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New Higher Output 50 BMG Rocket Stove by Bullet Proof Rocket Stoves

The redesigned 50 BMG.  Higher output, easier storage, and better air control.

Made In USA By Americans.

Bullet Proof 50 Gravity Feed Rocket Stove and Tent Heater

Great Stove for families and heavy duty cooking needs, and accepts 4″ standard venting pipe to use as a temporary heating stove.  Includes damper and ash tray for easy cleanout.

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The Well-Balanced Gun Collection

A topic that comes up in more than half of my consulting calls, is firearms. Most survivalists gravitate toward guns for obvious reasons. If anything, SurvivalBlog could surely be labelled a “guns and groceries” oriented blog, and most of our readers are like-minded. We tend to have large gun collections. We aren’t entirely gun-centric, but our concept of preparedness includes owning guns and having full proficiency in their use. The greatest difficulty vis-a-vis guns for those in our community is not hand-wringing about whether or not we should own them. We’ll leave that pseudo-question up to the leftists. Rather, our …

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Smoke Grenades – Any Utility?, by T. in Virginia

I’ve participated in a few discussions recently about the utility, if any, of smoke grenades and similar devices to an average person, or even a reasonably trained and equipped prepper, in a SHTF situation. There are certainly some valid points to both sides of the arguments. So, this short article is intended to share a few thoughts to help SurvivalBlog readers make up their own minds. Smoke grenade use generally falls into two areas— signaling or obscuration. Large scale smoke, such as from vehicle-mounted or stationary military-style generators, can also have other applications that are beyond the intended scope of …

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The Simple Things, by The Watchman

So you think you have this prepping thing pretty much down pat by now? Or are you new to this world of prepping? You have your water filters, generators, fuel, guns, ammo, food stores, medical supplies, a bug out vehicle, and heating elements. You have researched, taken courses, practiced drills and you have completed a mock bug out. If you said “yes” to any of this small list, you are already off to a good start. But sometimes we overlook the simple things we need in order to get by day to day. List of Essential Things One of the …

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Droughts Are You Prepared?

What is a drought? A drought is a period of irregular dry weather that runs long enough to cause a serious imbalance in our daily lives. During a drought, for example, crops can be damaged, and water supply can run short, which is why they’re recognized as serious events that can result in widespread destruction of communities. The severity of the drought, however, is measured by the duration, temperature, and size of the area impacted.

A drought is defined in one of four ways:

  • Meteorological Drought: This occurs when dry weather dominates a specific area. What might be labeled as a “drought” in one place might not be the same in another.
  • Agricultural Drought: This type of droughts occurs when the moisture in the soil becomes inadequate, which can result in a lack of crop growth and production later on down the road. This type of drought, however, is usually associated with short-term drought situations.
  • Hydrological Drought: This occurs when the water supply becomes considerably low. This is found by measurement of groundwater levels, streams, and reservoirs.
  • Socioeconomic Drought: Perhaps the scariest of the four, this occurs when water levels are too low for human and environmental needs.

That’s why conserving water during droughts is extremely important. Aside from that, it’s also a good habit to develop; that way, you’re always prepared for environmental changes. With that in mind, try taking baby steps each day to help you and your family conserve water:

Clean water not only has the ability to change the environment, but it also can reduce death and diseases from spreading. This means that by conserving water at home, you can actually preserve life here on Earth, which is why conserving is now more important than ever before.

Even if you don’t live in a drought-stricken environment, cutting back on your water usage can go a long way. First, you’ll notice a difference in your utility bill financially. Then, you’ll start to notice a difference in the environment you live in as well. So if you’re ready to cut back, just know that there are a lot of small ways that you and your family can practice conserving water, especially around the house.

If you can’t do everything on the list, don’t worry about it. Just pick a few things to focus on at first, then make your way down the list as opposed to doing everything all at once. A few changes can add up to hundreds of gallons of water saved each and every year.

Here are five of many things you can try to conserve water in your home:

  • Turn off your faucet when you brush your teeth.
  • Turn off the water when you wash your hands.
  • Cut your shower time.
  • Repair any leaks you have around the house.
  • Head over to a car wash that recycles water.

Develop a Rain Catch System:

Remember, when it comes to survival, it’s all about the water – so why not save it? The water that falls from the sky is not only valuable, but it’s also free. Despite rainwater being natural, however, it not entirely safe to drink unless it’s been filtered ahead of time. Why isn’t it safe? Well, because as the rainwater washes off your roof, it also washes off pollution with it. This might include harmful particles from exhaust systems located on cars, cigarette residue, dead bugs, and of course, bird droppings.

It’s still great water, nonetheless; and beneficial to plants as well. The water you’ve captured using the rain catchment system, for instance, can be used to water your grass, clean your house, and even drink – as long as you purify it – without spending a dime. You can use it to water your vegetables too. Just don’t forget to pour the water at ground level when watering your plants. That way, you don’t contaminate the food you plan on eating later on.

Another thing to keep in mind is the weather. So, if you live in a cold environment, consider moving your rain barrel somewhere safe. This will prevent it from cracking and getting contaminated. In the long run, catching rainwater to use later on will also keep it from seeping into your basement, crawl space, and foundation, which in return, can preserve your home for years to come.

Smart Irrigation:

In order to tackle this enormous problem, however, community members must be willing to make small changes. Agricultural and hydrological drought, for example, can both be minimized by smart irrigation.

How? For business and homeowners, they can start by incorporating irrigation controllers that are labeled with water conservation logos. This logo symbolizes that the company has created a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help reduce the amount of water used for landscaping. These systems monitor the weather and landscape conditions to help them determine when to water the landscape and for how long.

For larger crop fields, there are irrigation systems that can be programmed to monitor landscape and weather conditions the same way they normally would for smaller areas. Most systems can be programmed to water a specific crop for the optimum amount of time, saving the farmer money and water at the same time.

The devastating effects of dehydration are something no one should have to experience and be faced with; that’s why it’s essential for you and your family to learn different water-harvesting techniques before a drought strikes near home. Remember, the human body can live without food longer than it can live without water. So, start prepping, and don’t wait until it’s too late.

First seen on https://www.prepperwebsite.com

 

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Tips for surviving a wild animal encounter

It’s a situation you never want to find yourself in. You’re on vacation, peacefully enjoying the planet’s natural wonders and then – out of nowhere – a wild creature attacks.

While these encounters are usually very rare, Kyle Patterson, spokeswoman at Rocky Mountain National Park, say it’s because people aren’t aware of their surroundings or don’t use common sense.

“Any wildlife can be unpredictable,” she said. “Sometimes you see a visitor who sees an animal and think, ‘they’re close to the road, I’ll just get out and a take a picture.’ This isn’t a zoo where it is fenced off.”

Every animal responds differently to human interaction, but a general rule of thumb for any wildlife encounter is be prepared and look for signs.

“If the animal is reacting to you, you’re too close. All wildlife will give you a sign.  Some species will put their ears back.  Some will scrape their paws.  Some will give verbal cues,” said Patterson.

In order to help you, we’ve come up with a list of tips for surviving all kinds of animal encounters, from bison to sharks.

Even with this list handy, remember that it is illegal to approach wildlife at the national parks and no matter how prepared you are, expect the unexpected.

1. Bear

North America’s recent rash of bear attacks should be inspiration enough to want to know how to survive a mauling. At least six people in five states have been mauled by black and brown bears recently. There was the Alaskan hunter who was attacked on Saturday, the hikers in Yellowstone National Park who were attacked by a grizzly last Thursday and 12-year-old Abigail Wetherell who was mauled by a black bear on the very same day, while out on an evening jog in northern Michigan.

“These are two species that you shouldn’t never run from: Black bear or mountain lion,” said Patterson. “You should make yourself big, as much as you can.  Whether it’s taking your jacket and putting it over your head, or picking up sticks or just waving your arms, you need to fight back.”

Here’s a list of bear attack survival tips from Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources:

1.) If you see a bear that is far away or doesn’t see you turn around and go back, or circle far around. Don’t disturb it.

2.) If you see a bear that is close or it does see you STAY CALM. Attacks are rare. Bears may approach or stand on their hind legs to get a better look at you. These are curious, not aggressive, bears. BE HUMAN. Stand tall, wave your arms, and speak in a loud and low voice. DO NOT RUN! Stand your ground or back away slowly and diagonally. If the bear follows, STOP.

3.) If a bear is charging almost all charges are “bluff charges”. DO NOT RUN! Olympic sprinters cannot outrun a bear and running may trigger an instinctive reaction to “chase”. Do not try to climb a tree unless it is literally right next to you and you can quickly get at least 30 feet up. STAND YOUR GROUND. Wave your arms and speak in a loud low voice. Many times charging bears have come within a few feet of a person and then veered off at the last second.

4.) If a bear approaches your campsite aggressively chase it away. Make noise with pots and pans, throw rocks, and if needed, hit the bear. Do not let the bear get any food.

5.) If you have surprised a bear and are contacted or attacked and making noise or struggling has not discouraged an attack, play dead. Curl up in a ball with your hands laced behind your neck. The fetal position protects your vital organs. Lie still and be silent. Surprised bears usually stop attacking once you are no longer a threat (i.e. “dead”).

6.) If you have been stalked by a bear, a bear is approaching your campsite, or an attack is continuing long after you have ceased struggling, fight back! Predatory bears are often young bears that can be successfully intimidated or chased away. Use a stick, rocks or your hands and feet.

2. Elk

Migrating elk are known to take over towns, especially this time of year. For example, Estes Park, a popular resort town in the Rocky Mountains hosts nearly 2,000 elk for the summer months, and much of the year. With a population of only 5,858 inhabitants, the town is literally overrun by elk.

Rocky Mountain National Park also has a large population of elk.  Patterson said the dangerous times are in the spring, when they’re protective of their calves, and the fall mating season, known as the rut. “Sometimes the bulls can be very aggressive,” she said. “During the rut, elk are in big groups.  You want to make sure you’re not in between  the aggressive bull elk and the focus of his attention.”

