The great outdoors can be a great place to go when you need to recharge and rejuvenate. While it is a place for relaxation, things can definitely go wrong. When things go wrong in the outdoors, it can quickly turn into a life or death situation. Here are a few outdoor survival tips to remember in case you ever find yourself in this scenario.

1. Stay calm

The best of all the outdoor survival tips is to remain calm. In a crisis, many people naturally panic and never go into survival mode. It is important to recognize when you are in serious trouble, take a few deep breaths, and think about your situation before springing into action.

2. Prioritize needs

After staying calm, prioritizing needs is one of the most essential outdoor survival tips. Your needs for survival will change based on the climate, area, and other outside factors. For example, if you are lost in the desert, your needs will be different than someone stranded in a snowy climate. Aside from taking the matter of the climate and circumstances into consideration, you should prioritize needs as what you need first and foremost in order to survive. You may need water right away or to seek shelter from preying animals at night or to start a fire in an attempt to fight off hypothermia. The needs should always be prioritized to determine which one is most important. Generally speaking, the major needs are shelter, water, and food, but the order in which you need them will vary based on your situation.

3. Find water

One thing that is absolutely non-negotiable in outdoor survival is the need for water. A general guideline is that most humans can only survive for three days without water. In extreme temperatures, this need is even shorter since dehydration can be exacerbated by high temperatures. When it comes to finding water, it is important to remember that you can’t drink from just any body of water without fear of bacteria and contamination. For example, drinking lake water could very well kill you. If you have a water purifier or filter in your pack (and you should), you can distill water to achieve a safe drinking outcome. To find water, a good tip is to follow the birds. Birds tend to fly in the direction of water because they use it to stay alive just like humans. Aside from having a filtration device, rainwater is better than lakes or rivers. The key is where you collect the water from. For example, collect rainwater you caught in a poncho you placed before the rain or rainwater from leaves rather than a puddle on the ground.

4. Start a fire

A fire is crucial for a few reasons. It will allow you to cook food which is important to staying alive. It will also help to keep animals at bay provided you don’t invite them in by cleaning any small game near the campsite. A fire will also provide light and warmth to help get you through the night. Best of all, a fire can act as a smoke signal to tell any rescue teams looking for you where to narrow in the search. Before taking any sort of outdoor trip, it is important to brush up on fire making skills to make sure you are prepared.

5. Find shelter

In certain climates finding shelter is the top priority even beating out the essential of water. If you are in a snowy climate, the guideline is you have roughly three hours of exposure before you begin to feel the effects of hypothermia. Don’t think just because you aren’t in extreme temperatures at the moment that all is well. The temperature can drop significantly at nightfall which makes finding shelter paramount. It is also crucial to seek shelter to avoid becoming prey to nocturnal animals hunting at night. Shelter can be anything from a tarp to block the wind to a shelter made of fallen tree limbs.

6. Monitor body temperature needs

Another important tip for surviving the outdoors in a dangerous scenario is to be aware of body temperature needs. While it can be hard to know when hypothermia or heat stroke set in until it is too late, you can take steps to prevent them as much as possible. For example, in hot climates, if you can find a body of water to safely dip in to cool off, take the opportunity. In cold temperatures, consider lining your jacket or vest with dry leaves to create an extra layer of insulation. You need to be resourceful and remember the importance of body temperature regulation in life or death scenarios.

7. Stay put for the night

Never try to navigate at night. Not only will you have a hard time doing so successfully due to limited visibility and not being able to use the sun, you will leave yourself most vulnerable to the elements and wildlife by traveling at night. The best bet is always to hunker down for the night and focus on other elements of survival such as building a shelter and starting a fire.