There are some basic survival skills that everyone should know and then there are survival skills that no one anticipates having to use barring being stranded on a deserted island. Surprisingly, there have been many stories of island survivors that have inspired major motion pictures, such as Castaway. In them, the main character is always seen fighting to live another day while obtaining things such as food, clean drinking water, and shelter. These are perhaps the most important trio when it comes to extreme survival, so much so that there are even TV shows devoted to teaching people how to survive under severe conditions.


Whether it's being stranded on an island or being lost in the woods, many things can be learned from observing the techniques of others. No one ever expects to be stuck somewhere far from home but in the event that it does happen, it's always good to know how to survive... Especially when you don't have a volleyball named Wilson.

A Real-Life Survival In The Marshall Islands

While Castaway was only a movie, perhaps one of the most famous real-life tales of a man surviving on his own after being adrift at sea is the story of Jose Salvador Alvarenga. Alvarenga survived for 14 months and wrote a book about his experience438 Days, after setting off on a fishing excursion from the coast of Mexico with the son of a friend. After drifting at sea for some time eating nothing but sea turtles and birds, Alvarenga managed to swim ashore on a nearby island in the Marshall Islands which is where he was found more than a year later. According to him, he survived by collecting rainwater as well as shielding himself from the heat of the sun. The only usable tool he was found with was a knife, which is what he used for hunting and preparing food.

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Prior to filming Castaway, the screenwriter, William Broyles Jr., also subjected himself to several days alone to see if he could survive in the Sea of Cortez. During that time, catching stingrays, learning how to crack open coconuts, and trying to make a fire for the first time were all part of his survival experience. These are all things that are also seen in the movie and are not too far-fetched from the reality of being lost adrift.

The First Basic Survival Need

When it comes to surviving, finding drinkable water is the first thing that should be found. There are usually two ways to do this: By collecting rainwater if the weather happens to turn in the favor of the person adrift, or by purifying water that's found elsewhere on the island or remote location. To do the first, things such as leaves, plants, containers, or fruit shells and peels are all helpful to collect small amounts of water - anything helps. In order to do the second, a fire is needed, which also happens to be survival list item number two.

Starting A Fire

As seen in Castaway, starting a fire is not as easy as it sounds, especially without the right materials by which to do so. Not many of us carry flint or firestarters around with us in our pockets, therefore the best way to start is by building a tinder nest. This will consist of dry materials and underbrush that are prone to catching fire quickly and easily. Then, a fireboard is needed, which is basically just a dry, flat piece of wood that can come to anything.

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A V-shaped cut needs to be cut into the middle of the fireboard and then a depression must be made right next to that. then, a spindle (skinnier stick) that's at least two feet long must be found, as this is what will be spun between a person's hands in the depression in order to use friction to cause a spark. Once an ember is seen glowing at the bottom, tap the fireboard in order to drop it into the piece of bark that should be sitting below the fireboard, then drop it onto the tinder nest.

Hunting And Gathering

Finding food will always be a process of trial and error, as it was for our ancestors. While on an island, fishing is the best bet, while foraging for things such as shellfish like crabs. Fishing would take some quick maneuvering or smart netting skills, and that would require a level of creativity conducive to making fishing gear.

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Gathering is more apropos for a woodland setting and requires knowledge of knowing what to eat and what not to eat. And when it doubt - don't eat it! There are some berries and plants that everyone should know about and it's not a bad idea to do some research before heading out on a trip or into the wild.

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