It continues to be surprising that so many embark on ambitious travels without bothering to ensure they know how to handle an emergency and not carrying the appropriate survival aids. Every year mountain and wilderness rescue teams comb inhospitable areas in search of those who wandered off without leaving messages, taking a means of communication, having maps, water and food for emergencies and without any reliable knowledge of first aid or a first aid kit. They are matched by those who put to sea in unreliable craft and without adequate knowledge of seamanship. Most are lucky and survive, largely due to the efforts of first attenders and volunteers who put there own lives at risk to save those who failed to prepare adequately.
NAME: Outdoor Survival, a step-by-step guide to practical bush craft and survival outdoors
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Dave Pearce
PUBLISHER: Haynes Publishing
BINDING: Hard back
SUBJECT: camp craft, food, first aid, rescue, arctic and polar, mountains, jungle, arid desert, sea, essential equipment, finding your way
DESCRIPTION: It continues to be surprising that so many embark on ambitious travels without bothering to ensure they know how to handle an emergency and not carrying the appropriate survival aids. Every year mountain and wilderness rescue teams comb inhospitable areas in search of those who wandered off without leaving messages, taking a means of communication, having maps, water and food for emergencies and without any reliable knowledge of first aid or a first aid kit. They are matched by those who put to sea in unreliable craft and without adequate knowledge of seamanship. Most are lucky and survive, largely due to the efforts of first attenders and volunteers who put there own lives at risk to save those who failed to prepare adequately. The list of incidents is endless and very few are due to conditions that were completely beyond prediction. This survival manual therefore comes as a welcome aid that should be part of every child’s education. The author has attempted a comprehensive practical guide for all potentially risky adventures. Very few people will need all of the information because they will not go to all of the areas catered for in the manual and will rarely go without a skilled guide to help them through the conditions. However, we can never be certain that we will not encounter the conditions. Aircraft divert and crash, boats sink, abnormal weather conditions strike and any part of the world is potentially at some risk of earthquake, storm and flood. The author has achieved a simple to read book that describes in text and illustrations all of the things that an adventurer may need to know. There are really only two criticisms. He has not covered the urban jungle which most people experience at some time, and the book is too large to fit the pocket. Minor criticisms because many points made through the book can be adapted readily to the urban jungle and the book will easily slip into a rucksack. It is also fair to point out that the contents should be studied in detail, training sought, and thorough preparations made before embarking on the adventure. Navigation is of prime importance, whether in an urban environment or in some distant wilderness. The personal portable GPS navigator and the cellphone (using satellites or terrestrial radio towers) have revolutionized travel in any part of the globe, but they fail and they depend on battery power. A wise adventurer will take an adequate supply of batteries, a windup generator to charge them and spare equipment, but there is always a danger that this simple and important navigation capability will be unavailable. That makes it important to learn how to use traditional navigation equipment of maps and charts, compass and sextant. Taking reserve food and water is important because journeys often take longer than anticipated. Even in an urban area where there are shops, cafes and restaurants, it is worth taking some basic emergency supplies for when the train breaks down in a tunnel or some other emergency strands the traveller close to food and water but still out of reach. Each environment requires different preparation because the threats are different. The fear of threats is often much greater than the reality. People do swim in South American rivers without being eaten alive by some omnipotent predator. Very few animals attack humans unless seriously provoked and denied an escape route. It is also true that the incidence of extreme weather and natural disaster is very low and should be even lower because journeys can be planned to avoid periods and areas of the highest danger. If the traveller is intending to make part or all of a journey on foot, or may be forced to trek across rough terrain because the vehicle broke down somewhere, that makes repair and recovery difficult, a good quality rucksack with spare clothing, food, water, tools, first aid kit and some form of shelter should be carried and the traveller should know how to use each item. Modern survival equipment is excellent and makes life much easier. However, some primitive technology can mean the difference between life and death. Knowing how to trap an animal, kill it, prepare it for eating raw or cooked and which parts to avoid eating is something that very few now need to carry out, but finding a lack of knowledge when there is food to be caught, with no other food source available, is not to be recommended. Most survival techniques are remarkably simple once taught and the most important skills are observation and common sense. Copying other animals can be very helpful, avoiding risk when it is not necessary, walking away from a threat rather than giving in to the urge to be “heroic”. In the end, survival comes down to preparation and this manual should be part of that preparation. Having prepared, good quality and appropriate clothing and equipment is essential and although there are financial factors, it is readily available around the world. It is always better to buy a more expensive knife because its cheaper than a lower cost item that breaks easily and this holds true for any item of equipment. The author has set out the essentials from his own direct experience and training, but it is never a good idea to rely only on reading a few books. Making and setting a trap, and killing any animal that it has caught is very different from seeing advice in a book. Although we do many surprising things instinctively and often surprise ourselves by just what we are capable of, it is much better to know that the capability has been learn by experience under supervision. A good manual like this ties together all of the things we already know and fills in the gaps.