Survival Cache

A survival cache is a container of some sort which contains essential survival supplies that you would hide in a secret location.  What you store in them is entirely up to you but most people will store extra ammunition and guns, food, first aid kits, tarps, tools, and anything else they think will be of use during an emergency or shtf scenario.  It should basically contain the same type of items that you would place in your main bug out bag.  Some people who have a bug out location selected have gone out and hid several survival caches along a secret and random path.  They stock these caches with essential supplies that will help them along the way to get to their destination.

It’s extremely important to have survival caches in place and why you should have one should be pretty obvious by now. Lets say a disaster of some sort has occurred and you are unable to get home where your main bug out bag is located.  Instead, it might make more sense to go to your secret location and retrieve your cache of supplies.  Another example could be that society has completely broken down and a group of vigilantes break into your home and demand you hand over your remaining emergency supplies.  Instead of confronting them it would probably be easier and safer to just hand over what they want and chances are they will leave you alone.

By having a survival cache in place you are guaranteeing yourself that you will have a backup of essential supplies in the event that you use up your main stockpile, it has been stolen or in case you are not able to get to it safely.  By having the mentality that a well stocked bug out bag is all you’ll need, please think about this again and consider your family’s well being in the event that a disaster does strike. Perhaps you will be spared and a disaster will never directly affect you in your lifetime, but simply coming to the conclusion that you have enough stuff prepared could prove to be a costly or even fatal mistake.  When it comes to preparedness, you’re never finished.

How Old Should A Child Be To Start Prepping?

How old should a child be before they start prepping?  I’m asked this question occasionally and I don’t have a specific age per se but I do have some thoughts on the matter.

Generally I think parents should teach their children to be self sufficient and independent from a very early age.  These are just plain old good life
skills that everyone needs to get by.  It’s a plus that preppers are better off when they naturally possess these traits as well.

I’m also of the opinion that learning more specific prepping skills is important as well when it comes to things like camping, fishing, gardening, et cetera…  There are skills and knowledge involved with all of these things that can literally take a lifetime to learn.  Those that start early certainly have a leg up on those who wait until later in life to pick up these hobbies.  Much of what is involved in becoming a good camper, fisherman, or gardener is trial and error.  Learning from your mistakes at an early age is much easier than as an adult in a possible do-or-die situation.

There are other skills like cooking, carpentry and other trades that become more appropriate as a child gets a little older.  I’m all for early learning but we don’t need the house burned down or any missing fingers from saws or hammers…

Which brings us to the question of firearms.  When I was a kid the rule in my house was I was allowed to handle firearms with adult supervision once I was 10.  I had to take a safety class first of course.  When I turned 12  I got my very own BB gun that I was allowed to roam the woods behind our house with plinking cans and chasing squirrels.  In my family today I follow a similar standard.  I know many will say that they are in favor of teaching kids to use firearms at a much younger age and to that I say, to each his own as long as you’re safe.

While I just gave a lengthy answer to the question of How old a child should be before they start prepping, I didn’t address the point I really want to harp on here.  And it’s my blog so I’ll harp all I want.  That point is, while I just explained when I would start teaching a child the skills needed to be a good prepper I never talked about alerting the child to the realities of Why we need to prep.

Beginning prepping for a child isn’t that much different than joining the Boy Scouts or 4H.  What’s the Boy Scout’s motto?  Always Be Prepared.  Yes, that’s what I’m talking about.  However, sitting a child down and talking about what happens when the SHTF or TEOTWAWKI is a different thing altogether.  In my opinion there’s absolutely no reason to scare a child by filling their head with scary possibilities for the future.  Every week there are parents cramming five year olds into hazmat suits while the kids barely hold back tears.  Pathetic.

So, while I believe prepping should be almost automatic and start from a very early age I also believe the reasons behind it can be held back until a person is old enough to handle the realities.

Some Unusual Items to Have in Your First Aid Kit

The first thing to know about first aid kits is don’t buy one at the local department store or pharmacy. Those first aid kits are mostly for minor injuries: band-aids, ointments, and not much else. If you want a real SHTF first aid kit, buy one from a specialty company that sells prepping and survival supplies, or build one yourself.  I’d like to focus on items that are not commonly found in most first aid kits, and which might be useful if the S really hits the F.

1. Celox Gauze (Z-Fold)

This gauze is used by the U.S. military for treating severe wounds. The gauze is folded like an accordion, so it can be divided into a few thick sections, to pack a large open wound. Or you can cut off smaller segments for smaller/shallower wounds. The gauze is impregnated with kaolin (a type of clay) to aid in clotting. The gauze also has an x-ray detectible strip so that doctors at the ER will not overlook a section of this gauze in a deep wound.

If your wound only needs a band-aid, that’s nice for you. But if you have a serious injury and can’t get to medical care right away, this is the stuff you want. It’s vacuum packed, for compact storage. And unlike most gauze you might buy, it’s sterile.

2. HALO Chest Seal

This device seals a chest wound in cases of severe trauma. The dressing sticks despite blood or water around the wound, and works in a wide range of temperatures. It provides a completely water-proof seal, preventing contamination of the wound by dirt or bacteria.

Another option in this category of wound care is the SAM Vented Chest Seal. It seals the wound like the HALO, but it also has a one-way valve. Remove the cap and air can exit the wound, but it cannot enter. This type of device is used for chest wounds which have penetrated the lungs. Again, it takes some first aid training to know when to use it.

3. CPR Mask

Speaking of one-way valves, if you ever have to perform CPR someone, a “pocket resuscitator” is invaluable. It allows you to give breaths to the patient who is no longer breathing with some protection from bacterial/viral contamination. The valve allows your breath into the patient, but prevents flow in the reverse direction.

