A MAN stranded for two and a half days in the Northern Territory desert last week drank his own wee to survive.
Darwin resident, Tom Mason, 21, ran out of water while stranded on a dirt track about 140km south of Uluru last Wednesday so he turned to the unappetising* survival technique to stay hydrated.
Mr Mason said he learned about drinking his own urine after seeing someone — most likely popular wilderness survival TV presenter Bear Grylls — do it on television when he was a child.
“It was just enough to moisten* my mouth,” Mr Mason said.
“I had to do it a couple of times. It was not very nice.”
Over the 60-hour ordeal* he ate nothing, walked about 120km under the hot desert sun and shivered through two nights in about 5C temperatures.
“Every step I took I was looking on the side of the road for water,” he said.
“There were plenty of times I thought I was not going to make it.”
The story began when he rolled his work hire car just before sunset after swerving to miss a herd of camels on the road.
Fearing he would not be found in time on the Outback track, Mr Mason decided to walk about 120km to the Lasseter Hwy near the resort town of Yulara.
There were times he sat down to rest under a tree and he nearly did not get back up again. He said he was less concerned about the hot sun than the freezing cold nights.
Mr Mason was due to fly back to Darwin on Friday but when he did not show up as planned, his family raised the alarm and a search was launched.
After finally reaching the main road about 40km from Yulara at 9pm on Friday, Mr Mason tried to flag down a truck but it did not stop.
He tried to flag down three more cars without success, before a police car out searching for him pulled over. He was very lucky to be found unhurt except for a few blisters on his feet and parched* lips.
IS IT SAFE TO DRINK YOUR OWN URINE?
One of Australia’s top survival experts, Bob Cooper, says we should be careful about drinking urine in desperate situations where access to water is limited.
“If your body is very healthy and free from infectious bacteria, you can drink your own urine on day one of a survival situation, but you need to mix it with drinking water,” Mr Cooper said.
“After that, the body will become dehydrated and the urine will be less and less made up of water. Instead, it will become more of a concentrated waste product.”
BOB COOPER’S TOP 5 TIPS TO SURVIVE IN THE OUTBACK:
1. Be prepared. Think of every contingency*. Pack plenty of water — you’ll need more than you think. Pack a survival kit.
2. Keep your hat and shirt on. Shelter from the sun however you can.
3. Stay with your vehicle. It will offer some shelter, and make you easier to find. Use the air con if you can, and collect water. If you have a survival kit or plastic bags, try to collect the water that condenses from non-toxic trees.
4. Drink a cup of water at a time — don’t sip it.
5. Conserve your energy in the heat of the day.
unappetising: doesn’t make you want to consume it
moisten: wet slightly
o rdeal: harrowing experience
parched: thirsty and dry
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
Activity 1. Diary entry
Pretend you are Tom Mason.
Write a recount of your survival ordeal.
Include how you were feeling at various points.
There is some specific information in the article, however you may have to make some assumptions about events and his feelings from what was reported in the article.
Extension: Collecting water
If you run out of water and are in a remote place there are some ways you can find or collect water suitable for drinking. Bob Cooper suggests some ways you can collect water in the article.
Research one of these or another method and write an explanation of how to do this.
Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Science
Activity 2. Outback travel
Imagine you and a friend were planning a driving trip from Adelaide to Uluru and through to Darwin in September and you have the right car for the job.
What else would you need to do to prepare yourself for this trip?
Make a plan for your trip include a list of what you will pack for the trip and what you’ll include in your survival kit.
Include an itinerary and a map showing how far it is, how long it will take to drive and where you can stay on the way (you are not planning to drive through the night).
Make sure your itinerary shows when you leave and when you plan to arrive so that if you don’t arrive on time people know to come looking for you.
Extension: Attracting attention
Bob Cooper’s advice is to stay near your vehicle so you can be seen.
What else can you do to attract attention of passing traffic, so you can get some help?
Make a list of ways you can attract attention.
Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities — Geography
(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers, Punctuation)
Leapfrogging is when we make the end of one word the beginning of the next and through this process build up new words.
Can you see how we are creating new combinations and ideas through this process that is quite different from the first two words we started with?
It doesn’t matter if your combinations make sense. It’s the process that matters!
It could help you generate new ideas for your writing.
Have a go yourself by selecting a word from the text and see where it takes you.
Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Big Write, VCOP
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