Introduction: The Do and Do-nots of Surviving

Picture of The Do and Do-nots of Surviving

     So your plane crashes down on an empty island and you are the only one left alive. What are you to do? DON'T panic is the very first thing people think, but actually the more optimistic you are about being saved, the higher chance you will die. Think about it for a minute, you are thinking you will be saved so don't do much in your time but wait so you probably wait for days and end up dying. On the other hand, you think you are going to die so, being a human, you do everything in your power to survive, wether it's eating bugs or fighting a bear. So having an adrenaline-rush is a very good thing BUT that's not panicking.

     Surviving is simple. I will go over the 7 priorities of survival and explain some basics. They are put in order from the Wilderness Survival merit badge so you should start with first aid then shelter,then fire etc...

 DO change the priorities to fit the situation you are in
DON'T start a priority that you like. I.E don't start a fire because you like it.

Read the comments as there are lots of people with suggestions (hopefully. suggest your own if you have any. ). If you think this is worthy survival skill, remember to vote for me :)

Step 1: First-Aid

Picture of First-Aid

The next thing you should do is first-aid. Start with your own injuries, if you have any. then help your friends. It's no good if you are half alive trying to do CPR on your friend. You are both dead that way. 

1. If you have cold water. Pour it over the cut. Obviously, it should be clean. Mix with soap if available. DON'T use hot water. That could         increase bleeding.
2. Apply pressure with a pad or a cloth. DON'T rip up your shirt over a 1 cm cut thats not deep. DO use a large piece of cloth for a cut of 1 in. or longer.

1. Check for pulse. DON'T spend 2 minutes looking for a pulse. DO go on with CPR if you can't find one.
2. Check for any airway constrictions in the mouth and nose. Then leave their mouth open for air to come in.
3. Give 30 chest compressions rapidly. DON'T try to flatten the person. DO try to push down about 1-2 inches.
4. Give 2 rescue breaths. Remember to keep the victim's nose closed with you fingers. DON'T blow as fast as you can. DO blow slowly     so the air goes to the lungs and not the stomach.
5. Restart and continue with CPR for minutes. Then check for life. Go on for as long as you can or until you can get help.

 DO help your friends as fast as possible. cover up a cut as much as possible, then go straight for your friends. Every second counts.

Step 2: Shelter

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When making a shelter. DON'T consider sleeping on bare ground unless you have tried everything to avoid it. Also DON'T go Bear Grylls and try to sleep off of a cliff. DO attempt to make some sort of a shelter and DO consider every option before resorting to Bear Grylls. 

A very simple shelter would be a lean-to. 
Lay a long branch over 2 trees. Then put small branches so that it leans on the long branch.

A shelter in snowy conditions would be a simple igloo or snow cave.
If the conditions are harsh, quickly dig a a hole that you can fit in and use it like a trench. When the wind and snow passes over, build a snow cave.

When you finish a shelter, you could make a bed from leaves or a raised bed to stay above small insects.
A bed of leaves keeps heat in so you keep warm, but you aren't the only one cold at night. The heat could attract insects and small animals.

To make a raised bed, first find 3 big rocks and move them so you can fit in between them. Then lay long sticks so the there is a bridge connecting the 2 rocks together. Then add little sticks over them so you find the gap. 
You could add a rock in the middle to support you better.
     You could also add a pile of leaves under or on top of the bed so you keep warm.
here's a detailed instructables i made:

DON'T lay on rocks as there could be scorpions underneath
DON'T spend you day building a bed. You could be saved in time, but without warmth or food, you could die.
DON'T worry about comfort of the bed. Worry more about your safety on it and your shelter.
DO think about comfort and common sense when making shelters.
DO consider safety when using and making a shelter.

Step 3: Fire

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Fire is very important because it gives warmth, it's a light source, and it's hot. Using fire for it's properties are endless. You could make a signal fire, boil water, cook meat, keep warm, use it as a weapon, use it as a shield, use it as a light etc... Usually its very simple to do all those things, but it's not easy starting a fire. You need oxygen, fuel, and heat for fire to work. Oxygen is easiest to get (obviously), then fuel which is not as hard, then you have heat,very hard. 

