How to Survive on a Deserted Island

Imagine yourself sleeping peacefully on an airplane as you go to visit you relatives.  Now, you wake up to a jolt and a nervous pilot informing you through the intercom to brace yourself…for a crash landing.  Everything starts to happen in a blur.  You buckle your seat belt, grab your life vest, then you see water, then you feel the impact.  Now everything’s black…


Slowly and dizzily, you awaken on the sand.  When you get up, you find that you are alone, on a deserted island.  So the good news is: you’re alive.  But unfortunately, you’re all alone and you have nothing.  So what do you do?

You should start by remaining calm.  A lot would have just happened to you, and panicking would only make things worse.  So, take a look around and start getting to know the island.  Along the way, try to collect, or recover any possible wreckage from your plane or ship.  Later on, you may use this to build a shelter or a raft; but letting it float out to sea by itself wouldn’t do you any good, so act swiftly in this step.  Do this for a while, but try not to use up all of your daylight if possible.

So now that you’ve collected your thoughts and accepted the probable fact that you would be stranded for a while, it’s time to start settling down.  using the wreckage you’ve recovered along with any large pieces of wood and finally some brush, you are going to make a shelter.  Do this by making a simple, tent like structure with lots of brush so that you may keep out as much rain as possible.  Shelter may not seem like the most pressing matter, however it is extremely useful.  Not only can you protect yourself from the rain, but you may also protect your firewood.


Next on this list is something you should be thinking about when you’re strolling around the island as well as when you’re setting up you’re shelter: water.  Do NOT drink sea water or salt water because that drastically shrinks your cells and makes you dehydrated extremely fast.  If you find any running water, from small creeks to rushing rivers, that is where you want to be.  When the water runs through the rocks, it’s basically a filtration system for the water.  Unfortunately, it’s not very common to find this sort of running water on small islands, so you’ll have to move on.

Coconuts are the perfect tool in this sort of situation.  To start, coconuts have liquid inside which is nutritional and somewhat hydrating.  Then, if you can cut it in half, they make excellent bowls.  With the bowls, you may collect rainwater, if there is any, and store it for later.  You make also scoop some sea water, boil it, and collect it.  Now, for collecting it, it’s best to put a cloth, which is somewhat clean, and place it above the bowl so that it soaks up the evaporating water.  Then, ring the water into another bowl and enjoy a nice drink of fresh water.  Drinking rain water that has been collected by tree leaves is also a source of fresh water.  You may feel rushed to find water, but remember that you may go three days without drinking so it’s definitely something to be looking for when you’re there, but just keep that in mind, and don’t be afraid to sleep for a night before you continue searching.

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Next we’ve come to the most challenging, but most anticipated step: food.  If you think that it’s best to start searching for food as soon as you get there: you’re wrong.  Sure it’s helpful to keep an eye out for something edible, but humans can go for three weeks without eating.  To start, it’s probably easiest to hunt for fruit.  As mentioned, coconuts can give you nutrients, but while you’re climbing the trees, look for some bananas or apples, or something similar because those are also very nutritious.  Wild berries can be dangerous, but if you need them, you may eat them in extremely small portions to begin, then gradually eat more if they’ve been helpful.

Protein is also important to try to include in your diet, so this is when you need to be creative.  If there is any small wildlife on the island, you may want to consider trapping them, or catching them.  If not, then fishing is most likely the best form of meat.  When you make your spear, try to find a sharp rock that you can use as a knife, then save that knife for future uses.

Next up: fire.  I’m sure a lot of you reading this have been on a fair share of bonfires at the beach or in the backyard.   While you were there, whoever made the fire probably threw a bunch of sticks together, drowned it in lighter fluid and lit it with a fancy lighter.  It’s not that easy in the wilderness.  So to start, you need to collect. or make, three different materials to make the fire: tinder, kindling, and fuel.  The tinder is what is used to start the fire and would include any small, dry pieces of wood, dead grass, or dead leaves.  The green grass and leaves do not particularly help in making the fire as they mostly just smoke instead of burn.  For kindling, you would want to collect slightly longer and dryer pieces of wood, which would help you build your structure.  Finally, use large, thick logs and broken branches for fuel, which would be used to keep your fire going while you’re away.

Now to make the fire, the most effective and common structures to build are: the log cabin, tepee, and lean to (respectively, as seen in the pictures).  Use kindling to make the structure and put some tinder in the inside.  This provides enough air flow so that the fire can have the oxygen it needs to stay alive and build up.

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In order to make the actual spark, you’ll need a lot of work.  First, get a wooden board which is light, dry, and has minimal sap.  Then, you are to take some small bits of tinder and bark and place them on the board.  Next, take a hard, dry, and dowel shaped wood to be your drill.  You are to but the base of it at the tinder and twist right or left, or slide it along the board until you get an ember.  Then very lightly blow on the ember which is on the tinder in order to create a flame.  Slowly transfer this flame to your structure to get your fire started.  Keep it alive as much as you can so you don’t have to make another one, and then use it to boil water, cook food, and stay warm.

From then on, do everything you think you need to stay alive and stay positive and don’t forget one of the most important and the final step of the tutorial: signaling.  There are multiple ways you can signal to a rescue helicopter or boat and it’s really up to preference and availability of materials.  If there is a large beach, you can spell out help or SOS in the sand using large rocks.  You may also use a tall flagpole or tall smoke stack to signal that someone is on the island.  Finally, most any three signals in a row make a universal sign of distress.

Hopefully, you don’t end up stranded on an island, but if you are, then follow this rough outline and it could benefit you in your survival efforts.


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