Many of the most common causes of backcountry survival situations may surprise you. Most victims don’t have the realization of their dangerous predicament until it’s too late. That in turn increases situational stress and prevents an adequate response (e.g. shelter, fire construction….etc.) to the impending problem.
The skills taught by the majority of “outdoor survival” schools and media neglect to take this into account. For example, the bow drill fire technique is commonly taught by most survival schools. And while a valuable skill to own, it may not be a trustworthy source of fire in an emergency situation. Too many variables exist (e.g. humidity, tinder sources, physical ability), as well as common mistakes (e.g. poor technique, lack of experience), make the bow drill an unreliable fire starting method to depend on when the chips are down.
Prior preparation is your key to overcoming an unexpected emergency. Having an adequate kit and resources on hand (i.e. the ability to make a fire effortlessly and crawl into a shelter within a matter of minutes), is crucial to your making it home alive.
The following are the leading causes of most emergency situations in the backcountry:
• Fatigue, fitness level (both physical and mental)
• Unrealistic goals, “summit fever” or "get-home-itis”
• Ego, forging ahead, overconfidence
• Over reliance on technology
• Shortcuts, change of plans
• Lack of awareness; weather patterns, terrain & potential hazards