Bear Grylls: Mission Survive expert offers 10 tips that could save your life

Keep calm and carry on surviving - says Bear Grylls' right-hand woman, British explorer Megan Hine...

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Bear Grylls: Mission Survive is back tonight (9pm, ITV), when the action man will be making celebrities drink urine in the Costa Rican jungle – a survival method that could save your life in extreme circumstances (and makes for great TV, of course).

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Grylls’ top survival consultant Megan Hine and Scott Heffield are with him throughout the show, observing the celebrities’ progress and helping to decide who should face elimination each week. 

Could you survive in the jungle? Here are Hine’s top 10 tips for staying alive, wherever you may find yourself in the world…

1. Keep calm and carry on surviving

It is natural when you find yourself in a survival situation to want to act immediately. Unless the situation dictates otherwise, take a moment to calm yourself down. People who act out of panic make rash decisions. If you are able to view your situation in a logical manner and can make assessed decisions, and you will massively boost your chances of survival. You have survived so far, so there is nothing to say you can’t stick it out. Just take one small step at a time.

2. Face your FEAR

It is normal to feel fear when confronted with a new or potentially hazardous situation. Fear can keep us alive, it can be a survival mechanism to stop us putting ourselves in greater risk and can ready us to fight or run away if necessary with the ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Fear can also be detrimental in a survival situation. If you take FEAR as an acronym for ‘False Expectations Appearing Real’. Simply put: what you are afraid of appears real even though it is a fear of what might happen in the future and is not happening right now. I find that answering back to my fear is a way of shutting down that negative thought process. Once my brain has made this switch the fear often turns to motivation to overcome my obstacle.


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3. Take charge early

Accept your situation, make a battle plan and get to work asap! This will aid your chances of survival in many ways. It takes your mind off your predicament, it focuses you on tasks that need to be done to meet your survival needs. It makes you feel in control (you can actually do something positive), it will give you motivation and a goal to work towards, you will learn to know your surroundings. Your energy will start draining fast due to lack of food, cold, no water etc, so having a solid plan from the start will mean you can use the energy you have whilst you are still fresh to create a better situation for yourself long term.

4. There are no rules

Remember there are no rules in survival, this is not a game of football. Survival is dirty, mean and nasty, there is no referee to give you time out or medic to patch you up. You are on your own and your ultimate trophy… your life. Anything goes. Read survival manuals. If the technique you are using to make a fire doesn’t work, adapt. Find a way to overcome the problem and make it work. I know many bushcraft or survival instructors and books that teach the one perfect way to make fire. The only perfect way is the way that works for you here and now when you need it. Improvise, adapt and overcome.

5. Look after yourself first

You will be no help to anyone if you burn yourself out or injure yourself early on. This does not necessarily mean hiding your limited water supply or shovelling down the remaining rations when no one is looking, but it means making decisions based on your strengths and what you are capable of. By staying strong yourself you will give yourself a much better chance of helping others.

6. Question and study everything in your surroundings

What can you use in your surroundings to better your situation? What resources do you have available? What do you have on your person? In survival situations I question everything, what I do, why something didn’t work, for example. ‘Why did my fire die down yesterday evening? Was it the wood or something else? Where is the prevailing wind direction here so I can site my shelter and fire accordingly? Where do I see the most animal tracks and why? What can I use to collect water? How can I hunt? Right from the moment I start, I build a map of resources, noting everything I see on my explorations and forages, watching for changes or patterns in animal behaviour, the weather etc. Your aim is to become the master of your environment in all aspects.

7. Listen to the voice inside your head

Ever heard the little voice just before you strike a nail with a hammer that shouts ‘stop’ at you just before you hit your thumb? Learn to respect and listen to that voice, it is your subconscious picking up on external factors in the environment that your conscious self may not have noticed. What I teach on courses is the three-second rule, three seconds of not thinking can get you killed quicker than the most deadly snake bite on earth, so use your brain and get in touch with your primeval senses. Think your actions through before acting and if in doubt don’t do it. An accident caused by impulsive decisions can cost you your life in a survival situation.

8. Become a Jane or Jack of all trades

Firstly, if you have an interest in exploring the great outdoors, no matter what environment, learn some basic, transferable skills. Navigation, how to dress appropriately, basic survival skills, fire lighting, shelter building, how to call for help in an emergency. Don’t just focus on those you really enjoy. Having an arsenal of transferable skills you can draw on will really improve your chances should something go wrong on your explorations. Secondly, when you are actually in a survival situation don’t just carry out the tasks you enjoy or find easy, make sure all your priorities of survival are met. Fire, food, shelter and water. As the days drag on, your body loses huge amounts of energy and the easiest tasks become increasingly difficult. Stay on top of all your tasks.

9. Build a solid routine

The best way for me to ensure I keep the motivation is to give myself a routine that I follow each day. Even if I am moving and not in one spot I ensure that each day my routine is as similar as possible to the day before. This helps for several reasons; it gives a purpose each day, it ensures certain tasks get done. It allows me to assess my health both physically and mentally as I have a previous day to compare today’s performance to.

10. Laugh

You may be thinking ‘is she crazy?’ What is there to laugh about in a survival situation? I personally find that injecting humour into the day, making fun of myself and my situation helps relieve negative thoughts and stress and helps put certain aspects of survival into perspective and helps me see the bigger picture and not focus so much on the minute details which are causing me unnecessary stress.

Bear Grylls: Mission Survive is at 9pm on Fridays on ITV, see here for more info.


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Go into the wild with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details