More importantly, if you have to do CPR with chest compressions on someone, and they have eaten recently, they may vomit. I’ve been told by more than one EMT that vomiting is not at all unusual when giving CPR. You will be happy you chose to use the one-way valve mask, if that happens. Inexpensive and worth every penny.

4. Suture Kit

This is one of those first aid kit items that preppers and survivalists favor, despite the fact that these kits are only intended for use by medical professionals. So, I can’t tell you to go out and buy a suture kit, and then learn how to use it. Non-medical personnel shouldn’t be suturing wounds. But in extraordinary circumstances, sometimes extraordinary measures are called for.

No wound should be sutured, unless it has first been debrided (remove dirt and debris) and washed with copious amounts of clean (preferably sterile) water. You don’t want to seal bacteria and debris inside a wound. And if you really don’t know how to use a suture kit, you really shouldn’t guess. Bandaging the wound without closing it is better than harming someone by playing doctor. Learn what to do, before the SHTF.

5. Butterfly Bandages

The best example of which is the 3M Steri-Strip “reinforced skin closures”. This type of bandage is for closing a wound, without sutures. It is not for covering the wound. They look like thin plastic strips. Sometimes the middle part is even thinner than both ends, giving rise to the term “butterfly” bandage. In some cases, butterfly bandages can be used instead of sutures if the wound is not particularly deep or wide. After closing the wound, you can place gauze and then medical tape over it all, to protect the wound further.

6. An N95 mask

Surgical masks are soft with a loop to go around each ear. They protect the patient from germs on your breath. They do little or nothing to protect you from a patient who might have an infectious airborne disease. The N95 surgical mask is a hard cup that fits over the nose and mouth. It protect you from the patient and the patient from you. In other words, it intercepts viruses and bacteria going in either direction. They are less comfortable and more difficult to wear for long periods. But the protection is invaluable.

Finally and I can’t stress this enough take an advanced first aid course, so that you have the knowledge needed to use whatever first aid supplies you have on-hand. Knowledge is the number one resource that you can store up so as to be well-prepared.

House Plants That Heal

As the seasons change, we spend significantly less time outdoors, which means we are significantly more likely to experience poor air quality. Although we may not realize it as we go about our daily lives, indoor toxins can have a drastic impact on our health, potentially leading to Asthma, allergies, inflammation, and even cancer. Thankfully, there are natural ways to bring the benefits of the outdoors inside, in a cost effective way. Try these fantastic house plants for improved indoor health.

Jasmine: helps promote sleep quality

Jasmine is a genus of shrubs and vines in the olive family that is commonly found outdoors, but can live indoors as well. It emits scents that have shown to make for better sleep, as well as increase your levels of alertness.

Lavender: reduce anxiety and stress

Lavender is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint family and a commonly used essential oil. It not only smells wonderful, but can also reduce anxiety and stress, slow heart rate, improve your sleep, and calm restless babies.

Rosemary: improve your memory

Rosemary is also a member of the mint family. A perennial herb, native to the Mediterranean region. It has been proven to be effective at increasing your memory as well as the overall air quality in the room.

Aloe Vera: improve overall air quality

Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species that has been commonly used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century AD. Use these plants for their superior ability to increase the overall quality of air with fresh oxygen.

Green ivy in flowerpot isolated on white background

English Ivy Plant: reduce mold count

English Ivy is a species of flowering plant native to Europe and Western Asia. This plant has been proven to reduce airborne mold by 94%, which can have a significant benefit for those who suffer from allergies or lung irritation.

Snake Plant: prevent headaches

Snake Plant is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae native to West Africa. It has been proven to be extremely effective in treating headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. It can also help to increase your overall energy levels.

 

 

Some Health Benefits of Camping

Most people go on camping trips because they’re tired of the city or ready for an adventure. Whether you enjoy biking, hunting or any other outdoor activity, camping offers you a way to focus completely on a hobby for a few days without external distractions. What you might not realize is that camping can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Fresh Air

When you spend time near a lot of trees, you take in more oxygen. That feeling of happiness that you get when you take your first breath of air at the campground isn’t all in your head–well, technically it is, but it’s a release of serotonin from the extra oxygen. Your body can function with less strain when there’s plenty of oxygen.

That’s not the only benefit of fresh air. Research shows that some time outdoors can improve your blood pressure, improve digestion and give your immune system an extra boost. When you spend a few days outside, you get some serious health benefits from the extra oxygen and low levels of pollutants.

Socializing

Camping alone is plenty of fun, but if you bring along a friend or family member, you’ll enjoy a unique experience together that will help you keep a healthy, happy relationship.

Socializing can extend your lifespan and delay memory problems according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, and apart from the medical benefits, a few close relationships make life more fun. Invite a few friends on your next trip out.

Moods

Regular campers will often talk about how the first few days back from a trip seem happier. This isn’t without merit; spending some time outside in the sunlight can even out the levels of melatonin in your brain.

Melatonin is the chemical that makes you feel tired and can induce feelings of depression, so by camping, you can enjoy better overall moods during and after your trip.

Decrease Stress

Camping also allows you to cope with stress. Stress can negatively affect your health in just about every way possible, and you’re putting much less strain on your mental and physical faculties by giving yourself some stress-free time at the campsite.

The lack of stress is related to the rise in oxygen levels, higher levels of serotonin and managed levels of melatonin mentioned above. There’s also an emotional component at work here, since it’s harder to be annoyed or angry when you’re doing something that you enjoy.

Exercise

Let’s not forget the most obvious benefit of camping: you’re spending a lot of time performing physical activities. Even if you’re taking a fishing trip, you’re burning more calories than you’d burn sitting around an office, and if you hike or bike, you’re performing cardiovascular exercise that will help keep your heart and lungs healthy.

Your activity levels will vary, but hikers burn anywhere from 120-300 calories per hour. Bikers burn 300-500 calories per hour, and fly fishing can burn up to 200 calories per hour. No wonder you work up such an appetite during a long camping trip.

