5 Seemingly Insane Survival Tips That Actually Work
Sudden disaster could strike you at any time. Yes, you specifically. R-right now! Oh god, look ou- ah, too late. Why do the beautiful die so young? Well, for you surviving readers, here are a few tips for surviving certain disaster which, tragically, came too late to save poor, majestic Reader #42287. May God have mercy on their soul.
You Can Use Your Pants As A Life Preserver
In 1995, Marine Lance-Corporal Zachary Mayo was wandering around his aircraft carrier when a metal door swung open and comically butt-whacked him into the open ocean. Unfortunately, no one else was around to appreciate this moment of physical comedy. Or to hear his cries for help. A hundred miles from shore, it seemed Davy Jones' Locker was Mayo's inevitable destination. And yet he was found alive almost two days later by a boat full of Pakistani fishermen.
They thought they had scored one huge-ass tuna.
It wasn't dumb luck -- Mayo remembered his Navy training and made use of a survival technique called "drownproofing." It requires that you take your pants off. No, stay with us here.
If you find yourself suddenly and unexpectedly adrift at sea, you can MacGyver your pants into a life preserver. First, take them off and tie the ankles together in a tight knot. Then lift the waistband high, hold it open, and swoosh your pants through the air like you just don't care (about wearing pants; you care very much about not drowning). Slip the legs over your head, keep the waistband underwater so that the air doesn't come out, and then pray sharks don't take an interest in your exposed genitals.
If you end up looking like this, you have not followed the instructions properly.
Here's an awkward Navy demonstration. Yes, you will look absolutely ridiculous, but you will live with that shame. Live!
You'll probably need to re-inflate your pants pretty often, because unless you're Mick Jagger, they're not airtight, but whatever. You're in the middle of the ocean. You've got nothing better to do.
You Can Start A Fire Using Your Cellphone
Mastery of fire is what separates us from the beasts, give or take a few cigarette-smoking chimpanzees. But thanks to millennia of wussification, a nicotine-addicted ape probably has most of us beat when it comes to starting a fire in the wilderness. Come on, what are you even doing with those two sticks? You're just embarrassing yourself.
You may as well wait for the Sun to explode in the time it will take you.
If you find yourself stuck without a lighter or matches, it's a good bet that you still have a cellphone -- it is 2017, after all. Even if there's no reception for you to go with the most obvious solution (calling for help, or at least for Postmates to do a Zippo delivery), you can still use your phone to start a fire.
If you're carrying steel wool or a gum wrapper with foil backing into the darkest wilderness for some reason -- say you came to do two things: clean dishes and chew bubblegum -- you can twist it up into a loop and touch it to both the positive and negative terminals of your phone battery in order to generate enough heat to set fire to something. If not, you can scrape the protective casing away and connect the terminals with the blade of your knife. Failing that, you can go HAM on that sucker -- the lithium battery in your cellphone is a made up of a dangerous concoction of chemicals carefully segregated so that they don't go off like ... well, a Galaxy Note 7. Busting open the case of a lithium battery triggers a process called "thermal runaway," which is a rather undesirable thing to happen in any of the 99 percent of occasions you don't want your phone to explode.
This is how the cavemen did it, except they had Zach-Morris-sized phones.
If faced with no other option, you can place your phone battery on some nice, dry tinder, take a sharp stick, offer a prayer to the patron saint of burn victims, then stab that sucker like it owes you money and you're a maniac who stabs people who owe you money. The result might be an ineffectual hissing noise and some smoke, or you might spark a spectacular hellblaze that burns off your body hair as well as an unhelpful amount of the surrounding forest. What you're hoping for is the happy medium that Bear Grylls achieves here:
Now, it should be stressed that this is a last resort. You can you only do it once, and knowing you, you'll almost certainly die. Still, if hypothermia is setting in, why not go out Bon-Jovi-style, in a blaze of glory?
You Can Figure Out What's Edible Using The Universal Edibility Test
There's no obvious way to tell if a thing is edible simply by looking at it. You could put it in your mouth, sure, but many poisonous wild-growing plants look an awful lot like the kind of thing you'd put on the dinner table. For example, regular carrots and parsnips look almost identical to hemlock, a plant that will kill you so dead that they used it to execute people in the olden days.
Remember: "Leaves of white, not all right. Carrots of orange ... uh ... shit."
