- Immediate and long-term threats to life.
- Physical health, illness or injuries of those involved.
- Number of people in the party.
- Mental and emotional condition of the party.
- Terrain and location. (Do you know where you are? Do you know from which direction you came there?)
- Weather, immediate and impending.
- Resources on hand: equipment, food, water, medical supplies.
- Natural resources available for fire, shelter, water and food.
Likelihood of rescue. Threat Level
Within your survival plan, you must honestly evaluate the first point on the priority list-immediate and long-term threats to life. If you believe a rumbling in your stomach is an immediate threat to life, you won't live long enough to starve to death, because you'll let something else kill you first. To identify and assess the threat level you face, consider that a human life is threatened in this order:
Serious threats such as drowning, an animal attack or a fall can kill instantly.
- Exposure to extreme heat or cold can kill in a matter of hours or minutes.
- Dehydration can kill in a matter of days or less.
- Illnesses or injuries can kill immediately or over a period of weeks, depending upon their severity.
- Starvation can occur within a month.
- In early elk season, your truck skids off a faraway mountain road and rolls into a valley. Your two buddies have broken legs, and one is bleeding badly. You have a broken arm. The weather is fair but the terrain is rough. There are lots of deadfall and trees, and a river not far below.
- In an Alabama swamp, you and two city-slicker friends get lost while hog hunting. You slide down a creek bank and tear up your back so badly you can't walk. Night is rapidly approaching, and you're the only one who knows what to do.
- While fishing on a remote Canadian lake, your boat sinks. You and three friends swim to a small, heavily wooded island. No one is hurt, but bad weather is coming in, your buddies are getting edgy and all you have on you is your fishing vests-no cell phone or radio, just lures, a couple of spools of extra fishing line and matches.