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Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

hiiking

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.

The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.

Hiking While Disconnected From Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

A study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.

The researchers of this study noted that both technology and urban noise are incredibly disruptive, constantly demanding our attention and preventing us from focusing, all of which can be taxing to our cognitive functions. A nice long hike, sans technology, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe the mind, and boost creative thinking.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD In Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children. Children who have ADHD have a difficult time with impulse control and staying focused, they get distracted easily, and exhibit excessive hyperactivity.

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

How Can You Begin To Start Hiking?

Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family, including grandma! Start out small and test your abilities. Do what works for you — if that means just walking through trails in a park, that’s fine. Any exercise outdoors is better than none. You can easily find maps of trails around your home online, and there are plenty of smartphone apps to map them out, too. I recommend turning off your signal and your phone while hiking though, so you can reap the most benefits of the hike (though it may be wise to at least carry it with you in case of emergency).

Make sure you have some good sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, and a water bottle, and be sure to layer your clothing so you can take things on or off easily as you warm up and cool down. You may want to consider using trekking poles as well, which can increase your speed and take some of the pressure off your knees. Now, can you just do one thing for me?

Go take a hike!

Linked from: http://www.cosmicscientist.com/doctors-explain-how-hiking-actually-changes-our-brains/

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Outdoor Ice Cache for Frozen Food Storage in Winter

The cold winter air has a remarkable power–the power to freeze things. This can be our nemesis if we are stuck out in the cold, but it can also be used to our advantage. Winter is nature’s fridge and freezer, and if you get caught without power, you can allow the cold to preserve your food through freezing. A simple way to do this is to place your frozen food in a cooler full of ice and set the cooler outside in a shady area or an unheated shed.

Or you can do what our ancestors did to store their food by freezing it in an outdoor ice cache. Here’s how.

1. Pick the Best Spot
The ideal spot for an ice cache is someplace near your dwelling, on the north side of a large structure. This northern orientation will keep the southerly sun from warming up that spot during the day, and in the shade. As a result, your ice will last much longer. The paleo Indians made their ice caches in pits dug on the north side of boulder outcroppings. This provided both shade to preserve the ice and a marker to find the spot again, even in a snow covered landscape.

2. Build Your Box
Once your site is picked, lay out some ice blocks to create a small ice platform. Your food will sit on top of this, rather than the bare ground. Then, using blocks of uniform thickness, build a wall around the foundation. Carve or saw the ice to make each block fit tightly. If you need something to act as “chinking” to fill any gaps, apply slush while the air is sub-freezing. The slush will freeze and fill the gap. Finally, make a slab of ice that will cover the entire structure like a lid. Check the lid for fit, load in your food, and seal the lid on there like some kind of frosty sarcophagus.

3. Have A Security Plan
The hungry scavengers of winter will be very interested in the “abandoned” food they’ve found. Yes, some critters can smell it through the ice. And while most creatures won’t be able to scratch or bite through your icy storage locker, it’s still a possibility. For extra security, bury the ice box in slushy snow and allow it to freeze into one solid block. Then, only humans with tools can break the ice and retrieve the food. If you find that certain creatures keep visiting the box, you could also set up traps to take advantage to the draw.

How you ever tried anything like this?

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6 Questions you Should Ask About Prepping

Every once in a while, it is important to take a back seat to the process of prepping and do a little planning.  I say this because things change and life evolves, requiring a re-examination of the who, what, and why of prepping.  Let’s face it. You probably remember why you started to set food, water, and supplies aside, and why you began to bone up on off-grid skills.  But in the flurry of preparedness activities, have you ever taken a look at your original plan and made circumstantial changes?

If you are saying “what plan”,  join the crowd!

An Introduction to the Who, What, and Why of Prepping

We all know about the successful reporter’s rule of thumb:  determine the who what where and how for every story.  Let us take the “where” out of the equation and begin with the who, what and why of prepping.

1.  Who Should Prep?

There is only one right answer:  Everyone!

The differentiator is the extent of one person’s preps over those of another person.  Person A may define being prepared as having a three day plan to soldier through a winter storm when the power is out.  (Of course I will try to encourage that person to prep for a week or two at a minimum, but ultimately, three days is considered a decent starting point.)

On the other hand, Person B may not consider himself adequately prepped until he has the supplies, tools, and skills to manage for a year or more on his own.

It all gets down to a matter of perspective.  Like a broken record I will say it again; there is no right and no wrong when it comes to preparedness.  If you prepare enough to ally your fear of a disruptive event, you will have done enough.

Six Questions Every Prepper Needs to Ask and Answer | Backdoor Survival

2.  What is Prepping?

Let us get this one out of the way quickly as well.  Prepping is being able to survive a disruptive event if not in comfort, then at least with a minimum amount of stress.

3.  Who Are You Prepping For?

Now we start to get into the nitty-gritty of your plan.  It is important to understand who you are prepping for.  Is it just yourself and your partner (if you have one), or an extended family?  Are there infants or toddlers involved?  What about physically challenged, or elderly members of your family.  Don’t forget about the family dog or cat, and your farm animals.

As you prepare a strategy to meet your prepping goals, things can get out of hand quickly.  It takes money to prep so even though you may want to take care of everyone, doing so can put a huge strain on the family budget. If you are lucky enough to have family members who are on board with prepping, you can ask them to participate, even if all that means is they clean and repurpose soda bottles so they can be filled with tap water and stored for an emergency.

At the end of the day, though, you must be realistic and remember that having the time and resources to live your life in the here and now is important too.  Go slowly as you expand your preps to include others.  Do not cannibalize your own life for the sake of something that may or may not happen.

4.  What Are You Preparing For?

Are periodic power outages your concern, or is it the the big earthquake that is past due along the Cascadia Fault?  Is it a hurricane or is it global economic collapse?  If you are a prepper newbie, I tend to recommend that you initially focus on disruptive events that are geographically specific to where you live.

If you are new to an area and even if you are not, your county will have an emergency services department with plenty of information describing the types of disasters and freaks of mother nature that can occur in your community.  Take advantage of this information.

5.  Where Do I Start?

Getting started when you are at prepping ground zero can be overwhelming.  I get that. That being said, the fact you are reading this article is a good start.

Beyond that, get your water, food and first aid supplies in order, as well as a stash of cash for those times when the ATM is not working.

6.  How Long Do You Want Your Preps to Last?

This is another reality check.  Although it would be nice to say “forever”, unless you have a self-sufficient farm and everything that goes along with it, a forever goal is not realistic.

Why not start with a week, then expand to a month?  After you have met that goal,, decide whether you would prefer to prep for more people, or perhaps to extend the period to three months or a year.  Have a discussion with yourself and decide what is right for you, your temperament, and your feelings about the likelihood of a major disruptive event. occurring in the near future.

The Final Word

It is easy to say “plan first, prepare second”, but even planning can be overwhelming.  I know that when I first started to prep, I armed myself with a 20 page checklist to use to begin the planning process.  After an hour, I set it aside and chartered my own course.  Thus was the beginning of Backdoor Survival and my own common sense approach to preparedness.

As a call to action, it is time to revisit the basics.  The moment is now.

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How to Prepare for a Life or Death Situation

I have no idea why, but fear seems to be a subject that is rarely discussed or addressed when it comes to self-defense training. In a real situation you are probably going to be absolutely scared witless. When it comes to addressing fear, you avoid the subject like the plague. Yet it plays a vital part in our survival.

