How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

This is a great blog written by Brandon Cox about how to start a fire in the wilderness. Check out his site stayhunting. He has some really cool articles and information. Thank you Brandon for letting us share your blog.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

By Brandon Cox / January 27, 2017

How to Start a Fire

Fire is so crucial for survival in the wild especially when lost or just taking an adventure. Ever wondered why almost every person starts a fire when in the wild whether camping or just taking an adventure? In a short while, I will show you exactly why fire is so important in the world and why you must know how to start one. You can agree with me that most people in the wild who find themselves in a situation where they need fire don’t have a lighter.

Well, I promise to show you exactly how you can start a fire in the wild with or without a lighter but first let’s see why fire is so important in the wild.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

Why is It Important to Start a Fire?​

Most people think of fire as a luxury only to realize of its crucial importance when in an outdoor visit or a survival situation. In a survival situation, fire can be lifesaving enabling you to do a lot and get through the danger of the wild. Most of the threats that people face in the wild when in a survival situation can easily be solved by fire going to show its importance.

Most common ways people die in the wildness and how fire can help?​

  • Hypothermia due to lack of body heat: Fire warms you.
  • Snake and spider bites: Fire scares them away.
  • Attack from predators: Fire keeps them away
  • Insect bites: Fire again keeps them away
  • Dehydration: Fire helps you melt water in ice regions
  • Hunger: Fire helps cook edible raw food
  • Think of committing suicide: Fire boosts your morale becoming your only friend

Those are just good examples to show you how fire is so important in the wild. In when in places with water sources, you will still need fire to boil the water and kill the pathogens and other bacteria in the water. Fire in the wild at night can be the only difference dying and seeing the light in the morning. It will warm you, give you light to accomplish tasks and scare away wild animals. The smoke from the fire can also act as a signal to the search team.

Do you see the importance of fire in a survival situation in the world?

I know you agree with me on this. Fire in the wild is very important to survival. The discovery of fire is what has changed humanity.​ Even before we learn how to start a fire in the wild, let first see how to prepare the ground for a well-built fire.​

​How to Build a Well-built Fire?

Well build fire

You don’t just gather wood and start the fire as most people think. Starting a fire in the wild requires you to prepare. Even in your home, you have the fireplace nicely set. The very first step in starting a fire in the wild is building a good fire pit.

1- ​Build a Fire Pit

There are no fire rings in the wild, so you have to prepare a fire pit. First, choose a good location as this is where you will most probably spend the night. Doing it under a huge tree or under some cliff will ideal. All the vegetation and grass on the chosen spot must be cleared for a distance of 8-10 feet. Once you have a cleared area, dig several inches into the soil to remove the top layer which is set aside for emergencies. You can even use the loose soil as firewall and mount it around the newly built fire pit. If in a place with rocks, mount rocks on the edge of the fire pit to insulate it.

2- Gather Materials​

What does your hunting backpack have that can help you gather as many materials as possible. You will need different materials that catch fire easily and others that burn for long periods. You can make it in the wild starting fire without enough materials to keep the fire going once it starts.

Scope the area and collect as much wood as you can to help you with the fire. If you’re in the camp where there is tinder, then use to start the fire.

​Tinder

Tinder is among the smallest and easiest materials to get a fire started in the campfire. The following are some of the tinder forms:

  • Wadded paper
  • Wax
  • Wood shavings
  • Cardboard strips
  • Fire starts and commercial fire sticks
  • Dryer lint
  • Dry leaves (works well in the case of wildfire where other materials are not easy to find)

Kindling

The next step is kindling the fire where you size it up by adding small branches and twigs that you collected earlier. Branches and twigs of about 1/8 and inches into the fire to size up slowly but ensure you don’t put it out.​

Tip: Add small twigs and branches and slowly increase their size as the fire grows.

Firewood

Lastly, you can add logs that burn for long to keep the fire going up to the next day. Whole logs or split ones can both work depending on how long you want the fire to burn. The logs and woods must be completely dry to burn and stay lit for long.

Tip: Splitting logs might be impossible in the wild so start by putting them near the edge of the fire and let them catch fire slowly.​

Water

Water is very necessary just in case you need to out the fire in the morning all when finished. Pour water on the fire when done to stop it spreading to other areas. Stir the ashes to ensure there is no fire left and then pour more water. You can always repeat this over and over until the ashes are cool to be held in your hand before you leave the scene. The worst mistake you can do is leave a campfire or a fire in the wild unattended as this can lead to a catastrophic widespread of fire burning the entire area.

Tip: The dirt or dug soil can be used to cover the fire area and prevent any chances of the fire starting on its own.​

Ignition Source

What is the easiest way to start a fire in the wild? If lucky to have a match or lighter in your hunting bag, then you’re good to start. However, what happens when you have nothing that can start fire fast? This is where your fire starting skills are tested. You have to go the old ways our ancestral used to start a fire with any available tools. Did you know your bow can be used to start a fire? If you go hunting with bows and arrows, then your bow can be used to start a fire, but we will get to that in a short while. There are several other ways to start a fire in the wild that will discuss in a little while as you look forward to improving your fire starting skills in the wild.​

3- Six Popular Ways You Can Build a Fire

​Before you build a fire, you need to understand all the six popular ways that people build a fire in the wild to suit specific reasons. The arrangement you choose to build your fire will determine how long it lasts and how fast it burns. You can see why it is important to know the way you will build your fire. I’ll show you some of the most popular ways that people build fires in the wild and the purpose each way serves.

​3.1- The Teepee Fire

The teepee is the most popular arrangement and one you need to know. Build a tepee by arranging the tinder and kindling it in the shape of a cone. Lit the center and let the logs burn from inside falling inward to feed the fire. Building a tepee is ideal when you have wet wood or green wood that does not burn well. The flame is usually hottest at the tip where there is oxygen. The heat generated from this arrangement is very intense and burns out wood quickly but ideal for warming you at night.

The teepee arrangement is probably the one you’ve seen in survival series where one needs to keep warm and have the fire burn until morning. The thicker end of a log or stick should always be placed at the top where the heat is intense so that it burns inward.

Video illustrating the teepee fire arrangement

​Pros

  • Gives intense heat
  • Starts fire faster
  • Can burn wet or green wood

Cons

  • Burns woods quickly

​3.2- The Lean-to Fire

The lean to fire is another great arrangement that does not need a lot of effort if you set it out correctly. Choose a medium sized log and place tinder next to it. The kindling is the leaned across the log as illustrated in the video below. Small dry branches and twigs can be placed after several layers of tinder. Once you light the tinder, you can add as much kindling as needed to grow the fire.

Video how lean fire is built

​Pros

  • Fire will size up without much trouble
  • Once set up, fire starts pretty fast without any additional task

Cons

  • More tinder and kindling are required.

3.3- The Cross-ditch Fire

The Cross-ditch fire is by far the most lasting arrangement for making any wildfires. On a tinder bed, put kindling in a crisscross fashion before you add woods and logs. Once everything is set, light the tinder and fire will slowly size up.

Video how cross-ditch fire is built

​Pros

  • Efficient consumption of fuel
  • Long lasting to see you through the night
  • Suitable for cooking

Cons

  • A bit tedious to build

3.4- The Log Cabin Fire

The log cabin fire simply means creating fire by having a cabin arrangement. This is achieved by first kindling twigs and branches into the shape of a cabin while leaving a space in the middle. Place two sticks in opposite directions 4-6 inches apart. Continue stacking more sticks across each other until a square cabin is created.

Create a reasonably sized box and add tinder into the box. Once tinder is filled in the box, place more sticks on top of the cabin to cover the tinder. When everything is set, go right ahead and light your tinder.

Video showing the log cabin fire

​Pros

  • Rarely collapses
  • Long lasting
  • Provides warmth on all sides

Cons

  • Burns out wood much faster

3.5- Upside Down (Pyramid)

The upside down fire is where your fire starts at the top and burns all the way down. It is quite simple to start. Place two small branches or logs on the ground in a parallel position. Have another solid log on top of the first layer in a perpendicular position. Keep on adding a few more layers alternating their direction each time. Each layer placed must be smaller than the previous layer.

When done, light the top of the layer and leave the flame to travel naturally down. This is another great way to light a fire in the wild without straining.

Video Upside down fire

​Pros

  • Long lasting
  • Fire burns downwards requiring no attention during the night
  • Quite fast to start

Cons

  • Requires several logs that might have to use some power tools like chainsaw to cut and split firewood
  • Does not produce intense heat

3.6- Create a Star

The star arrangement of fire is where you place log from different side meeting in the middle to form what appears like a star. I know woods in the wild can sometimes be in shortage especially if your hunting backpack does not have enough cutting items. Saving the few logs you find can get you through the cold of the night. This arrangement is quite effective at preserving wood where you pull them back a bit when you need to decrease the intensity if the fire.

Video How to build the Star Fire

​Pros

  • Quite effective and long lasting
  • Consumer wood well
  • Conserves fuel

Cons

  • You have to monitor and control the fire regularly

4- Bonus: Tips/Tricks When Building a Well-built Fire

4.1- ​Choosing the Fire Location

Choosing Fire Location

Fire in the wild does not have the comfort zones that come with building fires in the camp or at homes. There is no fire pit, and one has to set a good spot to create a fire pit. You can agree with me choosing a location is very important. You don’t have to be the one burning the forest down. Stay away from trees and bushes that may catch fire and spread it.

A clear area away from dry leaves and other dry twigs is an ideal one. You don’t want to wake up smelling smoke everywhere so carefully choose a location that does not bring smoke your way. Check for the breeze and if its steady, you will know which direction the smoke will be going. Start your tinder where you intend to build your fireplace. Many times I have seen people start a fire somewhere and carry the tinder to another place. If you start your tinder somewhere else, then create a temporary fire there before transferring the fire to your main location.

4.2- Choosing the Foundation​

Foundation

Choosing a good foundation is crucial as poor foundations will kiss fire that as just started. Avoid wet and cold areas if possible and build your fire on a dry foundation. In cases where every part is wet or cold, try and build a foundation for your fire using dry rocks. I REPEAT, DRY ROCKS as wet rocks can explode in your face. I will tell you later on why wet rocks are not ideal for starting a foundation especially those taken from the riverbed area.

The aim here is to elevate your foundation away from the water beneath. Dry dirt can also be used to raise the foundation higher. If possible, try and make air flow beneath the foundation. A good way to do this is have rocks on two sides with two opening instead of having rocks circle your foundation. A good spot with a good foundation and big rocks around it will make it easier for you to start a fire and maintain it. The big rocks act as the windbreaker creating a barrier around the fire pit preventing the wind from spreading the fire.

4.3- Best Time to Start a Fire in the Wild​

When is the best time to start the fire? Do you wait until dark falls to start the fire? When planning to start a fire, timing is very crucial. It is always important to start the fire a few hours before the sun goes down. This can be 2-3 hours earlier as you need the light of the sun to collect materials and observe what you’re doing.​

4.4- Safety Tips​

  • Never Leave Before Putting out the Fire​ – Fire might not seem dangerous especially when controlled but can turn ugly and destroy millions of properties and life. The first rule when leaving the spot of the wildfire is always to turn it off. I have said this before and will say again; ensure you extinguish the fire completely before leaving the scene. Poor water on the fire and cover it wet soil before pouring more water. You must be able to hold the wet ashes in your hand and confirm there is no slightest of burning wood that can start a wildfire once you’ve gone. Most of the fires seen around the world are mostly caused by human error, and you don’t want to be one causing it.
  • Never use Rocks from the River Beds​ – I talked about this earlier when building your foundation using rocks. Wet rocks from the river beds have water in them that will expand once heated. These rocks can explode on your face causing serious injuries when the water expands and breaks them apart. The water in the rocks boils and increases in size exploding the rocks into small pieces. It is simple science that you probably learned in high school that you must be aware of when using rocks to build a foundation.
  • Build Fires Away from Branches and Steep Slopes​ – To avoid the risk of the fire spreading, build it away from overhanging branches, rotten stumps, dry grass, leaves, logs and steep areas. Even the extra wood you set aside must be piled some distance away from the fire.
  • ​Never Leave a Wildfire Unattended – Even the smallest of breeze will spread the fire away and start a wildfire. This is why it is necessary to have every material ready before you starting the fire.​

Pro Tips to Start Fire in the Real Challenge Situations- Advice from the Famous Blogs

You probably have everything you need to start a fire in the wild but what if the situation is challenging? Can you start a fire in a rainy or windy condition? Advice from famous blogs written for the survival men and women out there will show you how to start a fire in the most challenging situations.

1 – Start a Fire When Wood is Wet – From EHow

It seems totally impossible to start a fire when the wood but when that is the only option, you have to do it to see the next day. You must put in some extra effort to overcome the challenges of damp wood. It might be a bit challenging, but the steps from the Ehow should help start the fire easily


2 – Start a Fire When It Raining – From ArtOfManliness

Starting fire is one thing and knowing how to start it in a rainy condition is a whole new thing. You can agree with me that learning the skill to start a fire in a raining place is important for avid campers and frequent hikers. Choosing a good location and collecting dry tinder are among the most important things to do. The ArtOfManliness blog clearly illustrate how to start a fire when it is raining.


3 – Start a Fire  When There is Snow – From OffTheGridNews

Starting fire when there is snow should not be difficult as long as you have a few dry limbs to set the base. The problem is when your wood is frozen. Frozen wood is even harder to start than wet wood as you have to thaw it first. Start by choosing wood from high up the branches where there is no snow. Lay the base of logs in the snow to act as your foundation. The melting snow should not worry you as it rarely melts and if it does it will not affect your fire. You can then pile your tinder and kindle it before lighting the tinder.

If there are rocks around, building a fire pit and raising your spot some levels above the ground is also a good idea. Follow this OffTheGridNews for step by step instructions on how to start a fire when there is snow.


4 – Start a Fire  When it’s Windy – From ModernSurvivalBlog

Well…, Windy conditions create a dangerous situation to start a fire in the wild. In fact, some states even have laws restricting fires in the wild or outdoor spaces when the atmosphere is windy. Windy spreads fire quite faster, and you can have the whole forest to fire in minutes. So, how do you get to start a fire in a windy situation?

The Dakota Fire Hole​

The Dakota fire hole is a method used to start a fire in a windy area and has several advantages over other methods.​

How to build a Dakota fire hole?

  • Dig a hole a foot long and a foot wide
  • Enlarge the bottom of the holes inches wide to accommodate more wood
  • The hole becomes the chamber of the fire pit
  • One foot away from the hole, dig an airway channel that will connect to your Dakota hole at the bottom
  • The diameter of the airflow must be a foot and angle down towards the bottom of the Dakota hole
  • Fill your fire pit with tinder and kindling before lighting it
  • Adds more materials to build the fire
  • The airflow acts as a suction drawing in air and resulting in a hot and efficient burning of wood.

​Pros of the Dakota hole

  • Burns very hot
  • Uses little fuel
  • Creates less smoke
  • Safe when there is the wind
  • The flame burns under the ground shielding it from being seen during the dark
  • Easily supports cookware
  • Easy to extinguish by filling the hole with soil
  • Avoids Detection

Cons

  • Might not be visible to the search team
  • A bit tedious to build

Top 20 Best Ways to Start a Fire Without a Match Lighter

Fire by Friction

1. Hand Drill

The hand drill is one of the simplest and old ways to make fire. Create a V-shaped notch on a board or piece of limb and drill it with a dry stick until the tip glows red and you have your ember collected. You must have your tinder nearby to blow and get a flame.​

2. Fire Plow

The fire plow is one of the simplest methods to start a fire in the wild if your hands ache from the hand drill method. It is simply rubbing two sticks together until heat is generated through friction. Create a groove on a piece of wood and use a stick and move a stick through the grove forth and back until ember is created. Once again, you must have your tinder nearby.​

3. Bow Drill

This is where your hunting tools come into play. In the bow drill, you don’t need your arrows but the bow to create heat on a piece of dry wood through friction. The string of your compound bow is used to tie to a dry wood that is then rotated on a dry board or piece wood to create an ember.​

The bow drill is easy on hands and requires less effort to drill. However, in a real life situation, it can be difficult to set up requiring a reliable cord.

4. Fire Saw

This method uses a piece of wood that is practically sewed into another wood on the ground to cause ignition.​ You can check this video on how fire saw works:

5. Fire Thong

The fire thing is a friction method that is quite fast and efficient. The method uses a split branch and a split rattan to create friction. The rattan thong is sawed forth and backward against the underside of the board to create an ember.

