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Free receipt, possession, dissemination, discussion and transmission of this document are all hereby claimed and maintained as under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including but not limited to those following: Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article Twelve of the Universal Declaration 1.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy Learn to improvise. Take a tool designed for a specific purpose and see how many other uses you can make of it. Learn to use natural objects around you for different needs. An example is using a rock for a hammer. No matter how complete a survival kit you have with you, it will run out or wear out after a while.

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Your imagination must take over when your kit wears out. All of us were born kicking and fighting to live, but we have become used to the soft life. We have become creatures of comfort.

We dislike inconveniences and discomforts. What happens when we are faced with a survival situation with its stresses, inconveniences, and discomforts?


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This is when the will to live—placing a high value on living—is vital. The experience and knowledge you have gained through life will have a bearing on your will to survive. Stubbornness, a refusal to give in to problems and obstacles that face you, will give you the mental and physical strength to endure. The natives and animals of a region have adapted to their environment. To get a feel for the area, watch how the people go about their daily routine. When and what do they eat? When, where, and how do they get their food?

When and where do they go for water? What time do they usually go to bed and get up? Observing these actions can be important to you if you are suddenly in a survival situation. Animal life in the area can also give you clues on how to survive. Animals also require food, water, and shelter.

By watching them, you can find sources of water and food. Animals cannot serve as an absolute guide to what you can eat and drink. Many animals eat plants that are toxic to humans. Without training in basic skills for surviving, your chances of living through a survival situation are slight.

Learn these basic skills now —not when you are heading into a wilderness area. How you decide to equip yourself before you leave on a journey will impact your ability to survive. You need to know about the environment to which you are going, and you must practice basic skills geared to that environment.

For instance, if you are going to a desert, you need to know how to get water in the desert. Practice basic survival skills whenever you can. Survival training reduces fear of the unknown and gives you self-confidence. It teaches you to live by your wits. Develop a survival pattern that lets you beat the enemies of survival. This survival pattern must include food, water, shelter, fire, first aid, and signals placed in order of importance. For example, in a cold environment, you would need a fire to get warm; a shelter to protect you from the cold, wind, and rain or snow; traps or snares to get food; a means to signal friendly aircraft; and first aid to maintain health.

If injured, first aid has top priority no matter what climate you are in. It takes much more than the knowledge and skills to build shelters, get food, make fires, and travel without the aid of standard navigational devices to live successfully through a survival situation. Some people with little or no survival training have managed to survive life-threatening circumstances. Some people with survival training have not used their skills and died. A key ingredient in any survival situation is the mental attitude of the individual s involved. Having survival skills is important; having the will to survive is essential.

Without a desk to survive, acquired skills serve little purpose and invaluable knowledge goes to waste. There is a psychology to survival. Finding yourself in a survival environment will produce many stresses that will have an impact on your mind. These stresses can produce thoughts and emotions that, if poorly understood, can even transform a confident, well-trained individual into an indecisive, ineffective individual with a questionable ability to survive. Therefore, you must be able to recognize those stresses commonly associated with survival.

Additionally, it is imperative that you be aware of their reactions to the wide variety of stresses associated with survival. This chapter will identify and explain the nature of stress, the stresses of survival, and those internal reactions you will naturally experience when faced with the stresses of a real-world survival situation. The knowledge you gain from this chapter and other chapters in this manual will prepare you to come through the toughest times alive.

Before we can understand our psychological reactions in a survival setting, it is helpful to first know a little bit about stress. Stress is not a disease that you cure and eliminate. Instead, it is a condition we all experience. Stress can be described as our reaction to pressure. We need stress because it has many positive benefits. Stress provides us with challenges; it gives us chances to learn about our values and strengths. Stress can show our ability to handle pressure without breaking; it tests our adaptability and flexibility; it can stimulate us to do our best.

Because we usually do not consider unimportant events stressful, stress can also be an excellent indicator of the significance we attach to an event—in other words, it highlights what is important to us. We need to have some stress in our lives, but too much of anything can be bad.

