Glossary Of Terms

ABCDE For Survival: Remember your ABC’s for survival. Accept the situation as it is. Brew a beverage and sit and drink it. Consider all your options. Decide your best course of action. Execute it.

Ant Trails: Ants create trails when they are active. That is many ants forming a line. You do not want to camp on or near an ant trail as they will become a nuisance when you are trying to sleep.

Bag Over Tree Branch: A water procurement method. You place a plastic bag over a non-toxic branch of leaves on a tree. Seal the bag and wait 5-6 hours. The leaves will transpire into the bag. The water droplets form in the bottom of the bag to give you drinkable water. It is still best to purify this water prior to drinking. A good method for procuring water without sweating out more than you will get back. See Survival Equation, Solar Box, Solar Stills.



Clarify: This means to make something clear. In this context we are clarifying water or making the water clearer by removing mud, silt, leaves etc. Related: Purify.

Clock or Watch Method: See Time Method.

Condy’s Crystals: Also known as potassium permanganate Used for purifying water, lighting a fire, antibacterial solution for cuts and scrapes.

Dehydration: This is the state that your body goes into when it does not have sufficient water to function properly. Symptoms include feeling thirsty, dry mouth, feeling dizzy or light headed, possibly a headache, very little urine, urine may be darker in colour. Dehydration can occur even if drinking water but if it’s not in sufficient quantities. Sipping does not prevent dehydration.
See also Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke.

Distilling: This is the process by which steam is collected by heating water and leaving pollutants such as salt and other undesirable things behind. When the steam cools you have fresh drinking water.


Epirb: An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or EPIRB is used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency. It sets off a signal that you are in distress. You are not able to communicate what the distress is however. Rescuers can use the signal to locate you. Related: Signals, Satellite Phone.

Food: One of the 5 priorities for survival. This is always last as a priority. No one has died of starvation in a survival situation in Australia. It is usually from exposure or lack of water. Make sure your other priorities are well-satisfied first. See Water, Warmth, Shelter, Signals, Universal Taste Test, Plant Poison Indicators.

Funghi: One of the Plant Poison Indicators. Do not use fungi for any reason. It is not worth it in a survival situation. Even if the fungi is safe to eat, if it is growing under another toxic plant it can absorb the toxins from that plant and still be poisonous. You cannot perform the Universal Taste Test on fungi as poisoning in this manner may not show up for at least 12 hours.

Furry Stems: One of the Plant Poison Indicators. If the stem of a plant is furry, leave the plant alone. See also Plant Poison Indicators.

Game Trails: Animals such as cattle, sheep, kangaroos, have a tendency to follow the same tracks in their search for water or just moving in the bush. These game trails can be followed as they usually lead to water sources. When the trail converges with other trails, pointing like an arrow, this is the way to water.


Headsox: A tube of material that can be worn in a variety of ways like a scarf. It is also useful to have as it can be utilised for clarifying water, as a gasket on your Bag Over Tree Branch, as a sponge to aid in Heat Exhaustion treatment and it can be wet and worn as a scarf to keep you cool. It also can help keep you warm when worn in the cold. When pulled up over your face it can prevent sunburn and is a mask to prevent breathing in dust. See also Military Scrim.

Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue and collapse resulting from prolonged exposure to excessive heat without proper hydration. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, heavy sweating, cold, pale and clammy skin, muscle cramps, headache and dizziness. See also Dehydration, Heat Stroke.

Heat Stroke: This condition is a result of a person’s body overheating which is usually a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures.This is a very serious condition. A person’s body temperature will have risen to 40° C or higher. Without treatment the person may expire. Symptoms include altered mental state, sweating may stop altogether, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, racing pulse, severe headache. Medical attention is required immediately See also; Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion.

Hot Rocks: Rocks can be heated in a fire to wrap and use as a ‘heat pack’ or buried to insulate the ground on which you will sleep. A word of caution – never use rocks out of a river bed (even dry rocks) or wet rocks. These may explode in a fire.