It should by dry and have alot of it.
you should have 3 piles: small dry sticks/leaves ,bigger sticks no bigger than a pencil, and big logs the size of your arm and bigger

You could try the caveman style rubbing sticks and making fire which usually fails for first-time survivors. The easy version of rubbing sticks together is the friction board
If you can find flint, you are very lucky. Using flint as  a fire starter is much more simpler than rubbing sticks.
You could try the magnifying glass or glasses method where you angle the lens so the suns rays are focused right on the tinder (small dry leaves/sticks)

When you have a match-head-sized fire, place the small dry leaves and sticks on top. Avoid throwing them down and extinguishing the fire.When that catches on fire, place the bigger sticks on top. Then the big logs. When thats all done, you should have a nice sized fire.

DON'T spend too much time on fire.
DON'T use greens in your fire. anything green has water so water in fire equals no fire.

You could harness the sun's solar power to cook instead of using fire. Using reflective material, you could get enough heat to cook something small.
     You could cut open a tin can. Then bend the can to make a bowl shape. Angle the "bowl" under the sun and aim the beam of light at whatever you want hot. If you can't aim the beam of light at the object you want hot, try raising the object you want hot.This is more of a last resort way of "fire"
     Alternatively you can use the bowl as a fire-starter by aiming the beam of light at dry leaves and grass. 

Step 4: Signaling

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Making a signal is like going to school again. Trying to attract as much attention as possible. You probably don't need my help on this as we all know what works and what doesn't. Think about how ads capture you attention outside. Make a HUGH sign saying that you are here and need help. S.O.S is easiest. Try a smoke signal if you have fire or leave marks saying you were around so if there is a search party, they can find you.

To make lots of smoke from a fire:
Burn something! plastic works well. If you happen to have left over shoes, throw em in. Dropping a ton of dead leaves creates a huge ball of smoke.

DON'T scream as you can. you could lose you voice and that wouldn't help if there was really somebody around and they can't here you.
DON'T start a wildfire. Unless you think you know what you are doing.
DO try and be creative. They don't have laws on surviving so do whatever you can to attract attention.
DO try greens for a signal fire. It's not really smoke that they give off though, it's steam so it won't get as high up as smoke does.

Step 5: Water

Picture of Water

Finding a water isn't hard. Finding drinkable water is hard. Making water drinkable is easy. A boiling water is best. Filtering also works as well.

Remember, there is water in everything that grows so eating something will give you water. Try eating plants that have lots of water. Aloe Vera is a good source of water from plants. 

Use a shirt and put it over a water bottle, cup, bowl. Then put it in a river or a lake and let the water go in. It may seem dirty, but its much more cleaner that the water before. 
If you can, boil your water afterwards.

DON'T go Bear Grylls and drink you own urine and do all sorts of other stuff.
DO try and get water from plants and conserve as much as possible.

Step 6: Food

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     When looking for food look for basic items that are edible. berries, onions, carrots, nuts etc... Try and eat food with lots of water so you don't have to drink as much of the other water. There isn't a universal rule on poisonous plants so learn about them if you are camp or hike alot. Doing that allows you to carry less food so you don't have as much to carry.

"There are a couple good rules to follow when it comes to wild foods: avoid WHITE berries and WHITE sap; avoid anything that smells foul or bitter; try a small bit of the unsure plant before eating a lot of it. Keep in mind that many plants can absorb minerals from the environment that can make you very ill... be very cautious of WHERE you are getting the plants. ALSO, don't eat anything that look like a carrot, as poison hemlock can appear similar!"-Windosia. 

DON'T eat something unless you absolutely know its a food.
DO be careful with what you are eating.


inventor scout (author)2014-11-18

There's a test for eating plants, you can look it up online. I believe it is:
1. Smell the plant, if it smells weird don't eat it. If the plant has milky sap, don't eat it.
2.Rub the plant on your lips and see if there is an adverse reaction
3. Put the plant under your tongue and wait for an adverse reaction
4. Same thing as step 3, but chew it up
5. Eat a small amount, wait for an adverse reaction
6. Enjoy your food, don't eat too much at one time
Also, wait at least an hour when waiting for adverse reactions

snickers763 (author)2013-01-09

I would't recommend teaching CPR on the internet, I'm lifeguard, and CPR certified, and I need to add that compression's aren't 1-2 inches, they are supposed to be AT LEAST 2 inches, and for an infant it is always 15 compression's and a child (not infant but hasn't hit puberty) is 15 if your alone, and 30 if you have a partner. just a little feed back not trying to sound like a know it all and also if someone's friend dies and they say they learned first aid from your instructable it could come back to haunt you so be careful.

