Prepare to Stay Over Night
The elements of survival at night are much the same as in the daylight hours in terms of your priorities and how you deal with that physically and mentally will very much depend on whether you’ve made a contingency plan and are prepared in terms of the equipment you have at your disposal.
Don’t PanicThe first thing to remember if you find yourself stranded in a survival situation with night time drawing in is not to panic. Survival not only depends upon you being extremely resourceful but is also about your determination to survive. No matter how suddenly you have got into this situation or how ill-prepared you are in terms of not having any equipment or supplies to fall back on, the one thing you can sure be of is that, just as soon as night follows day, then day must follow night too. Therefore, unless you’re physically attacked by an animal, it’s unlikely to be anything other than a bit un-nerving if you’re suddenly stranded at night. It’s simply dark…that’s all.
Assessing The SituationFirstly, you need to make an assessment about the situation. If you are genuinely lost, the last thing you should be thinking of doing as night-time draws in is to keep walking aimlessly. Accept the realisation that you are going to be stuck where you are for the night and then get on with the real priorities. Look around if there is still some daylight left and see what you can find to either use as a shelter or, if you’ve time, to build a makeshift one. That will usually be your first priority.
The PrioritiesThe priorities to survival overnight are just the same as they would be at any other time of day which are finding shelter, building a fire, obtaining water and finally, obtaining food. Some survival experts will place obtaining water above building a fire and others will even place fire above shelter but depending how dark it is, you’ll need to assess whether you’re going to have time to fulfil all four priorities. If you suspect you’re not, then finding shelter must be your first priority. After that, if you can still see around you and there’s an obvious water source, collect that but if it’s too late, then you will be able to survive without water overnight without too much of a problem other than being a bit thirsty. On the other hand, if you’re suddenly plunged into a survival situation when it’s pitch black, then you may need to start a fire first, to light up the immediate area to see where you might find or build a shelter. To keep it simple, however, shelter and fire must be your first two priorities. If you’ve no equipment such as a tent, tarp or even a box of matches with you, then you’re simply going to have to look around you, assess what’s available and make do with finding as sheltered a spot as you’re able to keep warm and dry in as you try and get some sleep.
However, it’s well worth being prepared for the possibility of you finding yourself in a survival situation and there are other articles on this website, called ‘How To Make A Shelter’ and ‘How To Start A Fire’ which will describe how you can build a makeshift shelter out of the natural vegetation around you and how you can create fire using natural methods which have been practised by tribespeople around the world for many generations. If you only ever learn these two skills, you are far more likely to survive any kind of situation. Both shelter and warmth are not only vital but will also boost your morale significantly which will be your greatest ally in your efforts to get out of the predicament you find yourself in.