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Surviving On A Deserted Island

In the event that you find yourself stranded on an island, it's important to follow the proper survival techniques that will help you stay alive. Among these techniques are finding fresh drinking water, shelter, and eventually rescue.

Disclaimer: The survival tips on this website are for informational purposes only. The authors take no responsibility for the reader's individual actions or usage of the information presented on this page.

1. STOP and Think

Use the Boy Scouts mnemonic device of "STOP", which stands for "Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan".
You've just discovered that you are alone on an island. You're unsure about whether or not rescue will be arriving. Here is the list, in order, of what you should be doing in order of priority:

1. Find a source of drinking water.
2. Find/build a shelter.
3. Build a fire.
4. Create rescue signals.
5. Find a source of food.
6. Create tools for catching food.
7. Fashion weapons for self defense.
8. Create a raft to leave the island.

2. Finding Water

Finding a source of clean drinking water should be your first priority. The body can not live without water for more than 3 or 4 days; however you can survive over 3 weeks without food.

Sources of Water:

Rain Water:
Use any containers you can find and set them out in order to catch any rain water that falls. You can use large leaves to catch raindrops and funnel them into containers.

On The Island:
A good place to find water is by venturing inland. The further inland you go, the better your chances of finding a water source. If the island is large enough, there is the possibility of finding streams and waterfalls that will provide fresh drinking water.

Solar Water Still:
If there's no rainfall or fresh water on the island and you have a sheet of plastic available, then you can make a solar water still.

Create a Solar Water Still:
Step 1: Dig a hole in the sand up near the edge of the trees. You want to dig deep enough that the hole is within the damp sand underneath.
Step 2: Place a container in the center of the hole.
Step 3: Fill the gaps surrounding the container with anything wet, such as wet leaves.
Step 4: Place your plastic sheet over the hole and anchor the sheet in place with larger rocks around the edges of the hole.
Step 5: Place one small rock in the center of the plastic, just over the container.
Step 6: Condensation will occur on the underside of the plastic and run to the center. It will drip into the container filling it with distilled drinking water.

3. Build/Find a Shelter

Finding shelter is an important aspect of survival. You need to find a place to rest, while protecting yourself from the elements, such as wind and rain.

Creating a "Lean-To" shelter:
Step 1: Find a large branch and lean one end onto a tree.
Step 2: Place smaller branches at 45 degree angles along the length of the large branch.
Step 3: Cover the entire structure with leaves and foliage.

If you are not rescued within a couple of weeks and your stay on the island is going to be much longer, then you can use the "Lean-To Shelter" as temporary housing while you construct a more permanent "Tepee Shelter".

Creating a "Tepee" shelter:
Step 1: Gather 10 to 20 long branches. The thicker the branches, the more secure your tepee will be.
Step 2: Stick 3 of these branches into the ground to create a tripod.
Step 3: Position the remaining branches around the tripod in a circle. Be sure to leave an area free for your entrance.
Step 4: Find the largest leaves and brush that you can find to use as a cover.

4. Build a Fire

Building a fire not only keeps you warm, but it will help to signal any rescue planes that are flying overhead.

Building The Structure:
Step 1: Gather dry tinder, twigs, and branches of various sizes.
Step 2: Using the smaller twigs, create a tepee shape with tinder placed in the center.

Lighting The Fire:
If you have glasses, binoculars, or a camera, use the lens to concentrate the rays on the tinder to ignite it. Then blow when it starts smoking. Otherwise, your best alternative is to use the "Fire-Plow" method.

The Fire-Plow Method
Step 1: Find a soft wood and cut a groove in its base.
Step 2: Place some tinder at one end that you will ignite.
Step 3: Using a hard stick, plow the end up and down this groove to create friction.
Step 4: The tinder will begins to smolder, blow on it to help fuel the fire catching process.
Step 5: When the fire catches, place other small twigs on top to help it grow.

5. Finding Food

Your best source of food will most likely be the fish in the shallow areas surrounding the beach. The surrounding water should be shallow enough to walk through and look for fish.

In order to catch the fish, the easiest technique is to use spear fishing. Create a long spear from one of the branches you find on the island. Make the tip as sharp and long as possible, but be sure that the stick is long enough to throw and that it has some weight.

If you can stand on rocks, this will be better, since it will be less likely to alarm the fish and you'll be able to find them meandering as they snack on seaweed or whatever else they find interesting in the ocean.
If you must walk in the water, then move slowly as to not startle them.

Hold the spear spear at your side above the water. When the fish stops and settles in one spot, quickly extend your arm and throw the spear, aiming for the fish's head. With enough practice, you will be hitting your target with greater precision.

6. Beware Predators

Depending on the island, be aware of any possible animals that might be inhabiting it.
This means that in the beginning, you will always want to stay alert to any animals that might be stalking you.

For protection, fashion a spear and knife from any branches that you find lying around.

In the ocean, your main concern should be shark attacks while you are fishing. Try to stay in shallow water whenever possible.

7. Getting Rescued

The fire that you started in Section 4 above will be a useful signal to rescue parties that are looking for you.
To increase your chances of being noticed, you should consider creating an SOS message in the sand.
To do this, simply find large tree branches to spell the letters SOS, so that it can be seen from aircraft flying overhead.

8. Traveling/Resting:

Always work during the day, when it's light out so you can see. Use the night as a time to rest and recover your energy.

If you're plan is to leave the island on your own, then you'll need to create a raft.

The two things you will need to create a raft are logs and vine.

Survival Raft Building Technique:
Step 1: Collect 10 to 20 logs and tree trunks that are no more than 12 inches in diameter.
Step 2: Find a few smaller logs to use as braces.
Step 3: Cut notches in the logs in the places where your vine will be looped to hold each log together.
Step 4: Begin interweaving the vine into the notches of the logs. Over and under lapping from one log to the next.
Step 5: When the entire structure is finished, tie off.



The last thing you want is to find out that your raft needs repair after you have already left the island.
When you are done with the raft, be sure to test it in shallow water. Try standing on it and test it for durability.


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