​6. Flint and Steel

In the flint and steel method, a spark is created from the steel when the two are put under pressure. You must have your tinder ready for the spark to land on it and start the fire. The ArtOfManliness giving you a full explanation of the flint and steel method

​7. With a Dead Lighter

You can start a fire using the dead lighter pretty simple using some deodorant and a piece of tissue. Spray the aerosols all over the tissue. You must have the tinder and kindling ready. Go ahead and flints the wheel on the lighter placing it closer to the tissue of paper. It may take several attempts, but eventually, the fire will start.

​If your lighter is dead, then don’t just throw it away, it can help you start a fire without straining a lot.

Using the Lens Based Methods

8. Lenses (Mirror/Glass/Magnifying)

You probably tried this when you were little children using lenses to focus light from the sun on the same spot for a few minutes. The concentrated watts from the lenses hitting your tinder will start a fire.

​Lenses can be quite effective in a real life situation. You just have to imagine of all the items in your hunting backpack that might be having lenses.

9. Fire from Ice

You will need a clear piece of ice to start a fire. Shape the ice with a knife to create the rough edges or grind it on stone. Use the heat of our body to finish shaping your ice by melting the rough edges. Hold the ice perpendicularly to the sky and move it to focus the brightest light on the tinder. The tinder will first smoke before igniting but be careful not to drip water on it.

​This is a good one if you’re lost in the wild, and there is ice. Make sure you start the fire before the sun disappears as we discussed earlier. 2-3 hours before the sun goes down is ideal.

10. Coke Can and Chocolate Bar

Any can with a bottom similar to a coke can also be used to start a fire. The bottom of the can is used to reflect light and focus it on the tinder, but first, you have to make it shiny enough using a chocolate bar. A chocolate piece can be used to brush the bottom of the can and make it polished.

​You can even try this on your own to know you can do it when in the survival situation. Who knows what comes your way in the wild.

11. A Flashlight

With your tinder and kindling set, break off the glass cover from the touch but don’t damage anything else. Take out the bulb and break it without damaging the filament. Put the remains of the bulb into the flashlight and screw it. Now you can place your tinder into the top of the flashlight and fill it up. Now turn the flashlight on. It has to ignite although sometimes it can fail if the process is not done correctly.

​Next time you get lost in the wild and need some fire, maybe is important to sacrifice that flashlight for warmth during the night.

12. With Water: Five Ways to Start Fire with Water

It a very unusual way but believes me water can start a fire. All the five ways use the same principle where water is used as the lens to focus light on the tinder and start a fire. The following are ways you can use water to start a fire:​

  • ​Water in an empty light bulb where the water in the bulbs acts as a magnifying lens.
  • Water in a plastic bottle
  • Water in a plastic wrap
  • Water and a picture frame
  • Using ice lens as discussed earlier

Using Chemical Combustion

13. Potassium Permanganate Crystals and Glycerin​

The use of chemicals is not the safest ways to start a fire and should only be attempted when it is the last solution. This is a chemical reaction with an explosive effect so ensure there are no kids around. When you mix these two compounds, a roaring fire explodes. Make sure you have your tinder nearby to start the fire.

14. Brake Fluid and Chlorine

Mixing a brake fluid and chlorine is a fun experiment that usually leads to an explosive reaction from which fire can be started. It is quite dangerous, and only a small amount can be used to start a fire.

​With Battery

15. Batteries and Steel Wool​

This one is quite simple and easy to perform. Just buy some batteries and some very fine steel wool. The finer the steel wool, the better it will spark. Rub the battery on the steel wool, and you will see sparks forming. However, you must be careful as the sparks can be quite dangerous.

​16. Gum Wrapper and Battery

The foil gum wrapper and battery does the trick helping you start fire quite fast. Make igniter strips using the wrapper. Shave small bit from the wrapper gum and create a 2mm bridge in the middle. Find a battery like the AAA batteries and hold the igniter to the ends of the battery. Sparks from the igniter will immediately start a fire.

​17. Jumper Cables and Car Battery

Get the jumper cables hooked to your car battery and try to let them touch. The Spark created can start a fire in the tinder.​

The jumper cables and the car battery is an essential one of you get stuck with your car in the cold and need some fire. It is an easier option that will not strain you.

18. Pencil and Car Battery

This is pretty similar to using the jumper cables, but here you don’t need sparks, the pencil connected to the jumper will become red hot and start burning your tinder.

Use Any Simplest Way to Start a Fire

19. Use the Fire Piston​

Fire pistons can also be used to start a fire. The fire piston compresses air rapidly heating it to the extent of igniting a fire. If you don’t have one, here is how you can build one using a few spare tools:

​The use of a fire piston is quite fast but one you might not have with you in the wild. However, it is always good to know what it can do.

20. Using Fire Steel

Fire steels produce molten sparks when scraped, and this can be used to ignite your tinder. A knife or scraper can be used to scrap it and get the ember.


Correcting Common Mistakes When Starting a Fire

​Smothering the Fire

​Most people in a rush end up throwing wood into the fire even when it is not ready. You have to know when to add wood to the fire. Smothering the fire will block the flow of air and eventually kill the fire. Take it slow and kindle it slowly until it is large enough to add small pieces of woods.

Starting Fire Without Enough Firewood Around​

How often have you found yourself looking for more firewood just as the fire starts to size up? You should not start a fire without accumulating enough firewood to see you through the night. This means leaving the fire unattended in search of more fuel. The fire can extinguish, and you start a fresh or even spread when you’re gone.

Leaving the Fire Unattended​

Never leave the fire unattended at any time as this can be the reason for a wildfire. Once the fire is set, you have to be around monitoring and controlling it at all times. There should be water close by or some wet soil in case it starts to spread.

Using Rocks from the River​

Rocks from the riverbed have water in them that boils turning into steam that can explode on your face. This is a common mistake that you should avoid when making a fire bed foundation. The explosion of the rocks can lead to serious injuries.​


Final Verdict

If you’ve gone through the entire article, then trust me you can start a fire anywhere no matter the conditions. Fire is crucial in pour lives and learning to start in any condition can mean the difference between death and life. Most of these techniques might not appear useful as you’re reading them from the comfort of your home but quite crucial in a survival situation.

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Some Tips for Every Hiking Trip

If you’re planning on going hiking sometime soon, that’s terrific it’s a great way to get exercise, push your limits, and connect with the natural world. But like any outdoor activity, it comes with its share of dangers: weather, wild animals, poisonous plants, and so on. So if you want to get into the great outdoors and make it home again, brush up on these hiking safety tips.

For starters, tell people where you’re going, and mention when you expect to be back, whether you’re alone or in a group. In the event you don’t make it back, because you’re injured or lost, someone will notice, and search parties can be sent out right away. It really helps if they know where you were headed there’s a lot of nature out there, and only one you to find.

If you were hoping for a great weather weekend of hiking but hear there’s a storm approaching, postpone your trip. Nature does not care about ruining your weekend, it doesn’t care whether your get hurt or make it home. Remember that turning back isn’t admitting defeat, it’s respecting the wild world you so enjoy.

A pocket knife, compass and map are at the top of the list. Make sure you know how to use them.  Don’t forget a first aid kit, whistle, matches or a lighter, and plenty of food and water. If you’re hiking in a cold climate, bring warm clothes. If you’re staying overnight, bring what you need for camping.

One of the best parts of exploring nature is encountering the creatures that share the planet with humans. Remember that they’re called wild animals for a reason. Bear attacks are rarer than you might think, but they still happen.  And just because an animal strikes you as harmless, exercise caution; even mountain goats have killed hikers on occasion.

What if you are lost, stay calm. It’s easy to panic when you realize neither you nor anyone else knows where you are. But the most important thing to do is stay calm: Acting predictably will make it easier for a rescue team to find you. Sit down. Decide whether you’re going to get food or water, or build a shelter or a signal fire first, and then stay the course.

Make the job of whoever’s looking for you as easy as possible. If you have bright clothing, put it on. Stay in open, high ground. Blow a whistle at regular intervals.

In addition to staying in sight, try to signal your position to potential rescuers. Build a fire where it will be visible and won’t start a wildfire. Make a signal on the ground that will be visible from the air. Skip the classic “Help” in favor of three piles of anything (e.g., three piles of leaves) arranged in a triangle shape, the international wilderness symbol for distress.

It’s getting very cold out, again stay calm. Unless you’re very experienced yourself, you’re going to feel the pangs of fear setting in. Don’t let emotion take control, keep your head and think clearly. Use that fear and adrenaline to motivate yourself to do everything that needs to be done. If you can do that, you’ll find yourself moving quickly and efficiently, and not running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

If you find that your one day hike has turned into an open ended situation, you’ll need to find more water. Don’t waste time looking for possibly edible berries; you can go a month without eating, but only three days without drinking. Know where to look for water: dew on plants, banana and plantain trees, and tropical vines are good places to start.

Make sure to purify any water you find before drinking it: with purification tablets, a filter or by boiling it. If you’re truly lost, chances are it’s going to take a little while to find you. Making a shelter to spend the night in should be a priority. It can protect you from rain, wind, snow, insects, and sun during the day. It doesn’t have to be big, just large enough to fit you.

No matter the daytime temperature, it can get cold at night. Insulate your shelter with leaves, grass, and even snow. Insulate yourself as well. These tips may save your life during your next hiking trip. Always be prepared for the unexpected . You never know what may happen.

3 Steps in How to Use a Compass

 

Compass

Despite the fact that a compass is a basic tool for getting around, it can be an intimidating piece of equipment for those who’ve never held one before, much less used it to safely navigate an unfamiliar bit of wilderness.

The first step in figuring it all out is familiarizing yourself with the various parts of a compass. Once you’ve got at least a rough understanding of what the lines mean, of which part turns and why, you’re ready to get some basic training under your belt.

A starter compass is a good place to start. The simple instrument can serve as an excellent introduction to orienteering as a hobby, sport, and overall enjoyable activity. The best beginner’s tool comes with only the essentials, so new users from children experiencing their first taste of outdoor exploration to adults rekindling an appreciation for nature can confidently build a foundation on which to build a growing knowledge of navigation.

The Silva System is a straightforward method for learning how to properly combine a compass and topographic map. The system can be boiled down into three easy steps:

Step 1

You may not be able to get from where you are to your ultimate destination in one go. In that case, you should break the journey down into more manageable steps. Set the compass on the map so the edge of the base plate (remember what that is?) serves as a line connecting your current position to where you want to go. You should be able to draw a line along the edge, as if it were a ruler—which it basically is.

Step 2

Set the compass heading by rotating the dial until the letter “N”—for north—lines up with magnetic north indicated on the map. You should be able to find a compass rose indicating which way is which.

Step 3

Pick up the compass and hold it flat in front of you. Be sure that the direction of travel arrow points straight ahead. Then, rotate yourself, keeping an eye on the magnetic needle. When the red end lines up exactly with the orienting arrow, stop. The direction of travel arrow (it’s easy to keep the distinct arrows straight when you actually see them in action) will be pointing in precisely the direction you want to go. Look in the direction of the arrow and find a particular landmark that stands out. Hike to that landmark, at which point you can stop, regroup, and start steps one through three over again.

Even though this is a simplified navigation system, there is one other detail that should be noted: The magnetic needle will always point north, but north itself isn’t a fixed, immovable point. Well, magnetic north isn’t, anyway.

True north is a fixed point that never changes. Magnetic north wanders, due to the ever-shifting nature of the Earth’s magnetic field. The two different norths sit about 800 miles apart.

Mapmakers typically consider true north when creating their maps. Many topographic maps will, however, also include information on “declination,” which is the difference between true north and magnetic north from a given point.

The difference between true north and magnetic north can be so minimal as to not really matter, or it can be significant enough to prevent an unaware hiker from ever arriving at the intended destination.

How To Test Your Family’s Survival Skills

Are you looking for a challenging way to put your family’s survival skills and teamwork to the test?  Nothing will assess the grit and endurance of your loved ones better than leaving behind all electronic devices, cellphones, modern conveniences, electricity, the roof over your head, and your under–appreciated toilet seat.  That’s right, head out on your very own backpacking expedition and venture out with only the supplies you are able to carry on your shoulders.

When my husband first proposed a family backpacking trip, I thought he had finally flipped his lid.  He wanted to take our family, myself and our children included, on a backpacking adventure for two nights and three days.  Not only did he want us to trek through miles of secluded forest with all our food, shelter, and clothing needed for survival firmly attached to our own bodies, but he wanted us to go to the most secluded spot he could find within driving distance at a time of year when it would have the least number of other campers to give us aid or hear our desperate screams for help if the need arose.  We would be descending from 3400 feet down to 1200 feet to the river below, hiking a grueling ten miles and ascending 2200 feet on our return.  This would prove to be a challenging physical and mental feat for our children and me, but we accepted his dare.

As a family, we had car camped before at a lovely campground with showers and other amenities.  In my mind, that was hard-core survival of the fittest.  And that was as far as I imagined our family going with being one with nature.  However, I was coerced by my husband and our children had been enticed by him with the promise of extreme adventure.

Starting Off

Before setting off we had some purchases to make.  Mainly, the backpacks and the tents.  My husband did a lot of research and found that Cactus Jack Tactical Ops Bag with Modular Waist Pack backpack were highly rated for the money.  Upon purchasing you should pay close attention to proper fitting of the pack; it will alleviate back pain or possible shoulder injury.  The tent you need doesn’t require bells and whistles, but rather your focus should be on weight and ease of set-up.  Some backpackers like to sleep in a hammock with a tarp stretched overhead.  We chose tents because with children, you don’t want them spread all over the woods hanging in hammocks chattering loudly to one another late into the night.  Other purchases are listed below to help guide any fellow explorers.

He had researched everything from how to hang a bear bag to how to splint a broken bone.  Once we had all our supplies, we had to pack the bags and weigh them, keeping in mind that a person can only reasonably carry 25% of your total body weight.  I tried to claim I only weighed 75 pounds, but my husband wasn’t buying it.  Each of us carried our own sleeping bags, padding and clothing.  Carrying your own clothing definitely quells the temptation, as a woman, to pack more than I needed.  The only toiletry I afforded myself was deodorant and a toothbrush.  The weight of our tents and padding obviously had to be distributed to the adult packs.  We tried making the kids carry their own, but they kept falling backwards so we relented and took the bulk of the weight.

Some important things we learned from backpacking: 

  1. If you think you have enough toilet paper and there are girls in your group, think again.  Pack more.  It doesn’t weigh much, but it is much more enjoyable than a leaf.
  2. Take a water filter with water bottles that can screw onto them. We had four H20 1.0 water straws which fit our canteens and bladders perfectly.
  3. Don’t pack a 5lb bag of Costco trail mix.  It sounds like an appropriate food choice, but it is too heavy for one person to carry. Break this out into individual bags and let each person carry their own serving. We suggest eating Wise Food camping food. Each pouch has 2 serving in it. They also make a camping kit for 72 hours.
  4. If you have a bad back, suck it up and purchase ample inflatable padding.  My husband had purchased the simple military style foam padding roles and they weren’t enough to block out the rocks and roots on the trail. An inflatable mattress costs more, but it is lightweight and will keep you from aches and pains that could impede your progress and make you a miserable companion.
  5. Pack a GPS and a map encased in a Ziploc baggie.  Even if you are an expert ninja tracker, it is an excellent time to teach others in your group how to navigate. We let our children take turns getting us to the next camping spot (with our guidance) and this allowed them to learn how to read a map and recognize their surroundings.
  6. Your camp stove can make life easy or very difficult. We used the back pack rocket stove for quick cups of coffee and effortless boiling of water (usually under 2 minutes) for our freeze-dried food. As an added bonus, this handy dandy invention will allow you to boil water if your filters go out, too. We took one canister of fuel and a spare, but didn’t even use 1/2 of one canister.
  7. Lastly, but not least, first-aid is crucial.  Pack a light and basic kit. We took the tactical trauma kit.  You will need to play through every possible scenario in your mind and be prepared to make do with the supplies you are able to carry. We also packed a couple of extra trauma bandages and cut out some band-aids.

Into the Woods

The trek into the place where we wanted to camp took a lot of effort and teamwork.  It was a steep incline and the small rocks under our feet proved treacherous; especially with the extra weight on our backs.  We strongly advise anyone taking children on backpacking exploits to go over all the details and safety guidelines weeks before the trip.  I have always found that if you prepare them for the worst it will pay off with fewer accidents and aggravations.  We additionally drove home the well-known fact that whiney kids will attract vicious wild animals because any high-pitched exasperating sounds can be incorrectly mistaken for injured prey.  We recommend that you build multiple breaks into your destination time because smaller children need to stop more often to rest.  Our site was near a beautiful river with rocks that the kids could climb on.  Our tents were easy to assemble and set up and it was glorious to finally peel the packs off and devour a hot meal.

