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Pucker up and say KISSWEP. While other survival acronyms stall on the tip of your tongue, this tasty lifesaver jumps right out. Developed by the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, it’s easy-to-remember shorthand for a system of seven survival steps taught to U.S. military and marine professionals. Combined with common sense and basic outdoor skills, KISSWEP will save your butt every time. Here’s the plan.
Know and recognize that you’re in trouble.
Inventory available resources. Scout out a safe camping site, water supply, food, fuel, clothing. Check yourself and others for injuries.
Shelter. Anything that protects you from the elements counts. Secure your tarp, tent, or snow cave first so you’re prepared to take cover if conditions deteriorate. Small spaces are better if you need to share body warmth.
Signal. Smoke by day, flame by night, bright colors in motion-your signal must contrast with the surroundings. If you build a sign in a clearing, the letters must be at least 15 feet long and 3 feet wide to be seen from the air.
Water. Trap it any way you can. If you have food but no water, eat lightly. If you can’t treat or boil, drink up anyway; there’s medicine for nausea, not for dying.
Eat. Don’t save it for later-you need energy now. If your supply runs out, forage for bugs or animals; consume only plants you know are safe.
Play. Games will keep groups or solo hikers calm and focused. Go for useful contests, like a race to build the largest stack of firewood or the best shelter. Modify accordingly if you’re alone.