Sun

Sunshine feels great on your skin, and there’s an evolutionary reason for that. When you’re out in direct sunlight, you’re taking on a ton of Vitamin D, which allows your body to absorb calcium and phosphorous.

Sleep Better

Assuming that you’ve got decent camping gear, you’ll fall fast asleep after a day full of outdoor activities. Sleep has an effect on all of your body processes and can reduce inflammation, improve your cardiovascular system and help you stay alert.

Many campers report better sleep cycles when they return for a trip.

Food

If you pack s’mores, you’re not seeing any particularly solid health benefits in this department. However, if you’re fond of fishing and hunting, you’ll likely eat a large amount of protein and healthy fats on your camping trip.

You won’t get any preservatives or unnatural ingredients in a fresh lake-caught fish, and all of the exercise on your trip will help you digest.

New Challenges

No two camping trips are exactly the same, and that’s a good thing. Studies from the University of Texas and University of Michigan show that new experiences help to keep brains healthy.

New activities that are both physically and intellectually stimulating have the greatest effect on brain health, and camping fits both of these criteria.

Meditation

When you go camping, don’t forget to turn off your cell phone. Leave the tablet and the laptop computer at home. Try to disconnect for a few days and enjoy the simplicity of the natural experience.

This isn’t just a general tip to help you enjoy the experience; if you’re willing to enjoy your surroundings without any outside distractions, you could increase your lifespan. Turning off the cell phone and engaging with nature is one of the simplest ways to get the health benefits of meditation.  Meditation may improve a number of serious medical conditions by increasing self awareness and giving a person stress-reduction tools. If you suffer from depression, fatigue, heart disease or even allergies, research shows that camping can improve your overall health.

Just don’t forget to commit to the experience if your cell phone’s off, you’re on your way to developing a stimulating, tranquil hobby that will keep you healthy for years to come.

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.

Homepage

Survival Gardening Indoors

Survival gardening when the SHTF is problematic. Thefts from a backyard garden or small farm will be rampant, and with each theft, you lose food, there’s damage to the garden, and you’ve lost labor and other resources. One alternative is to move your survival gardening indoors.

Of course, indoor gardening cannot be a complete solution. The limited space and the need for light and nutrients makes indoor gardening expensive. And the amount of food you can produce will always be very limited. Even so, it can be a useful adjunct to stored food, outdoor gardening, and bartering for food.

What To Grow

Among the easiest indoor plants to grow are container herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, chives, cilantro, marjoram, mint, rosemary, dill, and parsley. Stevia leaves can be grown and used as a sweetener. Parsley is a
particularly good choice as it can be used in greater amounts than many other herbs. Meals prepared from stored food can be rather monotonous. Herbs and spices help make your meals more palatable.

Micro-greens, as they are called, are simply leafy vegetables, such as lettuces, spinach, radish, mustard, arugula, kale, turnip tops, beet greens, amaranth, and others, which are harvested when young. You can get a crop of micro-greens in only two to four weeks after planting. After cutting the greens down to the stem, you can sometimes get a second or third crop to springs up from the stems.

Micro-greens add flavor, fiber, and some nutrition to stored food. They add variety, color, and taste to otherwise boring meals. Today, you can go into any grocery store and choose from thousands of different foods. When the modern food production and distribution system fails, we will all be eating from a much small set of choices. The variety you can get from your own herbs and greens will make a difference to nutrition and taste.

Can you grow anything more substantial? Yes, you can. Certain varieties of tomato are designed for containers, even for small windowsill sized pots and hanging planters. These can be grown on a patio outdoors, or near a window inside that gets plenty of sun. Now you are not going to produce enough food, in this way, to provide a major amount of protein, fat, or carbohydrates for your diet. But take some stored rice and beans, and add tomatoes, herbs, and greens and then you have a much improved meal.

Peppers can also be grown in containers. The smaller containers can produce enough peppers to flavor many meals. A larger container might produce enough peppers to add to a salad or a stir-fry meal, once in a while. Colorful hot peppers can be grown in abundance. Some smaller sweet bell peppers will add to the bounty.

Where To Grow It

A sunny windowsill is perfect for small pots with different herbs. A bay window facing south is probably best for larger plants, such as greens, tomatoes, and peppers. Hanging pots give a plant more room, so that the stems and leaves can spread out and get more sun. Then, if you are a little more ambitious, you could enclose a porch or patio, to make, in effect, a little greenhouse attached to your home.

Another option is to use artificial lighting. On a small scale, the cost and amount of space and electricity is a modest investment. The most expensive thing is the lighting. LED lights are best, as they produce the most light from the least electricity. But they are pricey. I would suggest a few grow-lights used as an addition to light from a sunny window. Once you go whole hog with indoor growing, using hydroponics and lots of LED lights, the benefit-to-cost ratio falls dramatically.

I’ve heard that some people grow cannabis, surreptitiously, indoors. If the food economy collapses, growing food, even indoors, might need to be done in a similar stealthy manner. But again, costs, space, and resource use would be high. It will always be more economical to store food while it is cheap, than to try to grow it when food becomes scarce.

Ways to Help Replenish Your Electrolyes

Only six electrolytes minerals needed by the blood in fairly large amounts are obtained from the diet.

1. Sodium
2. Chloride
3. Magnesium
4. Potassium
5. Calcium
6. Phosphorus

The first two are provided by table salt: sodium chloride. Adding about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your diet per day provides enough sodium and chloride. The typical American diet already has plenty of salt in junk food, fast food, etc., so no additional salt is needed. But if you are eating from a survival garden and from stored food, you might need to add salt to your meals. Be sure to include plenty of table salt with your stored foods.

