Stranded and Alone: How to Survive on a Deserted Island

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Surviving on a Deserted Island

Whether you find yourself stranded on a deserted island because of a shipwreck or by getting separated from a group, survival is of critical importance.

Hopefully, you will never find yourself needing to survive being alone on an island or in the wilderness; however, these tips will keep both the experienced outdoorsman and novice enthusiast alive until help is able to arrive.

#1 Stay Calm:

Being stranded on a deserted island can leave even the most experienced campers feeling confused, scared and panicked. However, panicking is the survivalist’s worst nightmare as it causes us to lose control and stop thinking rationally.

As the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy states in big, bold letters on the cover, DON’T PANIC.

Once the realization of being lost has set in, take deep breaths and reassure yourself that rescue is inevitable. By staying calm and not panicking, you can prioritize the steps needed to survive including safety, water, shelter, food, and rescue.

#2 Safety:

Explore the area to determine whether or not it is safe.

Walk the general vicinity and check for visible signs of animals. Are there large paw prints or animal droppings? If so, this may be a sign that the area is inhabited with dangerous predators.

Take stock of the land to determine if flooding is a concern or if there is anything else that may jeopardize your safety.

#3 Water:Surviving on a Deserted Island

Having fresh and drinkable water is a priority in any survival situation. Water has been proven to help people live longer even if they do not have access to food.

People can live for up to three weeks without food, but only three days without fresh water.

Do not assume that the seawater surrounding the island is safe to drink. Sea water contains high level of salts and may have bacteria that are dangerous to digest.

Start searching for water by looking for a stream or spring. If a freshwater source cannot be located, use the surroundings and your belongings to develop a water collection device. Use any available containers, even your shoes, to collect rainwater.

#4 Shelter:

The best shelter locations will be within an easy walk of either the fresh water source or your improvised rainwater collection device. Furthermore, the shelter should be far enough from the beach to ensure that it is not damaged during high tide.

If you are lucky enough to be stranded on the island with a raft, use it to create a shelter by leaning it against a rock wall or thick tree.

If not, create a lean-to shelter by finding tall branches and laying them against an object with a thick and solid base. Then use lighter and larger branches with leaves to create a wall to keep wind, water, and sun out of the shelter.

While this is not always possible, the closer the shelter is to the beach (within reason) the better as you can easily leave the structure to flag down any passing boats and/or planes. Being near the beach also gives you the advantage of having clear line of sight in three directions.

#5 Food:

While food is not nearly as important as finding freshwater or building a shelter, it can give you the necessary nutrients and energy to survive for days. However, food can be dangerous to digest especially on a foreign island.

When hungry, our body may will us to want to eat something that is not safe like unknown berries, mushrooms, or plants. Don’t risk your life by eating something that you have never seen before.

Instead, focus on finding items that you know are safe to digest such as coconuts, fruit (like plantains), fish, grasshoppers, or dead ants.

Fish will provide the largest supply of protein and calories; however, catching fish can be difficult in a survival situation. Options to catch fish include sharpening a stick to make a fish spear or using available materials to weave a fish trap. You can easily turn a 2 liter bottle into a fish trap.

#6 Rescue:

The more noticeable the island is from sea or air the higher the likelihood is that you will be rescued.

Consequently, locate the highest point on shore and construct a large fire. If the land appears to be relatively level place the fire in the most visible location.

Once you see or hear a plane create large amounts of smoke by placing slightly dampened moss or branches onto the fire.

How to survive on a desert island

If fire is not an option, attract attention from planes by creating a large and noticeable pattern of rocks or branches on the beach. Make the debris into a pattern that is not natural. The added benefit of this method is that it will continue to work without you having to add fuel to it like a fire. This will allow you to do other things like hunt, construct tools, etc.

Additionally, search the island and/or your belongings for any items that can reflect the sun and be used to signal planes or boats.

Being stranded on a deserted island may seem like a nightmare; however, by staying calm and following the above steps, survival is possible.

For more survival tips, tricks, and hacks, I highly recommend the “Lost Ways” course.

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