Survival depends on you. You must be physically fit
and know how to locate or collect water. You must know
what plants and animals are available for food, how to
find or catch them, how to prepare them, and how to
recognize those which will harm you. The more you
know about the conditions peculiar to the region you are
in, including the plant and animal life, the better are
your chances for survival.
Without water your chances of living are slight, and
all the food in the area means little. That is especially
true in hot climates where you sweat a lot. Even in cold
weather your body needs at least 2 quarts of water each
day; a lesser amount reduces your efficiency.
When you cant find surface water, tap through the
earths water table for groundwater (rain or melted snow
that has filtered through the ground). Getting to the
water table and its supply of generally pure water
depends on the contour of the land and the
characteristics of the soil.
In the desert or arid regions, watch for water
indicators. Some signs of water include
Plants covering animal trails and the direction in
which certain birds fly. By searching in areas
toward which these birds fly, you will probably
Places that are visibly damp, where animals have
scratched, or where flies hover indicates recent
surface water. Dig in those spots for water.
Leave your handkerchief out on clear nights to
collect dew; then squeeze the water into a container.
During a heavy dew, you should be able to collect about
a pint an hour.
You may find runoff water above the water table.
Runoff water includes streams, stagnant pools, and
water in bogs. Consider this water contaminated and
dangerous even if it is away from human habitation.
Boil or treat this water with water purification tablets
before you drink it.
If you are unsuccessful in your search for ground or
runoff water or if you dont have time to purify
questionable water, a water-yielding plant may be your
best bet. You can easily get clear, sweet sap that is pure
and chiefly water from many plants. Many plants with
fleshy leaves or stems store drinkable water. Try them
wherever you find them. Desert plants often have their
roots near the surface. Pry these roots out of the ground
and cut them into 24- to 36-inch lengths. Remove the
bark and suck out the water.
Not all vines yield palatable water, but try any vine
you find. Use the following method for tapping a vine. It
will work on any species.
1. Cut a deep notch in the vine as high up as you
2. Then cut the vine off close to the ground and let
the water drip into your mouth or a container.
3. When the water ceases to drip, cut another
section off the vine.
4. Repeat this procedure until the supply of fluid is
exhausted (fig. 15-10).
If the liquid is a white sap or very dark in color,
it is not drinkable. If the liquid is clear, test it for
odor. If it is slightly pink or red in color, that
normally indicates the presence of tannic acid,
which isnt harmful. If it has no taste, or does
not taste bad, it is a good source of water.
It takes little reasoning to recognize that your
second requirement is food. Thats especially true
during a time of survival when you need every ounce of
energy and endurance that you can muster.
People have been known to live for more than a
month without food; but unless you are in extremely
difficult circumstances, you dont need to deprive
yourself of something to eat. Used properly, nature can
provide you with food. Apply the following rules as
soon as you realize you are isolated:
1. Inventory your rations and water. Estimate the
length of time you will be on your own.
2. Divide your foodtwo thirds for the first half of
your isolation and one third for the second half.