To survive in the wilderness with your family, you need both knowledge and gear. Here are the essentials…
Before You Go:
1.Learn first aid and CPR.
- Every member of your family over the age of 12 should know these life-saving skills. In addition, to help expedite learning, you can assign tasks by age—the oldest child is in charge of CPR certifications for the family, the next oldest is in charge of the group first aid kit, etc. Children can rotate into CPR duties as they age.
2. Choose a camping location based on your family members’ relative ages and physical abilities.
- In terms of hiking with kids, one mile per year of age is the maximum. So if you have younger children, choose a state park with short, easy hikes.
3. Determine how your family will communicate if separated.
- Consider the use of walkie-talkies for short distances, and teach children to use them. If a particular wilderness area has cell phone coverage, perhaps that will impact your decision. Even birdcalls are a possibility!
4. List all of the camping supplies that you will need when you plan your trip.
- This will help prevent gear oversights while out in the wilderness.
5. Conduct a dry run in the safety of your backyard or a nearby park.
- Have a family seminar on compass reading and basic survival skills. Pitch the tent, build the fire (if practical) and purify the water. In addition, perform a first aid drill.
6. Research the terrain and climate of your chosen state park.
- Study maps and satellite images to pinpoint the hiking routes that you will take. Learn survival skills for a particular area. For example, in a Montana or Alaska state park, you will want to carry bear bells to alert bears that you are approaching. No one wants to surprise a bear—ever.
7. Teach your family to prioritize the four basic survival requirements (see below) by presenting them with different theoretical scenarios.
8. Get in better shape!
- Take a walk daily to train for your wilderness experience.
9. Assign someone reliable to be your point person.
- They should know your exact itinerary and when you expect to return.
10. The night before, check the weather forecast.
- Some areas are subject to flash floods, and you don’t want to be camping in those conditions.
The Four Basic Survival Requirements
1. Our bodies are three-quarters water, so we need to stay hydrated, especially at higher altitudes.
- Be sure to drink whether thirsty or not. If stranded with a small supply, start searching for water sources immediately. You can survive for three days without water, but you will be too weak to search for more long before that.
2. Keep your body temperature up, especially if you’ve fallen or suffered a shock.
- Bring enough gear to keep you warm, and carry a survival blanket. If you need to, you can build a windscreen from a simple poncho.
3. Humans can survive without food for weeks if they have water. However, carry energy bars to keep your strength up.
4. Be sure to rest and sleep more than you think you need to.
You need to stay calm and rational so that you can make sound decisions.
Wilderness Supplies for a Short Camping Trip
- The most important survival tool in the wilderness is a cool, calm brain. Obviously this isn’t a “supply” per se, but then again, the brain is man’s best and most powerful tool!
- Personal survival kit for each person, carried at all times, containing energy bars, water, metallic survival blanket that doubles as a signaling device, flashlight, extra batteries, poncho, ibuprofen, extra socks.
- A larger survival kit from the sporting goods store should be kept at your campsite.
- Purchase the best-fixed blade knife that you can afford for each family member that is old enough to carry one safely.
- Water filter and purification tablets.
- Sleeping bags, pads and pillows. Some sleeping bags have pillow and pad sleeves, making your life a whole lot easier.
- Tent or tents, depending on the size of your family. Consider acquiring bivy sleeping bags if the weather is mild instead of tents. They rise at the head area to 45 degrees.
- Backpacks appropriate to ages.
- Food and cooking equipment.
Okay, that was obviously a decent amount of information to take in and process. But you can never be too careful with your family when in the wilderness. Remember – survival depends on gear and knowledge. So stock up…and learn!