled clothing, deodorant and antiperspirant, soap in sleeping tents.
- Clean up and pack out any spilled food, food particles, and campsite trash.
- Use a bear bag, bear box, or bear canister to protect all unattended smell able.
- Dispose of dishwater at least 200 feet from your campsite and sleeping area.
- Wash early in the day. Avoid using scented lotions, soaps, deodorants,or shampoos.
- Change into clean sleeping clothes before going to bed.
Wilderness Survival Priorities
Following the seven priorities of survival in a backcountry or wilderness location will give you a good approach to acting effectively when things don’t go as planned.
The Priorities are listed below, in the order of importance.
- Provide first aid.
- Seek shelter.
- Build a fire.
- Signal for help.
- Drink water.
- Don’t worry about food.
The moment you think you might be lost, stop immediately. If you ever feel fear, stop immediately. Put your hands in your pockets and take a deep breath. Look around and really see what is happening.
If there are immediate dangers to avoid a potential avalanche, a capsized boat, an approaching bear do what you must to keep yourself and others safe. You might need to put on your rain gear or step around a tree to get out of the wind.
You might also need to provide first aid for life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Once that is done, you can begin to figure out what to do next.
The letters of the word STOP hold a special meaning for staying positive and beginning to take charge of a situation.
At the beginning of a wilderness survival emergency, the most important thing you can do is stop. Once you have taken care of your immediate safety and that of others in your group, then relax as best you can.
Drink some water. Eat a snack. You have time. You have resources. You have a good mind. Now is the time to start using it. Stop.
Assemble the group. Use your brain to figure out what is really going on. If you think you are lost, study your map and try to determine where you are.
Look around for landmarks. Note the contours of hills, ridges, or mountains, and where you are in relation to streams or lakes.
If you don’t have a map, try to remember where you could have gotten off course. What was the last landmark you positively identified?
In what direction did you travel from there? If you are on a trail or a road, can you follow it back to your starting point? If you have left footprints in the, can you retrace your tracks? Don’t go anywhere yet.
There is no rush. Stop and Think.
Assess the immediate situation. Does anyone need additional first aid? What are the weather conditions? Where is a good place to take shelter? Inventory everything you have in your pack and pockets, and look around to get a sense of the natural resources nearby.
What clothing do you have? How can you improvise with what is available to make it suit your needs? Don’t go anywhere yet. There is no rush. Stop, Think, and Observe.
When you have figured out what your situation really is, the group can put together a plan for what to do next.
Build your plan on what you have observed, what you have in the way of equipment, what you can improvise from native materials, and how you can keep yourself safe.
Put into practice the survival steps you have learned, and wait as calmly as you can for help to arrive. Plan carefully and cautiously; don’t make your situation worse by acting hastily.
If you left a written trip plan with a responsible person before leaving home, your failure to return on time should trigger a search effort.
Most people are found within 24 hours of becoming lost or encountering difficulties in the backcountry. You could, if you had to, survive much longer. Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan.
2. Provide First Aid
Treat life-threatening injuries and illnesses immediately. As you begin putting together your survival plan, take the time to properly examine anyone who has been hurt, and decide on a course of action to care for that person.
3. Seek Shelter
The body’s core is a heat regulator. It does all it can to keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. If your body gets too hot, you might suffer heat exhaustion or heatstroke. If it gets too cold, hypothermia can set in.
Whatever the weather, if your body’s core temperature rises or sinks more than a few degrees from normal, you will find it harder to think and more difficult to function well.
In the worst cases, the illnesses of heat and cold can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
egin by assessing what you have for clothing. Rather than wearing one heavy coat, putting on layers of clothing will allow you to adjust the insulation around you to match the weather conditions you face.
Clothing insulates best when it is dry. Protect the clothing you are wearing from rain and snow by putting on any rain gear you might have or by staying under shelter. Turn a plastic trash bag into a raincoat by cutting slits in it for your arms and head.
Keep any clothing you aren’t wearing dry by stowing it in a safe place such as your pack, a stuff sack, or a plastic trash bag.
You can read wilderness survival merit badge pamphlets for more information about seeking shelter.
4. Build a Fire
In chilly and cold weather, a fire can be important for maintaining body warmth, melting snow for water, drying out clothing, signaling for help, and raising your spirits.