That night, we listened to nothing but the sound of the forest and the roaring river as we drifted off to sleep.  And let me be clear, you will not sleep as well as in your own bed on a Tempur-pedic mattress, but you will be comforted by the fact that you don’t have to sleep with the pack on.  After awaking early in the morning and having coffee by the campfire (is there anything better?) we set off for the next site.  Along the way, we prattled about everything under the sun, sang some ridiculous songs, admired nature, and discussed the effort it took to survive without the luxuries of home.  There were moments where we crossed over dangerous narrow paths, stepped dangerously close to venomous snakes, and we had to help another up after they took a nasty spill.  Our kids also learned invaluable lessons about survival, such as, how to make use of what nature provides, work together, and follow directions.

If you ask any of our children what one of their favorite family vacations was, they will always fondly recall our first backpacking trip and we can be somewhat assured that if push came to shove, our family could thrive when thrown into any unknown circumstance where we depended on one another for survival.

EXPLORING NATURE WITH CHILDREN

We are a family of nature lovers. Each one of us would prefer to be outside than indoors. We hike all the time. As we hike, we talk and explore and learn.

And, sometimes, we come home and do an activity or read a book that is somehow related to the day’s discoveries.

Exploring Nature With Children 3But… we don’t do an Official Nature Study. 

I’ve always wanted to, mind you. I love nature! I want my kids to grow to love and understand the plants, animals, and insects that are in our own backyard. But I never get around to actually planning and organizing the Official Nature Study. So, instead, it ends up being a hodge podge of stuff that I find around the house and a quick Google search. And I keep telling myself that I’ll be more organized soon and that soon we’ll have an Official Nature Study of our very own.

I always feel guilty that we don’t do something more official over here, especially because we spend so much time outdoors.

But a few months ago, right around Thanksgiving-ish, my friend Kara introduced to me to a nature study curriculum. And not only is it fun, but it is incredibly easy to use.

It was love at first sight!

Today, I’m going to share it with you and tell you why you will love it too. Whether you love to be outside, like us, or whether you know nothing about nature but feel the need to incorporate it anyway- this curriculum fits!

homeschool, homeschooling, education, nature study, charlotte mason, nature exploration, parenting

Disclosure: I received Exploring Nature with Children: A Complete Year-Long Curriculum at no cost in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review and, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I only share products and resources that I would use with my own family.

EXPLORING NATURE WITH CHILDREN: A COMPLETE YEAR-LONG CURRICULUM

Exploring Nature with Children: A Complete, Year-Long Curriculum by Lynn SeddonExploring Nature with Children: A Complete Year-Long Curriculum was created by Lynn Seddon, a fellow homeschooling mom and blogger. It is just what is says: a complete, year-long curriculum. It contains 48 weeks of material, starting in September and continuing throughout the year, but you can jump into the curriculum at any point during the year. We started using it in late November.

The book is completely self-contained, housing all the information you need to make nature study a part of your family’s routine. It would work for both those comfortable in nature and those new to nature exploration.

 

Exploring Nature with Children 10

WHAT IS INCLUDED?

Exploring Nature with Children 6

Some of the specimens we collected earlier this winter.

The first chapter of the book explains how to use the book in your homeschool and also includes the following:

  • An overview of nature study
  • A page for each season, complete with a list of materials required for each weekly nature walk.
  • A chapter for each month, including four weekly themed nature study lessons for each month.

EACH WEEK’S NATURE STUDY INCLUDES:

  • A nature walk activity
  • A reference to a section in The Handbook of Nature Study (a fantastic book that I should have had in my library years ago!)
  • A reading list
  • A piece of art to study
  • A poem to study
  • Extension activities related to the week’s theme

WHAT THIS HOMESCHOOLING MOM LOVES ABOUT EXPLORING NATURE WITH CHILDREN

Exploring Nature with Children 9There are so many things that I love about this curriculum. It encompasses so many of the qualities that I look for when purchasing a curriculum.

  • It is affordable
  • It is simple, yet filled with great content
  • It is easy to use- you can jump right in immediately
  • It works well with multiple ages
  • It meshes into our lifestyle perfectly
  • It incorporates other subjects, such as science, writing, music appreciation, art, and poetry.
  • Oodles of fun crafts
  • We all learn something from it
  • Can be used for multiple years

All I needed to do was to download and print the curriculum and put it in a binder. Then, we were good to go! We started that very day!

Exploring Nature with Children 5

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

Exploring Nature with Children 1You could honestly get by with this curriculum and your library card alone, but I did invest in a couple additional items:

  • Nature journals for each of us
  • The Handbook of Nature Study by Anne Botsford Comstock (this had been on my wish list forever and it has already become a classic in our home).
  • Plus, I made use of our DIY Nature Explorer Packs on each hike.

Here’s a confession, guys. Sometimes I fly by the seat of my pants over here. I intend to plan, but sometimes I don’t. What I love about this curriculum is that you can pick and choose what to do each week. Did you forget to pick up the recommended reading for that week at the library? No worries! Search the internet for a read aloud of the book (we have such great luck with this), substitute another book on the topic, or skip it altogether and use a different extension activity.

Exploring Nature with Children 2

EXPLORING NATURE WITH CHILDREN HAS BECOME A PART OF OUR WEEKLY ROUTINE…

… and we love it! Here’s a few examples of the many ways we have enjoyed this curriculum:

  1. NATURE JOURNALINGExploring Nature with Children 4

  2. TRACKINGExploring Nature with Children 12Exploring Nature with Children 11

  3. TREE STUDYnature10

  4. BIRD FEEDING STATIONExploring Nature with Children 7

  5. CELEBRATING WINTER SOLSTICEnature9

  6. LEARNING ABOUT, AND RECORDING WEATHERnature8

  7. SALT DOUGH ORNAMENTS

  8. STUDYING THE PHASES OF THE MOON

  9. POND STUDYImage source: Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley

  10. AND THIS WEEK WE WILL BE CELEBRATING CANDLEMAS DAY (ONE WEEK LATE!) BY MAKING OUR OWN CANDLES!

This curriculum even inspired our children to create a nature-themed I Spy game that we pack on our hikes!unnamed (57)

I’m so thankful that Kara introduced me to such a simple-to-implement, fun, year-long nature study. Our family has enjoyed it every single week since late November. We like it so much that we even brought it on vacation!

Linked from: http://my-little-poppies.com/exploring-nature-children/

22 Absolutely Essential Diagrams You Need For Camping

From survival to s’mores, here’s everything you need to know to ensure a flawless camping trip.

1. How to Build a Campfire

2. Tent Tips

3. Everything You Need to Know About the Technicality of S’mores

4. How to Estimate Remaining Daylight with Your Hand

5. Snacks to Pack

6. What You Can Do to Repel Mosquitoes

7. How to Sleep Warm

8. How to Survive Hypothermia

9. Backpacker’s Checklist

10. How to Rig a Tarp

11. How to Get Your Dutch Oven to the Right Temperature

12. How to Identify Animal Tracks

13. Know Your Stargazing Events This Summer

14. 10 Easy Fire Starters

15. Kayak Camping Checklist

16. A Guide to Hammock Camping

17. Guide to Spider Bites

18. Checklist for Car Camping

19. How to Make Shelters in Survival Situations Using Nature

20. How to React to a Wildlife Encounter

21. Tarp Tips

22. Know Your Poisonous Plants

Things I Wish I Knew Before Camping with My Dog

If you are like us, your dog is a big part of your life (she is our furbaby). If we could, we would take her on vacation with us everywhere we go. Okay, I would… not sure about my husband. When our beagle, Honey, was around 2 years old, we took her camping with us. I had no clue about camping with a dog, and learned a lot from the experience! Here are a few things I wish I had known before taking her camping with us.

Tips for camping with your dog

Leash, leash, leash!

At the time we took her camping, Honey was doing really well with staying close by us at all times. I didn’t have any reason to think she wouldn’t when we went camping. Wrong! Picture Dug the Talking Dog in the movie Up. You know how he will be talking and then suddenly say “squirrel” and look in another direction? This was Honey – times 100. Most of the time, she was fine and just hung by us. Then, she would see or smell something and run off.

Lesson learned: Keep your dog on a leash. Most pet-friendly campsites will have this as a rule anyway. Bring two leashes – a shorter one for hiking and a longer one for around the camp so your dog can wander a bit.

Stay on schedule

Dogs are creatures of habit. Although you may dine later in the morning and evening while on vacation, your dog will not. Yep, Honey had us up at the same time we would get up for work. Not fun!

Lesson learned: keep on the same feeding schedule. Or, you could slowly change your dog’s feeding schedule before you leave to go camping. That way your dog will let you sleep in while camping.

Stinky dog

While camping and hiking, your dog will get dirty and smelly just like you. When we took Honey camping, she would come into the tent to sleep and puffs of dirt would come off of her as we pet her.

Lesson learned: bring grooming supplies. Pack a brush, towel and even some dog shampoo – never know what your dog will get into! A brush or comb will also be helpful when looking for any ticks that may latch on to your dog while hiking.

Keep things familiar

Just like you should stay on schedule, you also want to bring things from home that will help your dog feel comfortable. All new surroundings can overwhelm them.

Lesson learned: bring your dog’s bed and/or a couple of favorite toys from home. This will help with the adjustment to the new surroundings.

6 Ways to Hack Outdoor Solar Lights for Survival

It’s that startling moment when the lights go out in the middle of the night.

You haven’t had time to mount your flashlights next to your bed. And you can’t find your candles in the complete dark. As you stumble about, you notice a white glow coming from your vegetable garden.

It’s the solar lighting you put out there earlier this year.

Solar Lights for Emergencies

It’s that startling moment when the lights go out in the middle of the night.

You haven’t had time to mount your flashlights next to your bed. And you can’t find your candles in the complete dark. As you stumble about, you notice a white glow coming from your vegetable garden.

It’s the solar lighting you put out there earlier this year.

Often overlooked as a preparedness tool, solar lighting is something we should all consider. You can use them in many other ways than just looking pretty: from increasing egg production, to charging batteries, to preparing your unprepared loved ones.

Here are six hacks to maximize the usefulness of this green gadget:

1. First, replace the batteries

Yep, manufacturers lower their costs in building solar lights by using low-quality batteries. It’s often why solar lighting gets mixed reviews – it’s not the light, but the battery that failed. Replacing the low-quality ones with higher quality batteries is the secret to both longevity and efficiency of using solar outdoor lights indoors.

There’s a lot of debate out there on whether to use NiCD or NiMH batteries (such as the amazingly awesome Eneloop, of which I find myself collecting). If you live in a climate with moderate temperatures and a good amount of sunlight, a NiMH battery is your best choice. If not, opt for quality NiCD batteries, as they will tolerate a broader range of conditions than a NiMH will.

2. Turn it into a battery charger

Solar lighting can be used as a battery charger. You can use solar lights to charge batteries during the day, and then remove the batteries and use in other devices. Solar outdoor lights then serve double-duty and give you extra flexibility.

When looking for outdoor solar lighting that might be used indoors or as a battery charger, be sure it has an on-off switch. You’ll save energy for other uses and you may not want your house lit all night. Plus, a switch will allow you to convert it into a dedicated solar battery charger.

Most lights house a single battery, but if you get solar lights with at least two batteries, the light output is quite a bit more, and your charging capacity has doubled.

3. Remove the shades

Because the decorative shades impede the light, removing them will expose more light and the difference can be drastic.

4. Duct Tape over the light sensor

Most outdoor solar lights have a small sensor that works to turn off the lights at dawn. When using them indoors,you may also have other light sources that would trigger the sensor, so use some of your massive stock of camo duct tape to tape over it, effectively disabling it temporarily and keeping the light on.

5. Light up your coop and increase egg production

Increase egg production by putting a solar lamp in a chicken coop in winter and get more “daylight” for egg production. The solar lights can be hacked to extend the solar chip outside of the coop, while keeping the light itself inside the coop.

6. Prepare the unprepared

As I’ve said before, one of the best ways to prepare the unprepared is by giving practical gifts that can be used in an emergency. And this is a sly one.

You can’t very well show up with a hostess/birthday/Christmas gift of a H20 1.0 Personal Waterstraw (well you can, but you’ll probably compromise your OPSEC in the process), but you can show up with a wonderful treat for their lovely garden or eating area. And the bonus is you won’t have to explain yourself to a chorus of“are you like one of those doomsday preppers on TV?”

Pair the lights with a pack of good rechargeable batteries, and baby, you’ve just set them up with a solar battery charging solution that also runs double-duty as emergency lighting – cleverly disguised as a gift.

Solar Lighting options

So where to get good solar lights? It’s tough: If you buy online, you’ll encounter a lot of mixed reviews. If you pick some up at a dollar store, there’s no reviews at all to rely upon. And buying a cheap light just because it’s cheap won’t get you anywhere, worse yet, it will give you a false sense of security.

I’m a firm believer in doing your research – and online shopping. When I shop online at a site like Amazon, I can review the reviews and do price-comparisons to make sure I’m getting the best option out there. I’ve reviewed about a dozen options and these are my top three picks for outdoor solar lighting for the purposes as discussed:

1. Inexpensive Power-Houses

At less than $2 a piece, these solar lights are an inexpensive solution. I don’t plan on using these lights as a replacement for regular bulbs; and at this price, as one reviewer pointed out, you couldn’t buy the solar cell, battery and LEDs. This is an ideal set to gift to an unprepared loved one as well – the price is low enough to pair with some smashing batteries without busting the budget — and you’ll be preparing a loved one with a sneaky solar battery charger as well.

2. A Spot-On Spotlight

A spotlight is also an excellent choice – they tend to have larger solar panels and charge faster. This one, while it has a few mixed reviews (mainly due to damage in shipment) is the one for me. I just bought a tiny house and plan to use it to light my flag at night until someone I love needs some batteries charged.

3. Hanging tree lights

What can I say? I’m a total girl when it comes to the “pretty” factor. These solar lights for trees have pretty good reviews and well, they’re just so flippin’ pretty. Plus, you can just flip them upside down for indoor use. Perfect for my sister-in-law and her lovely (and useless, non-fruit-producing) trees. She won’t even know that I just set her up with a solar battery charger like a total “prepper”.

So there you have it, 3 options for solar lighting and 6 hacks you can do to them to make them moresurvival-y. Are you using solar outdoor lighting in a novel way in your preparedness plans? Do tell!

Happy prepping!

8 Challenges Every New Prepper Will Face

Good things do not come easily.  If you want something that is worthwhile and valuable then you will have to work hard at it consistently with patience.  In our society we are used to having everything quickly such as microwavable food, fast food and ordering things online.  Then when something that we really want becomes hard or takes too long we get frustrated and discouraged.

challenges-for-preppers

Good things do not come easily.  If you want something that is worthwhile and valuable then you will have to work hard at it consistently with patience.  In our society we are used to having everything quickly such as microwavable food, fast food and ordering things online.  Then when something that we really want becomes hard or takes too long we get frustrated and discouraged.

When I became interested in the preparedness idea it was hard for me to pinpoint how to start or where to begin.  Searching on the internet resulted in hundreds of websites and YouTube videos each with differing views and experiences.  I became overwhelmed and discouraged.  I began to feel it wasn’t worth the time to sift through the information to truly become prepared.

However, everyday I see on the news and read in the papers daily what is happening in our world.  Natural disasters are happening more frequently.  Violence and hatred is at an all-time high in this world.  Then seeing the economy tanking with millions of people out of jobs I realized that it worthwhile to be prepared now.

Ultimately it was a verse of scripture that I came across that made the difference.  In Proverbs 22:3 it says“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”  Now you may not be a Christian or even believe in a deity but you cannot deny the wisdom of that verse.  How many times have we seen societies and even regular people neglect to take heed to warning signs ending in tragedy?

As I continue this prepper journey there are challenges that I face almost daily.  It can be easy to let discouragement turn us around and neglect the warning signs that we see every day.  It gets hard but I believe that it is worth it to continue on.  Our work will not be done in vain.

With that being said I believe there are a few challenges that every prepper will face during their journey.  So I have included my suggestions on how to overcome those challenges.

8 Challenges Every New Prepper Will Face

1. Not knowing where to start

As I mentioned when I began my prepper journey I was clueless on whereto start.  I didn’t know any dedicated prepper.  My family members do not believe in the same way of thinking so I couldn’t ask them for advice.

Therefore, I turned to the wonderful world of the internet where many believe if it is on the internet then it must be true.  I spent endless hours studying and sifting through the knowledge available in order to find a foundation to build on top of.

Eventually after much studying of how to get started I was able to put together a plan.  This wasn’t a concrete plan but is something that is ever evolving.  Either way it is important to have a plan instead of mindlessly wandering buying gear here and there.

