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What does it Mean the Key Word "Survival"?

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The key word “SURVIVAL” is an acronym to be used as an “immediate action

drill” to be performed at the outset of a wilderness survival situation.  Use

this simple phrase to plan measures that will assist you in surviving in the

wilderness and returning to civilization.  The Key Word “SURVIVAL” will

provide you with two of the most important survival skills–the ability to

organize yourself and the ability to stay calm.

A.  “S” stands for “Size up the situation.”

(1)  Consider your physical condition and perform any first aid required.

(2)  Concentrate your senses on getting a feel for the area.

(3)  Conduct an inventory of the equipment you have.

(4)  Begin planning.

B.  “U” stands for “Undue haste makes waste.”

(1)  Reacting without thinking or planning can result in faulty decisions and

could result in your death.

(2)  Acting in haste, just for the sake of action, will make you careless.

The natural tendency in a stressful situation is to run.  You must overcome

this tendency and think of your objectives.

(3)  If you act in haste, you may lose or forget equipment, you may not make a

survival plan, and you may become disoriented and not know your location.  As

a cultural group. Americans have little patience.  Know this weakness if it is

your own particular Achilles’ heel.

C.  “R” stands for “Remember where you are.”

(1)  Always knowing where you are on the map and how it relates to the

surrounding terrain is a principle no outdoorsman should violate.

(2)  If in a group, always know the location of the maps and compasses.

(3)  Guard against the natural tendency of allowing someone else to be

responsible for navigation.  Always be aware of your route, regardless of the

mode of travel.

(4)  Whether you are in a base camp or on the move, you should always know the

following things:

(a)  Direction or location of the nearest populated area.

(b)  Direction or location to the nearest major transportation artery

(river, highway, railroad track, etc.)

(c)  Location of local water sources.

D.  “V” stands for “Vanquish fear and panic.”

(1)  Fear and panic are two of the greatest enemies in a survival situation.

These are not unusual emotions.  The secret is to recognize them and control


(2)  Fear, panic, and anxiety take their toll on the body.  They divert needed


(3)  Many people have never been alone and without diversion.  This could

subject them to anxiety.

(4)  The best way to control fear in a survival situation is preparation,

prior planning, and training.

E.  “I” stands for “Improvise.”

(1)  Make the wrong tool and do the right job.

(2)  Make an object do more than one job.

F.  “V” stands for “Value living.”

(1)  A man’s will to survive, to endure, to live, is the key to survival.

Maintaining a positive mental outlook and a desire to live will allow an

individual to overcome tremendous odds.

G.  “A” stands for “Act like the natives.”

(1)  Many situations we would consider to be “survival situations” are dealt

with on a daily basis by primitive peoples all over the world.  To them, these

situations are a way of life and hold no specific danger.  Read about these

people and our own ancestors.  They survived in a world without electricity,

stores, or fast food; you can too.

H.  “L” stands for “Learn basic skills.”

(1)  Learn to put together a survival kit that will meet your specific needs

and probable survival situations.  Learn to use your survival kit.

(2)  Learn to make fire in different environments with different materials.

(3)  Learn to build shelter from natural materials.

(4)  Learn to find and purify water.

(5)  Learn first aid and the treatment of most common survival dangers such as

insect stings, snake bites, climatic injuries, etc.

(6)  Concentrate on “doing” as opposed to “knowing”.  Many people know how to

build a fire, but cannot build a fire in a rain storm with damp tinder. That

is the fine line between surviving or dying.

Physiological and Psychological Aspects of Survival

The physiological and psychological aspects of survival and their significance

on an individual in a wilderness survival situation is very subjective.  Know

your mental, emotional, and physical limitations and prepare for their impact

on your ability to survive.

A.  Fear is a normal reaction to a threatening situation.  Acceptance of this

fear will lead to purposeful rather than random behavior.  This way will

greatly increase chances for survival.

B.  How a person will react to fear depends more on himself than on the

situation.  Timid and anxious persons may respond more coolly to fear than the

physically strong or happy-go-lucky.

C.  Two factors frequently reported to decrease or help control fear are:

(1)  Having confidence in your abilities and your equipment.

(2)  Concentrating on the situation at hand and the job to be done.

D.  The seven “enemies” of survival are pain, cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue,

boredom, and loneliness.  They are mental distractors and difficult to


(1)  Pain is uncomfortable but in itself is not harmful or dangerous.  It is a

symptom of underlying problems and should be monitored.  It can be controlled

and can become subordinate to efforts to carry on.

(2)  Cold numbs the mind, the body, and the will.

(3)  Thirst dulls the mind.  Serious dehydration may occur in a survival

situation even when there is plenty of water available.

(4)  Hunger lessens your ability to think rationally.

(5)  Even a moderate amount of fatigue can materially reduce mental ability.

Fatigue can make you careless and promote the feeling of hopelessness.

(6)  Boredom and loneliness are two of the toughest enemies of survival to overcome.

E.  Everyone has experienced pain, cold, thirst, hunger, fatigue, boredom,

and loneliness, but not to the extent that their survival has been threatened.

The more you know about these and their effects on you, the better you will be

able to control them, rather than letting them control you.

F.  One of the most important psychological requirements for survival is the

ability to accept immediately the reality of a new emergency and react

appropriately to it.

G.  Much of the available evidence demonstrates the importance of having a

“preparatory attitude” for whatever emergency may occur.  Knowledge and

rehearsal of survival and emergency procedures bring about a feeling of

confidence and preparation for survival.  While you can’t prepare for every

situation, you can prepare for the most probable situation.

H.  Survival may depend more on personality than upon danger, weather,

terrain, or nature of the emergency.  A person is more prone to survive if he

can make up his mind; can improvise; can live with himself,; can adapt to the

situation; can remain cool, calm, and collected; hopes for the best, but

prepares for the worst; has patience; can take it; and knows where his special

fears and worries comes from.  The will to survive, along with a positive

mental attitude, are key ingredients to surviving.

I.  In summary, development of self-sufficiency is the primary means of

protecting yourself against the physiological and psychological stress that

could affect you in a survival situation.  If you have not learned self-

sufficiency, it is not too late to begin.

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