While surviving does require some tools and supplies, surviving any disastrous situation that gets thrust upon us will require the ability to think our way through it,as you will see when we go through what the S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. acronym means, and how it applies to you.
Just remember, surviving is for the most part mental.
If we are in situation where we need to not only make quick decisions, but decisions that will give you the best odds of survival, panicking and making rash decitions will only put you in more danger. This acronym is not only helpful to remember in a wilderness environment, but an urban environment as well.
The S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. acronym can also be used to help with our everyday preps as well. We can use this acronym to help formulate a well-rounded preparedness plan that does not just revolve around what food, water and supplies we have.
S – Size Up the Situation
This might be the most important letter in the SURVIVAL acronym, if you remember nothing else, remember this one. Regardless of the situation, we need to take the time and size up the situation you are in.
Understand your surroundings. This means knowing what is in your immediate area and what is going on around you. You might be close to water, or you might need to find water. Do you have food, water and shelter nearby? Or do you need to find it?
Stop for a second and just listen. This could not only help calm your nerves a little bit, it can give you clues about how to handle your situation.
Identify your threats. While there are predators in the wild, you still need to be concerned about predators in an urban area…the human kind. Find a safe spot and think about if you are safe for the time being. If not, your first course of action should be finding safety.
Identify your strengths. A good way to give yourself a little boost of confidence in a situation like this is to remind yourself what you have. Take inventory of your supplies and remember, you are a prepper/survivalist, hopefully you have planned for this.
The reason I say this is the most important letter to remember is because this can and should apply to everything we do on a daily basis. From going to the grocery store, to attending an event with a large group of people we need to always be thinking on our feet.
Something that seems mundane and routine could quickly turn into a situation that affects you and your family’s life and safety.
U – Undue Haste Makes Waste
Use all Your Senses. The last thing you want to do in a survival situation is panic and make choices that will put you in more danger. The FM-03-05-70 Army Manual I linked to at the end of this post states…
“Consider all aspects of your situation before you make a decision and a move. If you act in haste, you may forget or lose some of your equipment. In your haste you may also become disoriented so that you don’t know which way to go. Plan your moves.”
R – Remember Where You Are
This might sound a little obvious, but in a situation where you need to make critical decisions it’s important not to take this for granted. Make sure you take time to understand what’s around you. The last thing you what to say is “why didn’t I go that way!?”
If you have a map and compass use them, if you have navigation skills use them, if you don’t…learn them. This article here will help with learning to use a map and compass.
This is also where situational awareness comes in, we need to always be aware of our surroundings regardless of the situation we are in.
V – Vanquish Fear and Panic
If we are put in a situation where every decision we make could be the difference between life and death, the last thing we want to do is panic. It might be tough to vanquish your fear in this scenario, but one bad decision will lead to another, and you will not be doing yourself any favors.
As hard as it might be, you need to find your inner strength and clear your head to be able to make these critical decisions.
I – Improvise
It’s time to think like macgyver now. Learn to not only use the tools you have for their main purpose, but try to think about what other uses they have.
Also learn about making improvised tools with the materials available around you. This is why a kinife is the most valuable tool you have (in my opinion) because you can make any other tool you need too with a knife.
V – Value Living
Ok, this might be another one that seems a little obvious, but in reality it’s not. We all need to have an undying will to survive at any costs.
Your mental attitude plays a huge role when it comes to the will to survive, some people will just give up when the going gets rough, but we can’t afford to do that. We need to understand that everything is not always perfect, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
A – Act Like the Natives
This doesn’t mean putting on the war paint and feathers and dancing around like a crazy person…although that might come in handy in some situations.
This means understand how the people of the past survived without fast food and cell phones. Indians had 2 choices, live off the land or die. Learning some of these primitive skills could come in handy in both rural and urban areas.
L – Live by Your Wits – Learn Basic Skills
In the army manual below it says “Live by your wits, but until then, Learn basic skills.” Learning whatever we can right now will only help us in the event of a disaster.
It might seem like learning how to make a water filter is only for mountain men, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are far more people in urban areas, meaning more usage, meaning greater chance of shortages and/or contamination.
We Are all Mental Patience
One of my favorite lines in the Mel Brooks movie High Anxiety is “Patience is mental” “and we are all mental patience.” It might seem counter intuitive, but Having a plan is better than running off like a frightened deer.
As I said in the beginning of this post, if you remember only one thing, remember that your state of mind is going to be the difference between making a good well thought out decision, and a decision that could put you and your family at risk.
Here is the The FM-03-05-70 Army Manual that goes into much more detail about the S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. Acronym and how it is used for military purposes.