Being stranded in the desert is a terrifying and potentially life-threatening situation. The harsh environment, extreme temperatures, and lack of water and food can quickly lead to dehydration, heat stroke, and other serious health problems. In addition to these physical dangers, being lost in the desert can also take a toll on your mental health, causing anxiety, fear, and despair.
So why is it important to know how to survive in the desert? The fact is that accidents happen.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just taking a leisurely drive through the wilderness, getting lost or stranded could happen to anyone. By learning basic survival skills beforehand, you’ll be better equipped to handle an emergency situation if it arises.
In this article, we’re going to cover some essential tips for surviving in the desert. From finding shelter and water sources to signaling for help and staying safe and healthy, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to increase your chances of making it out alive.
Assessing Your Situation
Take inventory of your supplies and resources
The first step to surviving being stranded in the desert is taking inventory of your supplies and resources. Check your backpack and pockets for anything that could help you survive such as water, food, flashlight, knife, sunscreen, a hat, or any other survival gear.
Make sure to ration the food and water you have with you as much as possible. If you don’t have enough supplies to last several days, start looking for food and water right away.
Determine your location and potential rescue options
Knowing where you are can help rescuers find you easier. Look around for any landmarks or signs that might help determine your location such as rock formations or mountain ranges.
Determine which direction is north by using the position of the sun; in the northern hemisphere it generally appears in the south while in the southern hemisphere it generally appears in the north. Once you establish which way is north use this information to navigate yourself out of there once rescued.
If your mobile phone has reception make a call for emergency services (911 in most countries) if not try sending text messages with your GPS coordinates included so emergency services can track your location more accurately. It’s important to consider potential rescue options once stranded in the desert.
If anyone knows where you were headed inform them immediately about what happened so they can either come rescue you or alert authorities about where to look for you if they haven’t heard from or seen you after a few days.
It’s also important to be visible from above so passing planes or helicopters can spot smoke signals (daytime), flares (nighttime), mirrors reflecting sunlight towards them during daytime, etc.
Look for Natural Shelters
When stranded in the desert, finding shelter is crucial to your survival. The harsh desert environment can quickly lead to dehydration, sunstroke, and other dangerous conditions without proper protection.
One of the first things to do when looking for shelter is to search for natural shelters such as caves or rock formations. These features can provide much-needed shade during the day and warmth at night.
Caves are one of the best options as they offer superior protection from the elements and predators that may be lurking in the area. However, be sure to check for potential hazards such as sharp rocks or small animals before settling in.
Rock formations can also provide useful shelter against wind and rain. Look for crevices or overhangs that will offer adequate protection from high winds and sandstorms.
Build a Shelter Using Available Materials
If you’re unable to locate a natural shelter, building one using available materials may be your only option. There are several simple shelters you can construct using supplies found in the desert. One of the easiest types of shelters to build is a lean-to.
This involves propping up branches or sticks against a tree or rock formation then covering them with any available materials such as leaves, grasses or clothing. Another option is constructing a debris hut where you gather branches and foliage then creating an enclosed space by leaning them against each other.
Covering them with layers of dirt will insulate heat inside making it more comfortable at night. Remember that when building a shelter, it’s important to ensure it’s sturdy enough not to collapse on you while sleeping inside while also providing ventilation if needed.
It should also be located in an area that’s easily visible from afar so rescue teams can locate you more quickly if necessary. Ultimately, finding or constructing proper shelter when stranded in the desert could save your life.
Locating Sources of Water
It goes without saying that water is the most important resource to have when stranded in the desert. The human body can only survive a few days without water, and the harsh desert climate can make it difficult to find.
However, there are a few ways to locate sources of water in the desert. One way is to look for cacti.
Some species of cacti contain water in their flesh, which can be accessed by cutting or scraping away the outer layer with a sharp knife. Another method is to look for dry riverbeds or areas with vegetation – there may be an underground water source nearby.
Collecting and Purifying Water
Once you’ve located a source of water, it’s important to collect and purify it before drinking. Even if the water appears clear, it may contain harmful bacteria or other contaminants. To collect water from a cactus, use a sharp knife to cut into the flesh near the base of the plant.
Be careful not to cut too deep or damage the inner layers where the water is held. Use a container or cloth to catch and filter out any debris or spines.
For other sources of water such as stagnant pools or riverbeds, you’ll need to purify it before drinking. Boiling is one effective method – bring the water to a rolling boil for at least 5 minutes before cooling and drinking.
You can also use chemical treatments like iodine tablets or portable filters designed for wilderness use. Remember: always prioritize finding clean drinking water over food when stranded in the desert – without it, survival becomes much more difficult.
Identify Edible Plants and Insects in the Area
When you’re stranded in the desert, finding food can be a real challenge. It’s important to know what plants and insects are safe to eat, as some can be toxic or dangerous.
Before your trip, research the area you’ll be traveling through and learn about the native flora and fauna. Some common edible plants include prickly pear cactus, mesquite beans, and agave.
Be sure to identify each plant correctly before consuming it. Insects are also a good source of protein in an emergency situation.
Look for ants, grasshoppers, termites, and other insects that are safe for human consumption. Avoid brightly colored or hairy insects as they may be poisonous.