That’s why the park takes preventative measures such as closing meadows and sending out teams of volunteers to patrol.

Here are some tips from The Payson Roundup, a small paper that covers Rim Country in central Arizona, an area that has had its fair share of elk invasions.

1.) Always keep a safe distance and if driving, stay in your car.

2.) Never approach a baby calf; they are not abandoned even if the cow is not in sight. The cow is close by or very likely has gone to water and will return. The maternal instinct could produce an aggressive behavior if something might come between her and her calf, so play it safe.

3.) Elks travel in the reduced light of early morning or late afternoon — so if you want to avoid an elk, don’t go out during dawn or dusk.

3. Bison

Bison are the largest indigenous land mammal in North America. The bulls can often weigh as much as one ton. Not only are they huge, bison are fast. They can quickly accelerate to speeds up to 35 mph. So if they look majestic and docile out on that plain, just remember bison are beasts and they are much faster than you.

If you encounter a bison, here are some tips from Canada’s National Park Service:

1.) If you encounter bison along the roadway, drive slowly and they will eventually move. Do not honk, become impatient or proceed too quickly. Bison attacks on vehicles are rare, but can happen. Bison may spook if you get out of your vehicle. Therefore, remain inside or stay very close.

2.) If you are on foot or horseback: Never startle bison. Always let them know you are there. Never try to chase or scare bison away. It is best to just cautiously walk away. Always try to stay a minimum of 100 meters (approximately the size of a football field) from the bison.

3.) Please take extra caution as bison may be more aggressive: During the rutting season (mid July-mid August) as bulls can become more aggressive during this time. After bison cows have calved. Moms may be a little over-protective during this time. When cycling near bison, as cyclists often startle unknowing herds. When hiking with pets. Dogs may provoke a bison attack and should be kept on a leash. On hot spring days when bison have heavy winter coats.

4.) Use extreme caution if they display any of the following signs: Shaking the head. Pawing. Short charges or running toward you. Loud snorting. Raising the tail.

4. Mountain Lion

Attacks from mountain lions are very rare, Patterson said, and they’re going to prey on elk and deer–not humans.

But she said the danger arises when people hike alone or families with children let the kids run ahead and make noises.

“If a child is running along a trail they can mimic prey,” she said.  This is why they tell visitors to ‘”make like a sandwich” when walking along the trails.

“Families and adults should think like a sandwich and the parents should be like a piece of bread and the children should be the filling.  Have an adult should be leading the pack and should be in the back.”

Here is a list of tips for a mountain lion encounter from the conservation advocacy group, The Cougar Fund:

1.) Be especially alert when recreating at dawn or dusk, which are peak times for cougar activity.

2.) Consider recreating with others. When in groups, you are less likely to surprise a lion. If alone, consider carrying bear spray or attaching a bell to yourself or your backpack. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. In general cougars are shy and will rarely approach noise or other human activities.

3.) Supervise children and pets. Keep them close to you. Teach children about cougars and how to recreate responsibly. Instruct them about how to behave in the event of an encounter.

4.) If you come into contact with a cougar that does not run away, stay calm, stand your ground and don’t back down! Back away slowly if possible and safe to do so. Pick up children, but DO NOT BEND DOWN, TURN YOUR BACK, OR RUN. Running triggers an innate predatory response in cougars which could lead to an attack.

5.) Raise your voice and speak firmly. Raise your arms to make yourself look larger, clap your hands, and throw something you might have in your hands, like a water bottle. Again, do not bend over to pick up a stone off the ground. This action may trigger a pounce response in a cougar.

6.) If in the very unusual event that a lion attacks you, fight back. People have successfully fought off lions with rocks and sticks. Try to remain standing and get up if you fall to the ground.

7.) If you believe an encounter to be a valid public safety concern, contact your state game agency and any local wildlife organizations.

5. Shark

While shark sightings are on the rise, shark attacks are still relatively rare. Last year only seven people were killed in shark attacks. Although, in 2011, the number of shark-related deaths was 13. On the off chance you come face to face with Jaws, you should be prepared.

Here are some shark encounter survival tips from Discovery’s Alexander Davies:

1.) Don’t panic. If you find yourself face to face with a shark, you’re going to need your wits about you to get away with your life. So keep calm; remember that while sharks are deadly animals, they’re not invincible. Thrashing and flailing is more likely to gain its attention than to drive it away.

2.) Play dead. If you see a shark approaching, this is a last ditch effort to stave off an attack. A shark is more likely to go after a lively target than an immobile one. But once Jaws goes in for the kill, it’s time to fight — he’ll be as happy to eat you dead as alive. From here on out, you’ll have to fight if you want to survive.

3.) Fight back. Once a shark takes hold, the only way you’re getting out alive is to prove that it’s not worth the effort to eat you — because you’re going to cause it pain. Look for a weapon: You’ll probably have to improvise. But any blunt object — a camera, nearby floating wood — will make you a more formidable opponent. Often repeated advice has it that a good punch to a shark’s snout will send it packing. In fact, the nose is just one of several weak points to aim for. A shark’s head is mostly cartilage, so the gills and eyes are also vulnerable.

4.) Fight smart. Unless you’re Rocky Balboa, you’re not going to knock out a shark with a single punch. Not only will a huge swing slow down in the water due to drag, it’s unlikely to hit a rapidly moving target. Stick with short, direct jabs, so you increase your chances of landing a few in quick succession.

5.) Play defense. Open water, where a shark can come at you from any angle, is the worst position place you can be. Get anything you can to back up against, ideally a reef or a jetty. If there are two of you, line up back to back, so you’ll always have eyes on an approaching attack. Don’t worry about limiting your escape routes- you won’t out swim a shark, better to improve your chances of sending him away.

6.) Call for backup. Call out to nearby boats, swimmers and anyone on shore for help. Even if they can’t reach you right away, they’ll know you’re in trouble, and will be there to help if you suffer some injuries but escape the worst fate.  Who knows, maybe a group of sympathetic dolphins will help you out – they’re fierce animals in their own right.

7.) Fight to the end. Giving up won’t make a shark less interested in eating you, so fight as long as you can. If the animal has a hold on you, he’s unlikely to let go. You have to show him you’re not worth the effort to eat.

6. Stingray

While stingray attacks are not usually deadly, they are painful and warrant close medical attention. With a recent stingray invasion along the Alabama coast, now is an important time to learn about the barb-tailed sea creature. The animals often bury themselves in shallow water, so even if you are just wading in the ocean, you are still at risk of being stung.

Here are some tips from Jake Howard, a lifeguard at Seal Beach, Calif. on how to handle a stingray encounter:

1.) Always shuffle your feet when walking out to the surf, sting rays are shy and skitish creatures and will generally flutter away at the first sign of danger. The sting is a self-defense mechanism when they get stepped on or threatened. The Sting Ray Shuffle is your first line of defense.

2.) If you do feel something soft and squishy under your foot step off of it as quick as possible. I stepped on a sting ray last weekend, but got off it in time that it didn’t get me…Step lightly in other words.

3.) In the case that you do get stung come to the beach as quick as possible, don’t panic because it will only increase your circulation, thus aiding in the movement of the toxin through your body. Also you want to try and limit anything that may bring on symptoms of shock.

4.) Go home, or to the nearest lifeguard or fire station to treat it. The wound can vary in pain. I’ve had a woman compare it to child birth and seen full-on tattooed gang bangers cry like little sissys, conversly I’ve seen little girls walk away with relatively little discomfort. Either way it’s not going to be fun. Pretty much the only real thing you can do for the pain is soak the sting in hot water, as hot as you can stand, but don’t go burnin’ yourself. You can also take Advil or something, but no asprin. Asprin thins the blood and allows the toxin to travel easier.

5.) Soak the foot until it feels significantly better. The pain probably won’t go completely away, but it should feel dramatically better. A little swelling is normal. Be sure to clean the wound as best as possible. If it looks like the sting ray barb is still in your foot see a doctor for treatment. Actually if anything weird at all goes on go see a doctor.

First published on http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2013/08/22/tips-for-surviving-wild-animal-encounter.html

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How Many Acres Do You Need for Your Retreat – Defense Considerations

So you’re about to buy yourself a rural retreat?  Congratulations.  We hope you’ll never need it, but how wonderful it is to know it is there and available if things should go severely wrong.

In among all the other things you need to consider when choosing a retreat is its lot size.  There are a number of different factors affecting how large a lot you need, including the soil type, what sorts of crops you plan to cultivate, the animals you might also raise, and, oh yes, some defensive considerations too.

Some of these considerations vary enormously (ie, the number of people each acre of farmed land can support), but the defensive factors are fairly constant.  So let’s make this an easy read for you, and an easy write for us, and talk about them.

We’ve written at length, in past articles, about the need to design your retreat to be sturdy and able to withstand rifle fire, that’s not actually the risk that keeps us awake at night worrying the most about.  Ideally you wanteverywhere you’re likely to be on your retreat to be safe and not at risk of enemy attack.  Most notably, you not only want to be safe inside the strong walls of your retreat, but also while outside, exposed, and vulnerable, working in your fields, too.

The Biggest Risk of Violent Takeover/Takeout You’ll Face

We see the greatest risk as being picked off, one or two at a time, while we’re working in the fields.  It is conceivable that we might be some distance from our retreat, and we could be bent over, planting or picking some crop, when all of a sudden, a sniper’s bullet slams into our back, even before the sound of the shot reached us.  Talk about literally no warning – it doesn’t get any more sudden than that.

By the time the people around us heard the shot and started to react, a second round might already be meeting the second target.  And then, all of a sudden, nothing.  Well, nothing except a thoroughly panicked remainder of the people we were out in the fields with, all exposed in the middle of the crop, and one or two dead or nearly-dead bodies.

Even if everyone always carried weapons with them – and even if they were rifles rather than short-range pistols which would be useless at these sorts of ranges – by the time anyone had responded, grabbed their rifle (try doing some type of ongoing manual labor with a rifle slung over your shoulders – chances are everyone in the group will have their rifles set to one side rather than slung over their shoulders), chambered a round, and hunched over their sights, where would they look and what would they see?  Possibly nothing at all.  The sniper would retreat, as stealthily as he arrived, his job well done for the day.

