Island Survival Guide

What would you do if you got stranded on an uninhabited island? Do you think you have what it takes to survive with virtually no supplies? 

Some superstitious people may say that addressing such questions will jinx a trip involving flying over oceans or sailing in the great seas. Nonetheless, it is better to be ready than to be sorry.

Preparation for such eventualities before you go on a potentially dangerous trip could help you immensely with your island survival strategy. For example, learning basic first aid techniques could save your life or the life of a fellow traveller.

You never know when you might need these island survival strategies. The odds of you needing them are slim, but they are there. If you are someone who prefers to be ready for anything, you will benefit from the survival skills discussed here. 

survival skill in an uninhabited island
Photo by David Tip on Unsplash

A Positive Mindset for Island Survival

The most important island survival skill is a positive mindset. The first thing you should do when you realize that you are in a sticky situation is to show self-control and not panic. In a Castaway kind of situation, you will need island survival skills, stay focused and be quick to take action.

Wallowing in despair and self-pity will not help anybody. In fact, doing so will dampen your own spirit and the spirit of those around you.

There have been many cases of people stranded in the middle of oceans, some as long as a whole month. And yet they managed to survive! Island survival is 100 times more probable than ocean survival.

Being on an island, at least you have solid ground under your feet. You can gather materials to help you survive. Compare that with what you can find if you were stuck in a boat, surrounded by nothing but saltwater.

In fact, positive thinking is a helpful survival mindset for any situation. Never say die, and maybe, you won’t.

Salvage as the first step to island survival

First of all, you need to look for any useful tools or supplies, whether you arrived at the island by a crashed plane, a boat, or a raft. Basically, you need to quickly collect all of the potentially useful materials such as pieces of clothing, cloths, and food or utensils, anything that is sharp enough to use for cutting, even some broken electronics as well. Assemble an island survival kit and make the most of what you have.

Another thing you could do as an island survival strategy is to simply pack a pocket knife when you can, or carry some other useful tool in your traveling bag just for safe measure. This small and simple tool will be very helpful for island survival.

When you are salvaging resources, it helps to do so with certain objectives in mind. Aside from the obvious food items, collect things can that help you to:

  1. Carry or contain things – soft flexible materials (e.g. cloth, plastic, clothes) and containers (e.g. metal, plastic, glass)
  2. Provide shelter – large pieces of waterproof material (e.g. plastic, tarp), materials for tying (e.g. Rafia string, thin wires, rope)
  3. Provide warmth – rags, cloth, clothes
  4. Catch food – sharp objects
  5. Make a fire – flammable objects (e.g. paper, wood) and hard objects for creating a spark (e.g. hard stones, metal)

Look for freshwater

Human beings can survive for only a week at the most without any water. That is why this is the second most important thing to do after salvaging and scavenging for resources. 

Bear in mind that, although you are surrounded by water, it is undrinkable. Drinking saltwater when you are thirsty will only worsen your state of dehydration and expedite your demise. 

Before you go searching for drinkable water, prepare a container for holding the water. It can be a plastic, metal or glass container. 

Plastic and glass are better options than metal, as the insides of a metal container could be rusty. Drinking rusty water is bad for your health and could make you sick. 

Clean all the dirt out of the container using seawater. Salty water can kill some of the bacteria and other germs in it. Then, scrub or shake a little bit of salty sand inside with the seawater to clean any dirt that could be inside. 

It is just not a good idea to keep freshwater in a dirty container. Furthermore, you should expend as little energy as possible since you don’t know when your next meal will be. 

Make sure your container is worthy and not leaky before you begin your water hunt. You don’t want to spend a few hours looking for a water source and end up having an unusable container. 

Also bring a clean piece of cloth with you. Clean the cloth of any dirty in saltwater as well. Then rinse it and bring it along with you. 

Once you are sure the container can hold its weight of water without leaking or breaking, walk down the length of the beach first to see if you can find a rivermouth. A rivermouth is the meeting point of a freshwater river with the sea. It would then be easy to collect freshwater by simply going upstream of the rivermouth. 

If there is no rivermouth along the beach, you will have to trek inland. Keep your ears wide open. Listen for the sound of trickling water and head toward that direction. Eventually, you will arrive at a stream or small river. 

Once you have found it, examine the water. Is it clear? If yes, it is probably safe for drinking. Collect moving water, not where it is stagnant. Moving water is less likely to be contaminated. 

If you found a pond or if the stream water is murky, you’ll still need to make the most of it. This is where the cloth comes in handy. Use the cloth like a strainer to remove silt and debris.

Dress your wounds

If you were unfortunate enough to get wounded at the start of your island survival ordeal, treat your injuries first. An open wound can easily become infected and lead to a fever. 

Since you are on an island, you can access saltwater at the beach easily. Saltwater is a natural antiseptic. It will sting badly but at least it will clean and sterilise the wound to a certain extent. 

Then, try to find a clean dry piece of cloth. Cover the wound to protect it from further harm, whether from insects or scratches by vegetation. 

Build tools and shelter

Fashion spears, knives and tools for hacking. These can help you to hunt for food or cut sticks. 

Then, build a shelter to protect yourself from rain and sun. You can add fallen palm fronds to your shelter’s roof. 

With these tools, start a fire with some dried vegetation and paper. The fire will fend off mosquitoes and wild animals as well as allow you to cook meat. Never eat raw meat.

Leverage on Teamwork

If you have some companions on the island, then surviving will be made a little easier to manage. Get organized in order to increase your chances of surviving. With teamwork, you will be able to protect yourselves better, collect more supplies, and combine your survival skills. Solidarity and a common effort can increase all of your chances of being island survivors.

Assign each member roles. Get everyone’s understanding that everyone needs to play their part.

In this type of situation people tend to be agitated, panicky and emotional, but you must avoid conflicts and stick together. Keeping your minds busy with an activity will take the focus away from fear and arguments.

The chances of island survival increase the more people are together, but it also depends on how much the people will work together. Together, you could also decide how to get off the island and make a raft together. If a search party has not found you within 3 weeks, then you should apply your island survival skills by building a raft.