PrepRBob55 (author)2012-08-05

Where is the 7th priority?

one_fake_user (author)2012-04-28

Nice instructable. One tip when considering eating berries. Put a whole berry in a warm moist spot on your body with direct skin contact, ie in your arm pit. Leave it there for around 15-20 minutes. If you get a rash or numbness discard the berry and don't eat it. If it passes this test then put it in your mouth whole, without chewing into it. Leave it there for another 15-20 minutes. If you get a rash around your mouth and/or numbness, pain or swelling inside your mouth, discard and do not eat. If it passes this test then chew into it and leave it in your mouth for another 5 - 15 minutes. Again, if you experience any of the above symptoms do not eat. If you have made it this far without any problems then you can be fairly sure they are safe to eat. Start by only eating a small quantity and separate "meals" by a fair amount of time. Some berries can cause diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting in large quantities. Hope this helps.

Woodbuffalo (author)2012-03-19

i like the " assess the situation"...first yourself. You can't help anyone if you're in trouble too. um, before begining CPR it's good to check for a pulse...what about Breathing? what happens if they have a pulse but aren't breathing? A person should take "standard First Aid" course with CPR before attempting anything of the sort...know the basics before causing more injury. I've always found that after knowing myself/anyone with me is ok ; shelter, fire (fire readied but not lit depending on time of day...and a person can get to know there surroundings and look for water/food as they gather wood) As for boiling water, use fast flowing Fresh water ( even rain water) not ponds or still water. If it's early spring, boil all water.

Kharabe (author)2011-12-18

always remember the law of average threes
this law states that
"the average human can survive three minutes with out air"
"the average human can survive three hours exposure to extreme elements"
"the average human can survive three days with out water"
"the average human can survive three weeks with out food"

so following these simple laws will give you a starting place.
if you can breathe find shelter
if your not going to freeze or bake find water
if your not going to die of thirst find food
and if you have food your good to go!

B2BSurvivor (author)Kharabe2012-01-28

Well said, Kharabe !! Nice Instructable dailyrecycler ! well organized and very sensible.

hbueso (author)2011-11-26

Knowledge is what is going to make you survive. Learn as much as you can about the survival topic and then, practice, practice, practice. You have to know how to apply your knowledge under tension. Practice like you do in sports, until you and your friends find yourselves comfortable with your proficiency. And stay safe and grouped together. There is protection in numbers!

hbueso (author)2011-11-26

The priorities are: whatever will kill you first, that's what you have to get first.
I.e. cold place, fire and shelter first. Deserted island, fire and water. Desert, water, shelter, ect. Of the top four (4), water, shelter, food and fire, the situation will dictate the order. And I have to mention protection too. If there are wild animals around (the 4 and the 2 legged type) consider making a weapon first.

schkip1973 (author)2011-09-15

I'm not sure a fire is a higher priority that water if you are in a desert / bush situation.

I know what you are thinking. Something like, What if i die without water? I spend all my time on a fire, what if i die from starvation?. In my experience, fire is usually more important because without it, how would you cook your food and boil water?If you can only find berries and water, you would still have to boil the water for safety. it's really all up to you on how you survive. I am not going to be watching you while you try to survive :P Think about you priorities. Change them as you go. I have them in order by the Boy Scout wilderness survival merit badge. They are suppose to help you survive longer.

pfred2 (author)thedailyrecycler2011-10-22

With a fire you can create the international signal of distress. A triangle of fires about 15 feet apart from each other. Getting rescued is the ultimate thing you can do in a survival situation.

Windosia (author)2011-09-23

There are a couple good rules to follow when it comes to wild foods: avoid WHITE berries and WHITE sap; avoid anything that smells foul or bitter; try a small bit of the unsure plant before eating a lot of it. Keep in mind that many plants can absorb minerals from the environment that can make you very ill... be very cautious of WHERE you are getting the plants. ALSO, don't eat anything that look like a carrot, as poison hemlock can appear similar!

