Win, Lose of Draw: Survival is the name of the game Pt. 2

Well, now you have done it. You have wandered out into the wild and got yourself in a pickle. You soon realize you might be here a while and you forgot to charge your iPhone to call your mom for a ride.

That’s okay. Never fear. With a little luck. A little ingenuity and something stored WAY back in that gray matter from your WEBELOs Scouts days you can survive.

In Part 1 we talked about the four words that are going to save your butt in this jam:

Protection, Rescue, Water, and Food.

Today’s lesson, my friend, is Protection.

Whether it is from the elements, dangerous animals or imminent hazards, PROTECTION is your number one priority in a survival situation.


Clothing is your first line of defense agains the climate. So wear or improvise appropriate clothing. In the cold, layers of clothing trapping air are warmer than just one thick garment so leave that parka that makes you look like Randy from A Christmas Story movie at home.

Keep your body’s core warm. Headwear is important. A golden rule of cold? Act before you get too cold. Avoid sweating and keep your clothing dry. Wet clothing can lose up to 90% of its isolating properties. Water conducts heat (away from your body) approximately 25 times faster than air of the same temperature, so keeping your clothes dry is vital and will save your life!

In a hot climate, clothing and headwear may be your main protection from the sun. Keep skin covered to prevent burring. Nobody cares if a corpse has a sun tan! An improvised hat or head scarf can provide shade and keep your body cool if made wet– think urine or any fluid you can find–remember: survival is rarely pretty!)


Shelter is one of the top priorities in any environment. This is why our species has thrived–we headed to the caves!

As with every element of survival, you must think carefully before expending precious energy. Don’t waste time construction a shelter that would make the Swiss Family Robinson’s envious. Look around, nature may have already provided a spot for you to lay your head until someone rescue’s your butt.

Take advantage of overhangs, hollows, and trees. In many situations, a man made shelter may exist: a life raft, safe wreckage, abandoned structures, etc. Man-made materials can also be scavenged to help construction.

Just like they say in real estate: Location is everything. Even in the wild. Protection from the elements is the first key in any shelter. It needs to be stable and away from natural hazards like wind, rain, flooding, rock falls, animals and insect swarms. Study the terrain before choosing your shelter location.


Fire will provide you with heat, light, comfort and protection. There are many ways to light your tinder: a lighter, matches, fire-steel or car batteries being the easiest options, but not the only way–even in the rain and cold.

Choose the location of your fire wisely; relative proximity to your shelter and wind direction being the most important considerations. Build a base of green branches if the ground is wet, or dig a pit to protect it if it is windy. A fire requires three ingredients: Oxygen, Fuel and Heat. Gather your fuel before you begin to start your fire. Look for wood that is off he ground to ensure your best chance of it being dry.

Look for dead branches and twigs that crack when you break them.

You will need tinder to get your spark going. Fluffy, fibrous materials like dry moss, grasses or cat’s-tails all make great tinder, as do cotton balls, or gas soaked rags.

Once you have have gone to the effort of getting a flame, it is vital to be able to keep it going, so be sure that you have gathered plenty of fuel beforehand. You can keep a fire smoldering through the night by covering it with ash or dry soil.

So friends and fans, this is our lesson on Protection in the wild. Do yourself a favor and head to Walmart and buy one of those Rambo-style survival knives and strap it to your leg. Don’t worry if people look at you strange as you walk through the mall with your grand-kids. You never know, even in the concrete jungle, that knife may save your life!


Robert Forto | Team Ineka | Alaska Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Dog Works Radio | Denver Dog Works | Daily Post


Robert Forto is a musher training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and the host of the popular radio shows, Mush! You Huskies and Dog Works Radio Shows