Rinse and repeat.  Have the same event occur again a day or two later, and you’re not only now down four people (and any sniper worthy of the name will be carefully choosing the most valuable of the people in the field each time), but you’ve got a panicked group of fellow community members demanding ‘protection’.  Except that – what sort of protection can you give against a faceless guerilla enemy – someone who picks and chooses the time and location of their attacks?  Furthermore, you’re now four people down, and you have to choose what to do with your able-bodied group members – are they to be tasked for defensive patrolling duties or working your crops.  You don’t have enough people to do both!

No smart adversary will attack your retreat in a full frontal assault.  That would be a crazy thing to do.  Instead, they’ll act as we just described, picking you off, one or two at a time, taking as long as is necessary to do so.  Your retreat is no longer your refuge.  It has become the bulls-eye on the attacker’s target map, and all they have to do is observe and bide their time, taking advantage of the opportunities and situations they prepare for and select, rather than being taken advantage of by you and your tactical preparations.

Don’t think that defensive patrols will do you a great deal of good, either.  How many men would you have on each patrol?  One?  Two?  Five?  Ten?  Whatever the number, you’d need to be willing to accept casualties in any contact with the adversary, and unless your people are uniquely skilled and able to use some aspect of tactical advantage, all your enemy needs to do is observe your front and rear doors and wait/watch for patrols to sally forth from your retreat.

This scenario is similar to how the Allies ringed the German U-boat bases with anti-submarine planes and ships (and how we and our adversaries monitor each other’s subs these days too).  While a U-boat might be very hard to find and detect in the middle of the North Atlantic, they all had to leave and return to their bases through obvious unavoidable routes.  Why hunt for a U-boat in thousands of square miles of ocean when you know to within a few hundred feet where they’ll be departing from.

If you do deploy a patrol, they are at the disadvantage.  The enemy will be in a prepared position while your team will now be exposed on open ground.  The enemy will have set an ambush, and your team will find themselves in it.  Depending on the size of the enemy team, and on the respective skill levels, you just know you’re going to lose some team members (and, more likely, all of them) when the ambush slams shut around them.

One more sobering thought.  Call us cynical if you like, but we suspect an attacking force will be both more willing to risk/accept casualties among its members than you are, and will also find it easier to recruit replacement manpower.  The leader of the attackers probably has no close personal relationship with his men, whereas you’re with your friends and family.  The attackers can promise new recruits a chance at plundering stores and supplies and ensuring their own comfortable survival, and if recruits don’t join, they are probably facing extreme hardship or starvation as an alternative.

From their point of view, if things go well for them, they get something they didn’t have before, and if things go badly, they suffer the same fate they are likely to suffer anyway.  But from your point of view, the best that can happen is that you keep what you currently have (at least until the next such encounter) and the worst that can happen doesn’t bear thinking about.

Or, to put it another way, for the attackers, heads they win and tails they don’t lose.  For you, heads you don’t win and tails you do lose.

So, what does this all have to do with the size of your retreat lot?

The most effective tool you have to defend against attack is open space.  If you have a quarter-mile of open space in all directions around you, wherever you are on your lot, then it will be difficult for a sniper to sneak up on you, while being easy for you to keep a watch on the open space all about.  If the sniper does open fire from a quarter-mile away, you’re facing better odds that he might miss on the all important first shot, and much better odds that the subsequent shots will also be off-target.

Compare that to working in, say, a forest, where the bad guys might be lurking behind the tree immediately ahead of you.  At that range, they couldn’t miss and could quickly take over your entire group before you had a chance to respond.

You need to consider two things when deciding how much land you need for your retreat lot.

Topographic Challenges

The first issue is specific to the land you’re looking at.  What is the topography of the land?  Is it all flat, or are their rises and falls, a hill or valley or something else?

If there are natural sight barriers, you need to decide how to respond to them.  Some might be alterable (such as moving a barn, cutting down some trees), and others you’re stuck with (the hill rising up and cresting, not far from your retreat).  Depending on the types of sight barriers you have, you can determine how close adversaries can come to your property boundaries – and, indeed, some types of sight barriers will allow them to get into your property and potentially close to you, while probably remaining entirely undetected.

Don’t go all fanciful here and start fantasizing about patrols and observation posts and electronic monitoring.  The chances are you don’t have sufficient manpower to create an efficient effective system of patrols and OPs, and if you don’t have sufficient manpower to create a secure network of patrolling and OPs, you have to sort of wonder what value there is in a partial network.  Won’t the bad guys be clever enough to plan their movements and actions to exploit your weaknesses?

As for the electronic stuff, this is typically overrated, and provides a less comprehensive set of information than can be gathered by ‘boots on the ground’, and of course, only works until it stops working, at which point it is useless.

Our first point therefore is that some lots are just not well laid out for defending, and while everything else about them might be appealing, if you feel that you’ll need to be able to defend not just your retreat building itself, but the land around it – the land on which your crops are farmed and your animals raised – then you should walk away from the deal and not buy the lot.

What is the point of buying an ‘insurance policy’ to protect you against worst case scenarios, if your policy (your retreat and lot) only works with moderately bad rather than truly worst case scenarios?  That’s an exercise in futility and wishful thinking, and as a prepper, you’re not keen on either of these indulgences!

Lines of Sight – How Much is Enough?

Okay, so you’ve found a lot with no obvious topographic challenges, and unobstructed lines of sight out a long way in every direction.

Let’s now try to pin a value on the phrase ‘a long way’.  How far do you need to be able to see, in order to maintain a safe and secure environment all around you?

Some people might say ‘100 yards’.  Others might say ‘1000 yards’.  And so on, through pretty much any imaginable range of distances.  There’s probably no right answer, but there are some obviously wrong answers.

Let’s look at the minimum safe range first.

Is 100 yards a good safe distance?  We say no, for two reasons.  The first reason is obvious – a bullet round can travel those 100 yards in almost exactly 0.1 seconds, and even a person with limited skills can place a carefully aimed shot onto a slow-moving man-sized target at that range.  You are a sitting duck at 100 yards.

But wait – there’s more.  A bad guy can probably sprint over that 100 yards in 10 seconds.  Even if he has nothing more than a machete, he can be on top of you in ten seconds.  Consider also that he’ll wait until you’re not looking in his direction before he starts his run, and add 0.75 seconds reaction time and maybe another second of ‘what is that?’ and ‘oh no, what should I do!’ time, and by the time you’ve identified him as a threat, reached your rifle, and got it ready to fire, he is probably now at arm’s length, with his machete slashing viciously down toward you.

A 200 yard range is very much nicer.  You’ve become a smaller target, and the bullet aimed at you takes over twice as long to reach you; more important than the extra tenth of a second or so in travel time however is that it is now more like three times as affected by wind, temperature, humidity, manufacturing imperfections, and so on.  A skilled adversary can still have a high chance of first shot bulls-eyes, but regular shooters will not do so well.  The bad guy with the machete will take closer to 25 seconds to reach you, and will be out of breath when he gets there.

We’re not saying you’re completely safe if you maintain a 200 yard security zone around yourself.  But we are saying you’re very much safer than if you had ‘only’ a 100 yard security zone.

So, if 200 yards is good, 300 yards is obviously better, right?  Yes, no disagreement with that.  But at what distance does the cost of buying more land outweigh the increase in security?  Most of us will be forced to accept a smaller buffer zone than we’d ideally like, and perhaps the main point in this case is for you to be aware of how unsafe a small buffer zone truly is, and to maintain some type of sustainably increased defensive posture whenever you’re outdoors.

In the real world, you’ll be compromising between lot size/cost and security right from the get-go, and few of us can afford to add a 200 yard buffer around our lot, let alone a 300 or 400 yard buffer.  To demonstrate the amount of land required, here are two tables.  Both assume an impractically ‘efficient’ use of land – we are making these calculations on the basis of perfect circles, with the inner circle being your protected area and the outer circle being the total area with the added buffer zone space.  But you can never buy circular lots, so the actual real world lot sizes would be bigger than we have calculated here.

For example, where we show, below, the five acre lot with a 200 yard buffer zone as requiring a total of 54 acres if in perfect circles, if the five acre lot was rectangular, and the buffer zone also rectangular but with rounded corners, the total lot would grow to 57 acres, and when we allow for the impossibility of rounded corners, the total lot size then grows to 64 acres.

So keep in mind these are best case numbers shown primarily to simply illustrate the implications of adding a buffer zone to a base lot size, and showing how quickly any sort of buffer zone causes the total land area to balloon in size to ridiculous numbers.

If you had a one acre area in the middle of your lot, and wanted to keep a buffer zone around it, the absolute minimum lot size would be

Buffer zone in yards   Minimum total lot size in acres   Minimum perimeter in yards
100 yards   13 acres 875
150 yards   24 acres 1190
200 yards   37 acres 1505
250 yards   55 acres 1820 (1 mile)
300 yards   75 acres 2135 (1.2 miles)
350 yards    99 acres 2445 (1.4 miles)
400 yards   126 acres 2760 (1.6 miles)

 

If you have a core area of 5 acres, the numbers become

Buffer zone in yards   Minimum total lot size in acres   Minimum perimeter in yards
100 yards    23 acres 1180
150 yards    37 acres 1495
200 yards    54 acres 1810 (1 mile)
250 yards    74 acres 2120 (1.2 miles)
300 yards    98 acres 2435 (1.4 miles)
350 yards  125 acres 2750 (1.55 miles)
400 yards  155 acres 3065 (1.7 miles)

 

Clearly, it quickly becomes wildly impractical to establish the type of clear zone that you’d ideally like.

On the other hand, there’s one possible interpretation of these figures that would be wrong.  You can see that with a 1 acre core lot, you need a minimum of 37 acres in total to establish a 200 yard zone around your one acre.  If you grow your lot to 5 acres, your total lot size grows by a great deal more than five acres.  It goes from 37 acres up to 54 acres.