In a previous post Must Have Prepper Gear and Where to Start I outlined that plan.  It helped me determine what dangers are most likely to happen in comparison to other threats.  From there I was able to prioritize those threats by first getting a better understanding of them.

For example, you don’t want to build a fall out bunker because you saw it on Doomsday Preppers but not be prepared for a hurricane if you live in Florida.  Yes, a nuclear attack may happen but the likelihood that you will face a hurricane is a lot higher.  Therefore you need to identify the threats and prioritize them using that post.

2. Disapproval from friends and family

In our society people call someone who is a prepper crazy because they believe in being prepared for disasters instead of depending on a government to save them.  People have become so mindless that they believe something similar to a small pox outbreak could never happen in our time.  Then when they meet someone who does it shocks them.  The media has painted preppers to be crazy conspiracy enthusiasts which is true to extent but doesn’t apply to everyone who calls themselves a prepper.

As a single person I’m not dependent upon the approval of a wife or kids.  That is much more challenging especially if you are a new prepper and your spouse is not on board.  Many times they will roll their eyes at you or scold you for spending so much money on supplies.

In a previous post by Dan Sullivan he explains how you can be a prepper without looking crazy.  Our goal shouldn’t be to control family members into believing what we believe.  Instead we should try to speak their language.  For example, they may not believe in the potential of martial law being instituted but they could be concerned about an earthquake in your area.  Try finding their fears and speak their language to encourage them about the importance of being prepared.

3. Finding storage for your preps

As an apartment prepper it is extremely challenging to find space to store emergency supplies.  You don’t have a garage or able to expand your property to fit everything.  Storing food alone is challenging.  Then you have to find where to store gear.

This challenge is not only for the apartment prepper.  Even if you have a house you could be very limited to space due to having a family with kids.  So we have to find creative ways to build storage.

On Pinterest there are tons of articles on prepper storage that you can find to help you to either build your own storage or find small living hacks.  Another good option is look into renting off site storage.  Now I would recommend having the essentials in your house along with at least a 30 day supply of food.  The remainder can be stored in these off-site locations.  This is also good if you are raided and your supplies are stolen.  Off-site storage will give you a backup solution.

4. Getting caught up in prepper fantasies

A lot of new preppers have seen episodes of Doomsday Prepper and are attracted by what they see.  They see these bunkers and weapons thinking that it is all there is too prepping.  They are made to believe that they could be a one man army against the world.

I hear it all the time from new preppers when they are just getting started with building a bug out bag first.  They think that it is going to be like on the tv shows where they can evade danger to live in the woods without facing any challenges.  Of course they don’t realize that bugging out should be the very last option to consider.  You should be more focused on bugging in.

5. Too much focus on gear and not survival

Don’t get me wrong, this blog is about prepper gear where I share reviews of what I buy along with DIY survival gear.  But the focus should not be on the gear when you first get started.  The focus should be on surviving.  You can survive without a lot of the gear that is available.  Prepper gear just helps make it easier.  However, if your gear breaks or fails then you better be able to survive without it.

When it comes to survival you want to follow the rule of 3’s.  This rule states that you can survive only 3 seconds without hope, 3 minutes without air or blood, 3 hours in extreme weather conditions, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.  So you should learn the survival basics of each.  For example you can learn how to filter and purify water so that it is drinkable.  You could also practice building a fire to survive extreme weather conditions and so on.

6. Lack of money to purchase gear

A lot of us are feeling the effects of an economy that is suffering.  Even if the economy is doing well there will still be a lot of us that will still be suffering.  This makes it almost impossible to buy high quality gear because it can get pretty pricey.

This is why I share my experience purchasing prepper gear and testing it on this blog.  I can’t afford some of the high end stuff.  So I purchase the best possible gear at the most reasonable price.  Don’t get me wrong you pay for what you get.  Therefore if you buy generic then you are buying generic quality which typically isn’t great.  So you will have to sacrifice sometimes.

However, I try to provide you with the best possible price for the gear that I review and why I recommend purchasing from there.  Most of my gear is purchased through companies on Amazon because I don’t want to search all over the internet to find gear.  But there will be some gear that is not available on Amazon that I will purchase as well.

In my post 7 Great Inexpensive Places to Buy Prepper Gear I include a lot of great places to check out.  Some include yard sales, Goodwill, army surplus, etc.  Sometimes we may have to start with cheaper gear just to have something there quickly available until you can afford the better quality item.

Being a prepper is a lifestyle.  It isn’t something that is done overnight.  You will never be finished being prepared because there is always going to be something better to buy and learn.

7. Becoming fearful and overwhelmed

During my prepper journey there was a time that I felt extremely overwhelmed and stressed.  I believed that I didn’t have enough gear and didn’t have enough survival skills.  I felt like there was an imminent danger.

There is that fear that will be present when it comes to being a prepper.  This is especially true if you get caught up in a lot of internet shows and conspiracy theorists who live off of the fears of others.  Be very weary of people who constantly keeping you in fear in order to get you to purchase their products.  Stuff like that can drive you insane and into poverty.

Eventually you will have to realize that even if you are at least somewhat prepared you are still more prepared than millions of others in this world.  For example 53% of Americans do not have 3 days of emergency supplies.  So if you even have three days worth of supplies you are more prepared than millions of people in the United States.

8. Meeting other like-minded preppers

One funny thing that I have learned about preppers is that they are very suspicious of other people especially if you are also a prepper.  Many of them believe that if they let you know that you are a prepper then you are going to come to their house and raid them when SHTF.  So they don’t bother bonding together to build prepper communities.  This has been especially challenging for me.

There are few places or things that you can do to meet like-minded people.  You can find a local amateur radio club in your area.  A lot of the people who are HAM operators are preppers or are like minded.

Another great option to find like-minded people is to visit a gun range frequently.  You can also join a local rifle club or gun enthusiasts club.  Many of those people are concerned about defending themselves and others in times of a disaster.

One final suggestion is that you can find a local survival or bush craft group.  A lot of survivalists and bush crafters are also concerned with preparedness but may not necessarily call themselves a prepper.

Top prepper medicines to stock for survival

When there is no doctor and when there is no medicine, what then? Survival
medicine is doing what you can with what you have, so make sure you have something
when the rest of the world runs out! If you are passionate about your survival, 
consider asking your physician now for extra prescription medicines and antibiotics, or
stocking up on unusual homeopathic and non-prescription medicines. Stocking up on
medicines just might save a life: yours!

Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ” Hippocrates.

When there is no doctor and when there is no medicine, what then? Survival
medicine is doing what you can with what you have, so make sure you have something
when the rest of the world runs out! If you are passionate about your survival,
consider asking your physician now for extra prescription medicines and antibiotics, or
stocking up on unusual homeopathic and non-prescription medicines. Stocking up on
medicines just might save a life: yours!

Emergency Medical Technicians, nurses and doctors have one common shortcoming:
much of their power to heal and save lives becomes useless without support of
medicine and medical supplies. And therein lies the reality: eventually medicines and
supplies will run out in the end of the world as we know it.

Here are the top prepper medicines to stock for survival:

#1: Activated Charcoal Tablets (toxin adsorption*).
Activated charcoal is the black magic potion the prepper’s medicine bag. We’re not
talking Kingsford here (don’t use chemically laden charcoal briquettes): the
recommended medicine for your cabinet is a specially activated charcoal. While
activated charcoal has many uses (from teeth whitening to reducing your cholesterol)
its ideally suited for preppers as an emergency toxin removal. Activated charcoal,
through adsorption, traps toxins in the body to help flush them out. Another of the
major benefits of activated charcoal is that it helps alleviate gas and bloating.

Make way for Nature’s Way Activated Charcoal capsules, pictured left. Nature’s Way
Activated Charcoal (from Indian Hardwood) is commonly used to adsorb* digestive
gas. It also protects the body from overdosing on harmful toxic substances. Due to its
large surface area, activated charcoal has high adsorption properties, meaning that it
keeps certain substances from being absorbed in the body’s gastrointestinal tract.

    • * Note: adsorption, not absorption, refers to adhesion of atoms, ions, molecules
      from a dissolved solid, liquid or gas. The adsorption process flushes poison and
      toxins from the body.

 

    #2: Ammonia Inhalant (smelling salts).
    Ammonia Inhalant, pictured right, is a modern day version of “smelling salts.” It’s
    intended as a product to arouse patients who’ve fainted. An often overlooked prep,
    you will be happy to  know you can revive someone to save their life with a swift
    measure of ammonia inhalant.

    #3: Antibiotics – Fish Mox (amoxicillin – broad sprectrum antibiotic)
    The role of antibiotics in modern day is immeasurable. FishMox is the primary brand of
    amoxicillin (antibiotic) stocked by preppers for extreme catastrophic situations where a
    doctor or when medicines intended for humans are not available. Amoxicillin treats
    bacterial infections, but also presents a severe allergic reaction in some people which
    is sudden, intense and possibly deadly. Consult your doctor about FishMox* to see if
    this option is right for you and your family in a survival situation when prescription
    antibiotics will be hard to come by after a societal collapse. Remember, this antibiotic is
    intended for fish, not humans, but may be the only antibiotic available in uncertain
    times when a doctor is not available. Stock Fish Mox, but do not use it under ordinary
    circumstances, and do not stock it without consulting a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
    Learn the proper dose for your bodyweight before you ever need it and discuss your
    family’s history of allergies! This is the value a medical professional can provide. Fish
    Mox is no longer currently available on Amazon.

    • Discover the nine best survival antibiotics from the Urban Survival website.
    • Nurse Amy and Doctor bones have a video about Fish antibiotics.
    • Medical professionals may like to order Antibiotics Simplified.
    • Did you know antibiotics are safe to use for at least five years after expiration? 
      Learn more about expiration dates. Save your unused medicines!
    • Read: Fish antibiotics for preppers.

    #4: Anti-diarrheal.
    An important prepper medicine to stock is an over the counter anti-diarrheal. It doesn’t
    matter whether you stock a brand name or a generic:

    • Imodium® A-D or other anti-diarrheal to controls symptoms of diarrhea. Here is
      more about the case for stocking Imodium.
    • Kirkland Anti-diarrheal includes the active ingredient (Loperamide HCI 2 mg.)but
      at a much lower cost.

    #5: Antihistamine allergy medicine (e.g., Benadryl)
    Benadryl is diphenhydramine, the brand name of antihistamine allergy medicine. Since
    1946 Benadryl has been providing temporary relief of seasonal and perennial allergy
    symptoms. Most notably, taking an antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
    provides a measure of relief against bee stings.

    • Learn more about bee sting treatment.

    #6: Aspirin (painkiller).
    Much more than a painkiller, you’ll find many reasons to include aspirin in your preps.
    For your bugout bag, pack aspirin in small packets, pictured immediate left.

    #7: Boiron Oscillococcinum (Homeopathic flu remedy).
    Boiron Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic product for Flu-like Symptoms, pictured left.
    Boiron Oscillococcinum, pictured left, temporarily relieves flu-like symptoms such as
    body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue.

    #8: Colloidal Silver (natural antibiotic).
    A powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, Colloidal Silver soothes a number
    of skin ailments, including soothing burns, minimize scarring, relieving herpes sores,
    and medicating boils, ringworm or warts!

    Colloidal Silver is a mineral with wildly debated medical claims, but preppers agree it is
    a necessary item in the medicine cabinet. According to the manufacturer of Ultra Pure
    Colloidal Silver Natures Best Antibiotic, “There is no known disease causing organism
    that can live in the presence of even minute traces of Colloidal Silver. Colloidal Silver is
    used to treat a wide range of diseases and infections, both internally and externally.”

    The big pharmaceutical companies don’t appreciate these claims, and the Federal Drug
    Administration isn’t on board either and so colloidal silver gets a bad rap.

    While we don’t think anyone should self medicate, there may be a time in the future
    you may be faced in desperation to cure a disease. Preppers pack colloidal silver in
    their personal pharmacy because it is a natural antibiotic available without a
    prescription. It serves as an alternative when prescribed antibiotics are not available
    and infection is life threatening. Preppers also appreciate versatility of a prep.

    • Read more about the Benefits of Colloidal Silver for Preppers.

    #9: Digestive enzymes (Enzyme supplement, digestive aid).
    Your stomach won’t be quite the same after your diet changes. Many a backpacker has
    overdosed on freeze dried food and can testify to this. Digestive enzymes will help
    restore your body’s proper balance.

    #10: Frankincense (natural immune booster).
    Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) reduces inflammation, helps fight infection and boost
    immunity among so many uses. Read our full article on the benefits of Frankincense.
    Learn also about Myrrh Essential Oil.

    #11 Fresh Green Black Walnut Wormwood Complex (treats parasites).
    During a survival situation, you may be hunting and unable to provide a stable source
    of fresh drinking water. Have a plan to clear parasites out of the body with Fresh
    Green Black Walnut Wormwood Complex. This powerful extract, derived from the hulls
    of green black walnuts, is  a centuries old herbal tonic to promote healthy microbial
    activity. Fresh green black walnut wormwood complex comes highly recommended by
    The Patriot Nurse in a survival situation for those who plan on hunting.

    #12: Goldenseal (immune support).
    Popular as antifungal and antibacterial, Goldenseal root promotes a healthy immune
    system. Goldenseal, also called Indian turmeric or “ginseng’s little brother” by the
    Cherokee, has potent medicinal properties. It can kill germs on contact particularly in
    mucus membranes and not get absorbed in the blood stream, which can be
    advantageous for many, but can make blood pressure fluctuate, so check with your
    health care practitioner. It’s also used as a digestive aid and studies are underway for
    using goldenseal to support healing of cancer.

    #13: Neem Oil.
    Neem oil reduces skin inflammation and helps remedy skin disorders, including acne,
    eczema and psoriasis. Commonly also used as an antiviral, antifungal, and
    antibacterial, you’ll find neem oil is also an antiparasitic; and neem oil is also used as
    an organic pesticide!

    #14: Oregano Oil (an antiflammatory and more).
    Packed with protection against bed bugs, fleas, lice, even mosquitoes, and tape worm!
    Oregano oil is also effective against vaginal infections, cold and flu, and a host of other
    homeopathic uses.

    • Read more about oregano oil, and other natural antibiotics.

    #15: Potassium Iodide Capsules (radiation emergency).
    Potassium Iodide is a prepper medicine often overlooked and yet essential to take if
    radiation is imminent and may be limited or unavailable when health officials notify the
    public of exposure and urgency. Potassium Iodide capsules, pictured immediate right,
    can help maintain a high level of beneficial iodides in the thyroid gland. Potassium
    Iodide supports the body’s normal detoxification processes, including the removal of
    heavy metals, though it’s not a cure for radiation sickness.

    • Learn more about radiation exposure and survival.

    #16: Stool softener (constipation relief).
    You’ll be eating foods you’re not used to eating, so consider that bowel movements
    may fluctuate more often. Miralax, pictured bottom left of page, is a stool softener to
    help you get through eating too much freeze dried food.

    #17: SaltStick caps Plus (hydration).
    Avoid cramping during and after long distance and high elevation hikes. Trusted by
    marathon runners, SaltStick buffered electrolyte salts plus caffeine and sodium,
    pictured immediate right, will give preppers on the move an edge. In addition to
    reducing muscle cramping, these totally vegetarian capsules reduce heat stress,
    maintain electrolyte levels and increase energy levels. It’s a great bugout-bag item or
    for hunting.

    #18: Tea Tree oil (external use only).
    Tea Tree Essential Oil, pictured left, is best known as a very powerful immune
    stimulant. It’s a powerful anti-fungal and disinfectant for topical use only. It can help to
    fight all three categories of infectious organisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses), and
    there is evidence that Tea Tree Oil massages prior to an operation may help to fortify
    the body and reduce post-operative shock. Tea Tree Oil can help with colds, measles,
    sinusitis and viral infections.

    Tea tree oil is very penetrating oil to help cure infections and boils, and even seep
    through toenails. It’s great for athletes foot! Learn more about tea tree oil benefits.

    • Do NOT ingest tea tree oil! You may wind up in the hospital. Some apply tea
      tree oil sparingly to sores in the mouth and on lips, but this is a deadly
      concoction to some and not worth the risk for others. Never ingest tea tree oil!

    #19: Thieves Oil (pandemics).

    • Ebola preventionPossibly, however, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration has
      been very careful in preventing Thieves Oil manufacturers, like Young Living from
      marketing their product as a drug to prevent Ebola and has sent them a severe
      warning letter. Such products are not intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, 
      mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and should not be marketed as
      such, according to the FDA. It is illegal to market this product as an anti-viral for
      any purpose.

