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Imagine that your airplane is heading for a crash landing into a great desert in Africa hundreds of miles from any city. After the plane crashes, you only have a few minutes to choose which items to remove from the plane before it explodes. You’d like to select more items for survival, but the plane’s gas tanks are like ticking bombs and you must choose quickly. Do you plan on staying near the wreckage or walking to civilization? Choose carefully, your very survival depends on your selections.

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Survivor Brochure

Survivor Brochure

What are the key elements needed to survive in the desert?

The most important element needed to survive in the desert is water. Staying hydrated is crucial in almost all survival situations, but even more so in deserts, where water is already sparse. Common dangers of deserts include dehydration and heat casualty. Water is needed to replenish the water lost from your body through sweat. Food is important as well. Food provides your body with nutrients and vitamins that revitalize your body with energy needed for survival. However, if there is no water available, do not eat because eating food increases your need for water. Don't waste energy looking for food if you have not found water. With the desert's hot sun and lack of shade, it is important to keep cool. Even with the intense heat, a surprising way to keep cool is to keep your clothes on. Clothes are key elements in desert survival because they will help keep you cool and protect you. Loose-fitting clothes will soak up sweat and keep you cooler. It's important to keep the head cool, so wear a hat even if that means making one using scrap materials. There are lots of animals in the desert that can sting and bite like spiders, scorpions, and snakes. Wearing shoes will protect your feet from the hot sand as well as the animals. Clothing also helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays from the sun. Being prepared is a key element of survival. When planning a trip in the desert, always notify someone of where you are going and for how long. Be prepared by bringing lots of water and dressing properly. Researching survival skills will give you the knowledge you need to survive in the desert. For example, if it is really hot, find shade and get out of the sun. Rest during the daytime and work at night, so that you don't waste energy or water in the daytime with extraneous activity. Another important tip is to not ration water. Drink water at regular intervals no matter how much is left in your water bottle.

How much water does a person need to survive?

On a normal day, a person needs 2 quarts of water a day. But in a hot desert where average temperatures can be 110 degrees Fahrenheit, the human body needs about one gallon or more of water per day. That's double the amount of water than on a normal day!

How much food does a person need to survive?

The minimum calorie intake is 1,200 calories a day for men and 1,600 calories a day for women. In extreme situations, however, a person can survive without food for four to eight weeks if they have water. This starvation will take a toll as the person's mental state will break down and the body will be very weak.

What are some edible desert plants?

Some trees in the desert bear edible fruit like fig trees and olive trees. The fruits of cactus plants are also edible. The cactus fruit are red and yellow pieces that grow from the tops and sides of cactus. Although all cactus fruits are edible, not all plants in the desert are edible, so be careful! If you do not have a book that identifies edible plants, it is not a good idea to eat unknown plants. Some plants can actually be poisonous, so don't put yourself at risk by eating them. Anything that tastes bitter should not be eaten or drunk.

What are some edible animals found in desert regions?

Edible animals in the desert range from insects to mammals to reptiles. Insects like grasshoppers and crickets provide a good source of protein and fat if they are caught and roasted. For larger animals, use traps instead of hunting for them. Unless you are an expert hunter, it is not advisable to hunt because it is difficult and you will use up a lot of energy. Traps, on the other hand, require less skill and allow you to do other things. Traps can be used to catch larger birds and animals like rabbits or rats. Reptiles like lizards are full of protein and easy to catch. If you eat reptiles, be sure to cook thoroughly and wash your hands because reptiles are carriers of salmonella, which is a bacterium that can make you very sick.

How far can a human walk per day?

The average walking speed is about 3 miles per hour on flat ground. If people could walk for 8 hours at the same pace, they would cover 24 miles, but they don't because they get tired. Athletes or physically fit people, like those in the military may be able to walk up to 20+ miles, but everyday casual walkers can probably walk 6-7 miles.


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