Survival Dictionary

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
There are 131 names in this directory beginning with the letter D.
D-Ring
A metal ring shaped like the letter D used as a lashing point. A D-ring may be used at the end of a strap, or may be secured to a surface with a metal or fabric strap. It swings freely after it has been secured.

Dacron
Brand name of the fibre invented by DuPont. Called Polythylene Terephthalate (PET), Dacron is known as Terylene in Britain and some other countries. When used in textiles, the term polyester is used, and PET in packaging.

DAE
Department of Atomic Energy.

Dagger
Knife with a very sharp point and two or more sharp edges. Typically designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. The distinctive shape and historic usage of the dagger have made it iconic and symbolic. A dagger in the modern sense is a weapon designed for close-proximity combat or self-defense.

Dah
A traditional machete type of cutting tool with a broad blade, with a wide tip and edge on one side. The butt enclosing the full tang is usually made of wrapped cane or bamboo. Made famous around the world as the weapon of the Chindits who fought behind enemy lines during the Burma campaign of World War II.

Dakota Fire Pit
A largely smokeless below-ground firepit, it requires lesser fuel than open flames, is concealed, but requires more energy to construct. It has two underground holes connected at the base - one for fuel, the other for wind. As the fuel burns, hot air rises in the hole while cooler air rushes in from the feeder hole to maintain oxygen levels.

Dam
Artificial barrier across a river meant to obstruct, direct, or slow down the flow of water, thus creating a reservoir or a lake.

Dark Horse
A person who initially seems unlikely to be of any service but steps up to prominence.

Dark Tourism
Also called black tourism or grief tourism, it is defined as tourism to places historically associated with death and tragedy.More recently, it was suggested that the concept should also include reasons tourists visit that site, since the site’s attributes alone may not make a visitor a “dark tourist”.

Dark-siding
A rafter climbing over a side tube as the raft flips.

Datum
Singular of data it is a set of reference points to locate places on Earth by translating map positions to their real positions on Earth. Horizontal datums are used for describing a point in terms of latitude and longitude while vertical datums measure elevations or depths.

Datum Shift
The difference in co-ordinates between datums. It can vary from one place to another within one country or region, and can be anything from zero to hundreds of meters. The North Pole, South Pole and Equator will be in different positions on different datums. Because the Earth is an imperfect ellipsoid, localised datums can give a more accurate representation of the area of coverage than WGS 84. As the benefits of a global system outweigh greater accuracy, WGS 84 datum is becoming increasingly adopted.

Davit
A small crane on board a ship to lower or suspend a lifeboat.

Davy Jones’ Locker
An idiom for the bottom of the sea.

Day Pack
Smaller to a rucksack, it is for short trips into the wilderness containing clothes and a survival kit.

DCU
Desert Camouflage Uniform is an arid-environment camouflage uniform that was used by the United States Armed Forces from the mid-1990s to the early 2010s. In terms of pattern and textile cut, it is nearly identical to the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) uniform, but features a three-color desert camouflage pattern of dark brown, pale green, and beige, as opposed to the beige, pale green, two tones of brown, and black and white rock spots of the previous Desert Battle Dress Uniform (DBDU).

DDA
Detailed Damage Assessment.

DE
Morse Code abbreviation meaning “From”

Dead Ahead
Exactly ahead, directly ahead, directly in front.

Dead Reckoning
Method of calculating current location on a map based on distance travelled, time it took and speed from a known location. With modern gadgetry, it is slowly losing popularity.

Deadfall Trap
A trap for hunting animals where a heavy object is used to crush and kill an animal that activates the trigger. There are many deadfall traps, usually derived from Native American tribes that used them.

Death Zone
Refers to altitudes above a certain point where the amount of oxygen is insufficient to sustain life. This point is generally considered 8,000m.

Decibel
A unit to measure intensity of sound. Standing close to the source, near total silence is 0dB, normal conversation 60dB, jet engine 120dB and gunshot 140dB. Sounds above 85dB can cause hearing loss and sounds above 185dB can rupture ear drums and make the lungs explode leading to death.

Deciduous Forest
Forests where trees lose their leaves each year.

Deck
The floor on a ship.

Declination
The difference in degrees between magnetic north and true or geographic north.