When it comes to self-defense, the failure to acknowledge fear and its part in survival is preparing for failure. You must understand how fear works, how you react to it, and how you can make it work for you.

Fear is not only natural, but you can guarantee in the emotional pressure cooker of a real situation that you will experience it. Accepting that you will experience fear is an important step to trying to overcome it. The adrenal dump we experience in the fight-or-flight mode of our sympathetic nervous system is a natural part of the process of fear. While the experience of fear and the adrenal dump aren’t one and the same, they certainly show up hand in hand when things go south.

If your body is a loaded gun, then your mind is the trigger. If you can’t pull the trigger, you are in trouble. Teaching the mind to pull the trigger rather than to hit the power switch is a difficult skill to develop and especially hard to implement with a window of opportunity that lasts only a few seconds. Overcoming that fear and having the confidence to act decisively is the name of the game if we want to survive an assault.
Learning to confront fears in day-to-day life and learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable can help us develop our inner strength. Learning to work past your power switch. We are all creatures of convenience and comfort, but gravitating toward doing things that make us uncomfortable and facing other fears rather than putting them in the too hard basket can help us become more confident. It can highlight how we respond to and act in the presence of fear and what we can do about it.
Confidence is often defined as believing in yourself. I think this is absolute dribble. If confidence is a belief, then you could believe (without any swimming lessons) that you can swim, but when you jump in the pool and sink to the bottom, you may find believing in yourself doesn’t work. But if confidence is your actual capacity to employ some tactical, psychological, and physical skills even when you are scared, then I think confidence is one the most important attributes you can develop.
Remember the mind comes first. Techniques are useless unless they can be applied tactically and with intent. People survive deadly assaults every day with no physical self-defense training whatsoever. This is because of instincts, luck, and having some of the tactical, physical, and psychological skills necessary to survive. This indicates to me very much of survival is determined by mindset.
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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.

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Frostbite and Hypotermia Be Prepare

With extreme winter weather chilling much of the country, take a few extra steps to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.  Whether participating in outdoor winter activities or traveling, it is important to be prepared and know what to do should something go wrong.
  “A little extra thought can make the difference between a safe, enjoyable experience or severe discomfort that may result in injury.”
frostbitehypothermia
Prevent frostbite and hypothermia
  • Wear a hat and clothing made of tightly woven fibers, such as wool, which trap warm air against your body. A few lighter layers protect better than one heavy garment.
  • Protect vulnerable areas such as fingers, toes, ears and nose.
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids to help the body maintain its temperature.
  • If hot drinks are not available, drink plenty of plain water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms and will actually cause the body´s core temperature to drop.
  • Take frequent breaks from the cold to let your body warm up.
Signs & symptoms of frostbite
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pain and swelling

As the condition worsens…

  • Total loss of sensation
  • Pale waxy skin will become dark bluish
  • In severe cases, the skin will look burnt and charred.
Do you know what to do for frostbite?
  • Cover the affected area.
  • Never rub the skin as this may cause further damage.
  • Warm the area gently by immersing the affected part in water that is warm and comfortable to the touch.  Continue until affected area is warm and looks red.
  • Bandage the affected area with a dry sterile dressing.
  • Ensure that the affected part does not become frozen again.
  • Get the person to a doctor as soon as possible.
Signs & symptoms of hypothermia
  • Feeling cold
  • Shivering (which will stop as the condition worsens)
  • Slurred speech
  • Pale skin, bluish lips
  • Slow pulse
  • Lethargic
  • Mood swings
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Unconsciousness
What should you do for hypothermia?
  • Remove wet or cold clothing and replace with warm dry clothing.
  • Keep the person warm by wrapping him or her in blankets and moving them to a warm place.  Remember to be very gentle in handling the person.
  • Never rub the surface of the person´s body, this could cause further damage if they are also suffering from frostbite.
  • If the person is dry use hot water bottles or heating pads to warm them.  Make sure there is a blanket, clothing or towel between the heat source and the person´s skin.
  • If the person is awake, give warm liquids to drink. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms.
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Cold Weather – Basic Survival Tips

army

It is more difficult for you to satisfy your basic water, food, and shelter needs in a cold environment than in a warm environment. Even if you have the basic requirements, you must also have adequate protective clothing and the will to survive. The will to survive is as important as the basic needs. There have been incidents when trained and well-equipped individuals have not survived cold weather situations because they lacked the will to live. Conversely, this will has sustained individuals less well-trained and equipped.

There are many different items of cold weather equipment and clothing issued by the US Army today. Specialized units may have access to newer, lightweight gear such as polypropylene underwear, GORE-TEX outerwear and boots, and other special equipment. Remember, however, the older gear will keep you warm as long as you apply a few cold weather principles. If the newer types of clothing are available, use them. If not, then your clothing should be entirely wool, with the possible exception of a windbreaker. You must not only have enough clothing to protect you from the cold, you must also know how to maximize the warmth you get from it. For example, always keep your head covered. You can lose 40 to 45 percent of body heat from an unprotected head and even more from the unprotected neck, wrist, and ankles. These areas of the body are good radiators of heat and have very little insulating fat. The brain is very susceptible to cold and can stand the least amount of cooling. Because there is much blood circulation in the head, most of which is on the surface, you can lose heat quickly if you do not cover your head.

There are four basic principles to follow to keep warm. An easy way to remember these basic principles is to use the word COLD–

C – Keep clothing clean.
O – Avoid overheating.
L – Wear clothes loose and in layers.
D – Keep clothing dry.

C – Keep clothing clean. This principle is always important for sanitation and comfort. In winter, it is also important from the standpoint of warmth. Clothes matted with dirt and grease lose much of their insulation value. Heat can escape more easily from the body through the clothing’s crushed or filled up air pockets.

O – Avoid overheating. When you get too hot, you sweat and your clothing absorbs the moisture. This affects your warmth in two ways: dampness decreases the insulation quality of clothing, and as sweat evaporates, your body cools. Adjust your clothing so that you do not sweat. Do this by partially opening your parka or jacket, by removing an inner layer of clothing, by removing heavy outer mittens, or by throwing back your parka hood or changing to lighter headgear. The head and hands act as efficient heat dissipates when overheated.

L – Wear your clothing loose and in layers. Wearing tight clothing and footgear restricts blood circulation and invites cold injury. It also decreases the volume of air trapped between the layers, reducing its insulating value. Several layers of lightweight clothing are better than one equally thick layer of clothing, because the layers have dead-air space between them. The dead-air space provides extra insulation. Also, layers of clothing allow you to take off or add clothing layers to prevent excessive sweating or to increase warmth.

D – Keep clothing dry. In cold temperatures, your inner layers of clothing can become wet from sweat and your outer layer, if not water repellent, can become wet from snow and frost melted by body heat. Wear water repellent outer clothing, if available. It will shed most of the water collected from melting snow and frost. Before entering a heated shelter, brush off the snow and frost. Despite the precautions you take, there will be times when you cannot keep from getting wet. At such times, drying your clothing may become a major problem. On the march, hang your damp mittens and socks on your rucksack. Sometimes in freezing temperatures, the wind and sun will dry this clothing. You can also place damp socks or mittens, unfolded, near your body so that your body heat can dry them. In a campsite, hang damp clothing inside the shelter near the top, using drying lines or improvised racks. You may even be able to dry each item by holding it before an open fire. Dry leather items slowly. If no other means are available for drying your boots, put them between your sleeping bag shell and liner. Your body
heat will help to dry the leather.

