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AIR2AIR asked me to post a primer on desert survival. This is specifically written with the FJ Cruiser in mind. You are not parachuting into a combat zone and you are not on a wilderness hike. Your FJ stopped working.

The GPS “Spot” Spot Messenger > Home is a good place to turn if things go badly for you, however, your Spot Messenger may not work (the batteries may have run down or they may have leaked as they are prone to do in excessive heat). It runs on batteries. It’s a machine. So is your FJ Cruiser.

This thread deals with basic survival hints and the most important survival tool you have is your brain.

You are in the desert on a run and you’re in your rig. Something goes horribly wrong. This happens all of the time and people die needlessly because they are not prepared. This thread doesn’t take the place of training, but it’s a place to start.

UPHILL’s Desert Preparation Hints for the FJ Cruiser.

Scenario: You are not parachuting into a combat zone. You’re driving your FJ and something happens. You know where you came from and with any luck at all you know where you were going – you have a map. (please never rely completely on a GPS) For whatever reason, you can’t drive your FJ anymore. Decision time. If you can call for help, call for help and wait where you are.

Sometimes you need to walk out because there isn’t any other choice – THAT is what these suggestions are principally intended to address.

1. Develop a Plan. Then stick to the plan. Don’t waste time because you have two great gifts. (a) time (b) the choice in how you use it.

Leave a note under your windshield wiper with your plan on it so if somebody finds it, they will be aided in finding you.

2.0 Water – You won’t last long without hydration. If you bring water along with you in your FJ, please store at least a couple of gallons in canteens or camelbacks. I carry 3 gallons in canteens as a general rule. One of those canteens is bright orange. The desert rats call it a ‘body marker’. You can’t haul a 5 gallon Jerry can out with you if you need to walk. Learn to ration sweat, not water. Sipping water does not get it to the brain and vital organs. Take a long drink when you need it. People have been found dead from dehydration with water in their canteens.

2.1 In desert areas there is potable water and there is alkaline water, which is not. If you find alkaline water, douse yourself in it to keep you cool and drink your potable water.

2.2 If there are green plants in the desert, there is water present. Make of that what you will. You may burn more sweat trying to dig water than you earn if you find water. Those green plants usually have deep roots.

2.3 Solar stills are not a good source of water. You often produce more sweat digging the hole than you obtain from water gained through the still.

3. Clothing – The second most important thing to consider is what you should wear. Long sleeve shirts and long trousers are a better choice than short pants and t-shirts. They help retain sweat, you’re ultimately cooler and they’re better than sunblock. A wide brim hat with a closed crown is MOST IMPORTANT.

3.1 The Bedouin have been living in the desert for thousands of years. How do they dress? A long white tunic, a sleeveless cloak and a headcloth. The tunic is loose fitting, allowing air to circulate, preventing sweat from evaporating too quickly and slowing dehydration in hot, dry air. Consider this in your planning. My FJ Cruiser, THE SCORPION was built in honor of T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). When Lawrence crossed the El Houl, a barren plain bordering the Nefudh Desert on his way to attack Aqaba in July 1917, he observed and recorded:
"It was a breathless wind - and, as the day went on and the sun rose in the sky it grew stronger - By noon it blew a half gale, so-dry that our shrivelled lips cracked open, and the skin of our faces chapped; while our eyelids, gone granular, seemed to creep back and bare our shrinking eyes. The Arabs drew their head-cloths tightly across their noses, and pulled the brow folds forward like visors with only a narrow, loose flapping slit of vision."

4. Shelter – A sleeping bag or tarp should be carried with you for shade. You must keep out of the sun during the heat of the day to prevent wasting sweat/water.

5. Fire - Matches, a flint striker, potassium permanganate, or something to cause a fire. It’s good for signaling and it gets cold in the desert at night during most of the year – far colder than most people expect.

6. Food? - Not really important. If you run out of water, food won’t matter. Three days without food isn’t a killer. Your supply of water defines how long you have to go before you shuffle off this mortal coil. If you want to bring food, bring food that is light weight.

7. A sharp knife has many uses.

8. A compass is handy if you know how to use it. Learn to use it. Having a map as a point of reference, the compass is even more valuable. Orienteering classes can be fun and will teach you to take an asmuth from your lensatic compass and will aid you in land navigation. However, we’re walking out and we know where we were and hopefully where we were going. Better to stay on the road.

Additional Thoughts

Life is always hard but it's harder when you're stupid. If you have a beloved pet, I suggest you write it off. It will drink your water. I know the dog lovers will have at me for this, but it's my opinion. We're talking about survival here and you may be able to save your pet if you can make it out, but if you don't make it, the beloved pet will surely perish in the desert.

