Would you survive being lost at sea?

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You've just found yourself lost at sea. Do you have the skills to survive until rescuers arrive?

Question 1 of 9

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What is the top priority when you realize you’re isolated in the open ocean?

If you're lost in the open ocean, the first goal is to stay afloat. Everything else can be taken care of as long as you manage to keep yourself above water. Look for anything that floats, from a life jacket to a piece of wreckage or best of all, a lifeboat.

Question 2 of 9

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The water is calm, but you do not have a floatation device. What's the best way to stay afloat? 

It's important to conserve as much energy as possible, especially if you don't have anything to float on. Avoid doing excessive swimming such as kicks or paddling to stay above water. If the water is calm, simply lie on your back to float. If the water is rough, you can avoid breathing in or swallowing saltwater by accident if you lie on your stomach with your face in the water, turning your head to take breaths.

Question 3 of 9

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Staying hydrated is a top priority. What is a source of freshwater when stranded at sea? 

Rainwater is an obvious first choice but also not a reliable option. If you can catch fish, their flesh, eyes and spine all contain liquids that will hydrate you. Also, sea turtle and bird blood can contain as much as 70 percent water, and are not more salty than our own blood, so they are also a source of hydration. (Of course, catching them is the key.)

Question 4 of 9

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A smart strategy for signaling a plane is:

There are many ways to send a signal to a search plane. The ideal solution is sending up a flare using a flare gun. However, if you don't have that device, flashing a mirror at the plane or waving a flag also could get you noticed. Flying a signal kite is another possibility, since something flying above the water is easier for rescuers to spot than something floating on the water.

Question 5 of 9

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When dealing with the current, it's best to:

If you're away from any wreckage site where rescuers may begin to search, then it's best to simply allow the current to carry you. Conserving energy is key for survival, so let the current take you where it wants. You'll expend far too much energy trying to go against it or away from it. And since the current is traveling in a certain direction anyway, don't waste your strength in swimming with it. Just float and go with it. Only when you see land should you expend your energy to swimming.

Question 6 of 9

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Taking breaks from lookout duty is important for getting and avoiding hallucinations. A lookout shift should last no longer than:

At most, keep a lookout for two hours and then take a two-hour break to rest. This will help keep your mind and eyes as fresh as possible so you can avoid chasing after mirages or hallucinations, which can happen when you strain yourself for too long.

Question 7 of 9

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The biggest predator threat at sea comes from sharks. If you are in the water with a shark:

If you flatten out horizontally, you're more likely to look like a prey item to a shark, and if you thrash around as you try to swim away, you'll look like a weak or injured prey item, which is all the more tempting. While punching a shark directly in the eyes or gills could help ward off an impending attack, don't throw random punches at sharks swimming by, as this will most likely end up with you cutting your hand and making the situation much worse.

Question 8 of 9

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Some of the signs that you're nearing land include:

Clouds can form anywhere above the ocean, but when a cumulus cloud seems to hang in one spot in the sky, you might be near land. This type of cloud often forms over or just downwind from an island and, depending on weather conditions, can look as if it's staying put for hours or even days. While birds could help indicate land, just their presence doesn't mean much. But if you notice them coming from a certain direction in the morning and going back in that direction in the evening, then that likely indicates where land is located. Dolphins and phosphorescent sea life can be found all over the open ocean and aren't a reliable indicator of land.

Question 9 of 9

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Once you've spotted land, the trick is to safely get there. If the shoreline is rocky and you can't raft in, a trick to swimming ashore is to:

If you've been lost at sea and you finally arrive at land, you're not going to talk yourself out of going ashore because the rocks look dangerous. But be wise about how you head in. It's best to ride the waves and let them carry you in. To absorb the force of landing on the rocks, move into a sitting position as a wave approaches, with your feet in front of you and a bit lower than your head. After your feet hit, lean in and grab hold with your hands. This strategy will help minimize the potential for injury.

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