A heavy, down-lined sleeping bag is a valuable piece of survival gear in cold weather. Ensure the down remains dry. If wet, it loses a lot of its insulation value. If you do not have a sleeping bag, you can make one out of parachute cloth or similar material and natural dry material, such as leaves, pine needles, or moss. Place the dry material between two layers of the material.

Other important survival items are a knife; waterproof matches in a waterproof container, preferably one with a flint attached; a durable compass; map; watch; waterproof ground cloth and cover; flashlight; binoculars; dark glasses; fatty emergency foods; food gathering gear; and signaling items.

Remember, a cold weather environment can be very harsh. Give a good deal of thought to selecting the right equipment for survival in the cold. If unsure of an item you have never used, test it in an “overnight backyard” environment before venturing further. Once you have selected items that are essential for your survival, do not lose them after you enter a cold weather environment.

Sourced from http://army.com

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A Simple Hatchet can Save your Life

swiss-reserve-hatchet

The hatchet is a small axe that is one heck of a survival tool, and it lends itself to numerous applications that help you not die. Let’s go over some of the way it can be helpful in a survival situation.

Fire Starter

You should have at least two to three different ways to start a fire, like waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, and a lighter.  A hatchet is another very helpful item to have when needing to start a fire. It not only makes it much easier to cut large pieces of wood, but also functions as a striking tool to create sparks. Use as a striker only in an emergency situation to avoid premature dulling.

Defense

Finding yourself face to face with a large predator in the wild such as a cougar or bear is never ideal, and there’s no running away, as it sends a clear message that you’re food rather than a potential threat. Granted, you’d probably rather have a gun or an airbow to keep the predators at longer distances, but if things become too close, you can count on your hatchet. The hatchet works best when used in a hacking motion to maintain your defense.

Ice Cutter

Cutting ice and hard snow for water is much easier when you have a hatchet, as is digging out a snow shelter.  Ice cutting will come in handy if you need to dig a hole to protect a small fire from the wind.

Splint Assistance

Should you need to create a splint, a hatchet again comes in super handy. It makes it easy to cut and fashion a splint, whether for you or an injured party member.

Light Reflector

The metal section of a hatchet works as a light reflector, which sure is helpful if you’re alone in the wilderness and need to be rescued!

Hammer

The hatchet’s back end works as a very nice hammer.

Some would argue that you only need a fixed blade knife in your pack, while others would argue that the hatchet is the more important of the two. The reality is that you should have both. If you don’t have a hatchet in your survival bag, consider purchasing one. Chances are that you’ll be very glad you have it down the road.

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Camping and Don’t have Soap…..Try Wood Ashes

wood-ash-uses

Have you ever found yourself in the wilderness or camping and realized you were without soap, don’t panic. It’s still entirely possible to clean your gear with…wait for it…wood ash. Wood ash actually makes a fantastic alternative when suds aren’t available or you decided to skip bringing bars of the stuff entirely to make room for other things. Wood ashes have been used as a source of lye in soap making for years upon years.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your wood ashes:

Hardwoods Vs. Softwoods

When choosing between hardwood and softwood, go for hardwood tree ash over their softwood counterparts, as hardwood trees are better for making soap.

No Residue

First and foremost, it’s essential that your wood ash be free from assorted residues. These include food, plastic, or any other trash, as they could easily make the ashes toxic. Use pure wood ash instead, which may require building a new fire at a different location and letting it burn uninterrupted until you can extract the ashes without issue.

Super-Greasy Pots

Use the greasiest pot you have to make your ash-tastic soap. Add a little olive oil or fat to ease the soap-making process, then add a few cups of ashes. If some of your ashes contain charcoal, fear not, as it will only aid the scouring process.

Hot Water

Add hot water to your concoction–enough to make a nice paste. This results in potassium salts, which will mix with the fat or oil to create your soap. It may not be the prettiest soap ever, but darn if it won’t clean the heck out of your pots and pans.

Let the mixture to cool before slathering your pots with it, and allow the soap to stand for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse pots with water to complete the process.

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5 Natural Ways to Fight a Cold or the Flu

cold-and-flu

5 NATURAL WAYS TO FIGHT A COLD OR THE FLU

It is that time of year again, the beginning of cold and flu season. Yuck! Although many of us would love to stay inside and avoid all those nasty germs lurking about in public, it is not always feasible.
So, let’s look at a few ways to fight off and relieve the symptoms of a cold or the flu, Naturally:
1. Herbs:
One of the best herbs to stimulate immune supporting white blood cells, T cells, macrophage and interferon activity is Echinacea. This can be taken at the first signs of a cold and will help to ease the symptoms. Boneset is another herb that will help to stimulant the immune system and is one of the most effective herbs to fight a cold or the flu. It promotes sweating and helps your body to release toxins. Although you could steep it and drink as a tea it is best to take it in pill form if possible, as it can be quite bitter tasting. Yarrow leaf is another highly effective herb that helps to reduce fever and is also an antiseptic. It can be steeped and drank as a tea. Peppermint leaf has antiviral properties, promotes sweating to release toxins and is gentle enough to use on children. This is found in pill form or raw leaves for steeping and making a tea as well. Ginger root is a terrific herb that helps to warm chills and fight infection. It is known as the warming herb that helps to also alleviate stomach distress that is sometimes associated with a cold or the flu.
2. Vitamins:
When it comes to taking vitamins, there are two that are a must have. These include Vitamin C and Zinc. Taking 1000 mg three times a day will help to shorten the length of a cold. Zinc helps to stimulate T cell response and helps to prevent a cold virus from replicating. Note that it is not recommended to take more than 50 mg of Zinc daily.
3. Homeopathic Remedies:
Anas Barbariae also called Oscillococcinum, is a wonderful remedy used for onset symptoms of the flu. Some of these symptoms include ear pain, congestion, chills, frontal sinus pain and nasal discharge. It is recommended to take 3-4 pellets three times a day under the tongue.
4. Foods to Help:
If you find yourself fallen ill, many foods have beneficial affects. To break up congestion try chicken soup or miso vegetable soup with plenty of garlic and onion. Garlic and onions both have antimicrobial properties that will help fight infection. Another terrific antimicrobial item is cinnamon. Add cinnamon to applesauce, sweet potatoes, or tea. Foods that are rich in beta-carotene such as sweet potatoes, help to strengthen mucus membranes in the lungs. Other helpful antioxidant foods that help are carrots, cabbage, mustard greens, turnips and broccoli.  One always helpful favorite of mine, is hot tea with honey which helps to soothe a sore throat and helps to reduce coughing.
5. Essential Oils:

It is commonly known that essential oils have multiple health benefits. Using an essential oil diffuser can help prevent other family members from getting sick. Some of the best oils to use are juniper, tea tree, lavender, peppermint, and rosemary. A personal favorite and very effective essential oil for treating cold and flu symptoms is called thieves oil.  Thieves oil is generally a blend of Clove, Lemon, Rosemary, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus.  

Remember if you do come down with a cold or the flu, getting enough rest is vital. It is during this time that that your body heals itself. Also don’t forget to drink plenty of clear liquids to help flush out your system. Be sure to avoid caffeine and milk products as these can actually increase mucus production. This will only prolong your illness and make you feel worse.

Linked from: http://thetrailerparkhomesteader.blogspot.com/2016/10/5-natural-ways-to-fight-cold-or-flu.html
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Wilderness and Emergency Survival Shelters

Shelter is one of the top priorities necessities in the wilderness, emergencies and survival situation. Knowing which shelter would be best for you depends on the situation or location you are in.

