Wilderness Survival Priorities


If you ever find yourself in a wilderness survival situation you must think carefully and prioritize your actions. These 7 wilderness survival priorities are a good reference that I learned years ago in Scouts.

Positive Mental Attitude

Survival is a state of mind. Control your fears and avoid panic. Decide to live. Analyze your situation and plan a course of action only after considering all of the aspects of your predicament and keeping in mind your safety at all times. Don't make any quick judgments. A positive state of mind is the key to survival in an outdoor emergency.

First Aid

Once you have decided to live and have adopted a positive mindset your focus should be your personal safety. Take care of any injuries the best you can. Make sure to avoid fatigue. Conserve your energy.


Cold and heat are enemies of survival. Exposure to the elements can be very dangerous so get sheltered as best you can. Be creative and use your surroundings the best you can. If cold try and find shelter and build a fire. If in really hot weather get out of the sun. In the cold it may be easier to sleep in the day and stay awake at night by a warm fire. In very hot weather you may also want to seek shelter and/or sleep during the day.


Fire can have multiple uses in a wilderness emergency. It can provide warmth, it can boost your morale and give you a sense of security, it can provide a signaling method and it can help provide purified water and a means to cook food.


If you are lost and want to be found than make yourself visible. Smoke signals can be seen for miles. Use a whistle and signal in groups of 3. Don't yell for help. Yelling doesn't carry very far and can exhaust you. A mirror or other object that reflects the sun can make you visible to a helicopter or plane. If there is no chance that someone may come looking for you then you need to make a plan to walk out on your own.


You can survive a few days without water. Thirst and hunger are survival enemies that can really depress your positive mental attitude. Try and find a clean source. If you have a means to boil water from a lake or river you can avoid getting any internal parasites that can cause disabling intestinal problems. Use a cloth and collect dew or catch some rain.


Food is the least important wilderness survival priority. A person can survive for weeks without food. Try and conserve your body's energy reserves. You could be better off resting than aimlessly looking for food, plus even if you do find food you may have depleted more energy than the food can give you. If you can acquire food easily then go for it. If you can't find water than don't worry about food. You need water to help you digest your food.

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Related wilderness survival pages:

The Attitude of Survival Survival is a state of mind

Wilderness Survival and Primitive Skills