The importance of fire means that you should spend plenty of time getting it right. As with most survival skills, practicing when you are not in an emergency situation is the best way to become good at it.
It is especially important to practice using fire-lighting methods other than matches and lighters a magnifying lens, flint and steel, and fire by friction.
Leave No Trace Campfire Site
In a survival situation, you might not have a stove or the clothing and gear to stay warm without a fire.
Even so, take time to build your fire in a manner that does not harm the environment. You can do that by following the principles of Leave No Trace.
A Leave No Trace campfire site has the following qualities:
- Fire will cause no further negative impact on the land.
- Fire cannot spread from it, and the area surrounding the site will not be further degraded by the concentrated trampling of people cooking and socializing.
Read the following information to answer the requirements 6 wilderness survival merit badge.
Fire Lighting Methods
When the fire lay is complete and you have a large supply of additional kindling and fuelwood on hand, ease a flame underneath the tinder.
The flame can come from a match or lighter or can be generated by a magnifying lens, flint, and steel, or a fire by friction set.
|Matches and lighters. Preserve your matches by taking plenty of time to prepare your fire before you light it. By ensuring that the tinder catches fire on your first try, you can save the rest of your matches for future fires.|
Matches can be carried in a waterproof match case, an empty plastic aspirin bottle with a tight lid, or a resealable plastic bag. If you have a butane lighter, guard it against moisture and cold by keeping it tucked inside a pocket close to your body. Bring it out only when your fire lay is complete and you are ready to ignite the tinder.
|Magnifying lens. On a clear day, you might be able to focus sunlight through a curved lens such as that found on the baseplates of some compasses and in eyeglasses, a magnifying glass, camera lenses, binoculars, and telescopes. In some cases, you might need to remove the lens from the instrument in which you found it.|
Hold the lens so that the sunlight streaming through it is concentrated down to a bright pinpoint on your tinder. In a few moments, it will generate enough heat to cause the tinder to burn.
|Flint and steel. Striking one hard object against another can sometimes produce sparks. In the backcountry, the most likely objects are a pocketknife and a piece of flint a dark, shiny stone that fractures easily. The form you’re fine tinder (dryer lint works well) into a bird’s nest shape the size of a softball.|
Holding the flint just above the tinder, strike it with the steel to direct the sparks into it. Use a downward motion to strike the steel against an edge of the flint. Nurse a spark into a flame by blowing on it very gently. When the tinder bursts into flame and the kindling catches fire, push it underneath your fire lay.
|Fire by Friction. A skill of old-time Scouts was making a fire using a bow and spindle. For a bowstring, you can use a piece of nylon cord or a shoestring, or a cord off a tent, pack, or tarp. The spindle should be made of very dry hardwood oak, for example.|
The hand block with a depression carved into it to fit the top of the spindle should also be made of hardwood. The fireboard is a softer wood that is also dry cottonwood is a good one to choose. Whittle a notch into the fireboard so that the spindle fits into it, then tuck some very fine tinder beneath the notch.
Twist the bowstring once around the spindle, then hold the spindle upright with one end against the notch in the fireboard. Kneel down and put one foot on the fireboard to keep it from moving. Draw the bow back and forth to twirl the spindle, holding it steady with the hand block.
Ideally, the friction created as the spindle turns against the fireboard will cause an ember to form next to the tinder. Gently blow on the ember until the tinder bursts into flame.
the information below can help you in answering requirement 7 wilderness survival merit badge.
5. Signal for Help
Signaling for help can be very important if you have become lost or if you or others in your group are injured and cannot be moved.
Think about where you are, how you might be seen, and what you have on hand to make yourself and your location more visible to others. Consider any and all of the following signaling methods.
Recognized signals of distress include three blasts on a whistle, three shouts, three bursts from a boat air horn, or three of any other sounds delivered every minute or two.
Mobile phones are useful in areas with coverage, but many backcountry areas are out of reach of a cell tower.
If possible, research coverage before the trip and carry emergency contact numbers for park ranger stations, local sheriff departments, and other emergency services. Remember to start out with fully charged batteries, and carry extra batteries with you.
If you have a means of electronic communication, try to use it as soon as is practical after assessing your situation and dealing with first aid or other immediate dangers.
