What You Actually Need To Survive On a Desolated Island, Cast Away Style

Do you know those personality tests that ask what would you take with you on a deserted island? Most of us reply with a good book or a fully charged smartphone, but if the situation was real, none of these objects would be of help.

If you’ve seen the movie ‘Cast Away’, then you know (at least at an informative level) the torments the main character had to endure. Actually, if you take a quick browse through world’s literature, you’ll notice that we are quite fascinated with the idea. After all, we’ve all read Robinson Crusoe, right? Not to mention that one of Jules Verne’s books is based on exactly this topic – people remaining stranded on an island.

Well, while these books may have embellished the situation, the reality is definitely difficult to comprehend. In order to survive being stranded on a desolated island, in the middle of the ocean, you must have the strength of mind and a few tricks up your sleeve paired with a handful of items.

So, let’s do an imagination exercise: imagine you’re in an accident and you’re left alone or with a couple of friends on an island. You can choose the size, but let’s say that it has vegetation on it and you have plenty of space to hide from the sun. How do you survive and what are the items you’ll need for this?

Below we did a quick how-to guide that will be of tremendous help if anything even remotely similar to this happens to you.

Make Sure Every Survivor is brought to Shore

If you’re in a plane crash or a boat accident and you are lucky enough to be near an island, make sure everyone gets there. If people are injured and you can help them, don’t hesitate to do so. Having other people on the island can make the situation more bearable as being completely alone is a brutal test on the human mind.

Not to mention that each new person comes with a baggage of skills that may be of help along the way. Finally, if there are more people on the island, you won’t have to do the survival work on your own.

Try to salvage what you can

Anything that can be saved from the boat or plane should be saved, but the priority should be on food, water, and communication systems. This is why it’s best to have one of the best handheld ham radios or other similar equipment in your backpack whenever you’re going on a long trip. You never know when you might need it. Smartphones are also great, but if the island is not close to the land, there won’t be any coverage so you can’t use them to alert the authorities.

Other items that may be useful from the wreckage are:

  • Sheets of plastic – great for building water stills
  • Any type of fabric and clothes – even if they’re wet and dirty, they can be dried and used later on
  • Tools – even though they don’t look like much, you can get creative
  • Small pieces from the boat or airplane that can be carried – these can be used to build shelter

The list could go on, but the basic idea is to grab anything you can get your hands on. Even things you normally consider garbage may become useful in such a situation.

Find Water you can drink

Once you reached the shore and checked if everyone is OK, start exploring the island. First, make sure that it is uninhabited (there are still a few isolated tribes on our planet and some are quite unhappy to receive visitors).

If you are a group of people and the island looks big, you should make exploration teams, and assign pieces of territory to explore. In this situation, it would help to have a compass so you can tell the orientation of the island. If not, use landmarks (oddly shaped trees, hills, the outskirts of the woods, and so on).

While exploring, look for water you can drink – this means a river, a spring, or even a lake. While still water is not the best source, if there is nothing else around, this would do. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t drink directly from the source, regardless of how thirsty you are! Even if the water looks clean and it’s not salty, it may still contain bacteria that can affect your health.

Purifying the Water

Water can be purified by boiling it, but you’ll need a fire and a fire-resistant recipient for this. However, if you have some iodine tablets on you, you can skip the boiling process, at least for the moment. It’s also a good idea to have a water filter in your backpack that can be used in case of an emergency (such as being stranded on a deserted island).

If you have the right items for making a fire (matches, a lighter, or any other fire source), you can use dry vegetation as fuel. Still, you should be careful so you won’t light the entire forest on fire – you’re going to need this resource the most!

Once the fire is started, you can boil the water and make it ready for drinking. It’s best to let the water boil for about 20 to 30 minutes, just to be on the safe side.

What to do if there is no Water Source?

Well, if this is the case, it’s time to use your survival skills and either build a water sill or purify salt water. You can also use plants to collect morning dew or rainwater, but where there are plants, there should also be water. So, if no apparent water source is available, maybe there is an underground stream.

Finding Food

The food you salvaged from the wreckage won’t last long so it’s best to start identifying the sources available on the island. If you see any animals and you have any survival hunting skills, you can work with those, but it also helps if you see fish nearby (after all, you’re stranded in the middle of the ocean). If none of these are available, you’ll have to make do with the fruits that grow on trees and the available plants.

Still, you should make sure these are not poisonous so check if birds and other animals eat them. While this is not a 100% safe method, it shows that some parts are eatable. You should start with very small quantities and check the effects on your system before you make a steady diet out of the available sources.

Overall, as long as you have water, food, shelter, and some basic tools you should be able to survive on a deserted island. However, this is a test even for the strong of heart and mind so, you shouldn’t wish for this to happen.

About the author:

Craig Raymond is an author for Two-way Radio Talk, a website where he shares his passion for great outdoors, survival and rock climbing. He teaches others how to survive and be prepared for anything.

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