     

    • Plague prevention: There is evidence that Thieves Oil keeps plague at bay
      During the 15th-century plague, thieves used an oil of cloves, rosemary, and
      other aromatics to protect themselves while robbing plague victims.

     

    • Upper respiratory support: In the Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for
      When Help is Not on the Way by Joseph Alton M.D. and Amy Alton ARNP, they
      recommend stocking Thieves Oil! (Page 78.) for upper respiratory infections.

    #20:  Topical Anesthetic Gel – Hurricaine (tooth pain relief).
    Nothing bites worse than tooth pain! Hurricaine topic gel, pictured  right, will
    anesthetize muscle tissue to provide temporary relief in discomfort in teeth and gums.
    This medication will be a godsend for the day when a dentist is not available. In the
    old days, the agony of dental pain was among the top causes of suicide.

    Nature’s medicine cabinet
    Interested in other prepper medicines? Preppers also stock a variety of home
    remedies, salves, unconventional medicines, and essential oils for survival:

    • Aloe vera. Aloe will provide soothing relief from sunburns.

     

    • Coconut oil. Learn to cook with coconut oil.

     

    • Echinacea. A medicinal powerhouse and secret of Native Americans, echinacea
      has been popular as an antiviral and antibacterial sold to help fight symptoms
      of cold and flu.

     

    • Elderberry. Proven effective for use against swine and avian flu, elderberry
      extract is manufacturered as Sambucol. Safe and effective for kids, there are no
      known side effects.

     

    • Epsom Salts. Discover the medicinal uses of Epsom salts, including how Epsom 
      salts help flush out toxins from the body, improve absorption of nutrients, and
      even soothe aching muscles.

     

    • Honey. Honey is ideal as a topical antibiotic because apparently honey kills
      bacteriaaccording to Science Daily. What’s more, honey will last almost
      indefinitely! Consider the many good reasons to hoard honey.

     

    • Hydrogen Peroxide. As a first aid essential, hydrogen peroxide can help prevent
      infection in minor cuts, scrapes and burns. It may also be used as an oral
      debriding agent. It can aid in removing phlegm, mucus or other secretions
      associated with a sore mouth. Stock hydrogen peroxide in your prepper’s
      medicine cabinet and learn more about applications for your survival.

     

    • Onions Onions have natural anti-fungal properties. For immediate relief, rub on
      affected areas. Here’s how an onion can soothe a bee sting.

     

    • Peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is great for your health, and you’ll keep pesky
      little critters away. Spiders hate peppermint oil and rodents too! 100% 
      peppermint oil will burn their little nostrils!

     

    • Salt. Discover the many medicinal uses of salt.

    More great finds:

    • Christopher’s Infection Fighting Formula (dietary supplement, flu season).
      Pictured at the bottom of the page, Christopher’s Infection Fighting Formula is
      highly rated on Amazon. Such dietary supplements offer added peace of mind
      during the flu season. Get through pandemic situations knowing you’re charging
      your family with infection fighting vitamins.

     

    • Melatonin (sleep aid). Many preppers stash coffee and tea for survival. They
      need also stock something to help them fall asleep: Melatonin. During a crisis, 
      your mind may be hyper alert with thoughts keeping you awake at night, but
      without adequate sleep you may not be able to follow through on an effective
      strategy of survival. That’s where Melatonin comes into play. Melatonin by
      Nature’s Bounty, pictured right, is great for people experiencing occasional
      sleeplessness, those with jet lag, or anyone seeking to improve their quality of
      rest.

     

    • Caffeine (alertness and energy aid). Caffeine supplements will help you stay
      awake and five-hour energy boosters may help provide the endurance you need
      to protect your family or meet another critical survival need.

     

      • Is a caffeine pill hard to swallow? Try decaffeinated chewing gum!

     

      Considering that stress and poor nutrition along with reduced hygiene and total lack of
      medical care are very real threats to your health during a catastrophe, it’s wise to
      prepare; however, for any health or dietary matter, consult your Doctor well in
      advance of needing to use any of these products. This medicine cabinet supply list is
      intended for long-term storage and use only for a scenario where a pharmacy and
      medical professional network is unavailable.*

      Happy Endings…
      It’s better to have medicine (and not use it) than to need medicine (and not have it)!

      Survival Eating

      Food is not just a source of energy and sustenance, but a comfort item as well. When you are hungry, morale goes down and chances of survival dwindle.  There will be several opportunities to find food after the supermarkets close, you just need to know where to look and what tools to have.

      The first thing you need to know is that meat will only take you only so far.  If you read Meriwether Lewis’s journals from their exploration; the men still felt hungry although they were eating several pounds of meat per day.  You can eat 10 rabbits a day and still “starve” as rabbit lacks everything except protein for your body’s survival.

      Food is not just a source of energy and sustenance, but a comfort item as well. When you are hungry, morale goes down and chances of survival dwindle.  There will be several opportunities to find food after the supermarkets close, you just need to know where to look and what tools to have.

      The first thing you need to know is that meat will only take you only so far.  If you read Meriwether Lewis’s journals from their exploration; the men still felt hungry although they were eating several pounds of meat per day.  You can eat 10 rabbits a day and still “starve” as rabbit lacks everything except protein for your body’s survival.

      Trapping

      Trapping is the most feasible option to maintain a steady supply of fresh meat for the “table”.  There are several traps and many more that can be improvised.  Many people have trapped animals, even if it was just setting a mouse trap to get rid of a pest. The most important thing to prepare for using traps to supply food is to educate oneself on the habits and lifestyles of the animals in your area.  If you must travel to your secure location, remember to research and study the areas for the areas you will need to travel through.   My experiences are mostly in the Midwest and Southeastern US, so some tips or items may not be as suitable for a Western environment but I will try and offer tips based on what I have read or been told by trappers/outdoors-men in those areas.

      survival-eating

      Animal tracks are a sure sign that something is or has been in the area. Tracks can be the obvious footprints in the sand or dirt but can also be as subtle as the scratches on a tree trunk or small holes dug into the ground where your prey was hunting their own meal. Several books are available for studying the footprints of the animals so you can know what animal you are targeting is.  I’d prefer NOT to trap a skunk or opossum unless they are my only choice.  Time and energy spent on setting traps for the wrong animal are time and energy you will not get back.  Also, setting a rat trap or 110 body grip trap for a raccoon or ground hog is wasted time, as you will not be using the proper tools.

      There are several different brands and sizes of store bought traps available on the market. The 3 major types are:

      1) Foothold traps– These come in a variety of sizes and even styles.  There are single jaws (most common) and double jaws; toothed (think of the old bear traps) or smooth jaw; long spring or coil spring.  The long spring has single or double long springs which are made by “folding” a piece of spring metal over and then pinching it to allow the trap to be set.  Tension is supplied by the animal stepping on the “pan” and releasing the lock, which allows the long spring to expand back to its “U” shape and thus applies pressure holding the trapped animal. Coil spring traps use coil springs either in a double or 4 coil set up.  The more coils, the stronger the traps strength to hold an animal, but too much strength can break a bone and thus allow the animal to tear off its foot and escape (thus the legend was born of animals “chewing” their leg off to escape a trap). Trap sizes increase with the “number”.  The added weight of the long springs is useful for drowning rig set ups, but coil spring traps are smaller for packing.

      2)  Body grip (commonly referred to as connibear)- These traps are square in shape and they normally kill the prey upon capture. They utilize 1 or 2 springs and a single trigger/lock mechanism.  They come in 3 common sizes, 110, 220, 330, size grows with the number.  Some manufacturers have “middle sizes as well, but they are not as common. When selecting these traps, read the description and choose the trap by the opening size (110 = 7inch by 7 inch opening; normally) and what you will need for the animals in your area for planning purposes.  I use 110’s for squirrel, muskrat, rabbit, etc for planning purposes, 220 for raccoon, ground hog, fox, etc; and 330 for beaver, coyote, really big raccoons, etc.  Some reading this will wonder why I included foxes and coyotes but if you are secure in your homestead and something raids the chicken coop or garden plot; you may have to trap for varmint control as well as food.

      3) Snares– These handy gems can be bought already made or obtained by buying the different components and making custom sized snares for game not normally trapped in today’s normal living conditions.  Snares are designed to catch an animal as it walks through the hoop of the snare and then being strangled. You can fix these to small saplings or branches being bent and anchored to a stake with a trigger device to spring back to their original position and creating a very fast choke or even breaking the neck of the prey. Most modern snares are made from aircraft cable of 5/32 or 3/16 inch diameter. You can also use heavier gauge as long as it is pliable and you customize the hardware for the thicker cable. Snares can also be improvised from a variety of materials, fishing line being a natural choice. I carry braided line with 60# test or higher for such purposes and also to use for limb lines. Regular sewing thread or light weight (2-4#) fishing line is useful for securing the snare to brush or fencing to keep its shape and stay in place once set.   Snares made from 6-10# fishing line works well for birds. For hiking in parts of Alaska and Canada (possibly other locations), it is required by law that you have a couple snares in your pack and the knowledge to use them.

      These are the main types of animal traps used for trapping fur-bearers for their pelts. They can add immense possibilities to the prepper for putting food on the table if and when the need arises.  Improvised traps are also very important; not only will they be used if caught in an emergency where you don’t have your kit, i.e. an aircraft crash since we can’t carry our kits as a carry on.

      Deadfalls are probably the best known and easiest to construct improvised trap.  These are created by using an object or objects that weigh enough to kill the intended target by crushing it.  Rocks, trees, branches, cast off equipment or materials (bricks, sandbags, vehicle parts, etc) can all be used for the weight. You balance the weight and attach the bait to a trigger, a type 4 trigger is the most common but takes practice to make, and when the animal pulls on the bait, it causes the weight to fall and crush it.  You can also use a manual trigger by attacking a string or rope to the brace and pulling the brace out manually once the target enters the “kill zone.”  This can be practiced by using a laundry basket and catching birds in the back yard, great training and practice for the little ones and it will teach them patience and the need to be quiet and still.  The basket or a bucket can also be used in a survival situation to catch small animals in the same manner, just know that the target will still be alive and will need to be approached with care.

      Pitfalls or punji pits can also be used. These are simple in design but require a lot of work to make. By digging a hole deep enough and covering it so the target does not see it, they can be lured to the pit or dig it along a trail they travel. The pit must be deep enough and/or lined so the target cannot climb or jump out.  By adding punji stake (sharpened sticks) to the trap, you will injure, maim or kill whatever falls into the trap.  This will help ensure the animal stays but can also become dangerous to unsuspecting people falling into the pit.  These are also dangerous to livestock or pets, so use common sense and care when utilizing these traps.

      Fish traps are also a valuable commodity to use for gathering food. These are normally constructed on site, using natural materials combined with brought items.  By placing obstacles, sticks, rocks, boards, etc, in the waterway, you funnel the fish swimming through at a certain point.  At this point, place a net and anything swimming through will be captured.  You can also use fencing [poultry netting (chicken wire) works best for its pliability and small mesh size).  Form the fencing into a cylindrical shape and fasten it together with cable ties, rope, tie wire, etc.  After gauging the opening size, cut more of the fencing used to form a “funnel” to fit into the opening(s); if only 1 funnel is used, you must form a “wall” on the opposite end to secure the trap.  The funnel needs to extend into the trap about 1/8 – ¼ the length of the cylinder and reduce in size down to an opening that will allow the fish to swim in but not so big they can swim out extremely easy.  The idea is they will have room to swim out, but by have the funnel opening centered in the trap, most fish will miss the opening and not swim out.  You may lose some, but the majority of any fish swimming in will be there when you check your traps.  You can add bait by attaching small bags filled with bait to the fencing.  I like attaching mine to the bottom to get the fish to swim away from the opening of the funnel. A practice trap can be made by cutting a 2 liter pop (soda) bottle off just after it gets to its full size.  By turning this around and inserting it into the body of the bottle with the pour spout inside the bottle, you now have a minnow trap to collect bait. Punch small holes through the bottom of the bottle and sides to allow water to flow through it.  I use a small rod of re-bar to anchor this to the creek bed.  Secure the cut off portion with glue is best, but if the cut is made cleanly it can be held with friction.  Place the opening to the upstream side, so water pressure will build and help hold the top in the bottle body. This will also give a visual of what a bigger trap made from fencing should look like.   This type of trap will also catch crabs, lobster, crawdads and even some small marine mammals.

      Traps can more than pay for themselves on the return of food and even pelts for clothing, pot holders, blankets, etc in a survival situation. There are several books on the subject written by people with a lot more experience than me.  If possible and legal to do so, practice trapping animals before the need arises and your learning curve means whether you and your family eat or not. You can get clips to hold body grip traps in the “set” position on the side of a tree.  Bait the trigger wires with corn or nutmeats, even peanut butter, and squirrels will come to feast on your offering and roasted squirrel or stew is on the menu.  The clips are sold via trapper supply houses for marten and fisher trappers.  The clips can also be improvised out of small pieces of conduit or pipe.  The spring on the body grip trap can have a rope tied to it and secured to a branch so it will swing the trap and your catch away from the tree to keep scavengers from easily stealing your meal.  I carry a few premade snares, two 110 sized body grip traps and 1 #4, four coil trap in my rucksack or in my MOLLE vest.  I also carry heavy weight (60# +) braided fishing line to improvise snares.  I carry lighter weight fishing line for snares for birds or to use as sewing thread to repair clothes or gear. Remember to get repair parts for any traps you have and acquire the skill to repair them.

      Fishing

      There are several articles written, as well as countless books, on the subject of fishing. I will only briefly touch on the subject.  Irecommend using limb lines in a survival fishingsituation. You use a heavy weight line and attach this to a very sturdy branch overhanging or very near the water source.  I prefer one with a little flexibility to allow for the fish to fight without breaking or ripping the hook from its mouth. Limb lines can be utilized using normal store bought hooks or improvising natural materials into something to hold the fish. “Skewer hooks” can be made easily and very quickly, even by a child. You take a piece of wood and sharpen both ends to a dull point.  You can rough up the “barrel” of the wood to help hold the bait or even tie the bait on with string.  You attach the line by tying it around the barrel in the center of the piece of wood.  When the fish swallows the bait and the skewer, it will lodge in its throat or guts, depending on size of fish.  When you pull the line, it will cause the skewer to turn sideways and thus make an extremely strong hold on the fish allowing you to haul it in.  If using limb lines in waters with a large turtle population, they can be used to catch turtles as well, but I would recommend using steel leaders to help keep the turtles from biting the line off.

      Treble hooks work extremely well, but until used for a true survival situation, they are normally illegal, so check your local laws.  You can also cut pantyhose down, tie it around the bait and use it to help keep fish from stealing the bait.  Safety pins and needles can also be used to adapt something from its intended purpose to use as a makeshift hook.  These will not be barbed, so extra care is needed to maintain control over your fish once caught.  I would also recommend buying and using cane poles even during routine fishing outings.  I love my spin cast and bait cast reels coupled with a good rod, but if they break, a branch more closely resembles a cane pole than a $300 rod and reel combo.  Throw nets or casting nets are also valuable in obtaining fish.  These do require practice, but the return can be very rewarding and the difference between a full belly and an empty one. I’d even try and obtain topo maps of the lakes, rivers, streams, etc for the area you will be when the need arises. This will give you bottom structure and locations for optimum limb line locations.

      Hunting

      Several articles have been written and posted on hunting.  This is the method most people plan on obtaining their meat in a survival situation.  Study the animals in your chosen area and learn all you can about their habits, food sources, activity cycles (nocturnal or diurnal), and home (burrows, nests, meadow, water, lodge (muskrat and beaver), etc).  Choose a weapon that will easily take the game animal but not ruin the meat; you do not want to hunt a rabbit with a .308 or a 12 gauge slug.  A .22 long Rifle will take most animals, even deer, with proper shot placement. Using a .22 LR are illegal to take certain game, so read game laws before using in a non survival situation.  If I was able to choose just 1 higher powered rifle, I would choose a .308 Win./7.62mm.  They are available on an AR platform for those who want the self loader or even the battle proven M14 (Springfield’s M1A1).  A bolt action would be fine or even a pump.  The reason I would choose the .308 is several fold; 1)  They are a common caliber and ammunition will be available; 2)  They have much more range and power over the .223/5.56mm, I can hunt medium game like antelope and deer with a .308 but would NOT want to tackle a moose, elk or bear with a .223; 3)  The added firepower will allow me to keep the 2-legged varmints farther out of their preferred range and in the ranges I practiced at before I had to use it.  Optics are also a requirement in my opinion.  A good survival rifle will have open iron sights as a backup, as scopes get broken, but optics allow for a more accurate shot placement when the adage of “every shot counts” is truly “gospel” in a survival situation.  Ammunition can be in very short supply and harvesting that game means you and yours eat is not the time to try shots that you can brag about, the only bragging that needs done will be when you carry in that nice venison haunch.

