Can You Pass This Ultimate Survival Quiz?

By: Teresa McGlothlin

In order to avoid getting poison ivy, you need to stay away from it. How many leaves does it have?

In a survival situation, poison ivy is more than an itchy annoyance. To avoid it, remember the old saying "leaves of three, let it be." If you do end up with poison ivy's vicious rash, look for a patch of touch-me-nots to rub on your skin. They possess natural anti-itch properties and they grow alongside poison ivy.

You are hiking alone and you realize you are lost, what is the first thing you should do?

Survival experts recommend that you should stop walking the second you realize you are lost. Continuing to wander may lead you deeper into the forest. Instead, stop and think about retracing your steps.

When sleeping in the jungle, it is important to get your bed off of the ground. Why?

When you are surviving in the jungle, it is important to elevate your sleeping area for a lot of reasons. Most importantly, the jungle floor is full of biting insects, spiders, and venomous snakes. Elevating your bed allows a little more distance between you and them.

What is the number one most important thing you should do before heading on a hiking or camping trip?

Before heading out on a hiking or camping trip, you should let someone know when and where you are going. In the event that you become lost, rescuers have a better chance of finding you if they know where to start looking.

According to survival's rule of three, how long can you survive without water?

When it comes to survival, you must keep the rule of three in mind. You can survive three days without water, three minutes without air and three weeks without food. However, the amount of time you can actually survive without water depends on the harshness of the environment you are trying to survive.

After you get a signal fire going, how many puffs of smoke do you send up to let someone know you are in trouble?

When you are ready to send out a smoke signal for help, try to remember the code known among campers everywhere. One puff of smoke shows your location, two puffs mean that you are safe and three puffs of smoke mean that you are in need of assistance.

If you need to construct an emergency shelter, how large should it be?

Nearly all survival situations require some form of shelter. When constructing an emergency, short-term shelter, it should only be slightly larger than your body. After insulating with any available materials, a smaller shelter will make it easier to utilize your own body heat.

When you are trying to escape a desert survival situation, what time of day should you travel?

Dehydration is the biggest enemy in desert survival. To retain more fluids and to refrain from sweating as much, you should travel after sunset, during the nighttime, and during the early morning hours. You should find shade and rest during the hottest times of the day.

Why do you need to let snow melt before you consume it?

Before eating or consuming fresh snow, you should allow it to melt over a fire or using your body heat. When you eat the snow directly from the ground, it forces your body to work harder than it needs to work to turn the snow into water. Allowing the snow to melt will help you conserve energy and retain your body's temperature.

You are camping when a grizzly bear decides to attack you - what should you do?

Hopefully, you'll never experience a grizzly bear attack. If you do, you should never fight back. Grizzly bears will stop their attack once they think that their prey is dead. You should lie as still as possible and remain there until the grizzly leaves.

What do the letters in the survival mnemonic device STOP mean?

STOP is mnemonic device created by the Boy Scouts of America. The letters stand for: Stop, think, observe and plan. When surviving, practice using this device the second you realize you are lost or stranded.

Your television announces the outbreak of a zombie virus. What does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend doing in this situation?

Should a zombie virus break out in your neighborhood, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you hunker down, lock up, and stay put. It is not advised to leave your home until you are instructed to do so. (Yes, they really did this.)

What can you add to a signal fire to increase the level of smoke?

After you have established a steady fire, you can increase the level of smoke output by adding live tree branches and wet grass. If you are lucky enough to find pieces of rubber, it can also help to intensify the smoke.

If you needed to get your direction at night, which constellation would you use?

Getting your direction in unfamiliar territory can be tough, but if you use the stars correctly you can always find true north. The north star is located within the Little Dipper constellation, and it will help you get your bearings.

You should always line the floor of your shelter, why?

After constructing your shelter, you should line the floor with plant materials. Just a couple of inches of leaves, moss, or plant matter can help stop the ground from leaching out all of your body heat.

If you have to build a fire in a snowy environment, what is the first thing you should do?

Surviving in snowy environments presents a few unique challenges related to moisture. In order to build a fire in the snow, you must first prepare an area by removing all the snow until you can see the ground. Then, you should line the area with at least three inches of tree bark to make for easier fire starting.

Party favors are not just for parties. Which one could help you be rescued?

The next time you are at a party, grab a few extra glow sticks for your next camping adventure. Attaching a glow stick to your bag at night can help rescuers find you by making you more visible.

Avoiding dehydration is the first step to survival - how do you know you are starting to dehydrate?

The human body is more than 60% water; therefore, remaining hydrated should be paramount in any survival situation. If you begin to feel thirsty, you are experiencing the first warning sign of dehydration.

In the event of a pandemic, how much water does FEMA say you need to have stored?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends keeping a two-week supply on hand to help you survive a pandemic. It's generally recommended that you store one gallon of water per day per person.