Magnesium is found in whole grains. Although whole grains spoil sooner in storage, it might be a good idea to have some whole grain flour, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta in storage. You can also grow amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat three crops high in magnesium.

Potassium is highest in potato. Tomato juice and sun-dried tomatoes are also high in potassium. Fruits and vegetables generally contain some potassium. Canned tomato sauce, paste, and juice are a good source of potassium. Potatoes can be easily grown in a survival garden. Some varieties of potato can be grown from seed, rather than from small chunks of potato.

Calcium and phosphorus are both found in cheese and other dairy products. Long term storage of cheese is a little tricky. You can store those boxed mac and cheese dinners the kind with the powdered cheese or the deluxe kind with a paste like cheese sauce. Your other good option is to throw a blocks of cheese in the freezer. Frozen foods keep indefinitely, but the consistency of the cheese may suffer.

If you are trying to survive from stored foods, you will need the three macro-nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as the above six electrolytes. A survival garden is a good option for supplementing stored food. And if any food is still available at markets after the SHTF, you should prioritize macro-nutrients and electrolytes.

Tip on Preventing Blisters

First of all, remember that blisters require three conditions to occur: heat, moisture, and friction. Eliminate any one of those factors and you prevent blisters.

Buy boots that fits

Friction happens when your shoes or boots don’t fit your feet well. Buy them in a store where the staff knows how to measure your foot size. Try on a variety of brands because they all fit slightly differently; find the brand that fits your feet best. If the best boots you find still don’t fit perfectly, try after-market insoles to customize the fit.

Eliminate heat and moisture: Keep your feet dry

This may be the easiest and most effective strategy  employed: Whenever you stop for a break of five minutes or more,  take off your boots and socks and let them and your feet dry out, eliminating or at least minimizing heat and moisture. As simple as that.

Carry extra socks

If your feet get chronically sweaty, change into clean, dry socks midway through a day of hiking. Try to wash and cool your feet in a creek and dry them completely before putting on the clean socks.

Wear lightweight, non-waterproof footwear

Any footwear with a waterproof-breathable membrane is not as breathable as shoes or boots with mesh uppers and no membrane which also dry much faster if they do get wet. If you’re generally day hiking in dry weather, why do you need waterproof boots? It may seem counter intuitive, but non-waterproof shoes or boots may keep your feet drier because they won’t sweat as much.

Tape hot spots

Carry blister-treatment products like Moleskin—but also carry athletic tape, which sticks well even on damp skin. If you feel a hot spot developing,  stop immediately and apply two or three strips of athletic tape to the spot, overlapping the strips, and then check it periodically to make sure they’re still in place.

Tape preemptively

When you’re taking a really long day hike where you exponentially increasing the amount of friction that can occur, tape your heels before starting out, because you may have developed blisters on them on day hikes longer than 20 miles in the past. If you routinely get blisters in the same spots, tape them before your hike.

Use a skin lubricant

Distance runners have employed this trick for ages: Apply a lubricant to areas that tend to chafe or blister, like heels, toes, or even the inside of thighs, to eliminate the friction that causes that discomfort. Numerous products do the job, from the traditional Vaseline to roll-on sticks like BodyGlide.

The Pine Tree and Its Many Uses

Did you know pine trees can be used as food, medicine and survival equipment?

The pine is one of the most useful trees on the planet, providing food, shelter, medicine and fuel. Knowing how to utilize this versatile resource could someday be the key to your very survival if you find yourself alone in the wilderness.

There are many species in the pine family (or genus Pinus), and they can be found virtually everywhere in the world.

Food:

Many types of pine needles can be used to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Simply steep a handful of needles for 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep them, the less vitamins will remain, so don’t overdo it.

It’s important to note that some pine needles are poisonous be sure to avoid consuming the needles from the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), the Yew (Taxus) and the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa also known as Western Yellow Pine, Bull Pine and Blackjack Pine). Make sure to learn the differences between the edible and non-edible varieties before making pine needle tea.

Pine nuts from all varieties of pine are edible, although some are small and not typically harvested. They can be a little tricky to harvest and perish quickly once they are shelled but can be stored longer if left in their shells or roasted.

Inner pine bark and pine resin are edible; male pine cones and their pollen can also be eaten. Native Americans chewed pine resin as sort of a natural chewing gum. The inner bark of large pine trees is edible, and the bark from young pine twigs can be eaten as well. Be careful not to damage or kill a pine tree by tearing off too much bark, and never ring the bark from a pine tree.

Instead, tear off small pieces of bark or look for branches that have already fallen. The inner bark can be eaten raw it can also be boiled, fried or cooked over a flame.

Medicine:

Pine resin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It can be directly applied to wounds or sores and helps keep germs out. Pine resin can also be used to staunch the flow of blood.

The resin can also be used to extract splinters just dab some on the skin where the splinter is embedded and within a day or two the splinter should come out on its own.

Fuel:

Pine resin makes a great fire starter, particularly in damp settings. You can usually find a spot on a pine tree where resin is oozing out from a break in the bark try not to injure the tree to collect pine resin, but if necessary, make a small break in the bark or break a branch. The resin will begin to ooze out as protection for the tree.

If you are in an area where there are pine stumps, look for places on the stump where resin has soaked the wood and made it sticky. Tear small strips of the stickiest wood from the stump and save them as aids for starting fires.

Shelter:

Pine boughs can be used to create shelter, and pine needles can be used to make a soft, warm and dry bed.

Water-proofing and other uses:

Pine resin can be used as a waterproofing agent and works well on tent seams, boots and mittens.

Heat pine resin up and mix with ashes or charcoal from your campfire to make glue. Once cooled, the glue will harden but can be easily heated up again when it is needed.

Getting Outdoors More

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Sure, family and other responsibilities prevent you from getting out as much as you’d like.  As your life grew more complicated and busy, one of the most important “outdoor” skills you can acquired is figuring out how to get outdoors as much as you want. One thing you can do is make it a family outing. Here are some tips to help with the outdoor planning.