What you need to do is first ask yourself how quickly you need to build a shelter, and how long you plan on being in the local vicinity. In a true survival situation you will probably need to build a shelter rather quickly and preferably before night falls. Here is a few different types of shelters you can build, also you can pick up The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook which is A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Life-saving Structures for Every Climate and Wilderness Situation.

Squirrel Nest

The Squirrel Nest shelter is one of the most simplest of all woodland shelters. They are the quickest to put together since they are just a pile of leaves.

This type of shelter can be surprisingly warm and even effective at keeping you dry.

Mound up a huge dry pile of leaves and dig yourself a trough in the middle, lie down, and then pull the leaves over you.

Two or more feet of leaves on top will resist moderate rain for hours, but it’s necessary to lie very still to keep them in place.

To increase the stability of a squirrel nest shelter make the shelter between two fallen logs. This will prevent leaves from spreading out on the forest floor.

Debris Hut

The Debris Hut shelter provides a quick sleeping shelter for one to two people. However it is not possible to do anything else in it  such as cooking, working, etc.

To make a Debris Hut shelter cut a strong, straight branch at least 10′ (3m) long for the ridgepole. One end goes on the ground while the other is supported by a pair of sturdy sticks set into the ground and crossed and tied (using vine, paracord or even shoelace) near the top.

If you can find a naturally occurring support for the open end, such as a low tree limb, by all means use it! Lash the ridgepole to the support with cordage.

Cut a bunch of sticks at leave 1″ in diameter, and place them diagonally against both sides of the ridgepole, spacing them about 2″ apart. It is not necessary to tie them in place.

Now lay down inside and make sure it covers your entire body, with enough height for toes and at least 3″ extra width on  each side of your shoulders.

If you have a tarp or poncho place it over the ridgepole and secure the points of the tarp/poncho to the ground.

If you do not have a tarp or poncho, or would like more insulation then begin piling leaves over the sticks (or poncho)  and don’t stop until the pile is ridiculously high. The leaves will settle quickly, and the thicker the covering remains, the better it will protect you from rain and heat loss.

Lay more sticks or leafy branches over the leaves to hold them in place. Branches with pine needles are the best.

Now, if you haven’t followed the tip we have below, stuff the inside of the hut with leaves for insulation. Leave a good pile of leaves at the door. After you wiggle your way in feet-first for the night, pull the loose pile of leaves in after you to close the entrance and prevent heat loss around your head.

Tip: Build the debris hut over a huge pile of leaves to avoid having to stuff it later.

Shade Shelter

The Shade Shelter is primarily for those in desert environments but can also be adapted for colder weather locations as well.

This type of shelter is ideal for hot and arid climates where travelers or survivors need to be aware of the heat and sun which can lead to deadly heat stroke.

In winter environments travelers or survivors may need to protect themselves against sunburn or snow blindness.

If rain protection is not an objective then even a bare pile of sticks will suffice for a shade shelter that resembles a partial teepee.

Cut three long poles and last them not too tightly at least 1″ down from one end. Stand the assembly upright, then spread the legs into a tripod.

Take more long poles and align them between two of the poles, resting their tops in the crotch of the main poles at the top.

For protection from the sun from two directions, fill in two sides of the pyramid.

If long sticks are difficult to come by, last a couple of shorter sticks horizontally between two main uprights. You can then pile shorter sticks or even sagebrush against them.

For sun protection fro, dawn to dusk, use four poles for the main structure and cover three sides, leaving the open side facing north in the northern hemisphere, south in the southern.

Wind Block

While building a shelter to block just the wind seems like an awful lot of energy for a shelter tha

Lean-To

One of the most popular and well-known wilderness and survival emergency shelters is the Lean-To shelter.

Lean-tos are a class of shelter with a common configuration but no set structure.

They all consist of a flat slanted roof and, usually, two or more stout poles that serve as rafters.

Covering Your Lean-To

If you have a tarp or poncho use it! If not the below methods are great secondary coverings.

Large slabs of bark can be pulled off of down, rotten trees, and these make excellent roofing material.

Lay a curse across the bottom, then work your way up, overlapping each course like shingling a house.

Pile several feet of leaves over closely spaced roof poles and hold them in place with light branches, as for a debris hut.

The roof must be pitched steeply, at least 45 degree angle, if thatching is to be used.

Tip: For greater protection, sides can be added to a lean-to using the same methods. Ultimately, you can even enclose part or all of the front as well for a structure that will conserve heat as well as provide rain and wind protection.

In conclusion, there are various of types of shelters that we haven’t even covered. We will be doing a few more Shelter 101 write-ups that will include other types of shelters. Many of the above are excellent shelters for wilderness environments and for when you are in an emergency survival situation.

Excerpt from: The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook By Anthonio Akkermans

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ANTI-HISTAMINE MEDICATION: A MUST MUST MUST-HAVE ITEM

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Not having at least one box of anti-histamines in the house at all times is a huge mistake. Not having a large supply in store for emergency use is a massively huge mistake.

First the science:

Histamine is present in most cells, it’s biologically active and is released in response to a foreign pathogen that irritates the body causing it to be released. It isn’t just released by irritants. Infection, physical damage and allergies all cause the substance to move from our cells and course around our body. A great deal goes on within the body before the hives that we associate with an allergy appear, and more still goes on before tissues start to swell and distort, a sign that an alleged is severely affecting the victim. You can find a full description of the sequence of events here.

Anti-histamines can relieve many of the symptoms associated with allergies. They can’t cure them but they can and do make life more comfortable for millions of people everyday.

Sensitivities to drugs, stings and foods are rarely life-threatening in the first instance unless the reaction is overwhelming tor the person is extremely sensitive to the substance in question. A good example is multiple bee or wasp stings that cause such a massive reaction that tissues swell and anaphylaxis occurs.

Usually anaphylaxis occurs after one or more previous exposures to the allergen, each reaction is worse than the previous one until the point is reached where exposure to the allergen causes a massive histamine release and anaphylaxis occurs within minutes of the exposure.

Antihistamines can slow down a reaction to an allergen, it buys you a little time in cases of severe allergies, time to call an ambulance or get to a hospital where airway and respiratory management is available.

An Epipen containing adrenalin should be high on your priority list if you can get one…here in the UK that’s impossible to do unless you are already known to be likely to suffer from, or have previously suffered from anaphylaxis.

So what happens though in times when help isn’t coming? In any kind of societal collapse hospitals may not be functioning in any normal sense of the word, what would you do then?

Airway management requires specialist equipment that is usually only available to those in the medical profession who are allowed to procure things such as endotracheal tubes and nano-pharyngeal tubes, then there’s the laryngoscope that you would need to visualise the larynx in order to site the tube. On top of this you need to have enough knowledge of anatomy to site the tube correctly so that oxygen actually ends up in the lung not the stomach. In a case of anaphylaxis shock where tissues are swelling and distorting it’s highly unlikely someone who doesn’t place tubes on a very regular basis would be able to do it. It’s at least a weekly occurrence to have a patient with a difficult airway that tries the patience of the most experienced airway management technician and even qualified anaesthetists that conduct laryngoscopy on a multi-times daily basis get the odd case they will struggle with.

In a collapse situation it’s safe to say that intubation isn’t an option for 99.99% of the population outside of the hospital environment.

This is why you need a huge stock of antihistamine medication.