Mind if i add in it in the Instructables?
Credit will be given where it should be.

Yes you may. I hope it helps! :-)

THANK YOU!! i was looking for rules like this but i couldn't be sure if they were true!

MissMegumi (author)2011-09-22

Very good instructable! Thorough yet to the point.

My ex-army uncle and my husband always say "follow a monkey. If a monkey eats it, it's ok for you to eat."

And even if there's no monkeys, if a bear is eating berries, or a possum is eating certain roots, it's a pretty good bet you can eat them too.

i thanks you! :D
Thats a pretty neat idea, but keep in mind that some animals have a higher acid tolerance then humans. If i remember correctly, a pig has about the same acid tolerance as humans.

Numisi (author)2011-09-18

'' Surviving is simple. ''

Aren't you understimating the difficulty of finding food?

mad doctor (author)Numisi2011-09-18

I haven't been in a survival situation but i did take a survival class in a camp once. The guide said to not think surviving is like taking a computer apart. Its simple process of maintaining control and being prepared for anything else that can occur. He also said always have a backup plan incase you get injured or something goes wrong. hope this adds to the list of changes :)

Numisi (author)mad doctor2011-09-19

I don't mean it's difficult to survive speaking generally, but finding food isn't easy, or at least, in a temperate climate, like the one in the zone I live in, with snowy winters, finding food isn't easy in most part of the year, and it is easier to starve than to find food in the wrong season, and you have to store food when there is some easy to find if you want only a chance to survive a winter.

thedailyrecycler (author)Numisi2011-09-19

Totally agree with you. Just do what you can do like mad doctor said. It's not hard. KEEP IT SIMPLE. dont go bear grylls.

mad doctor (author)Numisi2011-09-19

Well yea. You are right. Obviously, just do what's right and do what you can do and remember what you can't do so when you can do it, you remember to. :)

thedailyrecycler (author)Numisi2011-09-18

Maybe a bit :) but i was referring to the whole idea of survival. Everybody thinks its a one-wrong-move-and-you-are-dead kinda of situation, but its like living in the past when people do these things for a living. i.e the Native Americans hunt for their food. All we do is go to the market.

It just seems hard because we don't do it everyday.

Numisi (author)2011-09-18

''DO try and get water from plants and conserve as much as possible.''

Always remember that water in plants is conserved not clean, but in the form of sap, and this could be poisonous in some plants, and poisonous plants are very common, probably one-third or half of all the plants.

thedailyrecycler (author)Numisi2011-09-18

Yes! true! just remember to eat known plants. i.e carrots and lettuce or apples and oranges

delta1998 (author)2011-09-15

Awesome mate. Like the simplicity. You wouldn't happen to have done the camping merit badge would you?

Yes, yes i have!

schkip1973 (author)2011-09-15

If the other person or people on the desert island needed CPR and you had a little cut on your leg, I think the priorities would be different than what you have provided above.
It might be worth mentioning triage and DR ABC in your instructible.

I like the first part of your 'ible though - It made me dream about being stuck on a desert island rather than being at a computer :)

lemonie (author)2011-09-14

How many people are known to have experienced "So your plane crashes down on an empty island and you are the only one left alive", and can you link to articles about them and how they survived?
(Note that if this is the case most of Step 1 is irrelevant because you are the only one left alive.)


HarveyH44 (author)lemonie2011-09-15

I think 'Island' was used as a metaphor, for a place where you isolated from getting help from outside of your situations. 'Alive', meaning conscious, and less injured. If there are others with you, it's a good idea to check on them, and render aid quickly. Survival is easier, if you have help. A few minutes could make the difference to someone having trouble breathing when knocked unconscious. Each person you revive, is more helping hands, to accomplish all the other needed chores, not to mention, it's the right thing to do.

you have the right idea. the plane crashes down is just a common situation people think when "survival". Usually, it's the cuts that get you in a survival situation. They get infected, they get bigger, and they can can really get in the way if there are cuts in certain places like your hands. I was thinking of the most basic accidents when i thought of this. Obviously there are other things that can happen

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