PLAN AHEAD

When was the last time you had the freedom to take off on the spur of the moment? Probably years ago, right? Many people lack that flexibility, which means that your outdoor recreation, like your work, has to be scheduled in advance, or it doesn’t happen. Backpacking, camping, and other activities in many national parks, can require making reservations months in advance.

INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY

As a parent, the best way to get outdoors more is to get your kids involved at a very young age carrying them on hikes and other activities before they’re walking, then letting them move under their own power as soon as they can walk.  That delivers multiple benefits for you: creating additional opportunities for you to get outside; ingraining in your children a love for the outdoors that you have always shared; and, by getting your family out as much as they’re willing to go, they occasionally don’t mind if you take off for a long day hike or a weekend of climbing or backpacking.

GET ORGANIZED

If the thought of packing up your gear for a weekend erects a mental hurdle to going, maybe you’ve created too much of a barrier for yourself. Get organized and efficient not just about packing for a trip, but also about storing gear after trips; having it ready to go helps you get out the door more quickly. Keep supplies like stove fuel and backpacking food on hand. That way, taking off for a night or two of camping or backpacking isn’t an ordeal.

GET A REGULAR PARTNER

Self-motivating is hard. Find a partner for regular, local hikes, rides, or trail runs who’s compatible with your style and pace besides pushing each other to work a little harder, you’ll push one another to stick to the commitment.

SCHEDULE WEEKLY OUTINGS

Don’t treat exercise and outdoor recreation as something you’ll get to at the end of the day or on the weekend if there’s time after everything else gets done it doesn’t happen that way. Schedule your regular, local outings during the week, like short hikes or trail runs, just like you schedule work or personal appointments. Carve out time for it on your calendar and you will do it and turn it into part of your routine.

For the next few months try to get outdoors more and maybe plan a trip. A day trip, weekend trip, or a week long trip. Just plan ahead and do something fun.

 

 

 

Building a Survival Kit for Kids

When you hike, you carry a survival kit that should cover the basic needs for yourself in a survival situation. When you hike with children you carry a bit bigger kit to help you care for your needs and the child’s. But what happens if you get separated from the child? Your best line of defense is a survival kit suited for your child’s needs and abilities.

The basic needs that you’ll need to meet are Shelter, Warmth, Signaling and First Aid. These are real needs for a child. If they have to spend the night hugging a tree until the survival crew gets there, if it gets cold, if she cuts herself or if he needs to signal to a helicopter or emergency crew then they will definitely need to have the means to do so in their kit and as importantly, know how to use them.

But that’s not the only thing you’ll be interested in. Psychology is just as important. To keep them from panicking and getting themselves in a worse situation you’ll want to give them things to keep them occupied. This can be a flashlight to keep the scary things away at night, candies to suck on, toys to play with or what have you. They will need to pass the time, be it 5 minute, one hour, or 1 day.

  • Emergency Blanket
  • Rain Poncho
  • Signal Mirror
  • Emergency Whistle
  • First Aid Gear (Kit)
  • Snacks/Candies
  • Flashlight/Signal Light
  • Fire Steel and Sticker
  • Ziploc Bag (Carry Water)
  • Cotton Balls
  • Duct Tape
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Knife (Older Kids)
  • Rope

Chapstick-Handy Uses

If you carry chapstick in your packet, like most people do, then here are some neat ideas you can use during your next outdoor adventure.

  • A DIY fire starter – Combine some chapstick with a cotton ball for an improvised and reliable fire starter.
  • An Improvised First Aid kit – Use the chapstick to cover and protect minor, topical injuries. It’ll keep it protected, clean and prevent minor bleeding. Make sure you use non-flavored for this!
  • A gear lubricant – Chapstick is petroleum based, so it can be used to stop squeaks in gear and lubricate sticky zippers.
  • A Temporary Water-proof tool– If you find a small leak in your gear, a temporary field repair can be done with chapstick. It’ll act as a temporary fix to prevent water seeping through the tent, jacket, pack or what have you.
  • An Emergency Candle – A surprisingly effective homemade, emergency candle lantern by twisting a cotton ball into a wick and coating it in the chapstick.

Living Off-Grid Is It Really For You

Living off the grid can be extremely difficult, but also extremely rewarding. Off-grid living isn’t for everyone. But for those willing to make the extreme life change, it will lessen your growing dependency on income and increase your time spent with family. This guide will walk you through the reasons for an off-grid way of life, how to attain it, and the benefits of becoming the ultimate survivalist.

But before you start setting up your modern-day homestead, you’re going to have to think about some big questions:

  • Will you be using electricity? If so, how will you be generating it?
  • Where will you get water?
  • Will you need to process or treat the water to make it potable?
  • How much money will you need?
  • Where will you get it from?
  • How will you access the Internet if you still need it?
  • How many people will be members of your community?
  • How will labor be divided throughout the community?
  • Will you be buying food, or growing and hunting it?
  • How will your off-the-grid community be defended without law enforcement officers?

The first question you have to answer if you decide to live off-grid is where you plan to do this. Nearly everywhere in the continental United States has something wrong with it in terms of living off grid. Some places are too dry, and some aren’t good for growing food. Other places are too close to cities, while others are in nuclear fallout zones. Some states have laws making gun ownership and off-grid living prohibitively difficult. And others are just too cold to sustain wildlife.

So what should you look for when it comes to picking the three most important factors in off-grid living: location, location, location?

