The Seven Steps of Survival

The Seven Steps of Survival from Modern Survival Blog

[This was contributed a number of years ago. There’s some great insight here with the notion for seven steps of survival ]

Guest post by a MSB reader:


A few decades ago I took a series of wilderness survival courses through Sea-Grant and our local community schools program. I live in coastal Alaska and the classes were intended to teach survival in high stress wilderness and marine emergency situations, cold-water survival, CPR, wilderness first aid, survival pack, and numerous others.

The one that seemed to have universal meaning to me was the Seven Steps of Survival. I found these steps to be much more wide-ranging than just wilderness survival. I’ve applied them to every aspect of my life and taught them to my son and now my grandson.

I will share the seven steps and try to give some examples on their usefulness both in survival situations and as a general guide to life and prepping. I will also try to relate the steps to the law of threes and some other prepper themes:

Survival Step 1: RECOGNITION

“The first step to surviving is recognition.” I have pounded that sentence into my and my son’s heads to the point it has become instinct. Of course one cannot take definitive action to insure one’s survival until one recognizes one is in this situation. So simple but soooo overlooked.

The first few seconds and minutes are critical. It doesn’t matter if one is dealing with a boat sinking in cold water, a bear charging, investing in food storage, stocks, gold, bullets, SHTF, no action to mitigate the threat can begin until it is recognized as a threat. (Don’t we all have family and friends who just have no recognition skills?)

Recognition is the essence of situation awareness, the antidote to normalcy bias, in the woods we call it heads up.

Survival Step 2: INVENTORY

How big are the waves? How far from shore are we? Cold water? Where is my survival bag, life vest? What is in my pockets? Who is with me? Are they in recognition, injured, can they swim, run, walk, shoot? Any other boats around? Are they friendly?

Inventory should be applied as broadly as possible. In a situation of SHTF, if you are away from home, inventory could mean your vehicle, route, alternative routes, the condition of the grid, GHB, where your family is, what and where is the threat. Mentally inventory everything and its application to your situation.

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