While living on a small desert island certainly has its perks, you always have to adapt to your surroundings and, whether you like it or not, even just a simple camping trip has the potential to go awry.
With that in mind, we contacted Tribal Fitness founder and survival expert Craig Heslop for a bunch of helpful tips, just as he launches his own set of survival programmes in Bahrain and around the Gulf. These are his top pieces of advice for surviving in the Bahraini wilds...
Fail to plan and then plan to fail.
Any adventure should be well organised in advance. Have a plan B ready if something goes wrong. Survival stories are great but what you don’t hear is that it’s only the organised ones who make it out alive.
Phone a friend.
Let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be home. Many of you would have watched the movie about Aaron Rolston, the guy who had to cut his own arm off to survive. While he can be commended for his bravery in the face of death, he would not have been in this situation in the first place had he followed this advice.
You are only as good as your gear.
Buy the best equipment you can afford and look after it. If you damage your gear, have it fixed straight away. It might save you one day!
Check the weather report.
Don’t walk blindly into an approaching dust storm or poor sea conditions. Check ahead and make sure it’s safe to advance.
Please Remember What’s First = Protection – Rescue – Water – Food.
Let’s imagine that you got lost on a hike up a wadi in Oman. Your first priority is to seek shelter. This can to be stay cool in the day or warm at night. Next is rescue. Can you phone the emergency services or light a signal fire? Water. Try to find a source of clean drinking water. If the water is stagnant you’ll have to filter and boil it. You can only live a few days without water so it is critical. Last on the agenda is food. One can live a few weeks without any food so it’s not important initially, especially if you don’t have plenty of water available.
Learn your knots.
You’ll get far with mastering these four knotting techniques – clove hitch, bowline, reef and noose.
Breathe from your belly.
There are two ways to breathe. Sympathetic which is from your chest. This is responsible for the flight-fight response. The second is diaphragmatic breathing. This takes place in your belly and is known as rest and digest. In a survival situation you want to stay as calm as possible. Breathe from your belly and you’ll maintain a calm mind.
Use your senses.
In New Zealand, the Maori have a saying, ‘titiroa’. It means to look and see. Many people can miss the little things in nature. Do you see those animal tracks or those bird’s eggs in that tree?
Practise makes perfect.
Learn the basics well and keep them sharp. Understanding how to make a fire using a variety of different techniques is a great idea. Skills like map reading, fishing and shelter building are all must-haves for the person who loves to get out in nature.
We live in a busy, urban world today. My release is to get outdoors and into nature. Enjoy some peace and quality time with your loved ones. It’s very hard not to live in the moment when you’re in the great outdoors!
Craig has been teaching desert survival training for five years. He was educated under Stu Gilbert, former RNZAF survival leader. He recently completed an adventure with The Bear Grylls Academy in the Musandam Peninsula, Oman. Desert survival programmes in Bahrain are available for both juniors and adults. Visit www.tribalfitness.com for more details.