Decompression Sickness
Results from surfacing too quickly from an underwater dive. Also called ‘bends’, symptoms include skin rash, visual disturbance, balance disturbance, breathing difficulty, unconsciousness and even, death.

Decorative Knot
Any knot that is pleasing to the eye can be termed a decorative knot. Decorative knots have more of an aesthetic appeal than a functional purpose, though some might have practical uses.

Deep Draft
The deep draft of a vessel is the distance from the surface of the water to the deepest part of the hull below the surface. The clearance of the vessel is the distance from the deep draft to the underwater obstacle.

Deep Larder
A pantry stocked with foods and essential oils for a family for more than two years.

Deep Six
To permanently dispose of something as if it never existed.

Deep Water Blackout
Loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia on ascending from a deep freedive or breath-hold dive, typically of ten metres or more. The swimmer does not experience an urgent need to breathe. Victims typically black out close to the surface, usually within the top three metres.

Deep Water Soloing
Form of solo rock climbing practiced on sea cliffs at high tide relying solely on the presence of water at the base of a climb to protect against injury from falling. Also known as Psicobloc.

Defence Mechanism
Coping technique to reduce anxiety from potentially harmful stimuli by distorting, manipulating, repressing or denying reality. They are unconscious and should not be confused with conscious coping strategies.

Defensive Pessimism
A cognitive strategy which individuals use to prepare for anxiety-provoking events or performances by setting low expectations and then taking action to either avoid or to prepare for them, thereby harnessing the anxiety that might otherwise be detrimental to their performance.These preventative actions reduce anxiety and promote superior performance.

Defibrillation
Common treatment for life-threatening cardiac conditions and consists of delivering a dose of electrical current to the heart with a device called a defibrillator.

Deforestation
Removal of a forest for subsequent use in non-forest purposes like grazing, plantations, habitation, settlements, etc.

Dehumidifier
Household appliance to reduce humidity in the air. Dehumidifiers extract water from the air and though not ready to drink, can be purified to become potable.

Dehydrating food
Moisture removed from food for increased shelf life by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeasts and mold through the removal of water, and to reduce weight of the food. Food can be dehydrated in many ways - air, heat, wind, smoke and or by using electric dehydrators.

Dehydration
Excessive loss of water from the body results in dehydration, followed by heat stroke and eventually death. Staying hydrated helps maintain core body temperature.

Delirium
Acutely disturbed state of mind characterised by restlessness, illusions and incoherence.

Delta
A low, watery land formed at the river mouth.

Delta Sierra
A stupid mistake or poor performance.

Dengue Fever
A mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms (high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, skin rash) typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. Recovery generally takes less than two to seven days. In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into the life-threatening hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Dépaysement
Disorientation felt in a foreign country or culture.

Depression
A state of low mood and aversion to activity affecting thoughts, behaviour, feelings and sense of well-being. Depressed people can feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, angry, ashamed or restless. They may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions, experience relationship difficulties and may contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems or reduced energy may also be present.

Depressive Realism
A hypothesis developed by Lauren Alloy and Lyn Yvonne Abramson that depressed individuals make more realistic inferences than do non-depressed individuals. Although depressed individuals are thought to have a negative cognitive bias that results in recurrent, negative automatic thoughts, maladaptive behaviors, and dysfunctional world beliefs,depressive realism argues not only that this negativity may reflect a more accurate appraisal of the world but also that non-depressed individuals’ appraisals are positively biased.

Depth Sounding
Act of measuring water depth to make maps of the floor of a body of water. Traditionally shown on nautical charts in fathoms and feet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) still uses fathoms and feet, while other countries metres is used.

Derelict
In a state of disuse and neglect. Can also mean a person who is negligent of his duties.

Desalination
Process of removing salt from water to make it drinkable. There are a lot of different ways water can be desalinated. Drinking salt water is never a good idea since it will dehydrate the body further and ultimately result in death.

Descenders
These are friction brakes designed for descending ropes.

Desert
Dry, barren region usually sandy and without trees, little rainfall and of no practical use.

Dexamethasone
A steroid medication used to treat a variety of ailments. For mountaineers, it is used in the treatment of high-altitude edemas and is commonly carried on expeditions to help climbers deal with complications of altitude sickness.