But – here’s the thing you should not misunderstand.  The bigger your core lot, the more efficient the ratio between protected space and total space becomes.  In the example just looked at, you had ratios of 1:37 and 5:54, with 5:54 being the same as 1:11.  This is a much better overall efficiency, even though adding the extra four acres required you to add 17 extra acres in total.

If you had ten acres of core land, then your 200 yard safety zone would require 68 acres in total, and your ratio now becomes 10:68 or 1:7.  Still extremely wasteful, but 1:7 is massively better than 1:37!

This improving efficiency for larger lot sizes hints at two strategies to improve your land utilization.

Two Strategies to Manage Your Clear Zone Risk and Requirement

Our two tables showing the amount of space you need as a safety/buffer/clear zone around your land embody a subtle assumption that perhaps can be reviewed and revised.

We are assuming that if you don’t own the land, it will be uncontrolled and uncontrollable, and will be exploited by adversaries to mount surprise attacks on you from positions of concealment and/or cover.

That is a possibility, yes.  But there’s another possibility, too.  If the land contiguous with your land is owned by friendly like-minded folk, and if they have cleared their land for cultivation too, plus have at least some awareness of risk issues and keep some degree of access restrictions to their land, then you probably don’t need as much buffer zone on the property line between you and them.

If you and your neighbor had five acre blocks adjacent to each other, then (depending on lot sizes and shapes), you would each require about 57 acres in total to have a 200 yard safety zone, but with your lots next to each other, the two of you together need only 73 acres instead of 114 acres.  You each now have a 37 acre lot instead of a 57 acre lot, and that’s a much better value.

On the other hand, call us paranoid, if you like, but we would always want some controlled space around our main retreat structure, no matter who is currently living next to us.  Neighbors can sell up or in other ways change.

This concern – that today’s ‘good’ neighbors might become tomorrow’s bad neighbors, points to the second strategy.  Why not rent out some of your land to other people.  That way you have more control over the people around you.

You could either do this by extending your core protected land and maintaining a buffer zone around both the land you farm directly and the land you rent out, or by renting out some of the buffer zone land to tenant farmers.

If you had five acres of your own core land, and if you then added another five acres to it, and also rented out the first 50 yards of your 200 yard buffer zone, then that would mean of the total 68 acre holding, there would be ten acres with 200 yards of buffer zone, and up to another 9.6 acres around it that still had a 150 yard buffer zone.  In round figures, you could use 20 of the 68 acres, with 10 offering prime security and another 10 almost as good security.  You’re now getting a reasonably efficient land utilization (20:68 or 1:3.5) and you’ve also added some adjacent friendly tenant farmers, giving your own retreat community a boost by having some like-minded folks around you.

Lines of Sight vs Crops – a Problem and a Solution

We’ve been making much about the benefit of having lines of sight stretching out a relatively safe distance so that adversaries can’t creep up on you, unawares.  The importance of this is obvious.

But, how practical is it to have unobscured lines of sight when you’re growing crops?  As an extreme example, think of a field of corn or wheat, and to a lesser extent, think of many other crops which of course have an above ground presence.  These types of crops will reduce or completely negate your line of sight visibility.

The solution is that you need to have an observation post that can look down onto the crops from a sufficient height so as to see if people are passing through them.  The higher this is, the better the visibility and ability to see down into the fields from above.

Depending on the layout of your land, the most convenient place for this would be to build it into your retreat.  You already have a (hopefully) multi-level retreat structure, why not simply add an observation post at the top of the retreat.

If that isn’t possible, another approach might be to have a tower structure somewhere that has a wind turbine generator or at least a windmill mounted on the top, giving you two benefits from the structure.

Summary

Your biggest vulnerability, in a future Level 3 type situation where you are living at your retreat and need to grow your own crops and manage your own livestock so as to maintain a viable lifestyle for some years, will be when you are out in the fields and focused on your farming duties.

Maintaining any type of effective security of your retreat would require more manpower than you could afford to spare, and even then, would remain vulnerable to a skilled and determined adversary.  A better strategy is to create a buffer zone between the land you work and the uncontrolled land adjacent to you.  This buffer zone reduces the lethality of any surprise assault and gives you time to shelter, regroup and defend.

Because a sufficient sized buffer zone requires an enormous amount of additional land, we suggest you either rent out some of your buffer zone or settle next to other like-minded folk, giving you relatively safe and more secure boundaries on at least some sides of your retreat lot.

Original posted on http://codegreenprep.com/2014/08/many-acres-need-retreat-defense-considerations/

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15 Uncommon Items for Your Bug Out Bag

We all know what our bug-out bag essentials are, right? 90% of the items we packed are pretty much the same for all of us… but what about the other 10%?

In this article I want to give you a list of “uncommon” survival items that some people have in their backpacks. Not just because it’s fun but because I want to give you some fresh ideas on what to pack. If, by the end of this article, I get you to say “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea, I’m gonna add item number 7!”… then the article is useful and I haven’t written it for nothing. If I fail, feel free to share your own weird survival items in a comment below so you can improve on this list.

Caveat: I’m not saying you need to start packing all these items. These are just a few ideas that may or may not make sense to your particular situation. Your bug-out bag essentials should have priority and you should always keep your backpack as light as possible by only packing what you need.

#1. Floss

Floss is lightweight, takes very little space and hard to find post-collapse. But the really cool thing about is that it has a bunch of other uses, such as tying things up, to use it as fishing rod and so on.

#2. A hand-crank chainsaw

Hand crank chainsaws are ultralight, compact and can be used in both rural and urban scenarios. You never know when you come across a tree that your car is helpless against.

#3. Fishing net

Do you have rivers near your location? A net might bring you much needed food besides the little you’ve already packed.

#4. A hand fan

If high temperatures are a concern, a hand fan might be a lifesaver. Small, compact, lightweight and cheap – perfect for a BOB.

#5. A razor

A razor has many more uses besides shaving (which won’t be a priority when disaster strikes, anyway).

#6. A foldable skateboard

Skateboards allow you to travel at speeds of over 10 miles per hour while walking is usually done at about 3mph. The fact that you can also fold it means you can put it in your bug out bag (though I have a feeling you’ll take it for a spin every once in a while).

#7. Tweezers

Cutting your nails without tweezers is hard. They take little space, they’re dirt cheap and might be unavailable when the brown stuff hits the fan. You might want to consider putting them in a Ziploc bag to avoid water getting to it and getting it all rusty.

#8. Condoms

Condoms have many uses besides the obvious one: they allow you to carry water, they can be used as a flotation device or even as a lens to start a fire (by filling them with water).

#9. Swim goggles

I’m not trying to scare you by telling you you’re gonna end up in a river somewhere, fighting for your life but, if you do have to cross one, wouldn’t it be better if you were equipped?

Besides, you can use these goggles in other situations, such as when there’s tear gas or when you give your kid the important task of trying to spark a fire.

#10. An alarm clock

I know a bug-out bag is supposed to be as light as possible but some people think an alarm clock could be useful. This is NOT something I personally pack (or intend to) but maybe you want to…

#11. A Frisbee

Frisbees have more uses than just for playing. You can use them to sit on or to prepare food on them for example.

#12. Fly fishing lures

You’re gonna want to fish, at least that’s what most bug-out scenarios suggest…

#13. Pipe cutter

This could be really useful in urban scenarios where you’ll encounter a lot of pipes. Let’s not forget that PVC pipes have a lot of uses pre and post-disaster as long as you can cut them to the desired length.

#14. Paper clips

There are dozens of uses for paper clips, from lock picking to using them as a worm hook, zipper pulls or even to make a small chain. You may also want to keep them in your edc kit, your car’s BOB, your get home bag and so on.

#15. An extra pair of underwear

Needless to say, you may not have the luxury of having your wardrobe with your when it hits the fan. But an even bigger question is, what will you do if the only pair of underwear when bugging out is the one you’re already wearing?

Put an extra pair of underwear in your bug-out bag. In fact, make that two, and you can thank me after SHTF.

 

Ok, those were it. I realize I could have added a lot more of these unusual items but I tried to stick to the ones that you will actually need. Take this article with a grain of salt and, if you feel the need to add some of these items, how about you build a second BOB with non-essentials that you may or may not be able to take with you as you evacuate?

Original posting on http://www.myfamilysurvivalplan.com

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Surviving in an Urban Environment- Part 2, by J.M.

I am sharing experience and ideas about surviving in an urban environment in the event of short-term or major, long-term emergency situation. We’re currently talking about getting home, whether from work or campus, since home is where our supplies are most likely stored. Get Home Bag On the subject of equipment and supplies, you’ve probably heard the term “Get Home Bag” (GHB). A lot of the discussion you can find regarding GHBs deals with handling a multi-day trek through the wilderness. Most of the time, the recommended content focuses on things like starting fires, building shelter, finding water, et cetera. …

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Surviving in an Urban Environment- Part 1, by J.M.

Let’s talk about surviving in an urban environment. In my younger days, one of my first jobs was in a mid-sized city in the Midwest. Being young, I wanted to enjoy all of the virtues and vices that the city had to offer. So, I got an apartment that was close to the city center. I had camping gear, and I always made sure to have a decent stock of food, water and medical supplies. However, with the knowledge and experience I’ve picked up in the ensuing decades, I look back and realize how unprepared I really was to survive …

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Health and Hygiene Tips for the Homestead- Part 2, by J.M.

On our homesteads when dealing with health and hygiene, we try to prepare for gunshot wounds or severe lacerations/cuts. But in so doing, let us not overlook the more mundane killers of mankind while specializing on medical conditions that would prove very difficult to deal with in a grid down situation without medical professionals. I am talking through what is necessary, particularly as we face some of the challenges that confront third world countries now. Let’s move forward.

