Identify Safe and Edible Plants in a Survival Situation
Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Lynn, Eng, Rebecca M. and 1 other
You're out in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from civilization. You've consumed your last Twinkie and you're down to your last gulp of water. The future looks terribly dim - unless you know how to recognize and identify some safe and edible plants, there is no hope you'll survive.
Preparedness is still the number one skill anyone can have to increase their chances of survival in a situation such as this. Being lost or left behind is the last thing on your mind when you're having a blast on your outdoor adventure with your family or friends, but it can happen. And when it does, do you have what it takes to stay calm and collected? You have to, because the moment you panic, you lose. The ability to stay focused is the difference between life and death.
How to Test a Plant and How to Use It
It is assumed that prior to hiking or going out on a wilderness adventure you have thoroughly researched your surroundings, the dangers and perils you may encounter, and the safe and edible plants you can eat native to that area, should the need arise. Then again, you can never be 100 percent sure about a plant's safety because there are thousands of poisonous lookalikes out there, so extreme caution is necessary.
Prior to the Procedure
- 1Set aside 24 hours. The only way to do this right is to set aside 24 hours so you don't skip any of the steps, but something that's not easy to do when hunger and exhaustion have set in. It is therefore recommended that you do this as early as possible after the onset of your ordeal.Advertisement
- 3Eat and fast. Fasting is necessary because you will not be able to distinguish if it's poisonous or not if you're also ingesting something else with it. Do this eight hours prior to the test, drinking only purified water in the process.
- 4Stay away from the obvious.
- If it doesn't look good or feel good, it probably isn't.
- Those with fungi, insects, worms or parasites must also be avoided.
- The same thing goes with those that look like garlic, mushrooms, onions, and parsley. They look edible, but so do their poisonous lookalikes.
- Don't go for plants with sticky liquid sap either. One exception to this rule is the dandelion. Though it has white, sticky sap, dandelion plants are not only edible, but very nutritious. The added bonus with a dandelion is that almost anyone who has a lawn can identify these pesky weeds. When in any survival situation if you can find plants that you already know are edible, it is wise to make use of them when possible.
- 5Often the things that look most delicious, are the most poison. Belladonna, for example.
- 6What's everything else eating? If the birds are eating the berries, there's a good chance you can too. If leaves have insect bites, there is at least the comfort in knowing they consider this plant food. You should be more wary of a plant that nothing has tried to eat.
Now that you're through learning the basics, you can now get to the process for testing the plants.
- 2Test the individual parts. Do this by breaking it down to its basic components. Just because one part is poisonous does not mean the whole thing must be thrown away. Do this correctly by testing its parts one by one like the roots, stems, leaves, flowers.
- 4Smell the part for strong odors. While this does not completely distinguish it from what's poisonous or not, you're better off avoiding plants with acidic odors.
- 5Test for skin irritation.
- 6Try it raw. The best way to test the plant is to eat it raw; this way you can survive on this even when you're on the go. You also have the option of cooking it because some poisonous plants become edible when cooked properly.
- 7Take your time.
- 8The long waiting hours. Now here's the challenging part - waiting. Whether you like it or not, you need to wait for eight hours after ingesting before you can go on eating or drinking anything aside from your purified water.
- 9The final test.
- 1What to do when contact dermatitis develops. Despite extreme caution there are times that contact may not be avoided.
- Soap and water. Once you see signs of itching, reddening, swelling and inflammation, wash the affected skin area with soap and water, provided you have some in your pack.
- Sand. If you're out of soap or water, you can use sand instead, but make sure blisters have not developed yet, as this will worsen the condition and probably cause infection.
- Tannic Acid Dry the affected area thoroughly and rub it with a tannic acid solution you can find from oak bark.
- Remember: The most common culprits for contact dermatitis are poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, trumpet vine and cowhage.
If Poisoning Occurs
What to do when ingestion poisoning occurs.
- 1Be prepared. It's best to go fully equipped and prepared when planning to be outdoors, whether for short or long periods of time. Make sure you have sufficient supplies to increase your chances of survival in case you find yourself in a life or death situation:
- First Aid Kit
- Emergency tools. and water, a first aid kit and emergency tools
- 2Be aware and alert to the signs and symptoms of swallowing poisonous plants. You cannot expect to know what to do if you've ingested poison, if you are not even aware of its symptoms. Watch out for the following:
- Skin irritation
- Impaired vision
- Upset stomach
- Trembling, and convulsions.
- In more serious cases, a heart attack may occur, or death.
- 3Remember: Stay away from the most dangerous and common causes of poisoning due to plants:
- Physic Nut.
- Castor Bean (even touching these, and putting fingers in your mouth can kill
- Death Camas
- 4Take it out fast. When you experience ingestion poisoning such as nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal cramps, try getting it out of your system right away.
- Induce vomiting by tickling the back of your throat.
- Dilution is another alternative. Dilute the ingested poison by drinking lots of water or milk, if available.
Make mental note, however, that in worst-case scenarios, your chances of surviving are still pretty good, as long as you stay cool, calm, collected, and have the presence of mind to identify safe and edible plants in a survival situation. Learn about distinguishing and safely testing plants; it will be your key to survival.
Categories : Safety
Recent edits by: Rebecca M., Eng, Lynn