The goal is to have stress, but not an excess of it. Too much stress can take its toll on people and organizations. Too much stress leads to distress. Distress causes an uncomfortable tension that we try to escape and, preferably, avoid. Listed below are a few of the common signs of distress you may find in others or yourself when faced with too much stress:. As you can see, stress can be constructive or destructive. It can encourage or discourage, move us along or stop us dead in our tracks, and make life meaningful or seemingly meaningless.

Stress can inspire you to operate successfully and perform at your maximum efficiency in a survival situation. It can also cause you to panic and forget all your training. Key to your survival is your ability to manage the inevitable stresses you will encounter. The survivor is the person who works with his stresses instead of letting his stresses work on him. Often, stressful events occur simultaneously. These events are not stress, but they produce it and are called stressors.

Stressors are the obvious cause while stress is the response.

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Once the body recognizes the presence of a stressor, it then begins to act to protect itself. In response to a stressor, the body prepares either to fight or flee. This preparation involves an internal SOS sent throughout the body. As the body responds to this SOS, several actions take place. The body releases stored fuels sugar and fats to provide quick energy; breathing rate increases to supply more oxygen to the blood; muscle tension increases to prepare for action; blood clotting mechanisms are activated to reduce bleeding from cuts; senses become more acute hearing becomes more sensitive, eyes become big, smell becomes sharper so that you are more aware of your surroundings and heart rate and blood pressure rise to provide more blood to the muscles.

This protective posture lets a person cope with potential dangers; however, a person cannot maintain such a level of alertness indefinitely. Stressors are not courteous; one stressor does not leave because another one arrives. Stressors add up. The cumulative effect of minor stressors can be a major distress if they all happen too close together.

At this point, the ability to resist stress or use it in a positive way gives out and signs of distress appear. Anticipating stressors and developing strategies to cope with them are two ingredients in the effective management of stress. It is therefore essential that, in a survival setting, you be aware of the types of stressors you will encounter.

Injury, illness, and death are real possibilities a survivor has to face. Perhaps nothing is more stressful than being alone in an unfamiliar environment where you could die from an accident, or from eating something lethal. Illness and injury can also add to stress by limiting your ability to maneuver, get food and drink, find shelter, and defend yourself. It is only by controlling the stress associated with the vulnerability to injury, illness, and death that you can have the courage to take the risks associated with survival tasks.

Some people have trouble operating in settings where everything is not clearcut. The only guarantee in a survival situation is that nothing is guaranteed. It can be extremely stressful operating on limited information in a setting where you have limited control of your surroundings.


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This uncertainty and lack of control also add to the stress of being ill, injured, or killed. Even under the most ideal circumstances, nature is quite formidable. In survival, you will have to contend with the stressors of weather, terrain, and the variety of creatures inhabiting an area. Heat, cold, rain, winds, mountains, swamps, deserts, insects, dangerous reptiles, and other animals are just a few of the challenges awaiting you as you work to survive.

Depending on how you handle the stress of your environment, your surroundings can be either a source of food and protection or can be a cause of extreme discomfort leading to injury, illness, or death. Without food and water a person will weaken and eventually die. Thus, getting and preserving food and water takes on increasing importance as the length of time in a survival setting increases. For someone used to getting food in a supermarket, foraging can be a big source of stress. Forcing yourself to continue surviving is not easy as you grow more tired.

It is possible to become so fatigued that the act of just staying awake is stressful in itself. There are some advantages to facing adversity with others. While we may learn survival skills as individuals, all people are naturally communal, especially during times of confusion. Being in contact with others also provides a greater sense of security and a feeling that someone is available to help if problems occur. A significant stressor in survival situations is that often a person or team has to rely solely on its own resources.

The survival stressors mentioned in this section are by no means the only ones you may face. Remember, what is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Your experiences, training, personal outlook on life, physical and mental conditioning, and level of self-confidence contribute to what you will find stressful in a survival environment. The object is not to avoid stress, but rather to manage the stressors of survival and make them work for you.