If someone presents with anaphalaxis and their airways are swelling and closing they are in dire straights. Other internal changes are taking place and the situation will worsen very quickly, in short, unless something is done they will most likely die. ANYTHING you can do to possibly save them is on the table and giving them a large dose (two-three tablets) of antihistamine medication whilst they can still swallow is possibly the only hope they have.

Antihistamines can cause problems taken in large doses or if taken long-term as a preventative measure. The incidence of problems however is low and a life-threatening emergency has to be the priority.

At the FIRST sign of severe allergy get those drugs in, crush them up in a small amount of water and get it into them, they will get into the victims system faster if they don’t have to dissolve first so crushing them into powder makes them more easily soluble.

Ignore the one a day rule: Any numbness of the nose and mouth, swelling of the nose, lips and eyelids says it’s severe and if you know you cannot get to medical help within minutes give at least two crushed antihistamine tablets immediately.

In the short term you are not causing any damage to your patient. Enough of the drug needs to be given to start to counteract the effects of the allergen…and we have no idea how much that is because we can’t see what’s going on inside the patient.

Yes, if you have medical knowledge and the outside of a ball-point pen you can do a tracheostomy on the kitchen table but most people would be unable to cut a hole in their loved ones throat!

If you decide to take that option please make sure they have taken their last breath first – that way you won’y bear the unbearable responsibility of feeling you have killed them if it doesn’t work.

The human brain can go a full minute without oxygen before the effects start to become apparent.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • generalised flushing of the skin
  • nettle rash (hives) anywhere on the body
  • sense of impending doom
  • swelling of throat and mouth
  • difficulty in swallowing or speaking
  • alterations in heart rate
  • severe asthma
  • abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
  • collapse and unconsciousness

Note that not all of these things will be present in every person suffering from a severe allergy.

On a less dramatic note having a large supply of antihistamines available can make life more bearable generally by easing itching and congestion in a variety of conditions from hay fever to mosquito bites.

Try and have some of the “may cause drowsiness” for the little ones, an itchy miserable child won’t sleep well and this has a knock on effect for the entire family. Getting them to drift off is no easy task when they are fractious. Most antihistamine medications are safe for youngsters and sleep provides relief for them primarily but also respite for everyone else.

Linked from: http://undergroundmedic.com/2016/11/anti-histamine-medication-a-must-must-must-have-item/

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Dehydrated Food versus Freeze Dried Food

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Are you curious to know the basic differences between dehydrated food and freeze dried food?

Lots of preparedness-minded people who have a so called ‘deep pantry’ and will often have a variety of foods for longer term storage including dehydrated foods and freeze dried foods.

Here are the basics regarding each process:

 

DEHYDRATED FOOD

Dehydration is the process of removing water from a substance, in this case – food. Dehydrated foods have much of their water content removed.

Many preparedness food-storage vendors sell dehydrated foods, however it also a process that you can do right in your own home with either a low-temperature oven or a purpose-built food dehydrator, similar to this one… Excalibur.

During the process, moisture is removed from the food by slowly heating it at temperatures which may range from 115-F to 155-F depending on the recommendations for the food type itself. Typically a fan circulates the air within the food dehydrator to evenly distribute the heat. The process time may range from 8 hours to 12 hours or more, depending on the moisture content of the food and other factors.

When finished, typical ‘dehydrated food’ moisture levels are reduced to levels in a range from 10 to 20 percent – depending.

Home dehydrated foods may have a ‘typical’ shelf life ranging from six months to a year, however it is fairly easy to obtain much longer shelf life for many dehydrated foods by drying them longer, keeping them in a cool-dry storage environment, and properly packaging the food (vacuum sealer).

Dehydrating at home is a great way to store extra food from your garden, or vegetables and fruits you have purchased at the market at a great ‘sale’ price.

Advantages of Dehydrated Food

No waste
Lightweight
Low moisture
Do it yourself
Long shelf life
Not easily spoiled
Costs less than freeze dried food

 

 

FREEZE DRIED FOOD

Freeze drying is also a dehydration process – with some differences which enable the food to become MUCH DRIER than dehydrated food.

The freeze-dry process is a professional process which is very expensive to reproduce at home.

The foods are processed / frozen, and during the freezing process the surrounding air pressure is reduced in a vacuum chamber to enable the (frozen) water in the food to change from a ‘solid phase’ to a ‘gas phase’ in order to remove even more moisture.

Freeze drying removes more water from foods than dehydrating (down to just a few percent!), so it lengthens the shelf life. Many vendors of freeze dried foods claim shelf life as long as 25 years.

Freeze-dried foods can taste amazingly delicious due to the unique process which retains even more flavor and nutrients.

Advantages of Freeze-dried Food

Very long shelf life
Very lightweight
Very low moisture
Reconstitutes quickly
Best way to dry meat items
Generally tastes better than dehydrated
Retains original shape, texture, color after reconstitution
Both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods have a place in one’s diversified food storage. Freeze-dried foods are more expensive although very light weight with a long shelf life. Dehydrated foods can be processed at home, albeit with a shorter shelf life.

Linked from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/survival-kitchen/dehydrated-vs-freeze-dried-foods/

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NEW PREPPERS GUIDE TO WINTER VEHICLE PREPAREDNESS

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Many people new to prepping, or even those just setting out on their own for the first time find the thought of preparing for major winter storms overwhelming. I get this entirely. The key is to break it down into manageable chunks and deal with one chunk before you move onto the next. Today we lookout your vehicle and what you need to think about when travelling around in winter.

We cannot guarantee that a storm will come late Friday when we are all safely at home so any vehicle in use should have an emergency ‘extreme weather kit’ in the trunk and a few extra supplies inside the car so lets take a look at that first.

You need to make sure that should your car become your home for a couple of days that it’s up for the job. Your vehicle should be well maintained and have appropriate tires. You also need to be mentally prepared for spending time in the vehicle, not knowing when rescue will come?the traffic will start moving again.

A serious accident can see tail-backs miles and miles long and in heavy falling snow this can turn into a life threatening situation very quickly for those stuck in the traffic without out adequate fuel, clothing and food.  Knowing that you have the equipment and supplies to survive such a situation will make you calmer should disaster strike. You won’t be worrying about eating or freezing to death which means you can concentrate on the task in hand: Getting yourself out of the situation or sitting it out with relative ease.

So, what do you need to have with you? Some items are obvious, some not so obvious:

  • A shovel preferably a strong but lightweight folding one.
  • Windshield scraper and small broom
  • Flashlight with extra batteries or dynamo/wind up flashlight
  • Battery powered radio or dynamo/battery radio
  • Tow chains and/ropes
  • Tire chains if allowed in your area
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency reflective triangle or sign
  • Flares if your route uses back roads,/remote areas
  • Full first aid kit
  • Rock salt/grit/cat litter for putting under wheels to aid traction.
  • Distress flag/ bright bandana to attract attention.
  • Whistle to attract attention
  • A largish card with your name and cell number written on it. If you leave the vehicle add your direction of travel, the date and the time you left the vehicle. Leave this in the car
  • Matches, lighter and small tea light candles packed into a small wide necked jar. The candle can be put into the bottom of the jar and stood on the dashboard to give a gentle light that can be seen from a considerable distance. Have your window open just a crack to make sure no fumes build up. This also applies if you run the engine for even just a few minutes.
  • Keep the gas tank topped up.
  • Any daily required prescription medications.
  • Phone comparable power pack capable of at least 3 full charges of your phone.
  • Baby wipes for personal hygiene.
  • Half a dozen good quality heavy gauge plastic bags big enough to ‘go’ in if the call of nature can’t be stalled any longer.
  • A  dozen bright strips of fabric with your name and cell number written on them in permanent marker: If you are in a remote area and have to leave your vehicle there are decent markers and can be tied to tree branches alerting rescuers to the fact that you are there and your direction of travel.
  • A couple of thick fleece blankets and/or a sleeping bag.
  • Sweat top and pants big enough to go over your regular clothes.
  • Wool socks, boot type big enough to go on easily.
  • Hat preferably with ear flaps, mittens and scarf
  • Thick tread knee high rubber boots in case for any reason you end up having to walk out.
  • Water and pouch fruit juice drinks
  • Bag of your chosen trail mix
  • High energy snack bars
  • Couple of packs of cookies
  • Hard candy
  • Few individual bags of dried fruit and/or nuts
  • Couple of high calorie chocolate bars, Snickers, Mars bars or similar

