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Basic Survival Skills Everyone Should Know

What would you do if you found yourself lost in the wilderness? The answer to that question varies depending on several factors. If you were lost alone or with just one other person, then your challenge would be much greater than if you were part of a team. Your experience level will also dictate how well prepared and knowledgeable about survival skills you are. In any event, there is no doubt that everyone should take some time to learn about these ten basic survival skills before they find themselves stranded!


Start A Fire

What’s the first thing you would do if you found yourself lost in the wilderness? If your answer is “start a fire,” then this survival skill needs to be at the top of your list! A fire will keep you warm, cook food that you have caught or gathered, and can also serve as a signal for help when viewed from afar. You should always carry matches with which to light it, but having some tinder on hand, such as dryer lint, is a great way to ensure success even under less than optimal conditions.

Light A Signal

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What is left as a signaling device if everything else fails after building a shelter and starting a fire? It turns out there are plenty of options depending on how much time and effort is available to you. For example, if it is nighttime, simply lighting a large fire can be very effective as this will be visible for miles around and help rescuers hone in on your location. A signal mirror could also work well depending on weather conditions to increase the odds of being found during daylight hours.

Build Shelter

One of the basic survival skills everyone should know is how to build a shelter. It doesn’t matter whether you are lost alone or with another person. A shelter will become one of your top priorities because hypothermia sets in very quickly once exposed to the elements. Building some form of structure will provide much-needed protection from bad weather. You could even make a simple shelter with sticks and leaves. 

Collecting Water

A person can survive only three days without water, and many cases of dehydration will occur before you become thirsty. Even if you plan to stay where you are until help arrives, it would be wise to collect as much water as you can.

Reading A Compass

If you plan to stay put until help arrives, knowing how to read a compass could be one of those basic survival skills everyone should know because it will make your life much easier. For example, if you were lost in the woods and planned on staying there for two days, this would mean that help will likely arrive sometime after day three, so knowing how to orient yourself in relation to the sun could be very helpful.

Catching Food

It’s hard not to think about food when stuck alone in the woods, so one basic survival skill everyone should know is how to catch prey with their bare hands if necessary. While this might seem impossible, the odds are that there are plenty of small animals such as birds or squirrels living nearby, which could provide much-needed nutrition over time. 

Tying A Knot

One of the most important basic survival skills everyone should know is to tie a knot since this could be useful for building shelters, securing equipment, and even making tools such as snares. While there are many different types of knots out there, it’s best to start off learning some simple ones before moving on, including things like a figure eight or slipknot. Over time, you might also want to learn more advanced techniques but focus on the basic ones.

Navigating With The Stars

Most people are surprised to learn that they can use the North Star or even stars, in general, to help them determine which direction is East, West, South, and so on. This skill takes time and patience, but it could make a huge difference once mastered, especially if you don’t have access to a compass! If there are no clear skies available, then using the moon might be helpful since this will effectively tell you which side has light versus dark, though keep an eye out for how often it rises during each day.


While this might seem unlikely, the odds are that an emergency can happen at any time, so why not learn the basics just in case? Lastly, don’t forget to pack the right supplies before heading out so that you’re prepared for anything! There are many basic survival skills everyone should know how to do properly, which can make a massive difference if ever stranded alone in the woods.