U.S. Army Survival Handbook, Revised

We now have a general knowledge of stress and the stressors common to survival; the next step is to examine our reactions to the stressors we may face. Man has been able to survive many shifts in his environment throughout the centuries. His ability to adapt physically and mentally to a changing world kept him alive while other species around him gradually died off.

The same survival mechanisms that kept our forefathers alive can help keep us alive as well! It is not surprising that the average person will have some psychological reactions in a survival situation. We will now examine some of the major internal reactions you and anyone with you might experience with the survival stressors addressed in the earlier paragraphs. Fear is our emotional response to dangerous circumstances that we believe have the potential to cause death, injury, or illness.

For a person trying to survive, fear can have a positive function if it encourages him to be cautious in situations where recklessness could result in injury. Unfortunately, fear can also immobilize a person. It can cause him to become so frightened that he fails to perform activities essential for survival. Most people will have some degree of fear when placed in unfamiliar surroundings under adverse conditions. There is no shame in this! Everyone must train himself not to be overcome by his fears.

Ideally, through realistic training, we can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to increase our confidence and thereby manage our fears. Associated with fear is anxiety. Because it is natural for us to be afraid, it is also natural for us to experience anxiety. Anxiety can be an uneasy, apprehensive feeling we get when faced with dangerous situations physical, mental, and emotional.

When used in a healthy way, anxiety urges us to act to end, or at least master, the dangers that threaten our existence. If we were never anxious, there would be little motivation to make changes in our lives. In a survival setting, we can reduce our anxiety by performing those tasks that will ensure we come through the ordeal alive. As we reduce our anxiety, we also bring under control the source of that anxiety—our fears.

In this form, anxiety is good; however, anxiety can also have a devastating impact. Anxiety can overwhelm a person to the point where he becomes easily confused and has difficulty thinking. Once this happens, it becomes more and more difficult for him to make good judgments and sound decisions.

To survive, we must learn techniques to calm our anxieties and keep them in the range where they help, not hurt.

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Frustration arises when a person is continually thwarted in his attempts to reach a goal. The goal of survival is to stay alive until you can reach help or until help can reach you. To achieve this goal, you must complete some tasks with minimal resources. Thus, sooner or later, we will have to cope with frustration when a few of our plans run into trouble. One outgrowth of this frustration is anger. There are many events in a survival situation that can frustrate or anger you. Getting lost, damaged or forgotten equipment, the weather, inhospitable terrain, and physical limitations are just a few sources of frustration and anger.

If you can harness and properly channel the emotional intensity associated with anger and frustration, you can productively act as you answer the challenges of survival. If you do not properly focus your angry feelings, you can waste much energy in activities that do little to further either your chances of survival or the chances of those around you.

It would be a rare person indeed who would not get sad, at least momentarily, when faced with the privations of survival. As this sadness deepens, we label the feeling depression. Depression is closely linked with frustration and anger. The frustrated person becomes more and more angry as he fails to reach his goals. If the anger does not help the person to succeed, then the frustration level goes even higher. A destructive cycle between anger and frustration continues until the person becomes worn down—physically, emotionally, and mentally. When a person reaches this point, he starts to give up, and his focus shifts from What can I do?

Depression is an expression of this hopeless, helpless feeling. There is nothing wrong with being sad as you temporarily think about your loved ones and remember what life is like back in civilization or the world. Such thoughts, in fact, can give you the desire to try harder and live one more day.

On the other hand, if you allow yourself to sink into a depressed state, then it can sap all your energy and, more important, your will to survive. It is imperative that you resist succumbing to depression. Man is a social animal. This means we, as human beings, enjoy the company of others. Very few people want to be alone all the time! As you are aware, there is a distinct chance of isolation in a survival setting.

This is not bad. Loneliness and boredom can bring to the surface qualities you thought only others had. The extent of your imagination and creativity may surprise you. When required to do so, you may discover some hidden talents and abilities.