The 4 Basic Components in Survival Situations

Water, Food , Shelter, Fire


You can Survive 3 minutes without air, 3 h without shelter, 3 days without water, 30 days without food. Order of importance of the 4 Survival components can vary depending on your particular situation.

In a cold winter environment, shelter may take precedent over all else. Wind chill can be a serious threat in the cold and can increase body heat loss substantially. Next will be fire for keeping warm and melting snow.

In a desert, water will almost certainly be the most important component.

In a jungle, fire becomes important for drying wet clothes, sanitizing notoriously pathogen rich jungle water.

In a mild woodland type environment, Water can usually be found easily in creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds. Firewood and shelter are abundant, and many edible plants and animals can be found throughout.


Don’t underestimate the importance of good SHELTER


The number one cause of death is exposure, usually to cold, wet and/or windy environments. Anyone experienced in cold situations knows how wetness and wind can compound the pain and danger of a cold situation many times over.

In a cold and windy environment, you will want to be insulated on at least 3 out of 4 sides, and have a shelter that reflects and traps heat from a fire. In a warm jungle, you may only need a rain-blocking roof and a raised platform to keep you off the ground, away from dangerous insects and snakes.

Usually the best, and my favorite, type of shelter is one that is already built, a “mother nature special”. Solid caves, big hollow trees, or the occasional void under an evergreen tree in heavy snow, these natural shelters are the easiest and often the most effective.




Water is essential to life. A person can survive for three weeks without food but for only three days without water, therefore its discovery and conservation should be prioritized over food. Don’t wait until you have run out of water before you look for it. Conserve what you have and seek a source as soon as possible, preferably fresh running water, though all water can be sterilized by boiling or by using chemical purifiers.




The human body is about 75% water and it serves many functions, including keeping the body cool and at a consistent temperature and helping the nerves function. Dehydration also speeds up hypothermia and hypermedia. If you have ever been dehydrated before, you may have noticed that the first sign was in some kidney pains. If you feel your kidneys hurting even slightly, this is a sign you need to drink water, and lots of it.




You cannot avoid losing water from the body, though you can slow it down. The average person loses 2-3 liters of water each day, largely just through breathing. Even someone resting in the shade all day will still lose about 1 liter per day. Sweating increases this loss significantly.




You should always boil any water you find to kill any pathogens that could make you sick, except in rare occasions when you know the water is clean, for example a limestone seep or freshly melted glacier water. You can also get store bought iodine tablets that will sterilize water without requiring heating.




Obviously, fire is usually of huge importance in the wild. It can do so many things, including sterilize water, cook food, dry wet clothes, warm you, ward off predators, keep insects away, signal for rescue, provide light, make tools and even improve your attitude.

There are many ways to start a fire. Honestly though, the easiest and most reliable way to make fire is just to carry a lighter with you, It’s a good idea to have at least two methods for starting a fire, in case one fails or isn’t suitable for the particular situation. I like to carry a lighter and a ferro rod.

Scrape off the black paint and strike from the stick onto dry glass or kindling – that’s your fuel. Once ignited with a spark, magnesium burns rapidly at 5610 degrees Fahrenheit. Your leaves and grass will catch a flame. If you’ve never used a fire starter before, practice a few times in a controlled, safe environment before relying on this in the woods.

TIP: Add cotton balls into your Emergency Survival Kit.

You can often find excellent tinder in the form of grasses, leaves, pine needles, fibrous tree bark, weed tops, seed down, wood shavings, and more unusual stuff like palm fiber and certain mosses.



Fortunately human beings are omnivores, we can digest both flesh and plants ,and we can eat almost anything from the animal and vegetable kingdoms.

A mature human needs total of about 2040 calories a day without any work or other major activity, which could burn up a further 3,500 calories daily.

Food, in general, is usually the last priority on the list as far as short term survival goes, but obviously is essential for long term living.

When it comes to acquiring food in the bush, get what you can, don’t be looking for a five star delicacy. The hunger pains and lack of energy will be much harder to endure than a few seconds of bad taste in your mouth.

Ensure that you do not spend more calories acquiring a meal than you get from eating it. This creates a calorie deficit, which will eventually kill you if continued.

In cold environments, food is more important than in warmer climates.

If you acquire a bounty of meat or fish, you should preserve it for the long term by smoking meat, and drying fish. Cut slits in a fish to help it dry better. Smoke meat by hanging it on a stick over a fire where it just gets slightly warmed and smoked, and leave it there for several hours. You should not waste any part of an animal you kill.

What is available to eat will vary widely on location. Try to learn the native plants in the area, but never eat anything you cannot recognize. Many edible plants have poisonous look-a-likes.

Leave a Reply