Learn How to Trap Small Animals for Food
Another option for finding food is trapping small animals such as rodents or lizards. You can build a simple trap using sticks or other materials found in your surroundings.
Look for signs of animal activity such as burrows or tracks, and place your trap nearby. To make a deadfall trap, find two sticks that will fit together like an upside-down V-shape when propped up against something like a rock or log.
Place bait (such as nuts or seeds) under one end of the V-shape stick so that when an animal tries to grab it from underneath – wham! – the other stick falls on top of it.
Trapping animals can be time-consuming work, but it’s often worth the effort if you’re truly hungry and need sustenance. Remember to cook any meat thoroughly before eating it to avoid getting sick from bacteria or parasites present in raw meat.
Staying Safe and Healthy
Avoid dangerous animals and insects: The Dangers of Desert Wildlife
One of the greatest dangers of being stranded in the desert is the threat posed by wildlife. From venomous snakes to scorpions, many species native to the desert have evolved to survive in harsh conditions, and they can be lethal if provoked.
Therefore, it’s important to know how to identify the various types of dangerous animals and insects that can be found in the desert. To avoid venomous snakes, try to walk on open ground where you can see what’s ahead.
Be careful when stepping over rocks or logs, as snakes may be hiding under them. Also, try not to walk through deep grass or brush where snakes could be lurking.
If you do see a snake, back away slowly and give it plenty of room. Scorpions are another common threat in the desert.
They tend to hide during the day and come out at night when temperatures are cooler. If you’re camping in the desert at night, shake out your shoes before putting them on, as scorpions often crawl inside for warmth.
Treat injuries or illnesses with basic first aid: Staying Healthy in Extreme Conditions
Being stranded in the desert puts you at risk for a wide variety of injuries and illnesses. From dehydration and heat exhaustion to cuts and broken bones from falls, accidents can happen at any time.
Therefore it’s important always to have a basic first-aid kit on hand. Here are some essential items that should be included:
- Sterile dressings
- Antiseptic wipes
- Pain relievers (such as ibuprofen)
- Tweezers (for removing splinters)
In addition to having supplies on hand, it’s also essential always to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during daylight hours. If you begin to feel dizzy or lightheaded, take a break in the shade and rest until you feel better.
In the event of more severe injuries, such as broken bones or severe lacerations, it’s important to have some basic knowledge of first aid. Remember that in extreme conditions, every small cut or scrape can quickly become infected, so proper treatment is crucial.
Signaling for Help
Use Mirrors, Flares, or Other Signaling Devices to Attract Attention
If you’re stranded in the desert and need help, you may need to attract the attention of potential rescuers. One effective way is by using reflective objects like mirrors, CDs, or even your phone screen. Use these objects to reflect sunlight towards any passing aircraft or rescue teams that might be searching for you.
Be sure to have a steady hand and aim directly at the target. Another option is flares.
These can be found in most emergency kits and can be used to signal distress or alert rescue crews of your location. When lighting a flare, hold it away from your body and aim it upwards towards the sky so that it’s visible from afar.
There are satellite phones which allow you to call for help even if there’s no cell service in the area where you’re stranded. If you have access to one of these devices, use it as soon as possible to contact emergency services.
Create Visible Markers To Guide Rescuers To Your Location
If you have access to materials such as rocks or sticks, use them to create visible markers on the ground. You can create an arrow pointing towards your location or spell out “HELP” in large letters using nearby materials.
Another effective way of guiding rescuers is by creating smoke signals using firewood found in the area. Build a small fire and place green vegetation on top of it so that smoke rises into the air and signals any nearby planes or helicopters.
When creating these markers be mindful not to make them too close together as this could confuse rescuers who are trying to locate your position. Instead space them out evenly with clear arrows pointing towards your location.
Being stranded in a desert is dangerous but knowing how to signal for help can increase your chances of survival. Use mirrors, flares or satellite phones to attract attention and create visible markers using rocks, sticks or firewood.
Always stay alert and be sure to keep your signaling devices close at hand at all times. Remember, the faster you signal for help the better your chances of survival will be.
Related: Surviving a Radiation Emergency
To recap, being stranded in the desert can be a daunting experience, but by following these key survival strategies, you can increase your chances of staying alive and being rescued. First, assess your situation by taking inventory of your supplies and resources and determining your location and potential rescue options. Next, find or build shelter to protect yourself from the harsh elements.
Obtaining water is essential to survival in the desert, so be sure to locate and purify any available sources. Additionally, finding food can be tricky, but identifying edible plants and insects or trapping small animals for sustenance is crucial.
Staying safe and healthy by avoiding dangerous animals and insects as well as treating injuries or illnesses with basic first aid is also important. Signaling for help through visible markers or signaling devices may lead rescuers to your location.
Emphasize the Importance of Preparation and Knowledge in Surviving This Type of Situation
While there are no guarantees when it comes to surviving being stranded in the desert, preparation and knowledge can make all the difference. Before embarking on any journey into potentially dangerous terrain such as a desert environment make sure you are equipped with adequate supplies like extra water bottles or emergency rations which will last you long enough until help arrives.
Even if you never find yourself stranded in a desert-like area knowing these tips could come handy during other types of emergencies such as natural disasters, outdoor activities, or other unforeseen events. So keep the knowledge handy and stay safe!