Figure 5-40. - Face and neck protection.
eyes; use sunglasses or improvise a mask for your eyes.
Clothing is your protection against sunburn, heat, sand, and insects. Clothing also helps you get along with less water. Keep your body and head covered. During dust storms, cover your mouth and nose as shown in figure 5-40 - parachute cloth will do.
Keeping your clothing loose and flapping will help you stay cooler. Light-colored or white clothing is best because it reflects heat and light, whereas black or dark-colored clothing absorbs it. Wear your clothing at all times even though you imagine it will be cooler to strip it all off. It won't. Stripping off your clothing will cause your perspiration to evaporate too rapidly, and you will lose its cooling effects. Besides, the rapid evaporation of perspiration speeds up the process of dehydration.
Shelter in the desert is important not only to protect you from the sun and heat but also to protect you from the cool of the night and occasional rain. Use whatever materials are available to improvise a suitable desert shelter. Your parachute can be used effectively to make a good shade and serve as a signaling aid at the same time. Several layers spaced apart provide good insulation from the sun. Use your inflated life raft turned upside down to elevate your bed off the desert floor. By using the parachute for shade and the life raft for insulation, you will be 20F to 40F cooler than you would be in the outside temperature.
You will need fire in the desert, not only for cooking and signaling but also for heat at night. In some deserts fuel is extremely rare. Wherever you find plant growth; save all twigs, leaves, stems, and underground roots for burning. Dry animal dung often found along travel routes provides a very hot flame.
Eat sparingly unless you have plenty of water. Of course, dehydration will help you out on that score - it will decrease your appetite. Whatever food you do get, eat it immediately; food spoils rapidly in the heat. Don't try to preserve food by drying it. Dehydrated food is of little value if you don't have enough water.
In most deserts animals are scarce. Look for them at water holes; in grassy canyons or low-lying areas; dry riverbed areas, in which there is greater chance of moisture; or under rocks and in bushes. They are most likely to be seen at dusk or early morning. The most common animals are the small rodents (rabbits, prairie dogs, rats) and reptiles (snakes and lizards). They are your best and most reliable source of food.
Don't travel in the desert unless you are absolutely sure you can reach your destination on the water supply available. When the days are hot, travel only at night. Stay in the shade during the day and rest. Follow the easiest route possible - avoid soft sand and rough terrain. In the sand-dune areas follow the hard-floor valleys between the dunes or travel on the ridge of the dunes. Follow trails if at all possible.Continue Reading