According to experts, what is the most important survival tool?

You can have a fully stocked backpack suited for any survival situation, but knowledge is considered the most important survival tool. Knowing your surroundings, your equipment, and your limits can make all the difference between life and death.

When setting up a shelter, where should you build it?

One of the most important things about setting up your shelter should be your location. While you should build your shelter near running water and a source of wood, you should make sure that it is high enough to avoid any flooding that may take place in the area.

When you are lost, you must scavenge materials to help you survive - which of the following cannot be used as a candle?

In addition to providing a little warmth, having even a small candle can help to ease the anxiety of being stranded in the dark. Should your scavenging be lucky enough to produce crayons, a can of lard or some cooking oil, they can easily be turned into a life-saving candle.

If you hear a tornado warning being issued, what should you do to increase your chances of survival?

Although the National Weather Service does its best to warn people in the path of a tornado with watches and warnings, tornadoes are rather unpredictable. While hearing a tornado watch means that conditions are likely for a tornado, a tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted. You should keep your eyes open when you hear a watch, but you should immediately take shelter in a basement or small interior room when you hear a warning.

Hypothermia can be fatal - do you know the first sign?

When the body's temperature begins to lower, its natural defense system is to shiver. Shivering might be the first sign of hypothermia, but it can quickly escalate to slurred speech, shallow breathing and even death.

Other than for hunting, why is it important to notice where wildlife gather?

When you are lost, it's a good idea to pay attention to the places you see wildlife. Birds, deer and other wildlife tend to live closer to water than away from it. Following the animals may lead you to a water source.

If you are in the wilderness and a wolf begins to charge you, what should you do?

When you are in the wild, you should remember that you are in an animal's natural habitat. If an animal like a wolf begins to threaten, challenge or charge you, do not run! Running will feed the animal's instinct to chase; instead, you should stand your ground and make a lot of noise unless you are facing a grizzly bear.

Which item from a cosmetic bag could help you start a fire?

If you are having a hard time getting a fire started, look no further than your cosmetic bag. Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, and its flammable nature should help ignite your heat source.

To signal rescuers in the air, which letter should you make from rocks, branches or other available materials?

No matter what sort of survival situation you are in, you can help air rescuers find you by making a giant X from local materials. There are stories of many people being rescued by using this method.

According to another mnemonic, what colors of berries can "can kill a fellow?"

According to a popular mnemonic device about berries, "White and yellow can kill a fellow; purple and blue are good for you." Always make sure you can identify anything you eat in the wild with 100% certainty. The last thing you want in a survival situation is food poisoning - or worse!

Which wild food source needs to be soaked before consuming?

Although acorns are a good wild food source, they contain high levels of tannins that can cause nausea and vomiting. Before consuming them, you must allow them to sit in water until all of the bitterness and tannins have been removed.

If you are trying to start a fire, what part of the pine tree is most flammable?

Although most parts of a pine tree can be used to feed your fire, the pitch is the most flammable. Pitch is the sap that oozes from the bark of the tree.

Which tree's bark can help to alleviate headaches and pain?

One of the most useful trees in the forest is the birch tree. The bark of the birch tree contains the same ingredient as aspirin. Chewing, boiling or eating the bark can provide powerful pain relief.

According to the Rules of Three, how long can you last in a harsh environment without shelter?

As a general rule of thumb, humans can only survive without shelter for three hours in a harsh environment. If you find yourself lost in this situation, the shelter should be your first priority.

When looking for water, what type of water does not need to be boiled?

One of the easiest ways to maintain your hydration levels is to collect rainwater. Unlike most other water sources found in the wild, rainwater does not need to be boiled or purified.

It's important to stay calm in a survival situation, but why?

Let's face it - staying calm burns a lot less energy than panicking. In a survival situation, you need to conserve your energy and your calories. If you panic, you are wasting energy that you need.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: Jeremy Thurston / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

No one expects to have to survive the wilderness, but it can happen to anyone. Every year, countless campers and hikers accidentally veer off trails and end up right in the middle of a survival situation. After you take this quiz, you'll know just how much you know about surviving most any situation. 

Do you know the survival Rules of Three? Could you manage to find drinking water with no one else around? How would you let others know that you are in trouble? As we go through this quiz, we're going to put your knowledge of survival to the test. Whether you are experienced in the art of bushcraft or you are simply curious about what you know, your survival skills are going to be examined and put on display.

Before you head out on your next outdoor adventure, you will want to know as much about survival as you possibly can. Survival is about more than getting through a situation - it's about information, and we want to make sure you know everything you need to get yourself out of a sticky situation. Will you fly through it like a wilderness expert, or will you need to spend a little more time away from your desk to practice your skills? See how well you do! 

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!