Firearms are good if you know how to use them. It's extra weight and you need to balance the weight against the utility. If you have to shoot something, take your time, squeeze the trigger with good sight alignment/sight picture. Speed is fine, accuracy is final. As I've said, I like firearms. I don't know that they have much utility except as signaling devices in the desert survival scenario as presented.
 

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Amen. And might I second... water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water.

And once you think you have a completely stupid amount of water, double it and go. :)
 

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Uphill, just curious what your background is? You seem much more knowledgeable and experienced than the common sense stuff.

Say, it would be great if some kind of preparedness training, maybe with some first aid was combined with the trail repair stuff being discussed in the Demello thread. Would make for a great day (hopefully in socal).

http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/socal-region/50243-anyone-interested.html
 

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he hurt bad men for a living.
:lol:




Great thread Larry. I need to get more maps. I really like USGS maps since they show some topo which is very helpful in finding your location and best route out.

I was looking at compasses a while ago and I could believe how expensive a good one is, really surprised me.
 

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I might add - perhaps the obvious - that if you are travelling in remote areas, always go with a buddy and if not, at the very least have someone informed of your route and when you should be expected to be back with a maximum time to check in - beyond which they should contact authorities to organize a search for you. Of course, s h i t happens, people can become separated, and on a long trip, even someone knowing the route and duration of your trip may become a moot point if you get stuck early on in your excursion. Great info and thread!
 

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Enough cannot be said for the "Having A Plan" part. The plan I refer to is similar to the Float/Flight Plan concept.

1. Know where you are going, when you plan on getting there, and what route you'll be taking. Relay that information to a trusted friend or family member.

2. If you followed step one, the safest place to be is within site of your truck. Period.

3. If step one was skipped, then time should be taken to make a new plan and WRITE IT DOWN TWICE! One copy is for the windshield for emergency personnel to use. The other goes with you and you FOLLOW IT TO THE LETTER.

Mr. Uphill mentioned the water thing. The very best place to store water is in your body.

And I agree, food is inconsequential.
But if you must, avoid anything salt cured, bready, or high in protein. The very best SURVIVAL food available is simple fruit flavored hard candy. The reasons are two fold. 1. Simple carbs for near instant energy. 2. Hard candy requires ZERO moisture from your digestive system, therefore any water you take in goes to your tissue and brain, NOT your colon.

A short list of SURVIVAL foods that will get you killed: (longer list available upon request)
beef jerky
dried fruit
crackers
peanut butter
granola
Powerbar
MRE


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Something I think needs some attention here is an individual's will to survive in the first place.

We all hear a lot about the phrase, “the will to survive.” You notice, it does not say the will to live, or the will to die, it uses the word SURVIVE. The word survive is there because it is the most important word in that phrase. At times in real survival situations, unlike a television show I won't mention, it is easier to just live (or give up and die), than it is to survive. Consider the fact that survival is very hard work. Death or living is much easier. Anyone can die or possibly live, but how many of us can survive?

You may be asking, living is surviving, isn't it? Not exactly, because survival means you live by reasoning, determination, training, and actions. Living simply means you continue to breath until you are found. If you are in the wild long enough, without the will to survive or a lot of luck, you will move into category three, death. So, many people are considered survivors when in fact, they were just plain lucky.

The will to survive is a mental conditioning of your mind to survive no matter what man, nature, or luck throws at you. It is easy to think of survival and to say you have the will to survive, but do you really have it? The first thing to consider about survival situations it that no one wakes up in the morning and says; “I think I will be a survivor today.” The trauma of suddenly finding yourself in a wilderness survival situation will require psychological acceptance. This acceptance is difficult because deep down inside you know you will now have to feed, cloth, shelter, and take care of your own medical needs. And, even the professionals fight bits of doubt when it really happens (I suspect few would admit that though). It is the ultimate reality check. A failure to accept the seriousness of your situation will, without luck, lead to death.

If you believe in a higher power, then it is to your advantage to pray or meditate. Do what your beliefs say you should do and as often as you need to. However, it is important to remember to have faith in your higher power, but help yourself at the same time. It is so easy to allow yourself to pass the buck to a higher power and no longer take any responsibility for you own actions. YOU are the one that must, with your higher power's help, survive. It is reasonable to assume that most survivors prayed at various points during their situation, possibly asking for food or water in some form. This communication with a higher power is good because keeps your will to survive strong by giving you hope and that is good psychological support.

Enter a survival situation knowing you will make mistakes or use bad judgment at times. All of us will. The key here, is being prepared. In any survival situation remember to think your actions out way before you act. Use simple logic and use your mind. The best tool you have to assist you in survival is not a knife, matches, or a blanket, but the human mind. If you are preoccupied with self-pity over mistakes, your judgment could be cloudy.