      Blackpowder weapons will be an excellent choice for a survival weapon if you also gain the knowledge to make your own blackpowder and cast your own lead balls. I would recommend a flintlock over percussion cap. Flint can be picked up in just about every corner of the US. By casting your own lead balls and making blackpowder, you can have a long term firearm to hunt with and conserve your center fire ammunition for real emergencies and self defense. Muzzleloading weapons act and shoot differently than center fire weapons; flintlocks can have a “lag” between the time you pull the trigger and the time the powder actually ignites to propel the ball down the barrel. If you choose to use this type of survival tool, please get one as early as possible and practice to learn the intricacies of this traditional food gatherer.

      Archery equipment, especially the knowledge on how to build self bows such as the Native Americans, would be a great asset. They are quiet, can take a multitude of game, can be replaced (if capable of making them) and arrows can be made also. Their use will save ammunition for self defense and extremely dangerous game (bears, mountain lions, wolves, feral dogs, etc).

      Do not underestimate the power and ability of a slingshot to put dinner on the table.  It is easy to find ammunition; any rock will do and are perfect for the younger hunters.  They are quiet and capable hunters, especially when using lead round balls. They are modestly priced and found at almost every discount and department store. You can “store” vast amounts ammo for it and nobody be the wiser; just do some landscaping and use river rock instead of mulch.

      Regardless of equipment and tactics, make sure you get as close as possible and take the sure shot.  Those nice antlers only mean you can make another tool, while does and yearlings usually have more tender meat and are an easier quarry.  Always choose the sure shot.  Other uncommon tools for hunting include, spears, air guns,boomerangs/throwing sticks, and even a bolo. The biggest thing is to practice with whatever method(s) you choose so as to be an expert in their use as there is NO substitution for knowledge about your intended game animal(s).

      Gathering

      Gathering wild edibles will greatly enhance your meals and chance of survival. Several books are written and a must have at least in the survival retreat or Bug Out Location (BOL).  I would also find a small one to keep in your Bug Out Bag (BOB) like the book from  Judy of the Woods.  Sassafras root makes a good tea and even chewing the leaves will cause saliva to be generated to help reduce thirst or just give you peace of mind from food, similar to chewing gum. Cattails are one of nature’s greatest survival gifts. You can eat the young shoots, the roots are like a potato, and even the seed (the part on top that gets to looking like a dusty corn cob) is a great flour additive, added to stew or can be eaten on its own.  Some other plants to learn and know are: Solomon’s Seal, May Apple, wild berries, any nut tree, pine needles (for tea), pine cones for pine nuts (place a “closed” pine cone near a fire and they will “open” to obtain the nuts/seeds inside), birch sap (can be made into a great syrup for your acorn pancakes), wild mint, swamp cabbage palm in the southern swamps, fish eggs, mushrooms, etc. These items are edible in whole or in part and will provide extra flavor and much needed calories in an emergency.  Please read books or find someone who can give precise instructions on edible plants and try them before it becomes necessary.

      Remember, all bird eggs are edible; many are small but they will provide calories and much needed nutrients.  Eggs dipped in wax can be held up to a month without refrigeration or spoilage. That little extra bird feed and the bird houses while times are good; could be a bountiful investment for when times get bad.  I would also recommend books on wild herbs to help with the seasoning of food and natural medicine once the pharmacy is looted.

      Gardening

      Gardening has been covered in depth, so I will only add to the obvious benefit of growing food, the garden plot will bring in wild game to trap or hunt.  Also, planting fruit trees in advance will supply fresh fruit to the diet and animals will travel long distance to eat a sweet dessert like an apple.  This will bring the game to you and thus reduce risk and visibility by having to venture further and further from your secure location.  I would also think about establishing a pond for fish farming and if the space is available, digging deep ditches for irrigation and drawing animals for water.  Dams can be used to control water depth.

      Also, if able, a greenhouse will allow year round growing. You can add bee hives to the greenhouse and the bees will pollinate the crops and give you a natural sweetener. Honey also has many medicinal uses and when the going gets rough and many comfort items are no longer available, who wouldn’t want something sweet to help boost morale?

      Livestock

      Raising livestock is also important, but does require land to use as pasture.  Goats would be a prime animal, they will supply meat, milk and depending on the breed, wool to make cloth from.  This all takes more knowledge and land, which some of us may or may not have.  Poultry will help eat bugs in the garden, supply meat and eggs, act as an alarm system (geese and guineas), eat weeds from the garden (geese), and can supply down for quilts if the situation turns into a truly long term event.

      These are but suggestions to stimulate ideas and comments from others to bring a more balanced and as close to full thought process on the subject of feeding ourselves in the worst of times.  Everyone’s location and access to land and other resources will dictate how we must personalize any ideas to meet our needs, abilities, and resources; not all can afford to dig ditches and a pond or have the land to do so.  I hope I have helped some or maybe caused others to think in a direction they had not thought of.  My purpose is to give basics to those who are starting, maybe add some insight to those who have not been able to experience some of these skills, and caused the experienced to share their ideas or knowledge in comments of things they have actually tried or even heard of so the group gains the knowledge to try or research tricks or skill sets that will help them survive.

      Summary

      I have eaten ground hog, raccoon, snake, fish, alligator, squirrel, rabbit, beaver, muskrat, crawdad, crabs, lobster, wild boar, deer, moose, elk, bear and even a rat to cover most of my vittles in the past.  Those who hunt, try carrying your day-pack and other gear (where legal) while doing so. This will allow you to see how it affects your shooting and whether the game animal will be spooked by what you have.  Sound is your enemy, so tie everything down secure.   When squirrel hunting, I wear my MOLLE vest, carry my emergency survival gear and a sidearm (especially handy because of the feral dog problem). I hunt with either a 22 LR rifle (normal) or pellet gun.  This allows me to continually improve my ability to move quietly through the woods while wearing the extra gear I will have when the situation(s) we prep for become a reality.  Also, if you have them, take the kids; the younger the better.  They will learn to move quietly and be still, get satisfaction in knowing they helped “earn” their dinner and it creates a bond not easily broken.  If you find it difficult to be patient with them when only a successful hunt is on the line; how will you react when the very meal you MUST have is cost?  Each child is different and will handle the experience differently. You must decide when they are ready to see an animal harvested and then again when they are ready to witness the butchering process.  I prefer skinning and gutting my game in the field, innards stink when in your garbage at home, but in the survival situation, they become bait for traps or fishing.  Animal stomachs, turned inside out and washed very thoroughly, make excellent pouches and/or water bags.  Learn to skin the game as cleanly and whole as possible to save the pelt.  Rabbit fur is soft and works well for mittens, ear muffs, etc; ground hog hide is extremely tough and makes good leather lace.

      How to find and use soap plants

      As functional members of our modern society, we are somehow accustomed to take things for granted and we become dependent of stores and the items we buy. Soap is one of the many items that we take for granted and if stores would stop selling this item tomorrow, we would have no clue how to make do without it. Luckily for us, there are soap plants that we can use as substitute when soap runs out. Sanitation will become an important task during a crisis scenario and although you may have stockpiled enough soap to last you for a lifetime, it is always better to learn about the alternatives we have. Learning how to make soap is a skill that will come in handy and it will help you stay clean when stores will close. However, in today’s article I will share some of my knowledge regarding a natural, cost free alternative; the soap plants that can be found in the wild!

      soap-plants

      As functional members of our modern society, we are somehow accustomed to take things for granted and we become dependent of stores and the items we buy. Soap is one of the many items that we take for granted and if stores would stop selling this item tomorrow, we would have no clue how to make do without it. Luckily for us, there are soap plants that we can use as substitute when soap runs out. Sanitation will become an important task during a crisis scenario and although you may have stockpiled enough soap to last you for a lifetime, it is always better to learn about the alternatives we have. Learning how to make soap is a skill that will come in handy and it will help you stay clean when stores will close. However, in today’s article I will share some of my knowledge regarding a natural, cost free alternative; the soap plants that can be found in the wild!

      Interacting with nature and using all its resources is an important aspect of preparedness and off-grid living. If you are familiar with this site, you’ve probably noticed by now that I encourage people to get back into nature and learn about foraging and every other skill that will help them survive when our modern society will collapse. Foraging for wild plants is a forgotten skill that will prove very useful if you are forced to leave your home and head for the woods. Nature provides all sorts of plants that can help you survive and thrive in a harsh environment. Besides the medicinal plants and the wild edibles, there are quite a few plants that contain saponins (steroids that dissolve in water and create a stable froth). These plants will help you stay clean when exploring the great the outdoors.

      Most of the soap plants that you can find in the wild were used by the Native Americans and the first pioneers. Although they are different from the old fashioned soap that your grandma used to make on the farm, these plants work just as well and they are a great substitute for the traditional soaps.

      Some of the soap plants listed in this article are found everywhere in the wild and they can be prepared very easily.

      Soap plants – Yucca (Yucca spp.)

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      Yucca is one of the soap plants used by the Native Americans and there are numerous species of yucca spread throughout the plains and western States. This is one of the arid edibles I wrote about in a previous article and it is very easy to identify it. The plant produces a stemless cluster of long, rigid leaves which end in a sharp point. The leaves are 8 to 35 inches long and have a gray-green color. This is a versatile plant and the Native Americans used it extensively for various purposes. Besides being used for soap, the plant produces several good foods, quality fiber that was used to make sandals. It was also used as tinder and it helped improvising carrying cases or quivers from the mature, hollowed-out flower stalks.

      Although many prefer to use the root to make soap, digging up the root is an intense labor and you may even get fined for doing so because some Yucca species are listed as endangered. To make soap easily you can cut the leaves (even one would do) and strip them into fibers until you have a handful of very thin strands. Add water and agitate between your hands until soap forms. You will need to pay attention when cutting the lives because you can hurt yourself with the sharp tips or you can slice your fingers on the edges of the leaf. Make sure you snip off the sharp tip before you strip the leaves. Yucca soap has extremely good cleansing properties and the leaf fiber helps in scrubbing. It provides medium to rich lather depending on the species, but since the leaves are available year-round and the plant is widespread it makes Yucca one of the soap plants that can be used the most.

      Soap plants – Mountain Lilac (Ceanothus spp.)

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      This plant is also known as soap bush and there are over 50 species of shrubs or small shrub trees. Most of the species are confined to North America. The soap bush is common throughout the southwest and if you go hiking in the spring, you will notice a spot of white, blue or purple along the trail and on the hillside. Many species can be used as soap plants even though their botanical properties will sometimes be different. To make sure you have mountain lilac that can be used as soap you can do a simple test. Take a handful of blossoms, add water and rub them between the hands. If you get a rich lather with a mild aroma, you got the right plant! The plant will lose its flowers early summer and it will form some sticky green fruits. Don’t worry if you missed the flowering period of the mountain lilac because the fruits can also be used to make soap. The early pioneers used to dry the fruits and used them for soap when needed. If you decide to dry the fruits and store them for later use, you must know that the fruits will get very hard and you will need to ground them into a fine powder before using it as soap. Once you have the powder, add water and rub vigorously. The soap doesn’t have the same quality as the one made from the fresh fruits, but it is a good alternative when nothing else is available. Mountain lilac has good cleansing properties and it’s worth traveling to the difficult terrain to collect its flowers and fruits.

      Soap plants – Soaproot (Blitum californicum)

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      This is a plant that was used by the Native Americans both as medicine and as a food source. The leaves of soaproot can be cooked, drained and used as you would use spinach. This is often confused with lamb’s quarter by many foragers, but if you pay attention, you can notice that soaproot has a large taproot. This is the part that can be used to make soap and it is often similar to a ginseng root or an overgrown carrot. Getting the root requires some effort and in hard soil it can be a foot deep, making it impossible to be harvested without a good shovel. The first pioneers learned to make soap from the Native Americans and they used to preserve the root in a dark, cold place for later use. In order to make soap you will need to grate the root with a sharp knife. Add water and rub between the hands to obtain a soap that many consider superior to store-bought soaps. The taproot produces a frothy lather that has very good cleansing properties. This plant is harder to find since most of those who know about its cleaning properties would take entire taproots and store them for later use. It can be found only in isolated patches and if you plan to use Soaproot, make sure you only use small taproots and leave the rest.

      Soap plants – Amole (Chloroglaum pmeridianum)

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      Amole is widespread plant that is part of the lily family and it can be identified easily due to its long liner leaves growing from the base of the plant. It develops flowers on a long stem and it grows a large brown bulb. To reach the bulb, which is the part used for making soap, you will sometimes have to dig down up to a foot deep. The bulb is usually covered in layers of brown fibers and you will need to remove these fibers until you reach the white bulb. The white bulb is stick and has many layers, just like an onion. You can take some of these layers, add water and agitate between your hands. As a result, you will obtain a rich lather that can be used for any sanitation operation you might need. You can use it to take a bath, to wash your hair and even to clean your clothes. You can also dry the bulb for later use, but just like for all other soap plants, the soap made from the fresh parts is far superior. The bulbous root of the Amole plant can be dug year-round if you know where to look for it. In the fall the plant is dormant and although it is widespread in various areas, it will be harder to find compared to the other soap plants.

      Soap plants – Buffalo Gourd (Cucurbita foetidissima)

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      This plant can be found in the central and southwestern United States and northern Mexico and it even grows in urban vacant lots. Some people know it by the name of coyote melon and based on its form, you can notice that it is a relative of squash and pumpkins. The Native Americans used the plant as rattles, but also as soap to for washing clothes. In order to make soap, they used the tender growing tips or the leaves of the plant. Adding water and agitating between the hands will result in a green frothy lather that has satisfactory cleansing proprieties. If you decide to use buffalo gourd to make soap, you have to handle the leaves with care as they are covered with tiny rigid spines. These tiny hairs are known to cause irritation to the skin for some people and many survivalists will use this soap plant as a last resort.

      Soap plants – Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis)

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      Many people know this plant as soapweed or crow soap and it is widely available since many gardeners will plant it for its pink flowers. This is an introduced plant and it is mostly used by European countries as soap substitute.  Although the leaves and the roots can be used, it is much easier to use the leaves since it will also help maintain the plant alive. There are various ways you can use the leaves to make soap. You can agitate the fresh leaves between your hands with water or you can boil them to produce a lather liquid that has the ability to dissolve fats or grease. Take a handful of fresh leaves, bruise and chop them for 30 minutes in 1 pint of water. Strain the liquid and use it as you would use liquid soap. This plant has satisfactory cleansing proprieties and it is a good alternative if it grows abundantly in your area. You can plant it in your off-grid garden as a useful ornamental and use it as soap substitute year round if no snow has fallen.

      Soap plants are just another proof that Mother Nature will take care of your needs and it can provide you with viable alternatives to commercial products. The plants listed in this article will help you stay clean when your soap supplies run out and this is knowledge worth knowing.

      Mommy, I Have to Go Potty! Make Your Own Emergency Toilet

      We have talked about what we’ll do when the paper eventually runs out, but what about when the toilet doesn’t work anymore?

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      We have talked about what we’ll do when the paper eventually runs out, but what about when the toilet doesn’t work anymore?

      Consider this: You’ve had a major local disaster where the water has gone out. There is no water available to your house because water mains have been broken, the city water supply has been tainted and shut down, or one of the various other reasons that cause city-wide services to be shut down. What happens when Little Susie says she has to go to the bathroom?

      Do you let her? Sure! In the beginning, it won’t be so hard. If you’ve got plenty of water stored up, you can use some of the non-potable water to pour it quickly into the bowl to help create a vacuum to flush your toilet. It’s kind of messy, and splashes a lot, which means you’ll have to clean up each time you do it. The real problem comes when the sewer lines become full and your poo isn’t going anywhere. Once that backup happens, it will be a stinky situation, in more ways than one.  (This would be a good time to think about filling your bathtub with water that can be used for non-potable things like watering plants and force flushing your toilet – you can also use a WaterBob to contain it if you don’t want to keep an open tub full of water.)

      But it doesn’t take too long for the sewers to get backed up and you can’t flush any longer. THEN you’re in big trouble. Susie REALLY needs to go, but without a working sewer system, that potty water has no where to go. What on earth do you do now?

      The problem you are faced with now is how to be able to go to the bathroom and not get your family sick and still not feel like your house smells like a sewer. You’ll always have to worry about cross-contamination of your water supply or communal area with human waste, so you’ll need a way to dispose of it safely and effectively.

