The desert is a beautiful and exotic place. For all its beauty, it can also be a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Desert expeditions can be a chance to explore areas that continue to fascinate humankind. However, it can turn tragic if you are unprepared for a desert disaster.

Survival tactics are crucial if you get caught out in the desert. Such harsh conditions can wipe you out faster than anticipated especially if you make the wrong moves. Fortunately, you can survive long enough to get help if you follow a few tips. Here are a few tips to improve your chances of survival in the desert.

How Long Can You Survive In The Desert

Survival in the desert is subject to a few factors. Do you have water? Is there any shade? You can survive for up to 21 days without food. However, 5 days might be a stretch if you have no water in the desert,

You increase your chances of survival if you can make it past the hunger pains. There have been cases of people like Ricky Megee who went for 71 days in the desert.

Traveling in desert areas takes plenty of preparation. Apart from making sure you pack the basics, you need to make sure you are at your peak physical and mental status. These steps will keep you on your feet until you get help.

Notify someone

Make sure there are people who know where you are going. And it’s not just a one-time thing, keep the person in the loop for as long as you can. Periodic updates about your location will help with rescue efforts if you are trapped or if you lose communication.

Leave a comprehensive breakdown of your travel plans and contingent with the contact person. Let the person know when you change course or plans.

Communication devices

Have multiple communication devices. A mobile phone is great. However, it might get low on charge after a few hours especially in the heat. Have a Satphone as a backup when you pack for a desert expedition. Satphones use satellites to communicate. They are great in areas with minimal reception.

Alternatively, you can carry a personal locator beacon. This helps if you end up in unfamiliar territory and you lose communication.

Don’t panic

It is easy to go into panic mode the moment you realize you are lost in the desert. The first step to making the right decisions is to remain calm and assess the present situation. You might not come up with the brightest ideas if your brain is in panic mode. Strategic thinking begins with mental clarity.

Stay around the car

Resist the temptation of venturing off to look for solutions. That will only expose you to the sun and dehydrate you more. The car is a noticeable feature. Pop open the hood and keep it open. This is usually a sign that the occupant of the car is in trouble and they need assistance. Use reflective material in your car to beam distress flashes. Mirrors and big shiny surfaces are great resources in this situation.

Do not sit inside the car. The car will get hot inside and increase your body activity. You end up dehydrated, minimizing your chances of survival.

Eat less, drink more

We hope you have enough water and there’s more set aside for situations like getting stuck in the desert. Don’t listen to the instant need to drink a lot of water all in one go. Look at the color of your pee. Clear pee means your body is still sufficiently hydrated. However, yellow pee indicates dehydration is setting in

The body needs water to digest food. Eating dehydrates you faster. Eating salty food and drinking sugary caffeinated drinks worsens the situation. Avoid dry foods for a while.

Limit your water intake. Drinking too much water offsets imbalance in the body, making your situation worse.

Stay covered

The first step is to do a quick sweep of the surroundings and see if you can get some shade. Stay away from direct sun. Keep your clothes on and cover your head. Leaving large parts of your body uncovered exposes you to water loss through sweat. Use material in your car that can help make a structure.

While you’re at it, try and get to an elevated area. This will save you from floods if they strike. Pee into a container when you feel the need to go. This is not meant for drinking. Drinking pee is only advisable as a last result. Drinking too much of it may lead to kidney failure as it already loaded with impurities. You can pour the pee on a turban and use it to tie around your head for a cooling effect.

Stay off the sand

Limit your activity. First off, stay off the sand. Use any material you have to ensure there is a barrier between the sand and your body. The ground is about 30 degrees hotter than the air. Staying on the ground exposes you to faster water loss and possible attacks by some of the most venomous desert creatures such as snakes and scorpions.

Use your car’s chairs if they are detachable.

Light a fire

Get a fire going as soon as you notice it’s getting dark in the desert. The desert gets extremely cold at night. Sometimes temperatures go below freezing. Always carry a fire starter when you venture into the desert. Dried animal poop and dried vegetation make good fire starters. Fire is also a great location indicator.

Leave indicators

Waiting for help can start to seem bleak. If you must leave your location, leave a note stating the direction you have taken. Leave markers on the path you take. Markers help you make your way back if you get lost.

Limit your physical activity

Keep your movement to a minimum. The more you move, the more energy you use. Limiting your body movements conserves more energy. Small things like opening your mouth, licking your lips, and talking expose you to the harsh sun, slimming your survival chances.

Protecting yourself includes taking precautions such as not smoking, not drinking, and wearing a protective covering over your nose and mouth in the event of a dust storm.

Make a shelter

A shelter is a necessity when your chances start to diminish. Look for a place near other structures. Old branches will make excellent support beams if you are looking to build a temporary shelter to stretch out a day. However, you will need to build semi-permanent structures around your car to stay seen and stay sheltered.

Build the shelter close to any vegetation you see nearby. You are likely to get assistance or get seen around where there are signs of life. Alternatively, stay on any path that looks like it gets traffic. The potential for movement might make the difference between immediate help and getting stranded.

In Closing

Some of these tips are made on the off chance that you got stranded while you have a car. Desert trips can be daunting. You never know if help will get to you. It is advisable that you have an updated and fully stocked emergency kit with you when you venture out. Make sure you have extra fuel, water, batteries, heat sources, and light sources.

Kelvin Mwathi