Hypothermia: The condition of having an abnormally low body temperature. This is a serious condition that can lead to death if untreated. Symptoms include feeling cold, shivering, confusion and drowsiness, fumbling, unsteady walk, slurred speech.

Insulation: Insulation is extra layers to block the cold. This can be scrunched up newspaper, dry grass or paperbark put in between your layers of clothing. Your body heat will heat up the air spaces between the newspaper and keep you warmer. Insulation can also be insulating the ground where you will sleep. This can be done with your rucksacks, paperbark or pile of leaves. Sleep on top of these to prevent your body heat being lost into the cold ground. Hot rocks buried under where you are sleeping is also a good insulation for your body against the cold ground.



Lean-to Shelter: A lean-to shelter is best for warm areas where you need shelter from the sun. It can provide warmth on a cold night if you set up a reflective wall from your fire to reflect the warmth into your shelter. See Teepee Shelters.


Military Scrim: A durable, loosely woven fabric, often cotton, linen, hemp, or a synthetic fiber. Worn like a scarf. Can be wet to keep you cool in the heat or can seal your neck area to keep you warm in the cold. See Head Sox.

Milky Sap: One of the Plant Poison Indicators. Snap a bit of the stem or leaves. If it has milky sap, do not eat the plant. Milky sap means a white fluid that comes out of the plant. Some plants with milky sap can be used as an antibacterial salve on cuts etc. If unsure, leave it alone. See also Plant Poison Indicators.

Moon Shadow Stick Method: See Shadow Stick Method.

Natural Shelters: Shelters that are naturally existing such as caves, hollow logs, burnt out tree hollows or overhanging rock formations. It is best to smoke these types of shelters out first to remove unwanted wildlife and insects. See also Shelters, Smoke Out Shelters.


Opposite Leaves: If the leaves of a plant come out of the stem at the same point, this is an indication it may be a toxic plant. Leave the plant alone. Do not use it for any purpose.

Outback: When speaking of the outback we are referring to any remote location away from populated areas.

Pacing: Pacing is a good method of measuring how far you have walked. Work out how many paces you take to cover a hundred metres. You can then use knots on a cord tied to your button hole each time you cover a hundred metres. When you have 10 knots you know you have covered a kilometre. Undo a knot when you cover another hundred metres. When all the knots are undone you have now covered 2 kilometres.

Palmate Leaves: Leaves in the shape of a palm, whether it has 3, 4, 5 or more ‘fingers’ is an indication the plant may be poisonous. Do not use the plant for any purpose.

Pea-Shaped Flowers: One of the Plant Poison Indicators. As we know, many pea flowered plants are safe to eat but if you are not sure do not be tempted to try a plant with these flowers. 80% are poisonous. See Plant Poison Indicators.

Plan A and Plan B: When you start off you have Plan A. This is usually the way you would like things to work out. When things don’t go according to that plan you will need to change to Plan B. Things may not go to plan B so you may need to revert to Plan C, D etc. Having alternative plans other than Plan A means you are prepared if things go wrong.

Plant Poison Indicators: There are 9 indicators that a plant may be poisonous. These are universal wherever you may be in the world. There are exceptions to the rule but if you are unsure if a plant is safe then leave it alone. If a plant does not have any poison indicators it is still not safe to eat. You must perform the Universal Taste Test prior to eating any part of the plant. The indicators are 1/ furry stems, 2/ milky sap, 3/ Opposite leaves, 4/ palmate leaves, 5/ pea flowers, 6/ Trumpet or Bell flowers, 7/ red seeds, 8/ Prickly fruit, 9/ fungi.
See also Food, Universal Taste Test.

Prickly Fruit: One of the Plant Poison Indicators. If the fruit of a plant is prickly it could potentially be poisonous. Do not use the plant for any purpose.

