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Would you know what to do if stranded in the outdoors?


As families and individuals travel through unfamiliar and remote areas, the thought of being stranded there intimidates many. Search-and-rescue expert Randy Gerke helps ease fears by providing tips anyone can use in the wilderness in Outdoor Survival Guide (Human Kinetics, 2009).

Gerke, who has served as a technical advisor to television programs “Rescue 911” and “Worst Case Scenario,” underscores making the most of what's on hand. “To survive, you must become a creative scavenger, always searching for the multiple ways in which you can use available natural and manmade materials,” he says.  For example, Gerke says stranded people may initially look at a broken-down car as merely trash, but debris can provide resources for shelter, fire, signaling, and tools; the materials to construct traps and snares for food; and even the means to collect and carry water.

In his new guide, Gerke reveals the resource gems among the rough of any crash site:

  • Fuel can be used to make a fire that will provide light, security, a source of signaling, and a heat source for warmth and cooking.
  • Wire can be used as cordage to construct shelters, traps, and snares and to meet many other needs.
  • Fabric and padding from seats and headliner work well as shelter, insulation, bandages, shoes, and clothing.
  • Batteries can provide an electrical source to create a spark to ignite a fire, by connecting a piece of wire to each terminal and striking their ends together.
  • Glass is useful as a reflector for signaling.
  • Tires can serve as fuel, especially useful as fuel for a smoky daytime signaling fire.  Strip rubber from the tires and make it into fastening material, carrying straps, and snowshoe bindings.
  • Metal from the skin of the plane makes good shelter material. Metal can also be used as sleds, snowshoes, fabricated pots and containers, and cutting tools.

In Outdoor Survival Guide, Gerke expands on the most important practical aspects of outdoor survival, such as controlling panic, collecting water, identifying edible plants, building a survival kit, and keeping a “survivor” attitude.

For more information, see Outdoor Survival Guide.