Would you know what to do if you stumbled off a hiking trail or found yourself without clean water?

Many people who find themselves in survival situations often make fatal errors before they even leave their homes, according to survival expert Creek Stewart.

“One of the most important survival skills anyone can do, is something you do before you go out,” Stewart said. “Tell at least three people where you are going and when to expect you back. I can’t tell you how often survival circumstances are worsened because no one knows people are missing.”

Stewart, is the host of the new Weather Channel show SOS: How to Survive, which takes viewers through real stories of people struggling to survive, and what they could have done differently.

Stewart notes that while it’s human nature to want to “self-rescue” or continue walking to try to find help, people have the best chance of survival if they stay put and wait for help to come to them.

“When you realize you are lost or in a survival scenario, stay put and deal with immediate survival priorities — fire, shelter, water and wait for rescue.”

When it comes to an anticipating a survival situation, people should plan on having three items with them when they go into the wilderness, he said. (Note: This could change depending on region and season)

1. Something to start a fire

Stewart said people can purchase an inexpensive fire starting tool, which can be carried in a backpack or pant pocket. He said another trick is bringing something that will help get the fire started.

“You can use cotton balls covered in petroleum jelly as a fire starter,” he said. “They are water resistant and will start a fire with just a spark.”

2. A water filtration device

Whether it’s a canteen that can be used to boil water, or a water filtration device, you should always be prepared to purify water.

Stewart recommends a $20 Lifestraw, which “can be struck into the nastiest, muddiest pool of water you can find and you suck the water out like a straw.”

Sounds gross, right? It could save your life, he said.

“I always say: you stake your life on your water source,” he said. “If you are in a bad situation and drink, you take the risk of drinking wild water that has microbiological organisms that can quickly kill you.”

3. A tarp or way to protect yourself from weather

Stewart said the third item varies, but he would recommend a tarp, or something that can be used to build a shelter.

He notes that while many people might think they should bring food in lieu of an item like a water purifying device, they’re making a huge mistake.

“Everyone gets really worked up about food, but the human body is designed to last a long time without food. It’s on the bottom of the list when it comes to survival priorities,” he said.

Source : usatoday.com