Hygiene

Yes, Grandma was mostly right in her words about hygiene– “cleanliness is next to Godliness”. Keeping one’s body and home clean and pest free preserves health! Do you remember the big porcelain pitchers and bowls found in the bedrooms of old farm houses? A daily “sponge bath” is much more practical in a grid down situation then lugging heated buckets of water to pour in a tub for bathing. If warm … Continue reading

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Health and Hygiene Tips for the Homestead- Part 1, by J.M.

Health and hygiene as a subject is not nearly as glamorous as the “shoot and scoot” topics often discussed. However, these practices have saved untold millions of lives in a very uneventful way, year after year. Prevention beats cure every time!

Most prepper’s medical kits now include such items as Quik Clot or Celox Bandages, suture or staple kits, Israeli gauzes, and tourniquets. We try to prepare for gunshot wounds or severe lacerations/cuts, but in so doing let us not overlook the more mundane killers of mankind while specializing on medical conditions that would prove very difficult to deal with in a grid down situation without medical professionals.

Biggest Killers in the Third World

History shows us that the three biggest killers of mankind in the third world are:

Continue reading

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Diseases Caused By Food And Water Contamination

The primary necessity for survival is the availability of air. Once you have air to breathe, water, food, and shelter become the next requirements for your continued existence on the planet; that is, clean water and properly prepared food.

Even in normal times, there are many instances where an outbreak of infectious disease occurs due to water of poor quality. Ingesting food that was incompletely cooked caused the deaths of medieval kings in medieval times and may even have sparked the Ebola epidemic in 2014.

Epidemics caused by organisms that cause severe diarrhea and dehydration have been a part of the human experience since before recorded history. If severe enough, dehydration can cause hypovolemic shock, organ failure, and death. Indeed, during the Civil War, more deaths were attributed to dehydration from infectious diseases than from bullets or shrapnel.

Off the grid, water used for drinking or cooking can be contaminated by anything from floods to a dead opossum upstream from your camp. This can have dire implications for those living where there is no access to large amounts of IV hydration.

Therefore, it stands to reason that the preparation of food and the disinfection of drinking water should be under supervision. In survival, this responsibility should fall to the community medic; it is the medic that will (after the patient, of course) be most impacted by failure to maintain good sanitation.

Many diseases have disastrous intestinal consequences leading to dehydration. They include:

Cholera: Caused by the marine and freshwater bacterium Vibrio choleraCholera has been the cause of many deaths in both the distant and recent past. It may, once again, be an issue in the uncertain future.

Cholera toxins produce a rapid onset of diarrhea and vomiting within a few hours to 2 days of infection. Victims often complain of leg cramps. The body water loss with untreated cholera is associated with a 60% death rate. Aggressive efforts to rehydrate the patient, however, drops the death rate to only one per cent. Antibiotic therapy with doxycycline or tetracycline seems to shorten the duration of illness.

Typhus: A complex of diseases caused by bacteria in the Rickettsia family, Typhus is transmitted by fleas and ticks to humans in unsanitary surroundings, and is mentioned here due to its frequent confusion with “Typh-oid” fever, a disease caused by contaminated, undercooked food.

Although it rarely causes severe diarrhea, Typhus can cause significant dehydration due to high fevers and other flu-like symptoms. Five to nine days after infection, a rash begins on the torso and spreads to the extremities, sparing the face, palm, and soles. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for this disease.

Typhoid: Infection with the bacteria Salmonella typhi is called “Typh-oid fever”, because it is often confused with Typhus. Contamination with Salmonella in food occurs more often than with any other bacteria in the United States.

In Typhoid fever, there is a gradual onset of high fevers over the course of several days. Abdominal pain, intestinal hemorrhage, weakness, headaches, constipation, and bloody diarrhea may occur. A number of people develop a spotty, rose-colored rash. Ciprofloxacin is the antibiotic of choice but most victims improve with rehydration therapy.

Dysentery: An intestinal inflammation in the large intestine that presents with fever, abdominal pain, and severe bloody or watery mucus diarrhea. Symptoms usually begin one to three days after exposure. Dysentery, a major cause of death among Civil War soldiers, is a classic example of a disease that can be prevented with strict hand hygiene after bowel movements.

The most common form of dysentery in North America and Europe is caused by the bacteria Shigella and is called “bacillary dysentery”.  It is spread through contaminated food and water, and crowded unsanitary conditions. Ciprofloxacin and Sulfa drugs, in conjunction with oral rehydration, are effective therapies.

Another type is caused by an organism you may have read about in science class: the amoeba, a protozoan known as Entamoeba histolytica. Amoebic dysentery is more commonly seen in warmer climates. Metronidazole is the antibiotic of choice.

Traveler’s Diarrhea: An inflammation of the small intestine most commonly caused by the Bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli). Most strains of this bacteria are normal inhabitants of the human intestinal tract, but one (E. coli O157:H7) produces a toxin (the “Shiga” toxin) that can cause severe “food poisoning”. The Shiga toxin has even been classified as a bioterror agent.

In this illness, sudden onset of watery diarrhea, often with blood, develops within one to three days of exposure accompanied by fever, gas, and abdominal cramping. Rapid rehydration and treatment with antibiotics such as Azithromycin and Ciprofloxacin is helpful. The CDC no longer recommends taking antibiotics in advance of a journey, but does suggest that Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate (Bismuth Subsalicylate), two tablets four times a day, may decrease the likelihood of Traveler’s Diarrhea.

Campylobacter: The second most common cause of foodborne illness in the U.S. after Salmonella, this bacteria resides in the intestinal tract of chickens and causes sickness when meat is undercooked or improperly processed. It’s thought that a significant percentage of retail poultry products contain colonies of one variety, Campylobacter Jejuni. It is characterized as bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, and cramping which begins two to five days after exposure. Although controversial, Erythromycin may decrease the duration of illness if taken early.

Trichinosis: Trichinosis is caused by the parasitic roundworm Trichinella in undercooked meat, mostly from domesticated pigs. Trichinosis causes diarrhea and other intestinal symptoms, usually starting one to two days after exposure. Fever, headache, itchiness, muscle pains, and swelling around the eyes occur up to 2 weeks later. Recovery is usually slow, even with treatment with the anti-helminthic (anti-worm) drugs Mebendazole and Albendazole (Albenza).

Giardiasis: The most common disease-causing parasite in the world is the protozoa Giardia lamblia. It has even been found in backcountry waters in many national parks in the U.S. Symptoms may present as early as one day after exposure, although it more commonly presents in one to two weeks. Patients complain of watery diarrhea, abdominal cramping, violent (often called “projectile”) vomiting, and gas. Metronidazole is the drug of choice in conjunction with oral rehydration.

There are many other pathogens that can cause life-threatening dehydration if untreated. Although we have mentioned common antibiotic treatments where applicable, most of the above will resolve on their own over time with strict attention to oral (or intravenous) rehydration. Many antibiotics (Cipro is an example) are associated with adverse effects that can be worse than the illness they’re designed to treat, so use judiciously.

It should be noted that some of these illnesses may be mimicked by viruses that are completely unaffected by antibiotics, such as Norovirus. Norovirus has been implicated in many of the outbreaks you read about on cruise ships.

Air, food, water, and shelter is necessary for survival. Bad air, food, water, and shelter leads to the next requirement, and that is medical supplies. Have a good medical kit and know how to use all its components. If you can accomplish this goal, you’ll be an effective medic if things go South.

Original on the https://www.doomandbloom.net site.

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Avalanche Survival

An avalanche, also called a “snowslide”, is a mass of snow, ice, and debris sliding rapidly down a mountainside, and is a risk to any winter hiker. Just as a snowball rolling down a hill picks up more snow as it goes, an avalanche can achieve significantly more volume and mass as it travels.

Although they rarely make the news, avalanches cause an average of 28 deaths a year. This event may seem like a rare occurrence, but it happens a lot more often than you’d think; certainly more than, say, shark attacks (which get a lot more press).

Snowslides are part and parcel of the winter wilderness experience, and it pays to know what to do if you’re caught in one.  If you’re not prepared to deal with issues associated with your environment, then you have made it your enemy.  This is not just good advice for skiers or backcountry hikers; anyone driving on mountain roads in winter could get in caught in an avalanche if not prepared.

Avalanches may be caused by simple gravity, a major snowfall, seismic tremors, or human activity. The speed and force of an avalanche may depend on whether the snow is “wet” or “dry powder”. Powder snow avalanches may reach speeds of 190 miles per hour. Wet slides travel slower, but with a great deal of force due to the density of the snowpack.

What Kills An Avalanche Victim?

You might assume that the main cause of death in this circumstance is freezing to death. There are other ways, however, that are more likely to end the life of an avalanche victim:

Trauma:  serious injury is not uncommon in an avalanche, and not just due to the weight of the snow. Debris, such as rocks, branches, and even entire trees, can be carried along in the cascade and cause life-ending traumatic wounds.

Suffocation:  When buried in the snow, asphyxiation is a major risk.  Densely packed snow is like concrete; many victims may find themselves immobilized and unable to dig themselves out of trouble.

Hypothermia: Hypothermia is, surprisingly, the cause of death of only a small percentage of avalanche victims. It’s much more likely that they will perish due to traumatic injury or suffocation before they freeze to death.

Factors involved in deciding your fate include:

  • The density of the snowpack
  • The presence of air pockets for breathing (or the lack of them)
  • The position of the body in the snow (if not upright, you’ll be disoriented)
  • Traumatic injuries sustained
  • The availability of rescue equipment at the scene

Important Avalanche Survival Basics and Equipment

On any wilderness outing, it makes sense to go prepared. Appropriately warm clothing for the weather is, of course, a basic concern in winter. Food, water, heat packs, spare dry clothing, and a cell phone are just some of the items you should take with you if you’re attempting a mountain hike in January.

Most backcountry expeditions are best attempted in a group. That goes for avalanche country, as well, except for one thing: Space yourselves out far enough so that there’s not too much weight on any one area of snow. If a member of your party is buried in the snow, know that you have to act quickly to find them and dig them out. It’s unlikely that going for help will end in a successful rescue. Therefore, it’s especially important to have some specialized items in avalanche country.