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      How to Make a Quick Emergency Toilet

      Supplies:

      • 5 gallon bucket
      • Bag of scoopable kitty litter (regular works, too, but the scoopable helps alleviate urine better)
      • Heavy-duty garbage bags (you don’t want the cheap ones that easily rip
      • Toilet seat – these toilet seats are available at most camping stores and online. They fit most standard 5 gallon buckets you can get for a few bucks at your local DIY stores.
      • Toilet paper – unless of course you’ve come up with a few ideas of things to use when the toilet paper runs out!

      Directions:

      1. Remove the metal handle from your 5 gallon bucket and thread the toilet paper roll on. Return the handle. This is an easy way to keep toilet paper handy without it getting dirty on the ground. Another great option is inside one of the plastic coffee cans  that can serve as a protective home for it.
      2. Fit a 13-gallon trash bag into your bucket and cinch it tight around the top.
      3. Place your toilet seat on top and secure into place.
      4. Keep kitty litter nearby in another waterproof canister

      How to use the Emergency Toilet

      1. Pee or poo as you normally would.
      2. Take a scoop of cat litter and cover your ‘stuff’ up
      3. As bag becomes full for you, remove and cinch the top. You can then bury it in a safe location, well away from a water source

      There’s an indoor option to this. You can turn off your water supply running into your toilet, empty out the water with one more flush, scoopy out any remaining water and drain it dry, and use a similar set up as the emergency toilet above. It will give everyone a little comfort of something familiar, even if the procedure is somewhat unfamiliar. You’ll want to be sure to plug up the hole to make sure no sewer gas smells seep out over time (just as if you were replacing the toilet and had to plug up the sewer hole). This is a great solution when you know this hack will only be needed for a short time.

      For our family, though, this wasn’t going to be the best option for more than a few days. For one, it is hot more often than not. Our house is also not set up with a great ventilation system of cross breezes, etc., so the inside of the house can stay hot for a long time. Having a bucket of poo sitting in the house all the time isn’t the best option for us. So we’ve scoped out a place in our garage where we can make a potty station. If worse comes to worse, we also have a great nook on the outside of the house where we can set up a similar station if needed, including a bolt in the fence to stick the toilet paper on when we’re out there. That’s why we love this plan.

      Storage

      You can keep a small bag of scoopable litter, the trash bags, scoop, toilet paper and some cleaning wipes stored inside of your bucket with the seat nearby in the event of an emergency.

      Things to consider

      Someone taught me was using 2 buckets. One with the liner for your solid waste and one without the liner for your liquid waste. The liquid waste can be used in the yard or garden safely (as long as you don’t have someone who is carrying a major disease). Then you only really have to deal with the solid waste in your first bucket.

      Consider a 2nd set up for your sick-room preps. You don’t necessarily want to be using the same ‘potty’ as someone who has a gastrointestinal issue. You need to cordone off an area as a sick room and make sure cleaning procedures are followed closely, including NOT disposing of the waste anywhere near your water source or where you are growing food.

      You may want to find a way to stabilize your camp toilet. Besides using the pre-made versions that give you a little stability, you can use a milk crate + legs to give yourself less chance of tipping over.

      The Pool Noodle Emergency Toilet

      You’ve no doubt seen the Pinterest and Facebook phenomenon of the Pool Noodle Emergency Toilet. We made one up in about 3 minutes to show you how easy it is to set up.

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      My son actually thought it was pretty comfy. But, it wouldn’t take long for that comfie to wear off as the noddle will eventually split from use, from weather, etc. Also, the minute you get that noodle dirty, it is forever contaminated. With all of the holes in the make up of the foam, you could never be certain you’ve completely sterilized OR sanitized it when cleaning. There is no lid so the waste is open all the time.

      Ready Made Emergency Toilets

      Campers everywhere have already come up with some awesome ideas for ready-made toilets that will be easy to store and use. There are also bags specially made for this set up  if you want to stock them specifically. But you can also think of things like bedside toilets that you would use for folks in a hospital that are on metal frames. They may not store as easy, and might need to be maintained a little differently by pouring the contents into a bucket set up each time, but would be easier for folks who need a little extra help up and down. You might also want to consider, if you’re having to use this for more than a few days in an open area,an enclosure to give yourself a little privacy.

      Now don’t completely freak out over this stinky situation  This is one of those situations where it is easy to prepare yourself for a short term problem that probably won’t last more than a week or two. If, in the event of a major issue, you’ll want to look at some more permanent solutions like an outhouse. But for now, be ready for the most likely scenario!

      11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

      Plague, nuclear holocaust, and alien invasions! Whatever end-of-the-world / post-apocalyptic theme you can think of is on TV right now. But in the fray of TV shows for preppers, a lot of good shows have come and gone. If you feel like all of the best shows are canceled prematurely, no one shares your pain like we do. In this list, we want to focus on 11 survival TV shows (past and present) that we think are worth checking out.

      survival-tv-shows-worth-watching

      Plague, nuclear holocaust, and alien invasions! Whatever end-of-the-world / post-apocalyptic theme you can think of is on TV right now. But in the fray of TV shows for preppers, a lot of good shows have come and gone. If you feel like all of the best shows are canceled prematurely, no one shares your pain like we do. In this list, we want to focus on 11 survival TV shows (past and present) that we think are worth checking out.

      1. Jericho (2006)

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      This apocalyptic drama which aired back in 2006, was based on the story of a group of people in a little town in Kansas calledJericho as they struggle to survive the affects of nuclear fallout in several major cities around the U.S. The interesting twist to this show is that there is an underlying tone suggesting the government might have actually been complicit in the explosions. The town’s citizens come together to try to restore resources such as power and water and war with neighboring towns over debatable local resources. The writers did a great job with the story line and keep you hooked with the strength and vulnerability of each character. They also manage to sprinkle in some humor for good measure – not to mention the amazing soundtrack.

      Jericho was suddenly canceled after the first season and was met with a barrage of complaints to CBS from the shows loyal fans. After launching a grassroots internet mega-campaign to revive the show CBS agreed to bring it back for one more season and at least wrap up some of the unanswered questions.

      2. Falling Skies (2011)

      In a world where civilization has been incapacitated by alien attack, we follow the story of a group of rag-tag survivors in the Boston area. In this post-apocalyptic world, there are no more electronics, military’s or major cities left, leaving only a handful of the world’s previous population to fight off the ongoing invasion. The odds are steep and survival is difficult when every day is is spent protecting and caring for the people, while also waging an insurgency campaign against an occupying alien force.

      3. Survivors (2009)

      Survivors is a British post-apocalyptic fiction drama that follows a similar premise as a lot of the other survival shows; the pandemic wipes out most of the population, society breaks down, people try to figure it all out. But what I really liked about this one is that they kind of make hero’s out of normal, everyday people who didn’t really even know they had it in them until it really came down to it. They were just normal people until things got crazy and forced them to rise to the occasion, which is what I think we’re going to see a lot of in the E.O.T.W.

      4. The Colony (2009)

      The Colony is a reality show on the Discovery Channel that originally aired in 2010. The show is basically a controlled experiment where a group individuals are placed in an isolated urban setting, where a hypothetical global catastrophe has occurred and the group has to try to rebuild with whatever they can find. They have basically an entire city to themselves and they can take over any property or resources they wish, but there are hired actors who act as thugs and looters to threaten and terrorize the members of the group to test their boundaries.

      5. Out of the Wild: The Alaska Experiment

      This is another Discovery Channel reality show where they pluck a group of city dwelling, urban professionals right out of their comfort zone and drop them by helicopter into the Alaskan outback smack-dab in the middle of winter. There are given limited supplies, a carry pack and a map to help them find their way to shelters along their route. If, at any time they sissy out and want to go home, all the have to do is hit their emergency GPS signal and a rescue helicopter will come get them out of there. I have to admit this show has taught me some really uniquesurvival skills that you might not see anywhere else like how to hunt for and prepare some rather unusual game like squirrels and porcupines. The show has just premiered for a third season which will take place in Venezeula. It should be interesting to see how the cast members fare in their new environment this time around.

      6. Extreme Survival

      While it only lasted 3 seasons, Extreme Survival with Ray Mears was an excellent wilderness survival show. Ray traveled to a diverse set countries all around the world, immersing himself in the culture and native survival techniques. Ray travels through the US, Canada, Italy, Brazil, India, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Australia and New Zealand. In addition to focusing on the native techniques, Ray also shares inspiring and sometimes horrifying survival stories that occurred in each area. There are dozens of shows and movies that Ray took part in, but this one should not be missed.

      7. Man vs Wild

      What makes Bear Grylls show so unique is the fact that he is willing to demonstrate some of the more strenuous or difficult survival techniques that most others would shy away from. He isn’t afraid to get down to the more nitty gritty aspects of survival that most of us would rather not have to think about like drinking your own urine to prevent dehydration or crossing a freezing cold river in the middle of winter. While it may seem a little over the top at times, I can’t help but think that there might be some point in our lives when we have to make a choice to do something disgusting or even painful in order to stay alive. You can’t help but respect the man for that.

      8. Les Stroud “Survivor Man”

      Les Stroud brings a humble quality to the realm of survival TV shows in Survivorman. Without any support staff or even a camera crew, he shows what it really takes to survive in the wilderness by yourself and with less than ideal supplies. From desert and swamp to the arctic mountains, Les has to survive for seven days, all on his own. But the difficult terrain doesn’t bring spirits down, Les keeps a positive and comedic attitude throughout each situation, making it feel more like a camping trip than a survival experience. You’ll come away from every episode with ancient survival techniques passed down from the natives of each area.

      9. Surviving Disaster (2009)

      What will you do when disaster strikes? Spike TV’s new original series Surviving Disaster, led by Navy SEAL Cade Courtley, vividly takes viewers through catastrophic scenarios and arms them with the knowledge needed to survive the unthinkable. Courtley tackles worst-case scenarios and equips viewers with the practical information needed to save their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. Whether the threat is natural or man-made or on a national or personal level, Courtley speaks directly to the viewers and guides them through a comprehensive, step-by-step process to not only survive the big picture disaster, but endure the many dangerous obstacles that may occur within each catastrophic event. While leading viewers out of danger, Courtley not only provides helpful tips and hands-on instruction, but swiftly points out common misconceptions and fatal mistakes. Unlike any other series, Surviving Disaster may actually save lives by providing actions that anyone can perform.

      10. Jeremiah (2002)

      This show is set in a post-apocalyptic future where all of the adult population was wiped out by a pandemic, leaving only kids to rule the world. We follow the main character “Jeremiah” played by Luke Perry as he tries to find out the real goal behind the pandemic and who is at fault. He partners up with a couple more hard core survivalists as they commandeer resources, discover hidden government bunkers and try to rebuild a broken nation.

      The series ran from 2002 to 2004 on Showtime, but production stopped in 2003 when creative differences among the production companies couldn’t be resolved. The show wrapped up it’s second and final season in 2004 after a long hiatus off the air and resolved most of the plot threads from the first season.

      11. Dual Survival (2010)

      Wilderness survival takes on a new twist in Dual Survival when naturalist Cody Lundin and military-trained Dave Canterbury tackle tough terrain as a team. Each expert has experience in different types of survival situations, which exposes that classic question; how would a survival expert who’s never attempted this fair? It’s almost like seeing how you might respond in that extreme situation, which brings humanity to the show. You will also get to see how polar opposites might approach the same problem and be able to overcome it in completely different, yet successful, ways.

      There are other TV shows like Naked and Afraid, Survivors, The Walking Dead, Storm Chasers, Combat Zone, and many, many more.  These are also all worth watching!

      5 Easy Tips On How To Make A PVC Blow Gun

      Real quick before we get started, if you don’t know how to make a PVC blow gun (or even if you do), you need to watch this video first.

      Not only is this a Do-It-Yourself project, but it’s also an incredibly cheap, effective, sturdy, and FUN gun to shoot (and, best part is you can practice shooting darts at home before you get yourself into a real survival situation).

      Real quick before we get started, if you don’t know how to make a PVC blow gun (or even if you do), you need to watch this video first.

      Not only is this a Do-It-Yourself project, but it’s also an incredibly cheap, effective, sturdy, and FUN gun to shoot (and, best part is you can practice shooting darts at home before you get yourself into a real survival situation).

      Now you might be wondering, “Well that’s great and all, but how is that really going to help me in a survival situation?” Little do you know blowguns have been used to hunt game for thousands of years. In fact, it’s one of the most primitive weapons the world has used.

      You might not be able to take down a bear with one of these bad boys, mind you, but you can certainly go after small game with your own homemade blowgun and darts.

      Aside from hunting game, these PVC blow guns are great for protecting your home and your garden as well. The darts are astonishingly quiet, leaving you the ability to sneak up to your window (or the perpetrator) unannounced and get their attention real quick. If you’re in a dangerous situation, this could help give you the advantage and allow you to take matters into your own hands.

      I like to make things simple for you. And while written instructions for making a blowgun are useful a video with instructions is even easier to follow.

      Check out how to make a pvc blowgun.

      1.) Take Your Time:

      The PVC blow gun fires its darts silently, so your game won’t know what’s coming until it’s too late. Plus, you can quickly fire one dart after another, so take your time and make sure to aim correctly.

      2.) Get An Upgrade:

      Once you’ve mastered the basics with a PVC pipe, you can move on to a steel or aluminum pipe instead. These materials are tougher than PVC, and are sturdy enough to not bend quite as easily when you’re handling it.

      3.) Utilize Your Spare Time For Target Practice:

      Now that you’ve made your very own weapon, you’re going to want to be sure how to use it and use it well (luckily these guys are fun to use, so you’ll want to practice). Grab an old dart board to do some target practice on your off-time; it’ll prepare you well for the long-term.

      4.) Change Up Your Darts:

      Nail darts are effective, but they’re not the only solution. Bamboo skewers (like for kabobs) can be used, as well as black locust wood, which is traditionally used in the southeast due to its weight and strength.

      5.) Keep It SAFE:

      Blow guns are fun, but they’re NOT toys. They should be treated with respect, just like any other weapon. When misfired, projectiles shot at close range can cause bleeding and infection – not to mention loss of private/public property if you hit a window (or the neighbor’s cat) by mistake. Use caution and common sense when operating this blow gun.

      Now we recognize that sometimes, well, life happens. And when life happens, either the arrow doesn’t quite hit the target, the target moved, or someone was just being outright dumb.

      When you think about it, and all the randomness and curveballs life throws at you, you really can’t afford tonot have one of these first-aid kits around.

      DIY Solar Outdoor Shower

      In some places, water heaters are outdoor bathrooms are considered more as luxury than a necessity. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying a warm shower!

      Do you like the idea of outdoor showering? Then you will love this DIY shower.

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      In some places, water heaters are outdoor bathrooms are considered more as luxury than a necessity. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying a warm shower!

      This outdoor shower runs completely on solar energy, providing free hot water and lighting during the night. Reflective insulation and clear roofing are used to collect and store the heat from the sun. To improve hot water reserve, you can add a dual pane thermal glass cover.

      This clever project definitely says that warm showers do not necessarily have to mean higher electricity bill! Could you use one in your yard?

      Materials:

      • Cedar Wood Panels/Boards
      • Cement Foundation Blocks
      • Plywood
      • Water Tank
      • Fiberglass Batting
      • Bricks
      • Shower Fixtures
      • Solar Lighting
      • Reflective Insulation
      • UV Resistant Poly-type Clear Roofing
      • Deck Screws
      • Door Hinges
      • Hooks
      • Water Piping
      • Steel Support for solar box

      Tools:

      • Table Saw
      • Hand Saw
      • Drill
      • Trowel
      • Shovel
      • Hammer

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      Best Bug Out Location

      As the name implies this article is geared for finding the best bug out location. Should the need arise out of nowhere having an area in the back of your mind can really be a substantial benefit to getting out of the trouble quickly. Even if you do not have a location planned I will break down things that will be great indicators you have found a great bug out location.

      bug-out-location

      As the name implies this article is geared for finding the best bug out location. Should the need arise out of nowhere having an area in the back of your mind can really be a substantial benefit to getting out of the trouble quickly. Even if you do not have a location planned I will break down things that will be great indicators you have found a great bug out location.

      Bug Out Shelter Plans

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      One of the most paramount needs is shelter. This will give you a place to rest and if built, or found if lucky enough to find a suitable shelter, a place to hide from whoever you do not want to come around your camp. If it comes to building a bug out shelter, especially a long life one, wood is going to be key. Most places across the United States have some degree of tree growth but obviously more would be better for concealment and availability of materials to build and fortify your shelter. A consideration to have is if there is a lack of trees bringing a canvas or tarp to make some type of shelter. Mainly in terms of your shelter getting something to keep elements whether it is sunshine or snow off of you is priority. Lean-to’s are simple and very functional quick shelter to build where wood is plentiful. If you are looking at this location as a long term survival area you can take more time in making the shelter more comfortable and stable and camouflaged.