Gradually build on your successful acts and down play the losses. If you do something well, remember how you did it. Think positive about all of your accomplishments. Don't consider it luck, though part of it may have been, you were still the person responsible for the end result. Often in survival a window of opportunity opens and the survivor fails to act. Failure to act at a golden chance is all too common. Each accomplishment needs to be rewarded in your mind.

Guts and determination are also important traits for the survivor. Those individuals who are “hackers” and not quitters will usually survive. They have an attitude toward life that helps them survive. They seem to feed on challenges and successes. Often, in the military, the biggest guys, strongest guys, or the smartest guys would eventually quit because they have possibly never really been challenged and it comes as a shock to the system when it finally happens. It was surprising to see the one individual who everyone would have picked to be the first quitter, completed training. Often they were of normal size and intelligence. It is all a mind game. It was all about mind over the physical pain or difficulties. The human mind is the most wonderful tool you have, so use it often in the field. And remember, others have survived, and so can you!

The will to survive is an attitude. It is a deep commitment to survival. I suggest, while it cannot be learned, it can be reinforced by being prepared, with knowledge, and by developing a healthy survival psychology. Remember to downplay your losses while building your successes up. Confront your difficulties head on and with determination to accomplish your task, no matter what. Keep your faith in your higher power, and keep your mind active. Stay off of your self-pity pot and do NOT get into the “poor me” attitude.

If you have the will to survive, you will survive and not just live. You will be able to return to society knowing you, and you alone, kept yourself alive. You will know that you kept yourself alive where many others would have simply given up...and died. You will be proud of the fact you didn't just live, or even die, you were truly a survivor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Mr. Uphill mentioned the water thing. The very best place to store water is in your body.

And I agree, food is inconsequential.
But if you must, avoid anything salt cured, bready, or high in protein. The very best SURVIVAL food available is simple fruit flavored hard candy. The reasons are two fold. 1. Simple carbs for near instant energy. 2. Hard candy requires ZERO moisture from your digestive system, therefore any water you take in goes to your tissue and brain, NOT your colon.

A short list of SURVIVAL foods that will get you killed: (longer list available upon request)
beef jerky
dried fruit
crackers
peanut butter
granola
Powerbar
MRE
X2 Thanks for the addition of "bad food" though as you mentioned - You're actually better off without any food at all in this scenario. Hard candy is a good idea because it gives you the "illusion" of food without delivering anything that will interfere with your hydration.

It's more of an escape plan than it is a pure survival plan since you have a route and if you leave your FJ, it's because you must - Still, if you must, getting out intact is the objective.
 

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AIR2AIR asked me to post a primer on desert survival. This is specifically written with the FJ Cruiser in mind. You are not parachuting into a combat zone and you are not on a wilderness hike. Your FJ stopped working.

The GPS “Spot” Spot Messenger > Home is a good place to turn if things go badly for you, however, your Spot Messenger may not work (the batteries may have run down or they may have leaked as they are prone to do in excessive heat). It runs on batteries. It’s a machine. So is your FJ Cruiser.

This thread deals with basic survival hints and the most important survival tool you have is your brain.

You are in the desert on a run and you’re in your rig. Something goes horribly wrong. This happens all of the time and people die needlessly because they are not prepared. This thread doesn’t take the place of training, but it’s a place to start.

UPHILL’s Desert Preparation Hints for the FJ Cruiser.

Scenario: You are not parachuting into a combat zone. You’re driving your FJ and something happens. You know where you came from and with any luck at all you know where you were going – you have a map. (please never rely completely on a GPS) For whatever reason, you can’t drive your FJ anymore. Decision time. If you can call for help, call for help and wait where you are.

Sometimes you need to walk out because there isn’t any other choice – THAT is what these suggestions are principally intended to address.

1. Develop a Plan. Then stick to the plan. Don’t waste time because you have two great gifts. (a) time (b) the choice in how you use it.

Leave a note under your windshield wiper with your plan on it so if somebody finds it, they will be aided in finding you.
Well put Larry. But I do have an issue with #1 and that is, it should be #2.

#1 should be: Let family members/neighbors or good friends know where you are going. A copy of your route, the time you are leaving (if the above are not in close proximity) and a drop dead TIME and DATE when you are return to notify them that you are back. Very clear and concise instructions should be left with whom you are relying on, on what to do if you do not return.

Then when you are out in the middle of nowhere and your FJ quits and there is absolutely no way you can drive out, you stay with the rig. If you have stuck with your itinerary, help should be on the way within 24 hours after the drop dead time and date of return. Remember a large truck is much easier to see than a person walking. And a rescue is highly dependent on being able seen by your rescuers.

You have the truck for shade, you are not exerting yourself and losing precious water. You have all of the survival gear with you by not leaving the truck and it will last so much longer.