Recommended gear (besides warm clothing) would include:

An avalanche beacon:  A device that emits a pulsed radio signal.  Everyone in the group carries one. If a member gets buried in an avalanche, the rest of the party picks up the signal from under the snow. The receivers interpret the signal into a display that aids the search.

An avalanche shovel:  Lightweight short aluminum shovels that fit inside your backpack and help chop and remove snow and debris on top of a buried hiker. These shovels usually have telescoping shafts. Shovels with D-shaped grips can be used with mittens.

An avalanche probe: Essentially, a stick that helps you pinpoint the exact location of an avalanche victim and see how far down he/she is. 2 meters or more in length, you can use the probe to tell a victim under the snow from the ground; the victim will feel “softer”.

A helmet: Many fatalities occur due to head trauma from rocks and debris flung around by the snow.

Skier’s Air Bags:  Relatively new, these brightly colored air bags auto-inflate with a trigger; they work like a lifejacket to keep you buoyant and, therefore, closer to the surface and easier to find.

What To Do As The Avalanche Starts

83% of avalanches in recreational settings are triggered by the victim. To survive, quick thinking and rapid action will be needed:

Yell: Let everyone in your group know that you’re in trouble. At the very start of the slide, wave your arms and shout as loud as you can to alert as many people as possible to your location.

Move. If you started the avalanche, you may notice a crevice forming in the snow.  Jump uphill of it quickly and you might not get carried off.  If this isn’t an option, run sideways as fast as you can away from the center of the event, which is where the snow will be moving fastest and with the most force.

Get Lighter. Heavier objects sink in snow, so jettison unnecessary heavy equipment so that you’ll be closer to the surface. Throwing off something light isn’t a bad idea either: A loose glove or hat on top of the snow could signal rescuers to your general location and save precious time.  Deploy your avalanche air bag if you have one.

Hug a tree (or rock). If the avalanche is relatively small, you could grab the nearest immobile object and hold on for dear life.  In a very large avalanche, trees and rocks may not be safe anchors; trees can be uprooted by the force of the snowslide.

Swim!  To survive an avalanche, the key is to stay as close to the top of the snow as possible. Increase your surface area by spreading your legs (feet downhill) and raising your hands. While in this position, swing your arms while trying to stay on your back (it’s easier to breathe if face up), similar to swimming backstroke.  With any luck, this strategy will keep you towards the surface of the snow.

What To Do If You’re Buried In The Snow

You did your best, but still got completely buried in the snow.  You’ve got maybe 15-30 minutes, on average, before you suffocate.  Snow may be porous, but warm breath melts the snow which then refreezes as solid ice.  This makes breathing difficult.

As the snow slows: The larger the air pocket you have, the longer you’ll survive.  As the snowslide slows to a stop, put one arm in front of your face in such a way as to form a space that will give you the most air. If possible, raise the other arm straight up toward the avalanche surface.  Your glove might signal your location to rescuers.  Expand your chest by inhaling deeply so that you have more room to breathe once the snow has settled.

Once buried: Once you are completely buried, the snowpack may be so dense as to prevent you from moving. Stay calm, in order to use up less oxygen.  If you’re not sure which way is up, spit.  The spit will go towards the ground due to gravity.  If you can move, work to make a bigger air pocket in the direction of the surface.

You’ll only have a second or two to act to avoid most avalanches.  Rapid action, and some basic rescue equipment, may prevent you from being the harsh winter’s latest victim.

Original post seen on https://www.doomandbloom.net.

 

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The Human-Powered Veggie Garden- Part 2

Deep Digging and Rock Removal

The second round of digging is the hardest work of the whole project. The process is much like the first round, except the goal is to be able to bury the whole head of your shovel in loose soil when you are done. This time, if you hit a rock in the process of achieving that, it has to go. As you back up, some of the rocks will expose an edge you can get under with the shovel. This is where buying good tools, and sharpening your shovel is really going to pay off. Use the shovel to poke under an exposed edge of a stone to create leverage and pry it out. You may have to go slightly off track or attack from a different angle, but if you stick with it for a few seconds, you will find a way to easily pry most of them out. In the instance where you hit a rock that extends far back under the ground you are still standing on and have yet to dig, skip it and remove it while digging another row that exposes enough of it for you to extract it easily. Stay hydrated. Keep your eye on the prize, because when this is done you will be left with the beginning of a great garden bed that only improves with time.

Make Rows and Beds and Smooth the Paths

At this point in the project, if the amendments you used included any non-composted manures or fibrous organic matter, like grasses or leaves, I would let it sit for at least two weeks. If you amended the soil with “well-rotted” compost, you can begin the next step immediately. Depending on how large it is and how your garden is configured, you will need to dig some paths and create more than one bed for the plants. The idea is to not have to step on the beds, thereby eliminating a lot of potential damage to roots. When you avoid stepping on the beds, they stay loose and well-drained, allowing maximum root penetration and oxygen delivery. Dig your paths according to how easily you can reach into the bed to tend to the plants. To dig the path, simply use a transfer shovel to move soil from the intended path up and onto the beds that you will be forming. Dig it down about 6-8” below the tops of the beds you are making. Even out the beds and smooth the paths. Finally, rake the tops of the beds with a ***stone rake to remove rocks and loosen up a seedbed. The beds are now ready to be planted.

Spacing of Plants

The spacing of your plants is critical in the philosophy behind a garden like this. I mentioned earlier about the highly intensive gardening practices used and recommended as part of conventional wisdom. Growing as many plants as possible in a given space is fine for modern society, when we can be reliably sure that we can run irrigation in our gardens on-demand. This works fine when we have chemical fertilizer and literal tons of compost and soil amendments available at multiple retailers in every community. The point here is that if gardening is to work in a survival situation, you may be forced to largely rely upon the rain that falls for your watering.

Spacing becomes an issue because when a canopy of leaves forms, the plants generally stop getting bigger and hit their peak of water consumption. Plants that are spaced closely will be small when this happens. This means they have shallow root systems with small footprints. They don’t penetrate deeply, and if a drought hits, they will need constant supervision to survive until the next rain. Although you can most definitely recover a plant that wilts in the sun from lack of water if you address it quickly, the stress this places on the plant will set it back days and possibly weeks. Plants that are allowed room to grow large before a canopy forms will have deep roots and large, sturdy stems. They can better survive both harsh weather and longer periods without water than plants that are spaced close together.

Every plant has different requirements, so my general rule of thumb for spacing is whatever the seed packet says, I at least double it. The first year of this garden, I grew sweet corn. I did two 10 foot square beds and put four rows of corn in each bed with individual plants spaced 12 inches apart within the rows. These plants had plenty of room to grow and were over six feet tall before any of their leaves touched. They ended up topping out over eight feet, with some plants growing lateral branches and secondary sets of ears. Conventional wisdom might say this is wrong, but if you offset the rows, there is still enough wind protection, and I didn’t have any fall over in that particular year. The second year, I grew peppers in that bed. I did a total of 12 plants in both beds, arranged in four corners, plus two in the middle arrangement. There were bell peppers in one bed and habanero peppers in the other. I was pushing the spacing way out this time, trying to see how it would affect the yield. When I grow habaneros in a raised bed, I might get a dozen or so ripe peppers from a healthy plant. These plants each had over 75 ripe peppers, with the best three having more than 100. Give your plants room to grow. Their odds of surviving long enough to produce go up when they get bigger faster. The payoff in yield will be worth the weeding.

Weeding

Remember the sharp hoe? This is the primary weeding tool, and if you take it with you on your daily patrol of the garden you should never have to dig a weed by hand. If you see a green shoot that is in a position you didn’t plant a seed, use the corner of your hoe to lift it up out of the soil. That’s it. If will almost definitely shrivel and die as soon as the sun hits its now exposed tiny roots. If one happens to slip by you for a couple days, the sharpened bevel of the hoe will easily chop it off just below the soil surface, cutting off the energy supply of the root below. That will die just as easily as the ones you pluck out. The key here is discipline. You can weed once a week if you choose to, but your plants will grow more slowly and the weeding will be more difficult every time. You don’t want to skip a week. Just weed every time you visit the garden. Be diligent about not letting any plant that you don’t want growing in your garden steal vital nutrients from your vegetables. Weeds die very easily when they are young. Once your plants get big and form a canopy, this chore diminishes, but if you are disciplined it never gets hard in the first place.

Here’s a note on “weeds”. A lot of the plants that we typically don’t want growing in our gardens, like wild spinach, dandelions, wood sorrel, and sheep sorrel to name a few, are not only edible but nutritious and delicious. I grow some of each in my garden every year. In a survival situation, simply turning over sod and letting the “weeds” grow could provide you with a lot of food in the form of leafy greens that grow very quickly. The seeds are already in the ground, waiting for the conditions to germinate. Turn the soil over, and they will grow. You would still need something to eat while the garden grows.

Watering

Watering is pretty simple if you space your plants properly and live in a place with consistent rain. Where I live, rains tend to be concentrated in spring. We also have frequent afternoon thunderstorms in summer months, making the amount of watering I do for my double-dug gardens nearly zero. Even on a hot, dry day, if you go down an inch or so into the soil, you will find plenty of usable moisture. As long as the grass isn’t getting crispy, a garden like this with properly spaced plants will not require much watering input on your part. If you do water and you chose a sunny, well-drained location, it’s pretty hard to overdo it if you are watering by hand. I prefer to water in the morning rather than the evening, so that I am not soaking the roots with cold water before hours of darkness. Soil temperature makes a big difference in how quickly things like germination and early growth take place; therefore, I try to water when the sun is coming up so the plants get warmed immediately. There are innumerable strategies for storing and moving water in a grid-down scenario, and they have been covered on this blog in great detail. Your individual strategy will vary from mine, but I plan on running a hose to my garden to gravity feed from an artisanal well.