  • Be at least a tank of gas from a highway.
  • Research natural disasters that frequently befall areas you’re interested in.
  • Look into less-common, but entirely probable, natural disasters.
  • Read about nuclear fallout patterns. Nuclear war might not top your list of concerns, but you should at least be informed.
  • Consider whether or not you want to be part of an existing community and where you can connect with one.
  • If you plan to use solar power, make sure the area gets plenty of sunlight.
  • No matter what your plans are, you’re going to need water. That means proximity to a river or stream, a good supply of groundwater or, at the very least, plenty of rain.
  • Hunters should research local and state hunting laws.
  • Friendly gun laws are an absolute must when it comes to living off-grid, which rules many states out.
  • In general, a small-government culture will help keep you from being prosecuted for “stealing” rain water.
  • Good soil is a must to grow your own food.
  • Shelling out big money for land defeats the purpose, so look for cheap land.

Water is the number one resource you’re going to need. That water needs to be clean, close and plentiful enough that you can access it year round for everything from drinking to watering crops.

Crops are a must when living off grid. And much like water, it’s important to have multiple ways to access food. That means three main sources: growing, gathering and hunting.

Clothing is a topic that most off-the-grid guides ignore. You have a few different options here, such as stocking up and storing clothes for the future. However, a lot of the same skills that are required for feeding yourself can also keep you clothed.

While weapons and ammo are a must, the more immediate threat to yourself and your family is not from armed invaders – it’s from the elements. Off-grid homes come with a special concern: They need to be impenetrable not just to the elements, but to the critters who will be wandering around. From little guys like squirrels to big beasts like bears, your off-grid home should be protected pests of all sizes.

Most of the animals are totally harmless, but the issue is that they’re going to be a nuisance especially when they start eating you out of house and home. And no matter how much you love the nanny goat giving you milk, chances are pretty good that you don’t want her hanging out in your living room.

Protecting your property with non-lethal forms of defense is another important factor, but keep in mind that electricity use needs to be limited when living off the grid. Sentry systems and other security systems are great to have, but are too much of a drain on your power supply. At the very least, having a couple of dogs around to patrol the property is a good idea not to mention a fun one.

Living off the grid is hard especially when you’re getting started. But when you ask yourself if the life you’re living now is easy, you will realize the freedom that comes with being completely self-sufficient. Living off the grid means living for yourself, making you far better prepared for difficult times than you would be living in the city.

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.

Picking the Right Ammunition

Ammunition selection can be one of the most intimidating challenges facing a new shooter or firearm owner. Manufacturers produce an array of different loads, with each one varying in some way from the others. Projectile weight, projectile type, velocity and other factors all differ, even among loads designed for the same firearm.

Fortunately, making sense of the diverse ammo offered by manufacturers is not as difficult as some might believe. Once you understand the various kinds of ammunition available and how they perform, you can easily select ammo to fit your intended purposes.

For new shooters trying to understand how to properly choose ammo for a specific application, below are explanations for what makes good target/training, personal defense, and hunting loads. For each category, there are also example loads given for each type of firearm: handgun, rifle and shotgun.

Target Practice/Training
Whether you’re a serious shooter planning to spend a lot of time on the range or a casual plinker who shoots a few times a year, you’ll need ammo to fuel your chosen firearm. In most cases, this means buying a widely available and relatively inexpensive load.

For rifles and handguns, the cheapest cartridges, or complete loaded rounds of ammunition, are those featuring a full metal jacket (FMJ) projectile. An FMJ bullet incorporates a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal and requires less manufacturing than the bullets used in other more complex self-defense and hunting loads. This makes FMJs less expensive to produce and therefore cheaper for the customer.

With shotgun ammunition, the least expensive shells are typically lightweight target loads in No. 7 ½ shot and smaller (the higher the number, the smaller the shot). These shells are 2 ¾ inches in length and around 1 ounce in payload weight. The projectiles, called pellets, are normally lead, although some states and ranges require the use of steel shot.

In addition to cost, another important factor for target or training ammunition is how much recoil it produces. If you plan on spending any significant amount of time shooting, you’ll want a light-recoiling load that won’t wear down your hands or your shoulder. Small-bore rimfire cartridges are great in this regard, especially for new shooters who might be unfamiliar with or intimidated by recoil. It’s best to avoid magnum loads if possible.

Overall, ammunition used for general plinking, target practice and training is reasonably accurate and doesn’t break the bank, or your body.

Personal Defense
Although cost remains a consideration for many shooters when buying personal defense ammo, of far greater concern is the ammunition’s terminal performance. When your life, or the lives of your family, is threatened, you want a load that will reliably stop that threat as quickly as possible. The most effective way to do that is to use a load that impacts the target with a lot of energy and produces the greatest amount of damage.

With rifles and handguns, this means using cartridges with a hollow-point projectile. A hollow-point bullet features a cavity in its tip designed to make the projectile expand on impact.

This expansion is key for two reasons. First, it generates a larger wound channel on the target, which increases damage. Second, it controls the amount of penetration to keep the round inside the target, which reduces the chances of harming innocent bystanders and transfers all the bullet’s kinetic energy into the target.

With shotguns, the best option are buckshot loads, as they use pellets large enough to cause serious damage. While other loads, including birdshot, may be used for self-defense, they are far less likely to provide an immediate end to the threat.

In any personal defense scenario, you want a reliable load that transfers as much energy and damage as possible without over-penetration. This ensures a quick end to a dangerous situation, and harms nothing but the target.

Hunting
As with personal defense scenarios, the most important thing when it comes to hunting ammunition is using projectiles that quickly and humanely bring down the target. Reliable bullet expansion and retained kinetic energy remain large aspects of this, which is why rifle and handgun hunters — as well as shotgunners using slugs — similarly use expanding hollow point or soft point projectiles (FMJ projectiles should never be used in hunting as they will likely penetrate straight through the animal, without generating enough damage to humanely kill it).

A key difference is the need for additional penetration. While personal defense projectiles are designed to stop human beings, hunting bullets are engineered to penetrate the thick skin, dense muscle tissue and bones of game animals. These bullets are typically heavier than personal defense projectiles and retain more of their weight after entering the target.