DFI
Department for International Development.

DGHS
Directorate General of Health Services.

Dhow
Generic name for traditional sailing vessels with one or more masts with lateen sails typically weighing 300 to 500 tons, with a long, thin hull.

Diamox
A trade name for Acetazolamide, it is often prescribed to treat altitude illness.

Diana
Goddess of the Moon the hunt and young maidens in Roman mythology.

Dick Beater
Slang for fingers.

Dick Skinner
Slang for hands.

Dicktrap
Slang for mouth.

Diddy Bag
Small cloth bag with a drawstring used to store loose items.

Diddy Bopping
Walking around with no particular purpose.

Digit
Length of a human finger.

Digital Elevation Model
A 3D representation of a terrain’s surface, commonly for a planet, moon, or asteroid created from terrain elevation data.

Digital Selective Calling (DSC)
A standard for sending predefined digital messages via the medium-frequency, high-frequency and very high frequency maritime radio systems and a core part of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System. It uses a stable signal with a narrow bandwidth and the receiver has no squelch and has a slightly longer range than analog signals and is significantly faster. DSC senders are programmed with the ship’s Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) and may be connected to the ship’s GPS, which allows the apparatus to know who it is, what time it is and where it is.

DILLIGAFF
Do I Look Like I Give A Flying Fuck indicating supreme indifference.

Ding
Ancient Chinese cauldron standing on legs with a lid and two facing handles.

Dinghy
Type of small boat, rigid or inflatable, rowed with oars or paddles or external motor Often used as a secondary boat for larger vessels.

DInQ
Delinquent In Qualifications.

Dionysus
God of wine in Greek mythology.

DIPECHO
Disaster Preparedness European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department.

Diplopia
Commonly known as double vision, it is the simultaneous perception of two images of a single object that may be displaced horizontally, vertically, diagonally or rotationally.

Dirk
A long thrusting dagger. Historically, it was a personal weapon of officers engaged in naval hand-to-hand combat as well as the personal sidearm of Highlanders and from around 1800, the officers, Pipers, and Drummers of Scottish Highland regiments,and Japanese naval officers.

Disinfectant
Antimicrobial agent applied to non-living objects to destroy microorganisms.

Disinfection
Removing impurities and contaminants like microorganisms from water is disinfecting. It is short of purifying or sterilising.

Disorient
When one loses sense of direction, one gets disoriented. This happens when surrounded by thick trees and foliage in a forest. It can happen underwater when the sense of up or down becomes blurry.

Distillation
The process of removing pathogens from contaminated water to make it potable. The contaminated water is boiled and the escaping steam collected, condensed and reconverted back to water … without any nasties.

Ditch
Intentionally crash land an aircraft on water, generally when fuel there is no fuel or when there is no hope of making it to a safe landing area or when a potentially fatal emergency is going on.

Ditch Kit
Marine equivalent of a survival kit with essential survival items when the primary vessel sinks. Also known as the Abandon Ship Bag.

Ditty Bag
Any mesh bag usually used to contain soiled laundry or a zippered container for toiletries.

DLP
Defense of Life and Property.

DN
Morse Code abbreviation meaning “Down”

DNF
Departure from Normal Flight.

DNKH
Damn Near Killed Himself.

Dodger
Shield against rain or spray on a ship’s bridge, usually made of canvas.

Dog and Pony Show
A special show put on for senior officers.

Dol
Unit for pain measurement. It has not become very successful, as pain tolerance is very subjective and differs from person to person.

Dolorimeter
An instrument used to measure pain.

Dolsot
Of Korean origin it is a small cooking and serving vessel for one to two servings of rice. It does not cool off once removed from the stove and the rice continues to cook and arrives at the table.

Dome
A SONAR transmitter/receiver.

DONSA
Day Of No Scheduled Activity.

Doomer
Term used for someone who foresees a chaotic societal collapse when oil supplies get short.

Doppler Radar
A type of weather radar that determines whether atmospheric motion is toward or away from the radar. It determines the intensity of rainfall and uses the Doppler effect to measure the velocity of droplets in the atmosphere.

Dorsal Fin
Dorsal meaning top. This is the large fin on top of the fish’s back.

