Surviving a wet environment is not as life-threatening as survival in desert or sub-zero conditions, but brings a number of other dangers and problems. Excessive mud and high water levels limit mobility and pose safety hazards. Under humid conditions insects, bacteria, and other vermin thrive. Here are four basic tips to help those stranded in wet environments.
Find a small knapsack or book-bag that will keep contents dry—or use a trash bag as a lining. Add a plastic tarp or sheet, and consider including the following items: salt, anti-diarrhea tablets, anti-infection tablets, antiseptic, water-purification tablets, insect repellent, anti-fungicide, eye ointment, water-proof adhesive tape, a few bullion cubes, and a wire saw. You should also pack a good pocket-knife, a water-tight container of matches, empty trash bags, and a coil of nylon rope.
If you’re heading for a wet environment, you’ll want rain gear. But water-proof shoes and preferably rubber boots from places like Central Farm and Garden are essential; your feet can suffer skin damage and infections if they’re constantly soaked. If you must, put plastic bags over your socks to keep your feet dry. Don’t wear wet socks too long or risk trench foot.
You can go for days without food, and collect rainwater for drinking. But a dry place to recoup and store your things is import; your tarp makes a handy tent against the rain. Avoid sitting or sleeping on wet ground. A hammock is ideal; but a platform of branches can keep you from the wet—pad it with a layer of the driest possible leaves or soft branches you can find.
At some point, you’ll get soaked. Making a fire under wet conditions is not difficult if you’ve got shelter and you’ve kept your matches dry. You can find drier tinder in the form of dead leaves and twigs wherever they’re sheltered from the rain—under dense bushes, large logs, stones, etc. You can also get a good start by peeling off tree bark; use your knife to scrape of the dry insides or shavings from the wood underneath. Once you get flames started, add successively heavier fuel so the lighter fuel helps dry heavier wood. Store extra firewood under your tarp to keep it dry.
If you can’t stay dry, you’ll need some means to dry out. If there’s two things you should focus on, it’s fire and shelter. And protect your feet—otherwise you’re almost helpless.
About the author: A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.