Survival in Open Water

Ship Wreck – Airplane Crash – Swept out to Sea “Survival”

Whether or not you are stranded in the ocean or on a sizable lake as a result of an airplane crash, a sinking boat, or getting swept out to sea by an undertow, the remoteness of being stranded in the ocean can be a distressing experience.

Staying Afloat

Stop and think, how will you stay afloat, what are your shelter options during the day, what are the possibilities of finding fresh water and food sources?

Staying afloat could be handled numerous ways– explore the immediate area for drifting debris within swimming range. If you are fortunate there might be a raft or lifeboat handy.

You can float on your back if the water is not very rough, keeping your head above water. In rough water, face down in the water is necessary, holding your breath as long as comfortable.

Locating Fresh Water

If you’re lucky and have secured some sort of floatation device which enables you to be out of the water, locate fresh water.

When you are stranded in a fresh body of water, not a problem. Drifting about in the ocean may be a problem.

Your body will only be able to last a few days, 4 or 5 at the most, without fresh water. If you have watched some of those “survival” shows on the History Channel, consuming urine has actually been recommended. Not really a good idea due to the salt content.

A good idea to be prepared, no matter what the situation for survival may be – 

However, if you are able to accumulate the urine in a container and place some kind of clear plastic over that container, evaporation could accumulate on the plastic. This can be consumed.

Collect rainwater if possible. Another source of moisture can be found in fish.

Securing Food

The ocean has several sources of food, such as fish, and plankton. So as to catch the fish, some form of gear is needed. If not handy– improvise. A shoestring could be used as fishing line, then a hook needs to be fashioned from anything metal that may be handy.

There may be something to eat in floating seaweed, check for small sea creatures.


When there is no likely way to control your drift, save your energy until you either site land or a vessel that is within paddling range. You would be better off signaling a ship and waiting for recovery.

In case you find yourself adrift in the ocean, beware of sharks.

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