      If you have the foresight and the means to do so making a shelter beforehand and maintaining it will give you a great jump when troubles begin. This is the ideal situation because you can make it a far more functional shelter and up your chance of survival. A well built shelter can be upgraded in a variety of ways to take your from surviving to thriving. The first and major one is a source of electricity. A gasoline generator the newer developed inverter generator which offers the same benefits as a traditional generator but being more portable and much quieter. Solar panels are an even more long term feasible option. Set up correctly and with proper care offer great long lasting renewable energy without the need for fossil fuels and noise levels. Depending on your region will determine the effectiveness of solar panels. If the sun doesn’t cooperate in your region perhaps wind turbine are more practical for your region. With the advances in wind energy they now offer simple do it yourself kits to set up and provide electricity from the wind for reasonable costs.

      Bug Out Water Source

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      Once you have an area that is suitable and advantageous for a durable shelter the next priority in the best bug out location is a bug out water source. Water is very important in a bug out and survival situation because as everyone knows you can’t go for very long without dehydration. The best bug out location would have some type of dependable water source nearby or easily accessible. Most water sources are not safe to drink from directly and will require some type of purification to make it drinkable. There are bug out bag take along options, previously described in the survival water purification article, such as purification tablets and boiling the water. These are great options especially if it is a temporary hold-up as any chemicals you bring to treat the water will eventually run out. Boiling is a great option and has been used throughout history. Typical water sources would be rivers, lakes, ponds, springs. All of these would be a great indication of a solid long term area to set up a bug out location.

      There are also some great options for water filtration that you could procure if you have the location and shelter planned beforehand. They make some simple systems that do not use any electricity but still filter very efficiently. These systems depending on their size can treat thousands of gallons of water and is a great option for long term survival in one location.

      Bug Out Food Supply

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      Finally after you have found your location and it is suitable for shelter and water the last primary consideration you need to look for is your bug out food supply. Most locations that suit the other two needs will lead to the possibility of food options for you as well. All sorts of vegetation is edible and getting an understanding of the plants in your area will give you an advantage if you ever need to delve into nature’s supermarket. Most edible plants do not need cooked and can be a good advantage if you are in a hurry and can allow you to eat as you forage. Some wild game will probably also be available to you in most locations. This could give you another great option for food if you learn how to hunt each type of game effectively. Insects can also be a good source of nutrition due to the amount of protein per ounce they possess. As mentioned before if the other two categories fit there is a better chance of finding food as well in the same area. Ensure you know what is edible and what is not especially in the plant kingdom.

      Again if you have the means and foresight to stock up and prepare for a bug out situation  having seeds that you can plant if it is the right climate or season for it can be a great way to have a long term food source option. Another option is emergency food supplies. These MRE’s tend to have great shelf lives and are geared to giving you the nutrition you need while keeping the size of the stockpile to a minimum.

      How to Make Waterproof Matches

      If you carry matches as your primary means of starting a fire, I highly advise rethinking that strategy. While some outdoorsmen seem to think it’s more “outdoorsy” to carry matches, in a survival situation, do you want to look like Bear Grylls, or do you want to stay alive?

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      If you carry matches as your primary means of starting a fire, I highly advise rethinking that strategy. While some outdoorsmen seem to think it’s more “outdoorsy” to carry matches, in a survival situation, do you want to look like Bear Grylls, or do you want to stay alive?

      While my number on choice of fire starting tools is usually a lighter – again I’m concerned with staying alive not looking cool – I do think carrying backups to that lighter is extremely important. If matches are one of those backups, they need to be waterproof.

      You can purchase commercial waterproof matches, or you can save some money and make your own.

      Making waterproof matches

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      Method 1: Candle Wax or paraffin wax

      An ordinary box of strike anywhere matches can be turned into a box of waterproof survival matches with an ordinary household candle.

      • Melt some candle wax or paraffin wax in a pot. If the candle is already inside a glass jar, the safest method would be to leave the candle in the jar and let the wick slowly melt the wax.
      • Dip the match heads into the liquid wax and coat the entire match head.
      • Let the wax harden over the match head.
      • When needed, the wax can be picked off the head before striking the match

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      Method 2: Fingernail Polish

      With a small bottle of fast drying nail polish you can easily coat your match heads, making them completely waterproof.

      • Paint the match head with the nail polish, coating it a little past the head on to the wood stick.
      • Let the matchstick dry completely.
      • Matches coated with the nail polish don’t need any kind of prep to light them. They should be ready to strike without having to pick off the polish.

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      Method 3: Turpentine

      Turpentine is another easy way to make your matches resistant to water damage.

      • Pour 2 to 3 large tablespoons of Turpentine into a small glass jar.
      • Place the matches head down into the jar and let sit for 5- 10 minutes.
      • Remove the matches and let them dry for 20 minutes.

      Three Things Survivalists Can Learn From The Walking Dead

      After binge watching AMC’s The Walking Dead I’ve come to the conclusion that although it is fiction this post-apocalyptic drama has a few things to teach us preppers and survivalists. I will say this now, there will be spoilers in this article so be forewarned.

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      After binge watching AMC’s The Walking Dead I’ve come to the conclusion that although it is fiction this post-apocalyptic drama has a few things to teach us preppers and survivalists. I will say this now, there will be spoilers in this article so be forewarned.

      ****SPOILER ALERT****

      Lessons You can Learn from The Walking Dead

      The first and most important lesson I’ve found is that mobility is absolutely key in any SHTF situation. This is a fact that Rick Grimes and his rag tag band of zombie slayers have found time and time again. No matter how safe, secure and sustainable the environment there will always be the possibility of either someone trying to take it from you or nature or another force will drive you away. This is where having a bug out plan in your back pocket comes into play.

      Both at the farm and the prison the survivors were forced to flee quickly. In the case of the farm they did have a rally point to meet up, but with the prison the survivors found themselves split up and struggling to reunite.

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      You need a bug out plan complete with rally points and caches.

      Have a bug out plan complete with rally points and caches. This was something lacking in The Walking Dead. When the group fled the farm they rallied back at the traffic jam; but when leaving the prison everyone split up and in both cases there were no caches of weapons, food or supplies that they could resupply at. Notice too how no one has a Bug Out Bag. Rick and his group failed to plan for having to EVAC in a hurry especially having to do so on foot. Of course a mad scramble chaotic exit makes for better TV but does also serve as a warning to us survivalists that we need to maintain our readiness to EVAC at the drop of a hat.

      Make sure that the plan is practiced and that everyone knows the locations of the rally points and caches without requiring use of a map or compass. This is important if only a few people know where the caches are or where to rally then what happens when they are separated or killed? The entire group should know every detail of the plan and all the locations. Practice is key because as the military says ‘sweat in training so you don’t bleed in combat’. Rick knew the Governor would come for him so the occupants of the prison should have rehearsed bugging out until it became second nature. Instead, only a few survived and it was due to a total lack of preparation. Again, a good bug out doesn’t make for great TV so I’ll forgive the producers on this one.

      Have an alternate location to bug out to. I’m a strong believer in not bugging out unless you have somewhere to go. Just heading off into the woods is simply not adequate, unless Murphy’s Law is kicking your ass all the way out the door, then it’s time to pick a direction and leg it. Even if an alternate permanent location cannot be found having somewhere to go to re-group, re-supply, and base out of temporarily is the next best thing.

      Be prepared to be able to survive “on the road” for an extended period of time if need be. Scavenging sucks and trying to find the necessities of life after most houses have been scavenged already is not very practical. This is where good Bug Out Bags come into play. Having all the necessary kit to survive on foot for long periods will make life on the road a lot easier. Having the ability to procure food through several different means would be vital to long term mobile survival. The difference between being on the road with and without a Bug Out Bag, or a I’m Never Coming Home Bag, is night and day.

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      Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

      Second, the saying goes ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’. We have seen Rick’s group face off against hoards of the undead and fellow survivors; they have faced many situations that us watching at home find shocking, and some of their actions morally questionable.

      Survival is not a game; there is no second place, and even the best of us will have to adjust our moral compass to ensure our and our family’s survival. When Shane shot Otis in the leg leaving him for dead he did it to ensure he could get back to the farm with the medical supplies to save Carl’s life. This could be considered a barbaric and downright evil act, leaving an innocent man to be eaten by the undead. Yet if faced with the same scenario can we all say we’d take the moral high ground or would we do what is needed to save a child’s life?

      When we met the ‘Governor’ we saw an example of how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When stripped of all the conveniences of modern civilization people will naturally seek out a leader, even if that leader is sociopathic. A look through history shows the human race has a very poor track record when it comes to choosing those we follow. When society collapses we cannot expect that suddenly we will begin to follow the ‘good guys’ for it will be those who revert to their instinctual and primitive survival mode that the average person will look up to as someone that can ensure their survival. Most people will forgive a multitude of sins in order to maintain their own safety and security. Witnessing brutality at the hands of your leader should cause people to want to leave, but if that person is keeping you safe and secure then looking the other way is nearly an act of self-preservation.

      The people of Terminus turned to luring unwitting survivors and then cannibalizing them. This is not a far-fetched scenario. Throughout our history cannibalism has been practiced and resorted to in times where a person’s very survival is at stake. Some societies regularly practiced it and it is said that modern humans are only a few weeks away from resorting to eating each other when all other food is scarce. In a true end of life as we know it situation we should expect to see people begin to cannibalize just to survive.

      Hunger, thirst, desperation, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and numbness to the suffering around us will cause a higher level of barbarism. We will all revert to a more primitive survival minded human who will act far more aggressively and with less restraint. In a kill or be killed world hesitation means death, therefore those who hesitate and to an extent those who show too much mercy and compassion end up being the ones at the losing end of the fight. We see this when Rick was in the bar attempting to locate Hershel, he encountered two men who stumbled upon them while scavenging. Rick was the one who shot first killing both the men when it became clear they wanted to have the farm. His willingness to act first meant he got to live.

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      In Survival, There is No Such Thing as a Lone Wolf.

      Last, there is no such thing as a lone wolf. Humans thrive when we are together and we have always been social beings. We need each other not only to watch each others back, but to divide duties in the collection of resources. We have never throughout history been able to go it alone. We have always formed communities that mutually help with the gathering and division of resources. Even Michonne, who was on the road alone for quite some time, joined Rick’s group because there is strength in numbers.

      The Walking Dead depicts a number of scenarios that shows us there are consequences to our need to be together, and that we are going to have slim pickings of who joins our group. We will all have to live and work together with people we may not like, or even hate, but in order to survive interpersonal skills and a solid leadership will be essential.

      Knowing how to simply bite ones tongue and just get along will be an invaluable asset. Avoidance of conflict within the group and quick and fair resolution of any conflicts that arise will make survival just that much easier.

      In the modern world we can disengage from those we may have issues with, but when the modern world no longer exists we will all be forced to accept people who may have personality traits that cause conflict. We may have to accept these people because the skill set they bring increases the survivability of the rest of the group. The Walking Dead has shown us several people who caused issues or who’s morals clashed with those of the rest of the group. This is where having a strong leader that commands respect comes into play. Only a good strong person who has the skill and patience to resolve all the inevitable conflicts can truly hold a group together. We see this in the first two seasons where Rick has to deal with Shane’s clashing survival philosophy and conflicting personality on a regular basis.

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      Leadership will be a defining factor in survival. We’ve seen Rick Grimes evolve as a leader and we’ve seen a poor example of leadership in the Governor. Dedication to his family and those in his group makes Rick a good leader but he pays the price of sacrificing his own sense of right and wrong in order to maintain the group’s survivability. He is respected by his followers and they follow him and his orders willingly. The level of trust placed by the group in Rick is a great example of how a group should be and how they should be led.

      What to eat in the wild

      Today I want to talk about a subject that always creates a lot of buzz and has generated quite a few emails; what to eat in the wild. As I have said in previous posts about the 5 principles of survival, food is way down on the list as even the skinniest of people can survive for a few weeks without food. Despite that, I want to touch on this subject and answer the questions I have received from readers. The only real way of knowing what to eat in the wild is to do a taste test.

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      Today I want to talk about a subject that always creates a lot of buzz and has generated quite a few emails; what to eat in the wild. As I have said in previous posts about the 5 principles of survival, food is way down on the list as even the skinniest of people can survive for a few weeks without food. Despite that, I want to touch on this subject and answer the questions I have received from readers. The only real way of knowing what to eat in the wild is to do a taste test.

      The taste test for unknown foods

      The process is actually very simple, but time consuming, and there are a few things I want to stress before I go on

      1. This system DOES NOT work with mushrooms and fungi, unless you are an expert then leave them well alone. Mushrooms and fungi will kill you in some pretty horrific and painful ways if you get it wrong. How can I tell a poisonous mushroom? Truthfully, it is just too hard to tell and is simply not worth the risk vs nutritional benefit received.

      2. There are exceptions to every rule; what I am teaching is a rule of thumb but it is not fool-proof.

      3. It is better to understand what plants and animals are in your area before you need them in an emergency. That should hopefully allow you to live off the land. The process that follows is to be used in extremis only (see point 2.)

      4. Tasting something that you are unsure of can result in death, so never eat something that you cannot positively identify as edible or if you are in a true life or death situation. If you are truly starving then use the following taste test.

      What exactly is the process then?

      • Take a very small piece of the food and rub it on your skin – Wait 24 hours
      • Take a very small piece and rub it on a small part of your lip – Wait 24 hours
      • Take a very small piece and rub it on your tongue – Wait 24 hours
      • Take a very small piece, chew it and spit it out – Wait 24 hours
      • Take a very small piece and eat it – Wait 24 hours
      • Take a larger piece and eat it – wait 24 hours
      • Gradually increase the size waiting 24 hours each time until you are content its not having an adverse effect on you.

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      You are probably thinking, ‘I will have starved by the time I get to eat anything’ and you are not far wrong. Unfortunately the wait is the most important part of the test, you are waiting to see if you suffer ANY abnormal reaction. If you do, then under NO circumstances eat what you are testing. That is why education and practice are your best bet; positively identifying something as edible will mean you don’t have to do any tests.

      But all is not lost there is a way to speed the process up slightly; however, see rule 3.

      What to eat in the wild if you really have to.

      Plants – If it is hairy, has a milky sap, strong smell or has brightly coloured berries then avoid.

      Animals – Mammals and reptiles are generally a safe bet as are most fish. Avoid the livers of uncommon animals such as seals or Polar Bears which have toxic levels of Vitamin A
      Insects – Okay, I know what you are thinking and trust me I feel the same… However, some of the most nutritious and easily accessible foods available are insects. Avoid if they are hairy, have spines, brightly coloured or are known to be venomous. It is also good practice to avoid insects that you would associate with your house as they will likely be diseased i.e. Cockroaches. And, honestly they don’t taste that bad, I have tried quite a few over the years.

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      Funny story – When doing the Desert Survival Instructor course in the Nevada Desert we were being given a lesson on finding food. Our instructor (Chalky, you bastard!) told us that a delicacy in the founding years of the USA was
      an insect called the perfume beetle. It is a small black beetle,
      than when threatened, would do a little handstand and secrete a fluid from its butt.

      So there we were as trainee Desert Survival Instructors all looking to impress and do well. When Chalky challenged us to eat the sweet tasting ‘Perfume Beetle’ we all jumped at the chance! So half a dozen of us at the same time took one of these live beetles, put it in our mouths and started chewing as quickly as we could to get it over and done with.

      To say that the ‘Perfume Beetle’ tasted foul was an understatement, it is without doubt the most horrible thing I have ever had in my mouth. The moral of the story, never trust a survival instructor when he tells you insects taste nice; especially when its real name is the Stink Bug because of how bad they smell…. And taste!

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      Fungi – Just to be clear, I am talking about all fungi, mushrooms and toadstools. They are very difficult to identify and can kill you very quickly. Simply put, do NOT eat them unless you are an expert!

      All of the above food sources will still need to have the taste test completed if you are not 100% sure you have identified them as edible.

      Time doing homework is never wasted

      There you have it folks , should you find yourself in a dire situation and you cannot identify local foods then you may be able to work around the problem. The method described is not foolproof but it will help you should you be starving and in danger of eating anything you come across out of desperation.

      Your best chance of eating the right thing is to get out into the wild with a couple of pocket books and identify your local plants and animals before disaster strikes. Better still, find out who the local foraging guru is and see what classes they run; it could just save your life.

      I hope you enjoyed this article and it has generated some food for thought (pun 100% intended) and encourages you to get out and see what exists in your local area. Please dont disappear straight away, have a look at my other articles especially this one about eating food in a survival situation. Of interest will be this post on harnessing your survival instinct.