Fortunately, there is a way to figure out whether or not something is okay to eat. It's called the Universal Edibility Test, or UET. It's not flawless, but it's better than, say, prayer, which is your only other option. It goes like this: When you find something that looks like it might be edible, smell it first. Plants that don't want to be eaten have evolved for millions of years to communicate that fact to us, and many of them smell like a skunk's ass. If it smells okay, rub it on the inside of your elbow or wrist, and wait to see if you develop a rash or hives or anything.
If you die from the rash, it is super not safe to eat.
Ideally, you have enough time before you starve to death to give this test the scientific rigorousness it warrants, but if time really is short, then you want to give each step between 15 minutes and an hour before you move to the next stage. If the plant passes the elbow test, the next thing is to rub it on your lips, then wait again. If you're still feeling okay, put some of it in your mouth and swish it around, but don't swallow. After that, eat a very small amount of it and wait overnight. If you don't shit your organs out like you unwisely ordered Carl's Jr. at the tail end of a tequila bender, then whatever you're thinking of eating might be safe.
Of course, this test comes with some disclaimers. For example, it apparently doesn't work very well with mushrooms, and experienced survivalists will tell you that you should never eat a wild mushroom no matter what it looks like. In fact, don't eat any mushrooms. They're gross. And you're gross for arguing. Yes you, Reader #15623. Knock it off.
No matter how Mario-like they may appear.
You (Might) Survive An Elevator Crash By Lying Flat
Generally speaking, elevators have been safe since the invention of lawsuits, but you could always become the unlucky winner of the Universe's physics lottery. So it's nice to know there are still ways to maximize your chances of survival in case an elevator crashes. Just jump right before it hits!
And if there's time, a backflip would look cool as hell.
Haha, no, this isn't a cartoon.
You actually want to lay completely flat and violate your bowels. The flat thing may help save your life; the bowel thing is going to happen anyway, so may as well get it over with on your own terms. Remaining upright as you hit the ground will distribute the crumple zone of your body upward through your legs and spine. As an easy analogy, imagine stomping on an empty soda can. By lying down, the impact force is distributed perpendicular to your spine. If you do survive, the toll is more likely to be a few broken ribs rather than a complete de-spining. You probably won't survive, let's be clear, but hey, that's why you voided your bowels earlier. You're ready.
Just think, this could be you!
You Can Harvest Fresh Water With A Plastic Bag And A Rock
Well, here you are. You're stuck in the goddamn wilderness again. What's your problem? Stop going into the wilderness. Last time, you stab-bombed a cell phone, and the time before that, you rubbed plants all over your face until your lips swelled up like Angelina Jolie. But you're here now -- completely lost and ill-prepared, obviously -- so let's get you some water.
Luckily, just as you release water vapor into the air when you breathe, so too do plants. And when you're thirsty enough to fantasize about slurping that watery stuff that gathers at the top of a fresh bottle of mustard, you're probably thirsty enough to consider drinking plant sweat. All you need to harvest it is a plastic bag, something to tie it up with, and an ordinary stone.
Tie the plastic bag around some leaves ...
... put something heavy, like a rock, in the bag to create a reservoir at the bottom ...
... and wait for the magic to happen. It's going to take a while, so you're free to engage in fun outdoor activities, like Hunger Games and crying. But after 24 hours or so, you should have between a cup and a quart of fresh water, depending on conditions. Don't worry, it tastes much better than your own sweat.
You can tell from the guy's face.
Blair wrote a short story for Carnisnora, his friend's excellent book of animal illustrations, and you can get yourself a copy here.
Think Nana and Pop-Pop's loving 60-year monogamous relationship is quaint and old-fashioned? First off, sorry for that disturbing image, but we've got some news for you: The monogamous sexual relationship is actually brand-new, relative to how long humans have been around. Secondly, it's about to get worse from here: monkey sex. On this month's live podcast, Jack O'Brien and Cracked staffers Michael Swaim and Teresa Lee welcome Dr. Christopher Ryan, podcaster and author of Sex at Dawn, onto the show for a lively Valentine's Day discussion of love, sex, why our genitals are where they are, and why we're more like chimps and bonobos than you think. Get your tickets here!
For more reasons to listen to us and not Bear Grylls, check out 28 Ways To Survive Emergencies (Forget The BS You Learned) and 6 Survival Tips From A Professional Adventurer.
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