The exhaust/tail pipe has to be kept free of snow otherwise fumes will back up into the vehicle every time you run the engine. A sure way to get carbon monoxide poisoning

Bonus tip: Pee contains urea and peeing or tipping your makeshift pee bag out under the exhaust/tailpipe of the vehicle after you’ve cleared it will not only melt the remaining snow but prevent more snow building in that area keeping the pipe snow free for a considerable time.

Packing most of the kit into a hiking style back pack is the best option because if for any reason you have to walk out of the situation you can take it with you. On your journey try to have it inside the vehicle, it can go in the trunk whilst you’re at work and get slipped back into the vehicle for the trip home.

The folding shovel should be able to attach to the pack via velcro or a lanyard in case you have to leave the vehicle. Should you have to leave your vehicle put on the spare clothes you have with you, you can always take them off if you are too hot and better that than get hypothermia and/or frostbite. The rubber boots will protect your feet and lower legs from the worst of the weather.

Mittens are better than gloves as your hands retain more heat. The scarf should be wrapped around your mouth and nose to reduce the cold air entering your body and to protect your nose from frostbite. Make sure your ears are covered as they are also susceptible to frost bite.

As soon as you become stuck you need to let someone know where you are. In remote areas, in cases of accident or of a breakdown this should be 911 (999 UK) first and then a family member. Tell them where you are and what the issue is and when you hang up turn off the phone to save the battery. Now is not the time to see if there is a Pokemon near the vehicle.

The standard advice is to stay with your vehicle, it gives you some protection from the weather but on occasions that’s just not possible. Remember if you leave the vehicle be sure to:

  • Leave the card with the date and time as well as direction of travel.
  • Wear as many of the clothes as you can without impeding your ability to move comfortably.
  • Take the food and drink with you.
  • Do not eat snow it will lower your core temperature and can speed up the onset of hypothermia.
  • Mark the route you take with the cloth strips.
  • In wooded areas walk in the centre of the road there will be less hazards than there are near the tree line. Think animals, hidden tree roots and uneven ground.

I hope you found this useful.

Linked from: http://undergroundmedic.com/2016/10/new-preppers-guide-to-winter-vehicle-preparedness/

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Carbon Monoxide Is A Winter Silent Killer

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Carbon Monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.

If you are being accidentally poisoned by carbon monoxide, you may not know it until it’s too late – possibly while you’re asleep.

Do you have a wood stove or a pellet stove? Even for oil & gas heating systems, if the combustion or venting is not right, you could be getting carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here’s what you need to know…

 

Carbon monoxide is produced whenever a fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, or wood is burned. The amount produced depends on the quality of the burn or combustion. A poor burn or improper ventilation will build up a high concentration of carbon monoxide in the home.

You can’t smell it, so you won’t know that it’s happening.

Carbon Monoxide in high concentrations, starves the oxygen from bodily tissues, which could lead to seizure, coma, and fatality. Preliminary symptoms are flu-like and include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and weakness.

Apparently in the United States, more than 500 people die each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning while thousands more require emergency treatment.
Carbon Monoxide is a gas that weighs slightly less than air, so it will tend to rise and accumulate more upstairs in a home if the heating system is malfunctioning. However, the first floor is still vulnerable under the same circumstances.

A furnace that is not completely and efficiently burning all of its fuel (poor combustion) will produce excess Carbon Monoxide. Furnaces with air-intake filters can clog, causing poor fuel combustion and high Carbon Monoxide levels. Furnaces with improper venting (including wood stoves) will release high amounts of Carbon Monoxide into the living area.
Prevention is the key to survival.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a three step process.

1. Ensure proper venting
2. Ensure proper combustion
3. Ensure proper detection.

Detection can only be trusted to a quality Carbon Monoxide detector, and every home should have at least one. Best to have one on each level of the home, especially in your bedroom.

Particularly during the winter months, please consider protecting your family from the unthinkable. Just like a home smoke alarm, a Carbon Monoxide detector could save your life from winter’s silent killer.
IMPORTANT: Carbon Monoxide detectors (and smoke detectors) have a shelf life! This varies between 5 and 10 years depending… So please determine if you might need to change yours.

NOTE: I am re-posting this article because this morning I had a reminder… My carbon monoxide detector let out a loud chirp, and then later on again… I checked it out to discover that it’s six years old (end of shelf life). There was no indication on the digital screen of a carbon monoxide level (ppm was ‘000’), so I’m figuring that it’s flaking out due to its age. So I’ve just ordered two of the latest replacements. This is important folks. If you don’t have one of these, you should consider it.

Linked from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/health/carbon-monoxide-winters-silent-killer/

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Build your vehicle survival kit for on-the-road emergencies

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Seeing that we spend a lot of our time driving around, we can be trapped in our vehicles at any time due to various unpredictable on-the-road events. Having a vehicle survival kit in your car can save the day when no one else is around to give you a helping hand. Sinkholes, rollovers, natural disasters and even unknown terrain could turn deadly if you are not prepared.

Accidents happen all the time and misfortune doesn’t care if you are running errands, if you are on vacation or if you are driving in the backcountry. Before you open your vehicle survival kit, you should start by assessing your situation. Answering to the following questions will condition your next steps:

  • Are you or any of the passengers injured?
  • Are you close to any type of civilization?
  • How far away is it? Can you cover the distance by foot?
  • How long is it going to take until you can make your vehicle mobile again?

Once you have assessed the situation you can use the equipment on hand and put in motion your survival strategy.  You will need to save yourself and limit the consequences of your current situation by using your vehicle survival kit.