Purify: This means to sterilize your water to kill harmful bacteria so that your water becomes fit to drink. This can be done by chemical tablets, condy’s crystals or by bringing the water to boiling point. See also: Clarify.



Red Seeds: One of the indicators a plant may be poisonous. We are talking about red seeds, not red fruit. If a plant has red seeds do not use it for any purpose. See also Plant Poison Indicators, Universal Taste Test.

Rescue Blanket: This is a thin blanket with silver on one side and a bright contrasting colour on the other. It is usually made of mylar. It is designed to trap your own body heat to increase your warmth. I have designed a blanket that has the word “HELP” on the reverse side to act as a signal. These blankets can also be used as a stretcher, to collect dew, to create a shelter and as a windbreak. See also Trilogy For Survival, Shelter.

Satellite Phone: A satellite telephone, satellite phone or satphone is a type of mobile phone that connects to other phones or the telephone network by radio through orbiting satellites instead of telephone towers, as mobile phones do. With a satphone you can call for help and communicate exactly where you are and what the problem is. These can fail however due to low battery, moisture or cold affecting the battery, damage from dropping etc. Related: Signals, Epirbs.

Scrim: See Military Scrim, Headsox.

Shadow Stick Method: This is a method to work out where North is in comparison to your position. You can then work out the other cardinal points from there. This method can be used with the sun as well as with the moon.

Shelter: One of the 5 priorities for survival. Shelter is a necessity in extreme weather of either cold or hot. Shelter can be as simple as the clothes you are wearing all the way up to creating an elaborate lean-to or teepee shaped shelter. The simplest shelter and most versatile in my book is a shelter made from a rescue blanket. It is easily built and can be taken down and carried with you. See Rescue Blanket, Water, ,Warmth, Signals, Food, Smoke Out Shelter, Natural Shelters, Teepee Shelters, Lean-to Shelters.

Signals: One of the 5 priorities for survival. Signals are two-fold – attract attention to you and then signal that you are in distress. Signals can be audible and visual, passive and active, day and night signals. See Tyre Fire, Tinsel Tripod, Signal Flare, Water, Warmth, Shelter, Food.

Signal Flare: A night signal. This is a fire built on a large tripod of sticks, at least 2 metres tall. It is crammed full of flammable materials such as dry grass. This should be set, ready to light at the first sound of a plane and should be visible from a long way off.

Snake Bite Treatment Kit: This is a kit made of up 3 x 10cm compression bandages. The primary purpose is to treat snake bites but they can also be used to treat other bites and stings. They can also be wrapped around your head/face and other body parts for protection from the sun, cold and insect bites. They can be cut into strips and used as cordage.

Solar Box: A solar box is similar to a solar still but you use a plastic box instead of digging a hole. This can be more effective than a solar still but a bag over a tree branch is still more effective than this method. See also Solar Still, Bag Over Tree.

Solar Still: A solar still is used to procure water. It is basically a hole dug in the ground, plant foliage in the bottom with a catchment container and plastic stretched across the opening of the hole. The heat causes the foliage to transpire and create water droplets on the plastic that then drops into the catchment container. Not as effective as placing a plastic bag over a tree branch. See also Solar Box, Bag Over Tree Branch.

Smoke Out Shelter: When using either a natural shelter such as a cave or hollow tree as well as creating your own shelter, it is best to smoke out the shelter first. This is to deter insects and other undesirable creatures from disturbing your sleep.

Sterilize: See Purify.

Stock/Soup Cubes: 2 stock cubes in your survival kit are highly recommended. They are small and easy to carry. The taste is familiar to you and can bring you back into your comfort zone. Combined with water they can add to your hydration rather than rob it. These can be rationed to last a long time. A sliver of stock cube can be used in conjunction with your fishing kit to attract fish. In my kit, the stock cubes come with a bag that has a red line on it that can be used as a lure for fish. Also known as Bonox or Oxo cubes.