Regardless of what you’re pursuing, the highest priority in selecting ammo for hunting should always be ensuring the cartridge or shotgun shell you choose is powerful enough to ensure an ethical kill. Using a cartridge without sufficient power is bad for the animal if it’s wounded, and, if hunting dangerous game, can put the hunter at risk, too. If you can’t decide between two cartridges, it’s best to err on the side of more power.

Projectile(s)

Caliber or gauge is certainly important when it comes to ammo selection, but often the biggest difference between two loads is the actual object or objects being propelled downrange. This is likely truer with rifle and handgun ammo than shotgun ammo because they use cartridges with single projectiles, whereas shotgun shells can contain anything from a single slug to hundreds of pellets.

With rifle and handgun cartridges there are basically two broad types of bullets: full metal jacket (FMJ) and hollow-point. There are other kinds of projectiles as well as variations of these two designs, but for beginners these are the easiest to understand.

FMJs, which feature a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, are inexpensive and great for target practice and general plinking. Hollow-point bullets, which expand on impact, are far better for personal defense and hunting because they produce larger wound channels on the target, resulting in greater damage.

For selecting shotgun ammo, the projectile (or projectiles) remains the primary concern. Aside from slugs designed for hunting, projectiles in shotgun shells — called pellets, or shot — are categorized according to their shot size. As with measuring gauge, shot size utilizes an inverse scale; the larger the shot size number, the smaller each individual pellet will be (No. 7 shot is smaller than No. 2 shot).

In general, No. 7 and higher shot are great for target shooting or hunting some small game animals, while shot sizes No. 6 and lower cover a variety of hunting scenarios. Buckshot is excellent for self-defense purposes, as well as predator and hog hunting, and shotgun slugs are ideal for hunting deer and larger game.

 

What Does Bugging Out Really Mean?

First, what does the term bugging out really mean. It is military jargon and by most accounts, the term originated from the Korean War. Units and/or personnel were directed to “bug-out” when their current position was no longer considered defensible and was likely to be overrun by hostile forces. Personnel were expected to deploy rapidly to a pre-designated defensive position.

The key phrasing is a “position no longer defensible and is likely to be overrun” and “deployment to a pre-designated defensible position”. In other words, you do not run around in circles in a panic, you need a plan, and you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

People are in love with the idea but if they really had to Bug out love can be fleeting at times.

In non-military prepping terms, bugging out is typically associated with grabbing a bug-out-bag and hastily leaving a disaster zone. Heading presumably to a pre-designated safe haven but herein lays the crux of bugging-out. You only think you know what will happen once you leave. What the reality is you are fleeing one disaster for another, one that may turn out even more disastrous. Once you leave the four walls of your shelter, you have given yourself over to another crisis, one that you have absolutely no control over. You have heard the term “from the frying pan into the fire” it applies here.

You may have a utopia just waiting for you to show up. One of the problems however is getting there, the second problem is how many others are already there, and once you get there, then what.

As smart as you may think you are, you have not reinvented the wheel here. Everyone else will be thinking the same things and many will not be even remotely prepared. Some people will still show up at your safe haven looking for handouts just as they have been doing all their life.

People are convinced for some reason that society will make a drastic change once a major catastrophe strikes. Society will stay the same it’s just that the surroundings will be different. You will still have those people that work hard and try to do the right thing, you will have those people that want to take from others and then those that simply for whatever reason cannot make a go of anything and are dependent upon society as a whole.

You will not become a hermit living off the land the minute you reach your so-called safe haven. The minute you reach your destination is when survival really begins, and you will not be alone.

What is your Bug Out Plan based on?

There is nothing better than personal experience when it comes to making a plan. If you have never grabbed your bug-out-bag and headed out for parts known or unknown because of a crisis then you are planning based on assumptions, on what others have told you, or on what you may have read on the Internet. If you do not know what can happen from personal experience, then well you simply do not know do you. You can only guess (hypothesis) based on the most reliable and current information, but those giving you the information are only guessing as well, unless they have experienced bugging-out firsthand.

Scenario

Day 1

Normally you are awakened by blaring music but not this morning. The voice was excited and yet tried to remain calm and solemn at the same time, a newscasters’ voice. You caught bits and pieces of the news bulletin as you lay there wondering why you were not hearing music from the bedside radio.

Unknown toxicity, possible aerosol canisters placed on public transit, could be sprayed from the air. Some first responders have succumb to unknown contaminates; the anchor went on to state. People collapsing on the street, the bits and pieces were flung from the radio, as you lay there half-awake, and then it struck you.

Your face drained and a sense of urgency took over, you jumped out of bed and had an overpowering urge to run but where to. Finally, you got a hold of yourself and turned on the television as you begin dressing.

Chaos and people screaming even the anchor facing the camera was in a panic talking through a respirator. Cars were parked on the sidewalks and stopped in the middle of the street. Ambulances with the back doors gaping open filled the screen but no one inside, no gunnery’s or any medical technicians wheeling patients, no one rushing, and no one in sight.

The camera tilted and then crashed to the ground. Now the view was from ground level. You saw the legs and feet of someone lying just feet from the camera lens. You could not stop staring.

One Year ago

Today was the first time you had heard of “bugging out” and “bug-out-bags”. Your friend had always been enthusiastic and seemed to latch on to new ideas with intense fervor and today he was trying to convince you to prepare for the coming apocalypse. Super Storm Sandy along the East Coast had a tremendous impact even this far inland and people seemed to be talking more about preparedness.

The Mid-Western city you lived in was land locked and had a population close to 500,000. Not a bustling metropolis compared to the cities along either coast but a large metropolitan area nonetheless. It was referred to as fly over country by many and not on any ones’ radar in your opinion, especially a terrorist organization as your friend was trying to imply.

