Risk Assessment may be one of the most important survival skills there is. So exactly what is it? Well, sometimes you run into a situation that your gut instincts tell you what not to do or what to do. For instance, jumping off a 5 story building. You pretty much know that isn’t a good plan. Risk Assessment is a bit different. It is the cognitive action of making an informed decision as to whether an activities reward is worth the dangers of the activity.
In other words, is it really worth walking across that thin ice to get to the other side of the lake? What is gained? Is the gain worth the dangers? What are the dangers? Is the situation dire enough to make it worth it? Questions such as these are the same questions military leaders ask before ordering their troops to do something.
Assessing the risk of an activity doesn’t always have to do with survival in the woods or out in nature in general, nor do you have to be a military leader to use it. Is that 6 pack of beer really worth venturing out in a freezing rain storm? Can you make it through the night without that gallon of milk or should you drive in the Blizzard to get it? Is that pot really worth smoking when you are looking for a job?
Risk Assessment is part of everyday life. But it is crucial when in a survival situation. Making wise decisions when lost in Nature can be the difference of living or not. How important is it to cross this river?
What would the benefits be? Getting to the other side, right? Well, do you see a house, that means rescue on the other side? Can you see the bottom? Or would it be wiser to just walk the bank down stream until you find a house?
The same process should be used when deciding whether or not to make camp for the night or try to walk out in the dark. Is the terrain rough? Do you have a compass? Do you have a flash light? Is someone in need of immediate medical attention?
One situation that you absolutely must use Risk Assessment is when making use of wild plants. It is crucial that you know 100% exactly what it is before consuming any plant. Mistaking a hemlock plant for a wild carrot will result in your funeral. Mistaking a poison ivy vine for a grape vine will result in a very uncomfortable few days…or longer.
So, are you starving to death? Not likely. Are you so weakened that you can’t continue without nourishment? I doubt it. Food in a survival situation can help in many ways, but is it worth the risk. Not if you don’t know 100% what you are eating. That’s why practicing plant identification before heading out into Nature is wise.
Risk Assessment is important everyday. It will keep you from making poor decisions in life and will keep you from doing something that might cause a survival situation.
When in Nature…it’s crucial. A mistake 5 miles from nowhere can be the difference between hypothermia and a pleasant walk in the woods.