The sooner others know of your situation, the sooner they can provide assistance, even if it takes a while to reach your location.
Mirrors and Lights
When the sun is shining, the flash of light reflected with a signal mirror can be seen for miles. Aiming it takes practice. Sight a target through the hole in the center of the mirror or by looking just over the mirror’s top edge.
Hold your extended arm in line with the target and adjust the angle of the mirror so that reflected light illuminates fingers of your hand raised to form a “V” through which you can see the target.
If you don’t have a signal mirror, you might be able to use a piece of shiny flat metal from an aircraft or remove a rearview mirror from a motor vehicle, or even use the shiny side of a CD or DVD.
At night, use a flashlight to send groups of three flashes in the direction where you believe rescuers might be able to see them.
Flares can be found on airplanes and in some watercraft and motor vehicles and can be effective if you have a rescue aircraft insight. They are visible for only a short time, though, so save them for the right moment.
Color and Motion
Hanging brightly colored clothing or camping gear on tree branches can catch the rescuers’ attention. Flags, banners, and contrasting colors can be part of your signaling efforts.
If you can see rescuers, wave a shirt over your head or attach it to a pole and wave it as a flag.
Fire and Smoke
A fire will probably already be part of your survival strategy. The light from it might attract attention at night, and smoke can be seen during the day.
Experiment with ways to make a fire smoky by adding pitchy wood, damp leaves, branches, ferns, grasses, and other vegetation to the flames without actually putting out the fire.
Ground to Air Signal
A simple set of ground-to-air signals will allow you to communicate with searchers flying overhead. Make your symbols as big as you can.
Use whatever is on hand to construct symbols that can be seen easily from the air rocks, overturned sod, piles of branches, and pieces of clothing and equipment.
Where snow covers the ground, use your feet to stomp out the shapes of the symbols. Lining the shapes with branches, ashes, soil, or other dark material can make the symbols more visible.
When rescuers arrive by helicopter, stand still and wait until the aircraft lands. A crew member will come to you or provide other guidance about what you should do. Follow his or her instructions exactly.
Layout your ground-to-air signals with an eye toward the sun and you can take advantage of the shadows cast by logs, rocks, and the sides of trenches to make the signals more visible.
Orienting the longer legs of signals in a north-south direction will create the most effective shadows, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
6. Drink Water
It bears repeating: Drink plenty of water. Drink plenty of water. Drink plenty of water. You can survive for days without food, but in hot weather without water, only hours.
Dehydration happens in cold weather, too, even though you may not feel as thirsty. The best rule is to drink plenty of water enough so that your urine is clear whenever you are in the outdoors.
Ideally, you will be able to find water where you are from a lake, a stream, or melting snow, or by guiding rainwater down a tarp or tent fly and into a container.
Water may have collected in depressions in rocks, in the crotches of trees, or in seeps along cliffs. This information for answering requirement wilderness merit badge.
|Boiling. The surest means of making your water safe is by boiling it. Use a pot or other metal container on a stove or over a fire and bring the water to a full boil.|
|Chemical Treatment. Water-treatment tablets contain iodine or chlorine to kill waterborne bacteria and viruses. They are effective and easy to use. An emergency survival kit should have a supply of watertreatment tablets.|
|Filtering. Most backcountry filters are simple handheld pumps used to force water through a screen with pores so small that bacteria and protozoa cannot get through. The finer the screen, the more effective the filter. Information provided with new filters describes their use, maintenance, and the degree of filtration they can provide.|
7. Don’t Worry About Food
Being hungry is not very pleasant, but on the list of survival priorities, it is not very high, either.
Keeping warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather, finding shelter, drinking plenty of water, and signaling your location are all more important than finding something to eat.
Once you have taken care of the necessities of survival, you can give some thought to sources of food.
You may have the ingredients for camp meals in your pack. Experts in wilderness survival can tell which plants are safe to eat and which might cause intestinal stress or even poisoning.
Unless you are absolutely sure of the identity of a plant and know it is safe to eat, it’s best to leave vegetation alone. The same is true of most wildlife.
A length of nylon line and a hook can be useful in using insects or worms to catch a fish or two, but in most cases, the energy you burn in trying to capture an animal and prepare it to be safely eaten would be better used improving your shelter, gathering water, and taking care of other survival priorities.