Understand that much about survivor-type programs is about boosting viewer ratings, not necessarily producing good survival information. The shots are set up for maximum drama, not optimum safety. And there's often a helicopter rescue team and medical personnel standing by in case something goes wrong. When you're in your own personal survival situation, things have already gone wrong, or you wouldn't be there. And there's no team waiting to pull your butt out of the briar patch. You need to get to basics--like making a fire.
Do not run down the trail like your hair is on fire. In fact, move very cautiously and pace yourself so you minimize energy consumption and perspiration. If there’s one major complaint I have about many survivor-oritented programs, it’s that the lead characters portray themselves as a super heroes who can leap off tall mountains and go at a screaming pace. That just is not reality, folks. Don’t be fooled.
Do not use a vine to rappel down the face of a waterfall above a pile of boulders that are waiting to pulverize your bones if your grip slips or the vine breaks. Makes nice film footage, but it’s pure stupidity. Always use good land navigation techniques and search for a safe route around an obstacle–sound familiar? Always use a route that you can easily retrace, if necessary. If you get yourself part way down an impossible cliff, for example, you might not be able to get back up. You end up rimrocked, and you’re as good as dead. That’s what poor route selection will get you.
Do not head off across the burning desert in the heat of the mid-day sun, even if you do have a nice hanky for your head. In hot conditions, always take shelter and wait out the heat of the day while relaxing in whatever shade you can find, conserving both your energy and your perspiration. Travel only in the cooler hours of morning and evening. Stop overnight to rest and to avoid accidental injury that might occur while trying to hike through the darkness.
Do not run mindlessly down a scree slope. In a survival situation, death is just a twisted ankle away. If you injure yourself out in those conditions, you’re pretty much done. Bend over and kiss your rear end goodbye. Choose your route and your pace wisely, and do not take unacceptable risks (where have I heard that before?)
Never bite through the spine of a live fish to kill it and eat it, as if you’re a bear. Take the time to prepare it properly–whack it on the head to kill it, gut it (no, you don’t eat the guts; save them for bait), scale it to help remove diseases organisms that can cause severe illness resulting in dehydration, and cook it to kill parasites, etc. Then eat it like a human being. You don’t have to stop being human just because you’re in a wilderness survival situation.
Do not throw yourself into a river to ride the current downstream because you’re too lazy to hike. In a real-world situation, you will lose all your equipment. Remember, you’re a land mammal, not a trout. Hypothermia is the biggest killer you’ll face out there, and getting wet is the fast track to hypothermia.
Do not gobble live bugs (or raw meat from a dead animal you just happen to find conveniently in your path), as if they are your last chance at survival. Insects (most, not all) are a good source of emergency food, but there is a high risk that they carry disease organisms that will make you sick, leading to increased dehydration and weakness. Unrefrigerated raw meat is the same story– it breeds dangerous organisms that can kill you. Ever hear of a meat recall because people get sick or die after eating inadequately cooked hamburgers? Cook insects and raw meat until it’s well-done, to kill the offending organisms and to improve palatability.
Sorry to be gross, but never drink your own (or anybody else’s) urine–period.
Don’t walk across a bubbling lava field until your boots melt, or try to swim across an ice-choked lake, or waste energy and put yourself at risk climbing trees just to get a look at the lay of the land. Remember that few television producers care a whit about your life. Raw truth, my friend. Hey, don’t hate the messenger–I’d like to see you stay alive.
Survival shows make good television, but just might cost you your life.