Items for your vehicle survival kit:

  1. The survival bag of your choice, a bug out bag or your get home bag. These bags are designed to keep you alive and the items you’ve placed in them should sustain you in the event of an emergency.
  2. A car safety hammer. This tool can save your life if you get trapped in your car during a flooding or any other type of scenario that requires for you to quickly abandon your vehicle. These types of tools have three functions: a window breaker, a glass hammer and a seatbelt cutter. You can use the window breaker to shatter the windows of your car, while the small hammer can be used to clear remaining glass. The seatbelt cutter will make sure you can cut yourself free from jammed seatbelts. The most important thing to keep in mind when having such a too is that you need to keep it in reach, otherwise it becomes useless.
  3. A tire repair kit. Flat tires occur often when traveling through unknown terrain and if you don’t have time to wait for the roadside service, a tire repair kit is the best next thing. Make sure you have one in your vehicle survival kit as it will provide you with everything needed to repair punctures and get back on the road.
  1. To finish the repair job on your tires, you will need an air compressor. However, things can get tricky here and you need to make sure the compressor you buy has the power to inflate your tires. Air capacity and pressure requirements vary greatly for car and truck tires.
  2. A folding survival shovel. This item is extremely useful in an off-grid environment and you can use it to dig your way out of a tight spot. If the shovel has an incorporated saw blade, you can cut tree branches and use them as a grip surface to help the tires pull their way out when you get stuck. It can also be used to dig up rocks and put it in the sand to create traction.
  3. Jump-starter power bank. If you are forced to deal with a dead battery and there is no living soul around to jump it for you, you will need to rely on a stand-alone power supply. Such a device can jump your battery, but it also provides charging capabilities for multiple devices.
  4. A tow strap. There are various models available on the market and I recommend going with a heavy duty 30-foot tow strap that can handle more than 5,000 pounds in use. The tow straps are usually made from rugged polyester and they can be successfully used for self-recovery. You can also give someone a tow and you can use it for pretty much anything you can think of during an emergency. You can even secure it between an anchor and a wheel that is stuck to free it by creating a winch as you accelerate.
  5. A compact auto tool kit. This type of tool should contain all the standard items you would need for basic tinkering. A bit driver, bit sockets, a wrench and pliers, are all items you need among other things. Of course that this becomes dead weight if you have no idea how and for what jobs to use it.
  6. An all-weather tarp. A tarp is an indispensable item for your prepping plans and you should have one available in your vehicle survival kit or survival bag. There are dozens of ways in which a tarp can be used and improvising a quick shelter in an austere environment is probably the number one use for a survival situation.
  1. Signaling items. Road flares and reflective signs should be part of your vehicle survival kit as you will be able to alert others (drivers or rescue parties) of your distress. While some people decide to keep in their cars only road flares since they have a double role, fire starter and signaling item, flares last only so long. On the other hand, a large reflective sign can be placed on the road or on top of your car and you won’t have to worry about its lifespan.
  2. Tire iron and jack. These basic items should be part of your survival vehicle kit as you will need the tire iron to break the lug nuts loose for each wheel and the jack to raise and lower your vehicle.
  3. A led lamp. While many people will keep a flashlight in their survival bag, having a led lamp (preferably a solar one) in your vehicle survival kit can prove much more useful. If you need to use both your hands for car repairs you can hang the lamp or place it wherever is needed.
  4. A small fire extinguisher. This item can help you put out small fires in your vehicle, preventing greater damage and loss. However, if you think gasoline is involved, you should keep your distance from a vehicle on fire.
  5. Food and water. You should already have some food and water packed in your survival bag and having a little extra will do no harm. I keep a 3 gallon water container in my car at all times and I also bought a case of 12 protein bars that I keep as emergency snacks.
  6. A first aid-kit. Once again, these should already be in your survival bag, but if that’s not the case or if you don’t have your bag with you, it would be wise to have a spare first-aid kit in your car. Don’t forget to also bring some toilet paper and feminine hygiene products, in case you will need them.
  7. Clothing for the season. Your survival bag might not be updated for the season and the clothes you placed in it may not fit your needs. Every fall I put some spare clothes in my car, just as a precautionary measure. I have a pair of pants, a wind and waterproof jacket, two pairs of socks, and a pair of boots. They might not be the best looking clothes, but they will do the job when needed.

 

  1. Navigation items. Today we are used to rely on our phones to navigate and to do pretty much everything we can think off. However, your phone may get damaged during an accident and you need to have backups. Having local road maps and a GPS system are the alternatives you should consider as these items will help you figure out how far you are from civilization and if you can get there.
  2. A multi-purpose stove like the Biolite Campstove. This ingenious stove system uses wood, twigs and all sorts of burning materials you can find in your environment to convert heat into electricity. Even more, you can cook your meals thanks to its various accessories, like he pot or the portable grill. This is an ideal survival item for any type of situation and you should have one in your car, regardless if you plan a hiking trip or prepare for an emergency situation.
  3. A cook set. People avoid adding pots and pans in their survival bags as they mostly carry ready to eat meals or foods that do not require cooking. Not to mention that such items can increase the weight of their bags. Since your vehicle handles all the heavy loads for you, it would be smart to add a cook set in your car.

 

  1. Everything else missing from your survival bag. If you have some items missing from your survival bag due to various considerations, it is recommended to keep them in your vehicle survival kit as a backup plan. You will not have to worry about carrying the extra load and bulk on you and they will come in handy when time comes, without having to improvise for substitutes.

Making a vehicle survival kit should be mandatory if you spend much of your time on the road, but also if you plan to be prepared for the unexpected. In recent years, there has been an increase in people being trapped in their cars due to various disasters events (mostly blizzards) and the majority was caught unprepared. I honestly don’t understand why people don’t make a survival vehicle kit, especially if they have enough room in their cars. You can make one based on your needs, place it in your car and forget about it until you need to use it.

Linked from: http://prepperswill.com/vehicle-survival-kit-road-emergencies/

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Sleep and survival – smart prepper’s guide to choosing the best portable bed

Today, let’s talk essentials, but with a twist. We’ll talk about sleep and the choice of a best portable bed (air mattress or a sleeping pad) should you ever need one.The word, essentials has been used and rehashed in the preparedness community that the very meaning in vague for most people, so let us take a step back and ask ourselves, “What are the basic human needs?”

Water. Food. Sleep.

Right?

And while the topics of the clean water and water filtration systems and food, energy bars, our minimum needs are a subject of every 4th or 5th article that pops up in the community, try and think back to the last time you read an actionable article about sleep.

Chances are – you can’t…sleep is the one most commonly misunderstood basic human needs. The misconceptions about it have transferred from our everyday lives to the way we think about preparedness.

It all started the very first time we thought to ourselves, “I have to finish these reports but I’ll make up for the lost sleep at the weekend.”

Importance of sleep

The making up for the lost sleep at the weekend thing – IT’S A MYTH AND IT DOESN’T WORK. It’s been proven in studies for some time now that only one night of lost (or bad) sleep interferes with how our body functions.

And while those reports being late might not be such a big deal – what if you vigilance and responsiveness are affected when the time comes to defend what you love the most?

So, with that said, let us move on to the meat of this guide – proper planning of our sleeping arrangements or, to be more precise, choosing the best air mattresses for our shelters and sleeping pads for our BOBs.

Choosing an air mattress for our shelters

Whether you have an off-the-grid shelter or disaster strikes at home, the importance of owning a versatile secondary bed (s) cannot be over-stressed. There are a number of scenarios that will put them to good use.

Bear in mind that the kind of air mattresses we’re talking about here are only really an option for your shelter or as a backup bed to have in your home, not for your backpack. They are way too bulky and heavy.

Still, to get the most out of it, you have to know what you’re doing when choosing – so let’s make sure that you do.

Today, we’ll be talking about the INs and OUTs of choosing a good air mattress.

Materials of top airbeds

Most of airbeds are made of PVC, with some plasticizers added to increase durability and comfort – we want only the most durable and reliable air mattresses for our shelters.

There are thousands of them out there and it can be confusing, so let us cut through the clutter and get very specific about what to looks for.

Increased durability and low puncture resistance

Look for thicker PVC for increased durability. Go for anything close to 0.6 mm thick. Most of the airbeds will feature PVC that’s around 0.4 mm thick, there are only a handful that are extra thick…and don’t worry about not finding the information, those companies that make the extra-durable blow-up mattresses go out of their way to stress in the fact sheet.