Survival Equation: The equation for survival is 1 x effort = 2 yield. If the proposed work you are intending to perform does not fit this equation, rethink that work. You cannot afford to use more energy and water to perform a task than you will get back from that same task. See Bag Over Tree Branch, Solar Box, Solar Still.

Survival Kit: This should be a small kit that fits into your pocket so that you will take it with you every time you go out. Thought should go into the items that you fill the kit up with. Consider how you will fulfill your needs of water, warmth, shelter, signals and food. See Water, Warmth, Shelter, Signals, Food, Trilogy For Survival.

Teepee Shaped Shelter: A Teepee (tepee) shaped shelter is best if you are in a cold, wet or windy climate. It blocks the wind from many directions and if built well can also shelter you from most of the rain. A door can be added if you wish. See Lean-to Shelter.

Time Method: Also known as Clock or Watch Method: This is a method to ascertain which direction is north using the time. You don’t actually need a watch or a clock. You just need to know what the time is. Once you know which way is North you can work out the other cardinal points.

Tinsel Tripod: This is a signal used to attract attention to your being in that location. It consists of a tripod made of sticks, reasonably large. The ‘tinsel’ is anything shiny and eye-catching that you hang on the tripod that hopefully will catch the sun and flash so that anyone in the area may notice the flashes and investigate. If placed on a track, it should make a driver stop to investigate especially if it is blocking the road.

Trilogy For Survival: This is 1/ Your Survival Kit, 2/ Your Rescue Blanket and 3/ Your Snake Bite Treatment Kit. With these 3 items plus your water you should have everything you need to survive. You won’t have everything you want but you will have everything you need. See Survival Kit, Rescue Blanket, Snake Bite Treatment Kit.

Trumpet and Bell Flowers: One of the Plant Poison Indicators. If a plant has trumpet or bell shaped flowers do not use the plant for any purpose.

Tyre Fire: Your spare tyre (and other tyres) can be set alight to create a distress signal of black acrid smoke. It may attract people in the area as it is different to bush smoke which is gray/white. A word of caution – you must always deflate the tyre first as it may explode otherwise. See Signals.

Universal Taste Test: This is a 6 step process to go through prior to eating a bush plant if it’s safety is unknown. Each individual must undergo this test as reactions to plants differ. Do not short cut any of the steps as the consequences could be damaging. See Plant Poison Indicators, Food.


Walking Plan: When you have a long distance to walk a walking plan will help you reach your destination. In a walking plan you will decide how far or how long you will walk before you rest. You will have planned rest stops that may increase incrementally as you progress on your walk. The purpose of a walking plan is to keep you focussed and to give you a goal.It is also to give you time to rest and rehydrate. This time can also be used to readjust things such as footwear, backpacks and address blisters and hot spots. My recommendation is walk for 40 minutes,rest for 10. You can do this several times and then walk for 40, rest for 20 or 30 minutes. Then go back to 40/10.

Warmth: One of the 5 priorities for survival. Warmth includes your clothing, lighting a fire, insulating your clothes as well as the ground your sleeping on. See Water, Shelter, Signals, Food, Hot Rocks, Trilogy For Survival.

Watch Method: See Time Method.

Water: One of the 5 priorities for survival. It is usually the first priority because you won’t last long without water, however other priorities such as sheltering from exposure to heat or cold may come first at times. People often underestimate the amount of water required to stay alive. See also Warmth, Signals, Shelter, Food, Distilling, Clarify, Purify, Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke, Solar Still, Box Still, Bag Over Tree.

Water Baby: To transport large amounts of water you can fill up a plastic bag, loosely tie the end and lower it into a tied off sleeve of your jacket.You can then tie it over your shoulder and carry it like a baby either at the front or on your back.

Wind Chill Factor: As the wind blows faster, heat is lost more quickly from exposed skin, making a person feel colder even though the air temperature remains the same. It is imperative to get out of the wind in cold areas to avoid hypothermia.