Maintenance

The ongoing, year to year maintenance of this type of garden is much simpler and less time consuming than the initial start-up. Your thoroughness and diligence in removing large stones and digging in deep the first time through will be rewarded with deep, loose soil that roots can penetrate easily in search of the space they need to make large, resilient plants. When you are finished growing for the year, remove all the above-ground vegetation. I don’t put much thought into whether or not I get the roots out. If you leave them in the ground, they will rot down and add both nutrition and organic matter to the soil for next year. If you remove them from the garden, they will presumably become part of a compost pile and the end result will be nearly the same. After the vegetation is removed, you can be finished and come back when the ground thaws, plant cover crops, or spread amendments that might take some time to break down. These would include un-rotted manure and fall foliage– two that I have used in the past. When you are ready to start again the following spring, you simply spread any amendments you want in the soil for the season and make one pass with the shovel to incorporate the amendments and prepare the soil for planting. It will be easy work this time, since the soil is loose and previously worked. Dig your paths to form the beds, and you are ready for another growing season.

Satisfaction

At this point it would be natural to conclude that this is a ton of unnecessary labor for what you might assume to be similar results to a rototilled garden. This is partially correct in that the labor is currently unnecessary. There are easier ways to garden, and there is currently an abundance of relatively inexpensive, high quality tools, seeds, fuel, and soil amendments. It is also partially incorrect, because if this method is followed and worked with discipline, the results end up far superior. For me personally, gardening was originally inspired by a combination of nutritional reasons and the desire to prepare for harder times by learning a valuable skill. This style of gardening satisfies both requirements for me, while training and instilling confidence in me for the type of gardening that would be required during an extended crisis. This practice will give you a good gauge based on how many hours per week you put into your garden for the yield you get. You can multiply this out to plan for how much land you could personally cultivate as a full-time endeavor. This will give you a good estimate as to whether you currently have enough manpower to grow as many calories as you are planning to need. This information can be used to adjust food storage plans now.

I hope you will find this to be an informative guide on how you can hand-dig a garden that can easily adjust from the current bounty to times of crisis, and that it can be accomplished with a small budget and dedicated work. I’m not recommending you sell your tractor or rototiller, but this is a good way to expand your survival skill set in the comfort of modern luxury with enjoyable and rewarding results.

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The Human-Powered Veggie Garden- Part 1

A small amount of land, in some cases as little as half an acre if managed correctly, could supply a bountiful vegetable garden even without the luxuries of fossil fuel-driven technology or animal power. The key to the survival of an individual or a family who is either under-prepared or through the course of events is somehow unable to use any fossil fuel-driven technology or animal power is being able to quickly produce edible crops on the ground that they have using nothing but hand tools. The methods necessary to do this are inexpensive to implement, physically rewarding, and beneficial to the long-term health of your garden. Implementing them on a small-scale now will be immediately beneficial to your health via increased nutritional quality and physical activity. You will also gain the confidence of knowing that if gardening should ever be forced upon you as a full-time job, you would be able to put food on the table for the people who are relying upon you for protection and guidance.

I will detail my own experience, gathered over the course of the last four years, which was inspired by the book, Gardening When It Counts by Steve Solomon. It is a brilliantly presented, scientific, yet accessible step-by-step guide to maximizing the production and minimizing the chemical input (to zero, in his case) of your garden. This guide will be a description of how to do it on a small scale. Deciding how to implement it is really up to you and depends on a lot of factors, all of which will vary from one person to the next.

The double dug garden is not a new concept, but it is rarely practiced. Most people use rototillers. Generally speaking, that works given that the power is on and the modern, relatively intense gardening practices can be kept up. (I have more on this later.) Double dug means that all the digging is done with a shovel by hand. Double means you do it twice, until you can bury the entire head of your pointed shovel in loose soil. Does it sound like a lot of work? It is, but after I describe the technique in detail, I will tell you a little more about why it is worth the effort.

Location

To begin, a location must be chosen. If you already have a garden established, you can either use a part of that one or expand it nearby with this technique. For those using this as their first garden, the top priority when choosing a location should be sunlight. Be realistic, and make sure to account for spring growth and summer foliage when looking at nearby tree shadows. Enough sunlight is relative. Read up on what you are growing, considering how often you get a day of full sun, and choose a place where you can generally expect to get at least six full hours of direct exposure to the sun. In the northern hemisphere, orienting towards the south or southeast exposure is the best. I like having the morning sun hit my garden, because I can water it early in the day and the roots get warmed up relatively soon. Drying off the dew early in more humid climates will also benefit the health of your crops when it comes to mold. An easily overlooked but very important aspect of site selection is proximity to the house. The closer you are to your tools and your plants, the better care you will give them and the more and better food you will get in the end.

Tools

Speaking of tools, here are the bare essentials:

  • Shovels– pointed and transfer/scoop style.
  • Sturdy hoe
  • Stone rake
  • Hose with a switchable shower-style nozzle
  • Hat with 360 degree brim
  • Metal file

That’s pretty much it. There are things that would make life easier, but if that’s all you have you can garden.

Sharpening Tools

So, to get started, the single biggest effort and time saving advice I can give you is to grab that file and sharpen the hoe and pointed shovel. Most of the hand tools you buy, in fact any of the ones I have seen for sale even if they are of fine quality, are not sharp. The difference between having a 1/8” piece of flat steel of a sharpened bevel at the end of your implement many seem trivial, but when it comes to slicing through hard ground full of rocks or simply flicking your wrist to kill a weed with the corner of the hoe, the effort pays off immediately and requires little initial input and even less upkeep. Sharpening these tools is pretty simple. Secure them with one hand and a sturdy object like a workbench, and file a bevel onto the leading edge of your pointed shovel up to about five or six inches out from the point. Do the same to the working edge of the hoe. The first filing takes a few minutes, since you have to grind through the thickness of the metal to bevel it, but once the edge is ground maintaining it after a day’s work takes literally seconds.

Killing the Sod

Now that the site is chosen and you have a sharp shovel, it’s time to kill the sod, which is a mat formed by the grass and its intertwining root system. Ideally, the ground breaking takes place in fall, but with proper timing you should be able to follow this advice and still at least grow some summer and fall crops, even if you have to start this project after the ground thaws in the spring. Killing the sod is pretty simple. Using the pointed shovel, start at the “top” edge of your garden. You will be advancing to the rear as you dig, so keep in mind that going downhill, if grade is even slightly a factor, is much easier. Using your foot, drive the shovel through the sod. There is no need to go for big chunks of dirt. The only goal at this step is to turn shovel-sized chunks of sod over roots up so that the grass dies. Lay the first row of sod on the ground in front of you, laying subsequent rows onto the bare ground that is now where the first row of sod was growing. Repeat for the entire length of your growing area and after all the sod is turned over, you can walk away for a week to ten days to let it die.

Check Out Soil and Gather Amendments

During this time, check out your soil and gather your amendments. For me, amendments fall into two categories: nutritional and water/root management. Nutritional amendments, like fertilizers, compost, and wood ash, feed the plants throughout the growing season. Amendments, like peat moss, vermiculite, and sand, are used to alter the quality of your soil regarding how roots can grow in it and how water is held and drained. Since everyone’s needs are different, I will describe the amendments that went into my garden. I had a lot of rocks to deal with and a slight tendency towards clay but nothing that wouldn’t drain. I decided to add approximately an inch of peat moss across the entire garden to give some improvement in water retention and also to help break up some of the clay. I could have used more, but since my nutritional amendment, composted alpaca manure, would also help with soil tilth I decided an inch would suffice.

Compost

Compost is a touchy subject and opens up huge debates that I’m not going to weigh in on. The stuff I use is made from the composted manure of my parents’ alpacas. When their pens get shoveled out, the “beans”, straw, and whatever urine is mixed in gets piled in rows about four feet at the base and maybe three feet tall. I turn them and let them sit for a few weeks; then, I turn them again until it reduces down to a dark brown, highly potent, all-natural fertilizer that has never failed to grow large and bountiful versions of whatever plant I nurture with it. There are plenty of other ways to make compost, and depending on the quality of the stuff you end up with you may or may not need other methods of fertilization. For my garden, the compost I make is the bulk of the nutritional input. I also dig in some fall foliage to the garden bed, and both wood ash and plant waste are tossed onto the manure pile throughout the year.

After the week has passed, spread half of your amendments onto the overturned sod, which should be mostly dead anyway. You are about to finish it off for good on the first of two rounds of real digging. Start in the same position as when you were removing sod. Drive the shovel through the amendments, dying sod, and as much soil as you can bite off with a good kick. Rock the shovel a little to free any small stones and scoop the load forward, away from you, just like you did with the sod. Unless they come up easily, disregard any large stones you clang the shovel off if they are more than a couple inches down. They will be dealt with in the next round. Once you finish a row, you should have a small trench dug with a pile of dirt in front of it. Go back about six inches, or half a shovel head length, and dig the next row, using the materials you turn over to fill in the trench you just dug. Take your time to chop up any big chunks of sod that are left and cover anything green that happens to have survived. Do this for the entire garden. It’s tough work but not the worst, and when you are finished with this round you will already have a result on par with rototilling. An adult man in decent shape should be able to dig a 10×5 area in about an hour, maybe 90 minutes. In subsequent years, the input is significantly reduced, so don’t fear that this admittedly difficult part of the process will have to be repeated annually. After digging, cover with the second half of your amendments, and get ready for the final dig.

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SURVIVAL TACTICS: YOUR GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SURVIVAL

SURVIVAL TACTICS: YOUR GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SURVIVAL

As a hunter, I have stranded in the wilderness many times. There came a stage where it seemed impossible to survive. I lost my way, I lived in dark, I had no food. But still I managed to escape. How?? All these years of hunting and exploring wilderness, have taught me a good deal about unusual survival tactics to protect myself. These days, most of the novice hunters act quite over-confidently about this profession and consider, only their iPhone and a GPS navigation app is enough to aid them in the race of their ultimate survival. My only question to them, how long can you keep your battery charged??

Survival Tactics Every Hunter Should Know!

There is an array of ways, knowing which can get you out of trouble in any situation.

Read on to find your guide to wilderness survival here.

