Chapter 6: Survival and Improvisation
- List and prioritize the necessities of life. (p. 58)
- Describe the four parts of the initial response to a
life-threatening situation. (p. 60-61)
- Demonstrate awareness of the term “comfort zone” and
describe how it relates to SAR. (p. 61)
- List at least five ways to control fear. (p. 61-62)
- Explain the survival situation plan, STOP (stay,
think, observe, plan). (p. 62-63)
- Define positive mental attitude. (p. 58)
- Differentiate between the requirements for short-term
versus long-term survival. (p. 56)
- List at least three basic considerations for
shelters. (p. 67-69)
- List at least three methods of water purification.
- Describe methods used to construct a fire. (p. 69-74)
- List at least three basic considerations for signals.
- Describe the criteria used in personal waste
disposal. (p. 82)
- Describe the methods used for personal cleanliness in
the outdoors. (p. 82-83)
PowerPoint slides, Chapter 6
Photos of fire starters, shelters,
and improvisation techniques
II. Teaching Points
A. What is survival? (p. 56)
- Statistics show that nearly all survival situations
today are short term (72 hours or less).
- Long-term situations, although highly publicized,
comprise fewer than 5% of all incidents.
B. The necessities of life (p. 58)
- Priority 1: Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)
affects a person mentally also affects him physically. It is important,
therefore, to maintain a “can do” outlook.
with a strong will to survive have an advantage in hostile environments.
underestimate the power of the mind.
time: Depends entirely upon the individual
- Priority 2: Air
can survive only a matter of minutes without breathing.
time: 3 to 5 minutes
- Priority 3: Shelter
that protects the body can be called shelter.
are extreme climates where inadequate shelter can cut survival time to a few
hours or less.
time: 3 to 4 hours, depending upon the environment
- Priority 4: Rest
your energy is especially important in a survival situation, both mentally and
time: 30 hours in extremes
- Priority 5: Signals
- Priority 6: Water
is essential for body temperature regulation, waste elimination, and digestion
time: 3 days in extremes
- Priority 7: Food
show cases where individuals have gone 40 to 70 days with no caloric
fact coupled with current records showing that most survival situations last 72
hours or less emphasizes that procurement of food in a survival situation
should be LAST on the list of priorities.
time: 3 weeks or more
C. Response to life-threatening
situations (p. 60)
- Stage 1: Alarm
of alertness resulting from some stimulus
- Stage 2: Reaction
increases as the body gears up for action.
Sweat glands close down.
Sugar is released for energy.
Adrenaline starts to flow.
Heart rate increases.
- Stage 3: Response and Options
or flight” syndrome
option is to apply a methodical approach to the program using precise actions
and sequential procedures learned through training.
- Stage 4: Rest
emotional letdown after high-energy output
may occur, so be prepared.
C. Comfort zones (p. 61)
- Humans are basically creatures of habit.
- Once a habit is established, people become
comfortable with their behavior and their surroundings.
- This becomes your “comfort zone.”
- If you never purposely venture outside the zone, it
can be extremely unsettling when you find yourself in an unanticipated
- Your anxiety and stress could make it very difficult
for you to make decisions¾potentially endangering your
life and that of others.
D. Controlling fear (p. 61)
- “No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its
powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” (Edmund Burke, 1729-1797, British
statesman and political theorist)
- Symptoms of fear:
Quickening of pulse, breathlessness
Dilation of pupils
Increased muscular tension and fatigue
Perspiration of hands, feet, and armpits
Dry mouth and throat, high-pitched voice with stammering
“Butterflies” and faintness caused by empty stomach
Nausea and vomiting
Irritability, increased hostility
Talkative at early states, later speechless
Laugh or cry hysterically
Confusion, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate
Feeling of unreality, flight, panic, and sometimes stupor
- Controlling your own fear:
- Recognize and accept the fear.
- Learn how to make decisions quickly and logically
by establishing good habits.
