While it might seem like an adventure of a lifetime, landing on a deserted island is no walk in the park. It is rather dangerous, especially if you do not have any knowledge of survival techniques.
Odds are, if you land on a deserted island, you will be surrounded by undrinkable salt water and you will be far from civilization, so it was important to get down to the basics of survival. Fortunately, people have experienced this and they have given plenty of tips and tricks regarding how to survive on a deserted island.
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The first and most important step in the process of surviving on a deserted island is to stop and gather your thoughts. You will need to build a plan of action that will help with the basics, which include water, food, and shelter. Once you have those, the next step is to make fire and then try to make contact with the outside world.
You will also have to determine whether or not your physical safety is at risk. You might even have to figure out how to get back to society by creating a raft of make-shift watercraft.
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Find Clean, Fresh Water
Water is the most important necessity for survival in any situation. The human body requires water daily and after a few days, usually three, you will begin to recognize the signs of dehydration.
If you are lucky, it will rain on your first day on the island, so you can collect safe rainwater. If you do not have any type of container to hold your water, you can use leaves to catch and hold it.
However, on a deserted island, there is rarely any way to predict the weather, so you will need to look for water on your own – before you get dehydrated. The best place to look for water is inland on the island. You might be lucky and find streams or little ponds with clean, moving water.
Hopefully, the water you find is moving, so it is clear of harmful bacteria and other organisms. If you do find water, do not venture far from it because you will most likely be able to catch animals throughout the day.
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Video Credit: John Campbell
Gather Your Fresh Water
If water is difficult to find, there is another way to get fresh water; but, it does take some work. Solar water still requires a plastic sheet and a container. To make the still, you dig a hole that is deep enough for the content you have.
Be sure you are near trees and in a sandy location. The sand in the hole should be damp. The container should go into the hole, in the center. Put leaves around the still, be sure they are wet leaves.
Then, cover the hole with the plastic sheet and tack it in place with rocks around the edges. Then, put a rock in the center, right above the container. The plastic sheet will develop condensation and it will fall into the container to give you safe, fresh drinking water.
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Build a Lean-To Shelter
After you have your water source taken care of, the other steps are much easier. If you are on a deserted island, the weather could be unpredictable. So, a shelter is important.
Because food can be difficult to find, it is a good idea to not use up too much of your energy building the shelter. One of the easiest types of shelters to make is a lean-to. You simply find a large tree and a large branch. The large branch leans up against the large tree. Then, you use smaller branches to lean against the large branch and go to the ground. Cover those branches with leaves and foliage.
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Build a Tepee Shelter
Another useful type of shelter that is relatively easy to build is a tepee. This is also done with branches and foliage. To build this type of shelter, you will need at least three strong branches to be the foundational tripod of the shelter. The three branches should stick firmly into the ground.
You then cross the tops of the branches and tie them together with vines. You then use more strong branches to build up solid walls, remembering to leave an opening for you to go inside of the structure. You cover the tepee with foliage.
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Get the Fire Started
The next tip involves building a fire. There are a few ways to build a fire and some are much easier than others. If you have matches and/or a lighter, then you will have no problem getting a fire going. The trick will be to keep it going.
The trouble arises if you do not have easy fire starters. If this is the case, the first thing you should do is find dry wood and kindling. The best fires begin with a small tepee made of kindling and other easily combustible material. Build the tepee from little sticks and put tinder inside of it.
Hopefully, you have something made of glass with you – like a flashlight or binoculars, or even a small bottle. You can use the glass to direct the sun to the tinder. Once it smokes, you blow gently on it to feed it with oxygen.
Try a Fire Plow
If you do not have any glass, then you have to work with friction to get your fire going. There is a method called a Fire Plow. It requires softwood that has a groove in it as well as dried tinder and a hard stick.
With tinder placed at the far end of the grooved wood, you begin to plow the groove with the hard stick. Eventually, the tinder will smoke. You blow gently on it to feed the fire. Hopefully, it catches and you can transfer the softwood to your tepee to build your fire.
This is a physically challenging way of building fire. If you are not able to get the fire going, then give up for a while and let the wood dry out even more. You have time to get back to it.
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Get Attention from the Outside World
The next step of surviving on a deserted island is to figure out how to contact the outside world. Deserted islands rarely have mobile phone service, so you will have to figure out another way to get someone’s attention. Smoke from a fire could be one trick, but other tricks help, too.
If there is a spot on the island that is open and free of trees, you can build a word out of rocks. This way, someone might see it by flying over the island. Be sure that you use big rocks that will stand out and use a word like “HELP” or “SOS”.
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Find Your Food
Even on a deserted island, there will be food sources. They may not be the first choices in your regular menus, but these will get the job done. In most cases, some plants can be eaten.
Nearly every type of grass is safe to eat. And if the island is tropical, you might even be lucky enough to find a coconut or other tropical treasures. Plantains often grow in tropical islands.
If you are looking for something protein-laden, you can usually find bugs under logs or climbing up and down trees. Grasshoppers and worms are good choices. When it comes to plants, it is best to avoid anything that you do not recognize, even if it has berries.
Try Some Fishing
Since deserted islands are surrounded by water, fishing is always an option. Fish can be eaten even without a fire – because they can be left outside to dry in the sun. But, first, you have to catch them. You can do this with a makeshift spear. Sharpen a point onto a substantial stick, wander into the water, stand still, and stab the first fish that comes your way. Keep going until you catch one or more.
You can also try to “fish” with a stick, a string (like a shoelace), and hook made from any type of metal you can find, and a worm. You won’t be able to do much reeling, but you will be surprised what you might catch.
Another useful way to catch fish is to build a trap. Not a trap that you would use to catch lobster or crab, but a trap that you craft in the water, using rocks. You create enclose water with a rock wall, leaving an area for fish to swim in and out of. They will make it in and you can catch them before they find their way out. As the old saying goes, it’s as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
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Get that Raft Started
If no one comes to you, then you will need to come to them. As long as you have the energy, you can consider building a raft. For a basic raft, you will need several logs and something to tie them together – like vines.
The logs should be 12-inches in diameter or smaller. You will also need to have some smaller logs to help brace the raft together. It is helpful to add notches into the logs so they fit snugly, then weave the vines over and under the rafts.
Protect Yourself from Predators
A deserted island could be inhabited by animals that could be dangerous. The best way to stay safe is to build a fire and maintain it. Another way to protect yourself is to craft a weapon – like a spear that you can make from a strong stick. Watch out for snakes, spiders, and dangerous insects. It is also a good idea to be aware of the fish that come near you, especially sharks.
Surviving on a deserted island can be done. The key to survival is staying calm and taking care of your basic needs. With water, shelter, fire, and food, you can live for quite some time. But, as long as you are healthy and capable, it is a good idea to begin to work hard to get home.
You might have to use fire to make contact or you might have to build a raft. When you take care of yourself, set outside of your comfort zone, and stay positive, you will make it home alive and with quite an adventure to share.