Your friend was dragging out backpacks, clothes, tools and gadgets and laying them on the floor. He handed you a hand written list of items that he said were essential for surviving 72-hours in any situation. He said that when the SHTF he wanted to be ready and that you needed to be ready as well.

The note also had a rendezvous point, in the event of a crisis because all communications would be down, so meet up when the balloon goes up. You folded the note up and told your friend you had to get going, the blaring television was getting to be too much. Apparently, there was a marathon of the Doomsday Preppers running and your friend seemed transfixed by the show, he never looked up from the television as you closed the door behind you.

Present Day

You thought back to that day a year ago in your friends’ home. You have a bug-out-bag now but wondered just how prepared you really are. You had gathered some things over the last year and then stuffed them in a backpack and tossed it in a closet. Your idea of a crisis at the time was a few days without power or a blizzard that cocooned everyone in their homes for a couple of days.

Now it seemed the very city you lived in was not safe. You also realized it had been two hours since the first emergency broadcast and you had not even grabbed your pack, and you wondered about your friend. Why no phone calls, your cell phone still had bars and there was still electrical service. The humming refrigerator seemed oblivious to what was happening. He may have just “bugged-out” and was headed for the meeting place, but another thought occurred but you tried hard to push it away.

You had no idea what to do. Fear of the known and unknown alike rooted you in place.

The news channel was a garbled mess and the governors and mayor’s statements that had been taped an hour earlier were playing continually. Stay calm, and no, we do not know if the crisis is an attack or an industrial accident; it is too early to say. The investigation is continuing, no need to panic and no mandatory evacuations have been ordered at this time and it is recommended you stay indoors and avoid traveling at this time. Keep the highways clear for emergency personnel were the pleas from the authorities.

Apparently, the local news stations were on automatic pilot. The workers were likely huddled up somewhere or fleeing the city. The local radio stations obviously did not get the governor’s memo about staying off the roads, because they were playing on a loop the routes that were to be used for evacuation from the city.

You had no idea what the toxin was that was released, and if anyone in authority knew, it was kept a secret. However, the empty ambulances with their doors flung wide told the whole story.

You were afraid to leave and afraid to stay, you simply did not have enough information. If you left on foot, you may walk into a cloud of deadly chemicals, and where would you walk to that was safe. If you tried to leave in your car, you could get hung-up in traffic and then no way to escape the clouds of gas headed your way if in fact it was a gas attack.

What if it was some communicable disease and the National Guard was already stopping people from leaving because of the fear of it spreading. Not enough information to decide on a course of action, staying put could be deadly and leaving on foot seemed to be even more deadly.

Your home was a small rental house perched somewhere between real suburbia and the city central. There were factories you could see from your front window, and no clouds of steam bellowed from their smokestacks today.

You were looking at the overpass a quarter of a mile away with a pair of binoculars and it was clogged with cars not moving. You saw people running along the sides of the highway in both directions; it was chaos wherever you looked.

You inventoried your backpack and wondered how in the world you could survive out there. What should you do? Should you shoulder the pack and make a run for it, head north away from the city and find a wooded area. Where does safety lie in this type of situation?

The people on the overpass seemed to be fine, no one appeared to be gasping for air or collapsing on the spot as far as you could tell but things could change.

The pack had some bottled water, ready to eat foods in plastic pouches, matches, a magnesium stick that you had never tried out, a change of underwear and socks, heavy coat, flashlight, some rope, a compass, first aid kit, sunglasses and maps of the city and state along with a few other miscellaneous items. You also had a multi-tool, two thermal blankets and a small survival fishing kit all rolled up in a nylon tarp that your friend had given you.

You were worried about your friend because he did not answer his cell phone. It took close to an hour to get through on the cell phone only to hear his voicemail prompt you to leave a message. The cell towers were overloaded probably.

What do you do based on what you know so far?

It would be difficult to know if there were other canisters of gas ready to explode if in fact it was a deliberate release of deadly gas. Was it some type of freak accident? Possibly a train derailment of cars containing some deadly cargo or did someone blow up a train car that they knew contained deadly chemicals. It is all speculation at this point.

Terrorists often will attack and then wait for first responders to rush in and then attack again to injure and kill the emergency personnel. These types of attacks are truly meant to provoke terror in people’s minds. Attacks are also timed to occur in various areas at different times to spread emergency resources thin.

Terrorist know the psychological impact their actions have and in some cases, just the threat of an attack or the idea of another attack is enough to send a city into panic.

Based on the almost instant reaction the toxin had on people you could probably rule out a biological attack. However, the authorities may not have ruled it out and may cordoned off certain areas to prevent anyone from leaving. Thousands however, would be able to bypass the checkpoints and individuals with little to no training could easily avoid any roadblocks in place.

It seems some action, whether it works or not, is better than no action at all, is the philosophy of many government officials.

If it was a gas attack, the canisters could be rigged to explode by cell phone or timers all over the city. The individual could head out in a panic and run into a cloud of saran gas. Another release of gas could be closer to his home this time thus killing him in his own home if he stayed in place.

For the first attack, the canisters could have been placed on public transit, buses and trains, for example, and rigged to release at certain times. This means the gas is distributed throughout the city at intervals. The individual simply does not know.

The fact that the individuals’ cell phone worked six hours into the attack might allow you to rule out canisters rigged to explode by a cell or radio signal.

Homeland Security and other agencies if they had been paying attention would have jammed all radio and cell service to the area almost immediately to prevent a cell phone or radio signal from triggering any more devices. Although only six hours in may be too early for this kind of response what do you think?

After six hours no one seems to have much information, does the individual in the story have enough information to make a decision and what should his decision be.

Time is crucial and decisions to evacuate must be made quickly in these types of situations, what would you do and how would you do it?