Just a few of the resources that can help keep you safe
1. Wilderness Survival Handbook
This hefty softcover is billed as an essential guide to everything adventurers need to stay sheltered, fed, healthy and safe in the backcountry. Author Michael Pewtherer has taught survival skills for 15 years, worked on wilderness rescue squads and hunted feral hogs in Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Where to get it: McGraw-Hill
Sample tip: A handheld GPS device can give the user a false, even dangerous, sense of confidence in the backcountry; plus, it can conk out when most needed. A GPS should only be used as a backup to a map and compass.
2. Outdoor Medical Emergency Handbook
Co-authored by intensive care expert Spike Briggs and former British Royal Navy surgeon Campbell Mackenzie, this pack-sized guide offers clear, step-by-step instructions for assessing and treating all manner of outdoor accidents and illness, complete with handy illustrations.
Where to get it: Firefly Books
Sample tip: In the field, splints can be improvised from sleeping pads or a backpack frame, as well as boards and poles; immobilize the joints above and below the fracture, pad all pressure points and regularly ensure there’s proper circulation.
3. SAS Survival Handbook
This long-time bestseller, written by British Special Air Service veteran and survival instructor John “Lofty” Wiseman, is now an iPhone app. Voted five stars by iPhone users, it offers everything
from the original book plus instructional videos, checklists, quizzes and even a Morse code signalling device.
Sample tip: If stranded following a float plane crash, remain in the same place for as long as safely possible. Staying put preserves energy; plus, the wreckage can be used for shelter or signalling, and it’s easier for rescuers to spot as they search your planned route.
4. Pocket first aid & CPR
Produced by the American Heart Association, this iPhone app helped injured filmmaker Dan Woolley survive for three days while trapped under the rubble of January’s earthquake in Haiti. And since heart attack is the leading killer of hunters in the field, the app’s CPR video instructions could prove to be a lifesaver.
Where to get it: iTunes
Sample tip: Most heart attacks start slowly, with mild discomfort, and victims wait too long before getting help. Warning signs include pain in the chest, one or both arms, and the back or jaw, as well as shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea and lightheadedness.
5. Northwoods Survival
Based in Knowlesville, New Brunswick, former Canadian paratrooper and military first aid instructor Jeff Butler teaches wilderness survival, bushcraft and self-reliant living skills with in-depth, hands-on courses for participants of all skill levels.
More information: Northwoods Survival
Sample tip: Your best piece of survival equipment is between your ears. To avoid an emergency, be aware of any and all changes in your environment, from the weather to the direction in which you are heading. Wilderness survival entails far more than just simple common sense—it requires knowledge, study and practice.
6. W.S.C. Wilderness Survival School
Founded by long-time survival instructor David Arama, this Kitchener, Ontario, school offers basic and advanced training. Courses range from identifying edible plants to building log cabins to wilderness crisis management.
More information: W.S.C. Wilderness Survival School
Sample tip: Most incidents occur on short outings—or outings intended to be short—so always carry a small survival kit. Along with first aid supplies, it should at the very least include a fire starter,
water purifier, signalling mirror, whistle and compass.
7. Canada West Wilderness Medical Consultants
The only Canadian-based wilderness first aid outfit with a physician as director and lead instructor (John Peachall), this Golden, B.C., company teaches courses for both outdoor
professionals and weekend warriors. The program blends academics with realistic scenarios, including simulated injuries.
More information: Canada West Wilderness Medical Consultants
Sample tip: If someone is accidentally shot by an arrow, trying to remove it, either by pulling it out or pushing it through, will likely lead to further injury. Instead, cut the shaft close to the wound, and stabilize it with adhesive tape. Place clean gauze dressings around the shaft to stop bleeding, and then get the victim to the hospital.