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Surviving in different environments

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posted on Aug, 3 2008 @ 04:40 AM
Situation X, by its definition, may encompass survival in any number of different environments. These may include extremes of cold and heat, or topographical variatrions from dense jungle to urban evasion. While there are numerous threads on individual aspects of survival in these envirnments, there is a distinct lack of the fundamentals. without these basics, the argument over which knife is best or debates on moral/ethical issues if you're freezing to death in a ditch because you didn't know the basic rules for survival in the snow.

I have put this thread in place in order to put the basics forward as a base to build your survival knowledge on.It will focus on the bare basic rules for survival in various environmental extremes. It is not designed to have little pointers on how to distill for water or such like (there are plenty of threads out there that do this already), but is a guide to aim for. If I say for example that you need x amount of water I will not go into details of how to attain it. I'll leave that to others. Please feel free however to add if you feel that i'm missing out on any basic points. Cheers.

So to kick off -

Extreme heat/desert.

There are many areas in the world that suffer from desert-like conditions including a large proportion of Africa and north America. Environmental shifts may increase these areas, as well as increasing the ambiant temperature of other global positions. Therefore the ability to survive in such conditions may be necessary. Desert conditions are hard but (despite much of the exaggerated rubish you may have heard) are far from impossible to deal with.


The flat desert lacks the traditional terrain features that most of us take for granted. Cover and concealment options are virtually non-existant. In more mountainous desert terrains concealment options increase, but more effort is required to move around. However the basic rule # is that most deserts provide opportunities for rapid movement if planned correctly. Navigation can be difficult and water becomes the most valuable commodity. The desert ground is hard baked and does not absorb water well. Therefore any low lying ground can flood very quickly if there is a sudden downpour.

Effects on the person

The extremes of temperature between night and day in the desert can have massive effects on the human body. These include heat stroke, sunburn, hypothermia and even frost nip. The effects of cold on the body will be explored in another post, so we'll deal with the heat issues for now. Sunburn is the most common, followed by heat exhaustion, prickly heat, heat cramps, heat stroke and dilutional hyponatraemia. These can all be avoided if certain basic steps are followed.

Basic rules

Drink often even if you are not feeling thirsty. thirst is one of the later symptoms of dehydration. Use the colour of your urine as a guide to your hydration level, the lighter the better. Water should be sipped regularly and ofte, not gulped down. Bear in mind that salts must be replaced as well as water in order to avoid cramps and hyponatraemia.

Wear loose fitting clothing and always keep the head covered if outside. Keep arms and legs covered and wear sunblock if available. Remember that not all clothing protects against sunlight, so the garment should be thick enough to stop the light penetrating but not too thick as to overheat.

Eat if available. This stops excess fatigue and helps replace essential salts.

Alcohol should be avoided as it increases micturation (peeing) and reduces resistance to the effects of heat.

Smoking increases the desire for water and should be avoided if possible.

Washing, shaving and brushing teeth is important in order to reduce potential damage to the skin caused by various cr@p from the desert winds ingraining in it. Shaving will reduce heat build up around the face. Brushing teeth will reduce the desire for water by keeping the mouth fresh, thereby keeping water consumption to that dictated by urine colour as opposed to cotton mouth. Any opportunity to wash the whole body should be taken, particularly around the groin and armpits in order to reduce friction and rashes building up.

Shake out boots, clothing and equipment before you put it on. Scorpions, snakes and spiders love the shade too, and like nothing more than a nice pair of boots to sleep in.

Breathe through your nos and not your mouth. This keeps the breath moist and reduces moisture loss through evaporation via the mouth.

Avoid sitting or lying on the sand if possible. The temperature of the sand can be as much as 30 degrees C higher than ambient.

Movement during the day or night is dependant on the needs of the team. daytime movement requires more water consumption and effort. However night time movement can be difficult due to hazards underfoot. Both the sun and the stars can be used for navigation.


The choice of vehicles is based on the going underfoot. Generally though a 4x4 is the vehicle of choice. All vehicles will require more maintenance in the desert than in tempeate climates. Oil, filters, batteries and coolant will need to be checked more regularly. Tyres should be at a slightly lower pressure on sandy ground. Wipers need to be in good nick to keep the windscreen clear from sand/dust.

Avoid the tempttion to remove the roof for ventilation; this will just expose you to the sun. Do keep windows open however. Tyres regularly burst during stops after long drives, so 2 spare tyres plus repair kits should be packed. Be wary of using trailers in soft sand as they can act as anchors. IIf concealment is an issue, cover all mirrors and remove the bulbs from lights.

Weapons & equipment

Weapons need to be kept clean at all times. Some weapons function better with more oil while some run better dry. Know your weapon. If optic sights are used, consider cling film as a coating in order to stop sand from scratching the lenses, thereby reducing effectiveness. Oil and lubricants act in different ways in high temperatures. Use the correct viscosity.

Ammunition needs to be kept sheltered and well ventilated when not in use. A rule of thumb is if it can be held by bare hands it is safe to shoot.

Electrical equipment needs tobe kept under cover and kept cool. Solder becomes brittle in high temperatures, so circuitry becomes less reliable. Batteries also have much shorter lifespans, so need to be changed more often.

That's the first part finished. Look out for more posts on other climatic extremes. Any useful suggestions/questions/comments fully appreciated.

[edit on 3-8-2008 by PaddyInf]

posted on Aug, 3 2008 @ 02:24 PM
reply to post by PaddyInf
Something else. If you move during the day and sleep at night in the desert be very careful when getting up in the morning. When the desert cools down snakes will look for a heat source and possibly go into your sleeping bag or blankets with you.

posted on Aug, 3 2008 @ 04:57 PM
If you are planning to bug-out to a forested location, the biggest hazard would be insects...particularly the blood-sucking variety

I spent the night free-camping in heavy coniferous forest earlier this week and am still suffering the pain and itching from many many midge and mosquito bites

Whilst mozzies may not be considered an immediate life-threat like a brown bear or wild boar, the incessant bites and uncontrollable urge to scratch makes sleeping very difficult, if not impossible, resulting in mental impairment and fatigue the following day and real possibility of infections caused by breaking the skin at the bite-sites whilst scratching to relieve the pain

posted on Aug, 3 2008 @ 05:00 PM
reply to post by citizen smith
and the risk of malaria.
i put a post on the other topic(cigarettes) giving suggestions what to do.

[edit on 3-8-2008 by Anuubis]

[edit on 3-8-2008 by Anuubis]

posted on Aug, 3 2008 @ 05:05 PM
Strikes me that a little pre-running whether on foot or in a vehicle can help.

We've found a couple of streams that run year-round not too far from home here in the N/W Arizona desert.

The same could be true for forested areas.
I'd be trying the fishing in some areas as well as keep an eye out for edible game and potential naturally sheltered areas.

Think about the wildlife as well.
One of our desert streams is in an area that contains the usual reptiles and plants found in the area as well as Elk, Javelina, Coyote, Mountain Lions - larger than those seen in Sunny California where I'm from - and deer.

Recently discovered in th area were a couple of big old bulls that looked to be the size of a water buffalo.
Seriously dangerous guys and they will charge a vehicle.
Not afraid of man in the least.

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