The Seven Deadly Enemies of Survival

If you’ve ever been lost in the woods or on the mountain, you know the quick pang of panic that strikes you in the gut, only to be followed by the barrage of self-deprecating internal jabs that can cripple you. “How could I be so stupid?” It’s too late for that now, but remembering these seven deadly enemies of survival can mean the difference between life and death.

Paul BrideFeature
At some point, a decision to survive needs to be made. Paul Bride photo.

“You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions, you know. If you don’t make decisions, you’re stuffed.”
– Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void

1. Fear
Fear is a normal reaction in any emergency situation. It is extremely important to calmly assess the situation and not allow these seven enemies to interfere with your survival.

2. Pain
Pain may often be ignored in a panic situation. Deal with injuries immediately before they become even more serious.

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3. Cold
Cold inhibits the ability to think, numbing the body and reducing the will to survive. Never allow yourself to stop moving or to fall asleep unless adequately sheltered.

4. Thirst
Dehydration is a common enemy and must not be ignored. It can dull your mind, causing you to overlook important survival information. And don’t eat snow, especially the yellow kind. Animals do it but snow will only lower your body temperature. Always melt snow first.

5. Hunger
Hunger is dangerous but seldom deadly (in the mountains, something else usually kills you before starvation does). It may reduce your ability to think logically and increase your susceptibility to the effects of cold, pain and fear.

6. Fatigue
Fatigue is often unavoidable. Keep in mind that it can and will lower your mental ability. Remember that in an emergency this is often the body’s way of escaping a difficult situation.

7. Boredom & Loneliness
These enemies are quite often unanticipated and may diminish the mind’s ability to deal with the situation.


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