How To: Survive in the Wilderness

Reading a Wristwatch Compass In a broad, general sense, the hands of an analog watch indicate direction. Assuming you're in the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontally and point the hour hand toward the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and 12 o'clock. The bisecting line will point in a southerly direction. If your timepiece is digital, draw the face of an analog watch on a piece of paper and use it to achieve the same results.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Blocking Out Bugs Keep bugs from crawling up the inside of your pant legs by tying spare shoelaces around the cuffs. Elastic blousing bands can be purchased at a military store. You can also use inexpensive Velcro straps, available at fabric stores. Even duct tape will do the trick.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Reflecting the Heat Position a fire several feet away from a reflector (a boulder, a cliff wall or the upturned roots of a blown-down tree, for example), so that you have enough space to get between the blaze and the wall comfortably and safely. The wall will reflect some of the heat onto the side of you that is not facing the fire.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Make Yourself Seen Fire: At night, keep at least one signal fire going. Three fires arranged in a line or in a triangle constitute a recognized distress signal. Try to position the signal fire in a clearing, so it can be seen from a distance.
Smoke: During daylight hours, smoke from a signal fire might be visible for miles. If oil or rubber is available, burn it to produce black smoke (deflate spare tires before burning). Small amounts of green or wet foliage fed carefully into the fire will produce billowing white smoke.
Motion: Movement will attract the attention of searchers. When you think searchers are near, wave a colorful shirt. It helps to keep a large piece of colored cloth tied to the top of a limber pole at all times, in case searchers are glassing your locale.
Color and Pattern: Lay out a pattern of colored or contrasting items (clothing, backpacks, rocks, boughs, logs or even a trench) on the ground in a clearing. Make the "sign" as large as possible, and create as much contrast as you can. "SOS" or "HELP" are universally understood, but a large "V" is a recognized distress signal, too, and doesn't require as much material. If medical assistance is needed, make a large "X."
Noise: Sounds grouped in sets of three-whether gun shots, whistles or blasts on a horn-also are recognized distress signals. Don't shout for help. Blowing a whistle requires less energy than screaming, and the sound of your own desperate voice might frighten you more. If you're in a group, screaming might unhinge your partners, too.
Reflection: If you don't have a signal mirror, use anything shiny-the bottom of a tin plate, the blade of a knife, a belt buckle, a compact disc, a binocular lens, even the polished connector sleeve of a tent pole.
Outdoor Life Online Editor
Sun Gone? Hunker Down If you're caught away from camp at night, stop where you are, start a fire and wait until morning to continue. If conditions are severe, build a shelter to protect against the elements. If the elements are not a concern, it might be sufficient to wrap up in your Space Blanket and sleep in a pile of pine duff. The point is to discontinue travel until daylight for safety's sake.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Waders as Floaters If you become submerged in a swift current while wearing hip or chest waders, shed the waders as quickly as you can, get to the surface and try to empty the waders of water. Then allow the waders to fill with air, clamp off their open ends by rolling them up and use them as a flotation device. After reaching safety, put the waders back on to help protect against foot injury and frostbite.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Administering CPR Ideally you should be trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) by a professional before performing the procedure. The process is slightly different for children and adults. Following is a brief description of adult CPR, which is performed only on persons who are not breathing and have no pulse. Begin CPR by gently tilting back the victim's head to open the airway, then listen for breathing. Opening the airway alone might be enough to stimulate breathing. If not, pinch the victim's nose shut, seal your lips around his mouth and deliver two full breaths. Place the heel of your hand a couple of inches above the bottom of the sternum (called the xiphoid process) and stack your other hand on top of the first. Press down on the victim's chest 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Compress the chest 15 times, then deliver two more full breaths. Pump at a rate of 100 beats per minute, continuing the "15-pumps-two-breaths" routine until help arrives or the victim recovers.Outdoor Life Online Editor
Campfire Bellows If a fire needs more air to get it going, use a length of metal tubing or perhaps a hollow tent pole as a makeshift straw through which to blow air into the base of the fire. Don't inhale!Outdoor Life Online Editor
Getting an Edge To sharpen a knife properly, use a selection of sharpening stones ranging from 300- to 1,200-grit. The coarser stone will remove more metal in working toward a rough-finished edge. Then follow with a 1,200-grit stone to produce a fine finish.Outdoor Life Online Editor

Before you head into the woods, check out these illustrated tips. They could save your life.