Always take a special note of the weight of these babies because 50% added thickness will usually mean 50% added weight, so think about how that applies to your plans. It’s a good fit if it’s standing on the shelf in your shelter, but it’s not an option if you plan to bug out with your essentials in your backpack.

Safety and fumes

If you’ve ever owned an airbed, you know the issue of the rubbery smell lingering for days. It doesn’t feel great and there’s always that underlying feeling that it can’t be healthy.

In reality, safety concerns of an airbed are a thing of the past and the chemicals used in the manufacturing are a thing of the past. In fact, a study of off-gassing (fumes) as reported by users has shown that, in the long run, the issues of fumes and smells with airbeds is lower than any other type of mattresses (see graph below).

air mattress and fumes

Make sure that you inflate/deflate the air mattress a couple of times and leaving it out of that bag for a day or two before storing it on that shelf.

This will allow you to notice any flaws with the product as well as air it out and get rid of the plasticky smell.

If you still have concerns, you can always go with an air mattress that’s completely PVC-free and entirely textile-made. These are even more durable and less prone to punctures but there aren’t many of them and it might be a challenge to find one that would suit our other needs (like power-independent pump).

Power sources and the pump

Power outages are one of the first things that our minds go to when we think about calamity and it should, chances are high they’ll happen.

So the last thing that we want is to be stuck with a piece of plastic in a bag that requires electricity to be inflated, so…

Choose an air mattress that can be battery and manually-operated…

We are looking at an air mattress here with our prepper glasses on and the ones that you would do choose as a guest bed for when you have friends over will not do the trick.

We want a product that’s self-sufficient and that will serve its purpose even if the power is out. This spells battery or manually operated (preferably both).

Air Mattress Manual Pump

Lucky for us, there are airbeds out there that are designed for prolonged camping trips and these beds check all the boxes of our needs, too.

Making sure it fits the bill:

  1. Inflate/deflate the bed using the batteries or the manually/leg pump (usually comes separate)
  2. Make sure that the nozzles that come with the pump fit and can be used with your new air mattress
  3. Again, leave it out and inflate/deflate it a couple of times before storing to make sure it all works properly

Comfortable air mattress – what to look for

You might think that being comfortable is only secondary in a survival situation but let’s go a step back and remind ourselves of the importance of PROPER sleep.

Proper sleep doesn’t mean just getting the few hours – it means getting enough of all the sleep phases. That’s where the comfort comes in.

It might not be a big deal for a night or two, but should you find yourself sleeping on your secondary bed for months, it becomes increasingly important, so let’s take a moment and discuss what comfort means when it comes to air mattresses.

Chambers, weight distribution and comfort

When it comes to comfort, it all comes down to how well your weight is distributed across the sleeping surface – and chambered designed a much better job at that than any other internal structure.

Cchambered Design of an Airbed

Most of the time, the choice will come down to beams (air columns that run side to side) and the mentioned chambers.

Chambers pretty much act as a spring in a regular mattress, making the bed more comfortable and reducing the stress the seams suffer, making the bed most durable.

Go for 30+ chambers.

Thinking size and height

Air mattresses come in all the same sizes as your regular mattress and the size issue is pretty self-explanatory and comes down to what your space can accommodate but, thinking from a prepper’s perspective, twin size is the sweet spot.

Here’s why…

Twin size airbed comfortably sleeps two people. If you go a size up to a full, queen or king size and you still have a bed that can still only comfortably sleep two people but takes much more space.

You can also pick between a low rise and high-rise air mattress.

To sum it up – specifics of your scenario might change but generally, if you are looking for an air mattress for your shelter, a twin-sized chambered designed air mattress made of extra-durable PVC will cover most scenarios.

Thinking quality

An airbed is not something you can save a lot on and even if it was, you shouldn’t.

I guess you could say that about every item in your preparedness plan but it goes double for an air mattress since it is much more fragile and the difference between a high and low-quality airbed and a high and low-quality flashlight will be much more noticeable.

So, for your shelter, stick with the best brands and products that have stood the test of time.

How can you tell?

Look for low long the air mattress has been around

If you have set your eyes on a particular model, take your time researching it, looking it up on e-commerce sites and see how far back the users reviews go. Read the reviews of the air mattress and what people are sharing about it…its ability to hold air, the comfort, the reliability of the pump, etc.

Look for any changes in quality that might not be evident at first glance (know how to read air mattress reviews)

With the shady outsourcing practices and tenacious attempts of the companies to cut cost, it has never been more important to be an educated buyer.

Here’s a good tactic to spot any patterns of quality change – when you ticked all the quality and feature boxes, you still haven’t confirmed if the blow-up beds merit the ratings you are seeing today.

So, sort the reviews and read them starting from the more recent ones – these will be most relevant and will give you the best idea about the current quality of the air mattress.

Any change in quality will be reflected here.

Bottom line

A well-rounded survival plan cannot ignore sleeping preparations anyway you look at it.

What good is an expensive blade if the hand wielding it is shaking?

In Dirt Farmer Wisdom, Jo Jo Jansen says, “Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds” and he’s right on the money.

Protecting what you cherish and love calls for you to be your best self. Good sleep is an important piece of that puzzle.

Stay smart about staying safe.

Linked from: http://homesteadandprepper.com/sleep-and-survival-smart-preppers-guide-to-choosing-the-best-portable-bed/

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The Prepper’s Holiday Season

christmas-family-photo-2

With the holiday season beginning, we think about how we are going to spend both our time and money to make certain that we make the most of the Family and enjoy the season.

Each family has passed down old traditions, and make new ones.  In our family, things are always in flux, with travel one year to one family and the next year to another.  We have been the position to make both husband and wifes families happy, with a selfless attitude toward everyone else’s perceived needs during the holiday season. Although our tradition is not to buy extravigant gifts but rather our holiday time focuses on spending quality time with each other, this is most definitely a tradition I want to pass on to our children.    The true gifts we pass on are our love, respect, and joy.  We have family scattered all over the nation, and when we all get the chance to come together, it’s a special occasion.  Along with our love, as in most God loving families, is a festive spirit that includes, food, gluttony, drinks, wine, and wine.  Our past times usually include card games, games of pool, and shooting guns in the back 40, all of which we always accuse my brother of cheating.christmas-nikki-and-dad

Your own holiday tradition probably looks a lot like ours and include parties, meals, wine, decorations, wine, and the exchange of gifts, large and small.  To help you with the gifting tradition – and especially the small gifts – I have come up with a holiday gift guide to help you select the perfect gift for loved ones close to you.

Stocking Stuffers (under $10)

Credit Card Multi Tool $3.00

Mini Stainless Multi Tool

Folding Credit Card Knife $3.00

Credit Card Folding Knife
Credit Card Folding Knife

Survival Bracelet $5.00

Survival Bracelet
Survival Bracelet

Survival Books $10-20

the-prepper-pocket-guide
The Prepper’s Pocket Guide

Survival Products $30-$60

Kommando Survival Kit
Kommando Survival Kit

Bullet Proof Rocket Stoves

 

Bullet Proof Rocket Stove
Bullet Proof Rocket Stove

BenchMade Knives Made in USA

Benchmade 4300 Auto Opening Knife
Benchmade 4300 Auto Opening Knife

Be creative, enjoy the love and friendship that about this time of year and have a fun, and stress-free gift giving experience.

May God Bless you and your family.

From the Family at SHTFandGO