The Basics of Survival

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Our Paleolithic ancestors mastered the techniques of survival—skills that we would do well to have at our disposal, just in case.

Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, fires, the zombie apocalypse … there are plenty of reasons to have an emergency plan in place – but what should it look like? What do you need to survive?

The most important thing is to have a plan to start with. It doesn’t take much time to create one, and it could save your life. A good plan will contain the following six basic elements.


To avoid panicking and face any dilemma with a clear head, use the “SPEAR” approach:Stop, Plan, Execute, Assess, Re-evaluate. It’s easy to remember the steps and they are just as easy to apply. SPEAR can put you in the correct frame of mind to handle a dire emergency.


You’ll need to stay out of direct exposure to the elements, so this is your highest priority after a clear head. If you’re not familiar with the basics of building a shelter, find the resources you need to learn that ability. It’s paramount.


The human body is made up mostly of water, and we can’t last very long without it. Generally, a person should consume about three liters of water daily. Your survival plan should provide the means for treating or purifying water. Water brought to a boil for two to three minutes is enough to kill any bacteria or viruses it might harbor.


You’ll need fire to boil that water. It can provide warmth, a form of illumination and a means of preparing food, too, as well as a sense of safety and security. Do you know how to make a fire from scratch without a lighter or matches? If not, practice and develop this skill before you need it.


Why is this so low on the list? You might be surprised to know that you actually can survive without food for about three weeks. Even so, knowing what’s available to be eaten in your environment is important, as you most likely won’t want to wait that long to get something in our stomach. Beware: many edible plants have poisonous lookalikes. Make this your general rule – if you can’t identify it, don’t eat it.

Naturalist Skills

It’s a simple fact: the more you know about nature, the better your chances are of surviving – and thriving. Bone up on what you don’t know. Make it a habit to find and retain at least one important piece of knowledge about nature each week. Weave it into your plan.

And finally, once you’ve created your plan, be sure to share it. Make sure everyone in your family knows what it is so that they don’t have to spend time worrying about those zombies either.

Since you’re here …

… we’ve got a small favour to ask. More people are reading CAVEMENWORLD than ever, but few are paying for it. Advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike some othe organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our articles open to all. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. CAVEMENWORLD’s independent, investigative journalism and graphics take a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.

Lex Cavemen

LEX is the scientist. He is obsessed with understanding why and how the world around him works the way it does.

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