Double Vision
Commonly known as Diplopia, it is the simultaneous perception of two images of a single object that may be displaced horizontally, vertically, diagonally or rotationally.

Douche Down
Wash, usually using fresh water.

Down
Soft, fluffy underlayer of waterfowl plumage used as insulation in sleeping bags and clothing.

Downstream
The direction in which the river is flowing.

Downstream Flip
A raft capsises after encountering an obstacle. The raft usually flips over downstream or in the direction of travel. A downstream flip may be exacerbated by a heavier load or more people in the raft.

DR
Morse Code abbreviation meaning “Dear”

Draft or Draught
The current of cool air within a confined space.

Drawknife
Traditional woodworking hand tool used to shape wood by removing shavings, comprising a blade attached to handles at each end. The blade is longer than it is deep and it is pulled or drawn to get the job done.

Dredging
The removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbours and water bodies, because of sedimentation.

Drift Count
Monitoring the movement of a ship at anchor.

Drifter
A person who is continually moving from place to place, without home or job.

Drifty
Lacking the ability to stay focused while attempting to perform a given task.

DRM
Disaster Risk Management.

Drogue
A device mounted outside a boat and attached to the stern, to slow the boat in a storm and to keep the hull perpendicular to the waves, preventing excessive speeding.

Drone (Bee)
A male bee produced from an unfertilised egg. Unlike female worker bees, drones do not have stingers and do not participate in nectar and pollen gathering. Its primary role is to mate.

Drone (UAV)
Unmanned aerial vehicle that is piloted remotely.

Dropper Line
Multiple short lines attached to a fishing line to allow multiple catches with one cast.

Drowning
When forced underwater, respiration is entirely impaired and results in a quick and silent death.

DRR
Disaster Risk Reduction.

Dry Bag
Waterproof bag to store items that need to be kept dry.

Dry Cell
A type of electricity-producing chemical cell, commonly used as batteries - Zinc Carbon or Alkaline. It can be used in any orientation without spilling, as it contains no free liquid, making it suitable for portable equipment.

Dry Suit
Worn by divers, boaters, water sports enthusiasts, etc, it provides insulation when immersed in water.

Dry Toilet
Separation and collection of solid human waste (to compost and turn into fertiliser) and urine (to irrigate plants because of the high nitrogen content).

DSS
Decision Support System.

DSW
Morse Code abbreviation meaning “Goodbye”

Duct Tape
Originally used by the military, it is renowned for its adhesive properties apart from a range of other multipurpose uses it can be put to.

Dug-out Canoe
A boat made out of a hollowed out tree trunk and is one of the oldest forms of water transportation.

Dump Truck
If a raft dumps its passengers but remains upright, it is said to have dump-trucked.

Dune
A hill or a ridge made of sand. Dunes are shaped by the wind, and change all the time.

Durga
Regarded by Hindus as the root cause of creation, sustenance and annihilation. Principal form of the Mother Goddess, she is pure energy.

Dust Storm
An area where high surface winds have picked up loose dust, reducing visibility to less than half a mile. Loose dirt and sand from a dry surface is blown in the wind and deposited in another place.

Dutch Oven
A cast-iron cooking pot with a tight fitting lid for outdoor cooking over coals. Often the lid has a slightly concave rim so that the coals can be placed on the lid for a more even and unform internal heat, allowing the pot itself to act as an oven Dynamic Rope: Stretches

DX
Morse Code abbreviation meaning “Distance “

Dynamic Rope
Stretches under load in an elastic manner to absorb the energy required to arrest a person in free fall without generating forces high enough to injure them. Such ropes normally use a kernmantle construction. Rock climbers and mountaineers use dynamic ropes.

Dyogram
Ship’s chart indicating compass deflection due to ship’s iron.

Dystopia
An undesirable and frightening society, with a cataclysmic decline in morals, law, etc. An antonym for utopia.


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  1. wilderness survival kit canada

    The term “survival kit” may also refer to the larger, transportable survival kits ready by survivalists , known as “bug-out bags” (BOBs), “Individual Emergency Relocation Kits” (PERKs) or “get out of Dodge” (Good) kits, which are packed into backpacks, or even duffel bags. These kits are developed especially to be more simply carried by the person in case alternate forms of transportation are unavailable or impossible to use.

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