With the modern search machinery (helicopters, etc) and techniques a very large area can be searched if they know you are on a road. AND if you have stuck to your plan.

Leaving the truck is the last thing you should do.



That's my 2 cents.
 

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Well put Larry. But I do have an issue with #1 and that is, it should be #2.

#1 should be: Let family members/neighbors or good friends know where you are going. A copy of your route, the time you are leaving (if the above are not in close proximity) and a drop dead TIME and DATE when you are return to notify them that you are back. Very clear and concise instructions should be left with whom you are relying on, on what to do if you do not return.

Then when you are out in the middle of nowhere and your FJ quits and there is absolutely no way you can drive out, you stay with the rig. If you have stuck with your itinerary, help should be on the way within 24 hours after the drop dead time and date of return. Remember a large truck is much easier to see than a person walking. And a rescue is highly dependent on being able seen by your rescuers.

You have the truck for shade, you are not exerting yourself and losing precious water. You have all of the survival gear with you by not leaving the truck and it will last so much longer.

With the modern search machinery (helicopters, etc) and techniques a very large area can be searched if they know you are on a road. AND if you have stuck to your plan.

Leaving the truck is the last thing you should do.



That's my 2 cents.
As a guy who grew up learning from my own mistakes I agree with the entire thread. As an experienced SAR Tech II, I have to fully praise and back nevadaesh's advice. Good thread:cheers:
 

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Well Larry....Again I agree...And I live right square in the middle of the desert....

I learned the hard way and don't recomend it to anyone.....

My wife always has a "come rescue my ass" time, before I leave....I've used it twice in 13 years....She knows I'm good for at least a week alone....so she knows not to end the search for at least that long.....

And in the desert....carry an old white bed sheet.....it makes for a great outfit on your way out.....

Any chance you can do the same type of right up for different terains...i.e. cold/mountainous/forest.....

And the next clown I meet in the desert with a cooler full of beer and NO water.....I'm gonna slap them!!!:lol: Maybe that's just Karma thinning the crowd:lol:
 

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LOL on the MRE
I think you mean POL (Puke out Loud). We were heli-dropped a load of MREs on a fire in Utah once. I swear they we're left over from 'nam.
 

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Good stuff Larry!
DON'T LEAVE YOUR RIG! (Even if no one knows you itenerary)
I travel solo 95% of the time. I carry most of what you said in the FJ at ALL times, but the intent of leaving the rig is never there. I carry a small camelback for very short excursions away from the vehicle. I only walk as far as I can see back to the vehicle, cause just at the point you lose sight, you will also lose orientation...and it's tough going from that point on.
 

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While I agree 101% with Uphill that you should have a map of the area (I usually print one out of the specific area), having a mobile GPS that runs an extended time on batteries is a good idea. I have a Garmin GPS III that I keep in the truck with spare batteries. When selecting one consider your runtime. The newer ones have some cool features, but they also have a runtime less than half the old school models (15hrs vs. 36hrs). Also, you can get these with electronic compass built-in, but are no substitute (reliability) for a basic lensatic compass.

Another item that is quite handy, but a little expensive, is a satellite phone. You can pick these up for <-> $200 to $1000, and costs are about .80 to $1.50 per min from the SatPhone to a landline (Iridium, INMARSAT and GlobalStar). It's more expensive from landline to the SatPhone ($3 to $14 per minute), but the receiver of the call pays nothing, unless they are being called via a special reverse-charge service. :bigthumb:
We got one of these for my Brother In-Law who was in Iraq, so he could call whenever.
 

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LOL on the MRE
Yeah, I know. You would think that an MRE would be the King of all survival foods.

But it is actually the opposite. Join me for an analysis:

A) the "Snack Bread" alone requires nearly 30 oz. of water to completely digest. Where does that water come from? Your stomach (what you just drank), and the rest from your tissue (what you drank over the last few hours).

B) most of the food items contained will sap your body of it's moisture through the overuse of sodium. This, in combination with hydro-digestive requirements likely not being met contributes to the newly accepted nickname of "Meal Refusing to Exit". Constipation can be a REAL bad problem during a true survival situation.

C) at 3000 calories, it is simply overkill. Your energy needs are quite simple in this scenario.

MREs are pretty much the Antichrist of SURVIVAL foods. I'd rather have nothing.

HOWEVER, there is a positive aspect in the use of an MRE in this scenario. The average MRE will create enough trash for you to leave a 'bread crumb' trail for many miles. :jester:
 

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Great thread Larry! The rules fit about any survival scenario and will help in most any survival situations. Because I'm a nurse, I just wanted to add that if you are planning a backcountry run and you have medications that are vital to your health, it would be a good idea to have at least a few EXTRA days supply if the worst should happen. Nothing worse than trying to stay alive with you blood pressure or blood sugar being all screwed up!
 
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