- Develop self-confidence by regularly expanding your
- Be prepared, properly equipped, and have a number
- Learn all you can.
- Keep a positive mental attitude.
- Controlling fear in others:
- Cultivate mutual support.
- Use good leadership practices.
- Practice and demonstrate discipline as a model for
- Demonstrate a positive mental attitude.
- Accept a person’s right to their feelings.
- Do not scold others.
- Comfort others without encouraging them to feel
sorry for themselves.
- Involve them in simple tasks; occupy their minds
E. Mental steps of managing an
emergency: STOP! (p. 62)
- S¾Stay/stop at the first sign
of trouble. Rushing around will only cause confusion and panic.
- T¾Think about immediate and
future dangers. Analyze the weather, terrain, and available resources to
- O¾Observe and size up the
situation. Look around for
- P¾Plan the best course of
action before implementing any action.
Be deliberate and practical.
F. Shelter (p. 65)
- List at least three basic considerations for
bigger than what is absolutely necessary for body protection.
expenditure of time, energy, and body water.
construction will minimize body heat loss or gain through the primary
mechanisms of temperature transfer in the body.
source of immediate shelter is a vehicle
Dry streambeds in desert regions
Avalanche chutes in steep rocky high country
Rock fall areas
Dead trees with large limbs
Exposed mountain saddles or valley openings where strong winds
tend to blow
Low valley areas in winter or autumn where cold air pockets
and/or frost may accumulate
Thick dense woods where moisture tends to accumulate and not
Areas where insects tend to accumulate
It is virtually impossible to build a waterproof and windproof
shelter from only natural materials.
Have some type of manmade material available such as a plastic
bag, tarp, or tent fly.
entrance should be 90 degrees to the prevailing wind.
to drinking water should not really be a consideration when building a shelter
except in extreme desert conditions.
The best shelter material and resources are the ones you carry
G. Fire making sources (p. 69)
- Bow and drill
- Hand drill
- Fire saw
- Plow board
- Fire thong
- Metal match
- Flint and steel
- Vehicle battery
- Cigarette lighter
- Magnesium fire starter
H. Signaling (p. 74)
- Have signals ready for immediate use.
- Use pyrotechnics in a manner that will not jeopardize
- Use a ratio of 6:1 on letters or ground marks used
(e.g., 3 feet wide by 18 feet long).
- Fires are usually very visible at night or in reduced
- For maximum efficiency, place signal fires in open
- White or black smoke can be very visible.
- Moving or flashing lights attract attention in
virtually any terrain.
- Shadows define, emphasize, and make larger any
- Movement on a contrasting background attracts
- Colored flags, ground cloths, or bright clothing that
contrast against the natural terrain, used with movement, are very
visible. Bright royal blue is a
very visible color in all environments.
- There are very few straight lines and right angles in
nature. Therefore, they attract
- Out of place formations, structures, vegetation, or
color attracts attention.
- Bigger is better.
- Choose a spot for signaling that is visible from 360
- Stay with your stalled or crashed transportation.
I. Water purification methods (p.
act of removing or filtering sediment from the water. This should be done prior to
act of killing bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the water.
- Boil it.
- Add iodine (carefully, too much is toxic).
- Use water purification tablets.
- Add commercial bleach solution.
J. Personal waste disposal (p. 82)
way to get rid of human waste in the field
- Dig at least 200 feet from any campsite, trail or
- Choose a location that isn’t likely to be visited
- With the heel of your boot or a small trowel, dig a
hole about 6 inches deep, but no deeper than the rich topsoil.
- After use, cover the hold completely with dirt.
- Bury nothing but human waste (trash should be
packed out with you).
K. Personal cleanliness (p. 82)
- Good hygiene is essential in the outdoors to
safeguard good health.
- The smallest abrasion of an unclean body can easily
- Keep hands, face, underarms, crotch, and feet
- Use biodegradable soap.
- Be careful not to dirty lakes and ponds by using them
as bathtubs. Dispose of wastewater
- “Air” bathing is better than nothing.