Whether you plan a dolphin sighting excursion for an upcoming vacation or you regularly go ocean fishing, you may eventually find yourself in a life-or-death situation. Unfortunately, even with the most careful planning, unexpected things can happen when you’re spending time on the ocean. To help you prepare for such a possibility, here are five tips for surviving on the open ocean.
1. stay calm
It’s much easier said than done, but staying calm is one of the most essential things you can do for your survival. Your first reaction will likely be to panic and thrash around, but flailing will only cause you to become fatigued faster. Get control of your thoughts, breathe deeply, and assess your situation with a practical, solution-finding mindset.
2. float as much as possible
Ideally, you’ll be wearing a life vest when you find yourself stranded in the water. But we all know things are rarely ideal in true survival situations. If you’re thrown into the water without a life jacket, try to float as much as possible. Do this by lying on your back, keeping your head above the waterline and allowing the water to keep your body afloat.
If the water is rough, you won’t be able to float on your back. However, you may be able to float on your stomach if you can remain calm enough to avoid hyperventilating. In rougher water, take a deep breath, lie face down in the water, and float until you need to lift your head to take a breath. This may seem scary, but keep in mind that floating will help you reserve the energy you would otherwise expend trying to tread water to keep yourself from sinking.
If you’re stranded in a lifeboat or on another floating device, you won’t need to worry so much about sinking, but you will need to worry about shielding yourself from the sun.
3. create shelter
Sun exposure can cause a variety of unwanted side effects, including blisters, dehydration and even hallucinations. If you’re stranded in open water with no boat or other flotation device, creating shelter is likely impossible (unless you can find some seaweed to drape across exposed parts of your body. But if you’re in a lifeboat, you can likely come up with some form of protection. Do whatever you can to create some sort of shelter from the sun’s rays. Even a t-shirt stretched across two sticks or poles can provide you with at least a little protection from the sun.
4. trap moisture
Everyone knows that drinking salty ocean water will only speed up the dehydration process and severely hamper your likelihood of surviving your ordeal. That’s why it’s important to try to trap fresh water whenever possible. Your most likely source of fresh water is rain. You can try to catch it in your mouth, but it’s much better to try to trap it somehow. If you have anything with you that can potentially trap water, put it to good use. Even a baseball cap lined with a small piece of plastic can become a life-saving water-trapping tool. You can also get moisture from fish eyes, spines and flesh.
5. eat what's available
There’s generally a lot of seaweed available in the open ocean. Though you may not love the taste, you’ll love the fact that seaweed is packed with beneficial nutrients that can help you keep your strength up until you’re rescued. You’ll also want to try to catch fish. You can do this by using a shoelace or any other form of string and tie something shiny to the end of it (such as a piece of garbage).
These are just a few of our top tips for ocean water survival. Do you have any others we haven’t mentioned? Comment below to let us know!