1. Share your Destination

Never leave your place without informing some close pal or family member about your final hunting abode. It is the key point in your survival. At least some of your close fellows must know where you are heading to. In case, you get stranded, it would help them in tracing you out.

2. Don’t Get Panic!

That is the most common mistake that inexperienced hunters commit after straying in the wild. Staying fit both physically and mentally is really important for your survival. If you face such situation, stay calm and cool. Stop, sit and take a deep breath. Think cleverly and plan your way out.

3. Find a Secure Place for Shelter

In a situation like this, the first thing should be to look for a safe campsite. Once you are settled safely, you can plan your survival tactics there. Your shelter should be on a place both high and dry. Simply put, avoid valleys and pathways, as such places are always at the risk of getting flooded (flash flood).

4. Start a Fire

Surviving without fire is impossible. You need fire to stay warm, to cook food, to boil water, to keep the predators and bugs away and most importantly, to use as a sign for help. Never forget to store a Firestarter in your survival kit. Even a tactical pen(a tactical pen comes with a number of uses for the strayed) with Firestarter can work for you. In case you’ve missed it, there is another trick to start the fire. Using a battery is a handy way to lit the fire. How? You simply need to short-circuit the battery. Connect the positive and negative terminals to some steel wool, foil or a wire. It would cause a spark. Lit your bundle of wood with it.

5. Look for Drinkable Water

Your body can’t survive without water for more than three days. You’d be lucky if you find a body of potable water in the wild. If water seems polluted (water in puddles), never use it without boiling. What if you don’t find water? Wait for the rain, dew or snow. That’s the best I can suggest in a tricky situation like this. All three are the natural and the safest sources of water and do not require boiling.But unfortunately, you can’t predict weather. What if none of it happens and you don’t get even a single drop of water? My survival tactics are not over yet. Look for the maple trees around. Cutting a hole in its bark releases a liquid. That is quite safe to drink. To survive, gulp it down.

6. Look for Food

I always advise to pack a bundle of edible items with you. As you can’t predict the duration of your adventure. In case, you are running short of food, look for food in your surroundings. Otherwise, you are going to be the victim of malnutrition. Once that happens, getting out of wild may become a dream. Now the question is; which edibles you can find in such wilderness? Read on your guide to wilderness survival to know more. To cop up with this hard situation, your body needs protein. Let’s hunt around for some bugs, critters, frogs, eggs and lizards. If you happen to be a vegetarian, forests are sourced with edible (and non-edible) berries and plants. Some edible plants include—lambsquarter(wild spinach), dandelions and cattails. Research well about these plants before leaving for the hunt. When you already know about plant’s structure and shape, it would be easier to identify them.

7. Something to Cut

A knife is a must have tool. It helps in a number of ways—for cutting anything, for cooking food and also for your own protection against elements. Before you set out, make sure to pack a couple of tactical knives with you.

8. Use Survival signals

Fire is the most recommended survival signal that you can send to the outer world, especially when you hear the sounds of some plane or rescuer’s helicopter nearby. Find some open place or a hilltop to lit the fire(to avoid the spreading of the fire).Gather twigs and dry leaves from your surroundings to lit the fire. Once the fire is kindled, add spruce leaves and fresh pine to intensify the fire and the smoke. You must have your combustible material saved for this very critical moment (or else you might miss the chance of getting rescued).Don’t forget to extinguish the fire before leaving this spot. The second survival tactic can be a mirror signal. The light that flashes from a mirror signal can travel to miles. Even at night time, you can send a flash signal with moonlight. Note:It is not essential to have a mirror to send the signal. Any reflective surface including your mobile’s screen, can be improvised in this regard.

9. Find the Best Ways to Navigate

In case, you don’t find any signs of aid from any side (even if the building the fire signal gone useless), it’s time to move on. Don’t waste your time sitting there waiting for aid. You must have some navigation tool, map or a compass. What if you don’t? Get help from mother nature. In the daylight, sun can be a part of your survival tactics in the wild. You know sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Simply following the sun can help in determining your current direction. In the night, get help from the starry sky. Find the Polaris (north star or pole star). It’s lined up with the constellation, little dipper. When you are facing north star, you are actually heading in the north direction.

10. Other Ways to Find your Way!

Every forest or wild area has some mountains, paths or rivers in it. If you find one, keep following it. These often lead to civilization or pathways.  We have a deep respect for nature and for the environment, and we therefore take the sport of hunting very seriously. Never think that you are alone in the woods again. Our goal is to share what we know with who needs it most.

Meta Title: Tips for Surviving in the Wilderness

Description: Are you going on a hunting adventure? Then you must know some useful tips and survival tactics to protect yourself, in case of straying.Read on to know more about them.

Reference links

http://authorizedboots.com/2015/07/50-survival- tips-and- tricks-for- the-outdoors/

http://www.mensfitness.com/training/endurance/12-outdoor- survival-skills- every-guy-should-master

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Zika Virus: 10 Things to Worry/Relax About

Zika virus has been in the news since the beginning of the year, and there’s a lot of information out there; some of it is reassuring and some, well, not so much. Here’s some things you should know that will make you worry/not worry about this infectious disease that’s been reported worldwide. 

1.

WorrisomeReported cases of Zika in the U.S. and its territories will soon hit 20,000. The number of Zika cases IN THE U.S. and its territories reported to CDC’s Arbonet (ARthropod-BOrne virus) national registry has risen to almost 19,000. With some researchers suggesting infection in one quarter of the population of Puerto Rico before the end of 2016, 20,000 cases might be a gross underestimation.

Reassuring: While the Zika epidemic rages in Puerto Rico, the continental U.S has reported a total of 2,964 cases of mostly travel-related Zika virus illness (out of a population of 320 million).  South Florida is the only area in the continental U.S. where local mosquitoes are confirmed by authorities to have spread the disease (about 50 cases).

2.

Worrisome: The actual number of Zika cases is probably close to 5 times the number of reported cases. Zika virus causes relatively mild symptoms like rashes, fevers, joint pains, and reddened eyes, and even then in only 20% of cases. 80% have no symptoms whatsoever, which means that the actual number of cases is probably 5 times greater. This doesn’t count people who wouldn’t go to the doctor for a mild fever or a rash, so it might be even more.

Reassuring: Even if case totals are, in fact, much higher than reported, the virus leaves the bloodstream after a week or so in most people. It can, however, last for months in seminal fluid or, perhaps, the eyes. Once you have recovered from the acute infection, you receive immunity from the antibodies produced by your immune system. Future pregnancies won’t be affected.

3.

Worrisome: Zika is a bona fide pandemic. A pandemic is a widespread occurrence of a disease not normally seen in a place that spreads across different regions. Zika has now been identified in close to 70 countries and has been referred to as a pandemic by the National Institute of Health since at least January 2016.

Reassuring: Despite concerns raised by many health officials, athletes and tourists returning from the Olympic Games don’t seem to have sparked significant new outbreaks in their home countries.

4.

Worrisome: Newborns with Zika infections can have multiple abnormalities, not just microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a small brain leads to poor head growth. Beside this, however, other evidence of brain damage, deformed joints, and vision or hearing impairment may occur.

Reassuring: The percentage of abnormal newborns in Zika-infected mothers isn’t as high as you think. Statistics for the rate of birth abnormalities in newborns have ranged from 1% to 13% in Brazil and 1% in the previous outbreak in Polynesia in 2013-4, according to a CDC report released last May. There are no numbers that say a Zika-infected mother’s chances are very high of having a baby with microcephaly or other defects.

 5.

Worrisome: We can’t say for sure that Zika-infected babies born looking normal will be unaffected by the virus. Zika is shown in lab studies to kill brain and other nerve cells. What if the number of cells damaged is not enough to make the baby appear abnormal at birth but enough to cause delays in milestones like walking or talking? What if these infants end up having learning disabilities once they’re old enough to go to school? We won’t know for years.

Reassuring: Although our research into the effects of Zika virus is in its infancy, no hard evidence exists that a baby from an infected mother will have later developmental deficits.

6.

Worrisome: Zika virus may be passed through from human to human through seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, blood, and now, tears. Researchers are finding more and more ways that Zika might be transmissible from human to human. A study from Washington University in St. Louis reports that tears of mice carried parts of the Zika virus.

Reassuring:  The vast majority of Zika infections are still transmitted by mosquitoes. Sensible actions like the use of mosquito repellents, the wearing of long sleeves/pants, and drainage of nearby standing water are still the best way to prevent an infection.

7.

Worrisome: There is more than one strain of Zika, and there may have been mutations. Zika, like many viruses, exists in different subtypes (at least two) that could mutate from time to time. This fact might explain why a virus originally identified in 1947 only started causing community-wide outbreaks in 2007, and no reported cases of abnormal babies before 2013. A mutation that increased the severity of effect on humans (at least, newborn ones) may have occurred.

Reassuring: It’s possible that Zika just had never been exposed to such large populations without natural immunity. Researchers haven’t yet reported if the strain spreading rapidly in Singapore is the same one as that in Brazil.

8.

Worrisome: There may already be more than one locally-transmitted outbreak in the U.SDr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor’s College of Medicine, suspects that there may be more areas of local Zika transmission than just the one in Miami. The Guardian reports that he said, “…I think there’s not just Zika transmission going on in Miami, it’s going on all up and down the Gulf Coast and in Arizona, it’s just that nobody’s looking.” The CDC, although it stops short of predicting an epidemic of Zika, believes clusters of cases may still appear in warm-weather states.

Reassuring: Future local outbreaks are likely to be minor in the U.S.  A number of states, like Louisiana and other Gulf and East coast states, are recovering from floods dues to storms and Hurricane Hermine. Cases of Zika virus, however, don’t seem to be arising out of standing water there that would be excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Cities, like Houston, with low-income areas that harbor abandoned buildings and trash, also provide possible sites for the next generation of mosquitoes; Zika virus doesn’t seem to have taken hold there either.

9.

Worrisome: Aerial Spraying with chemical pesticides like Naled may affect honeybees and even humans. Use of pesticides that are neurotoxic might have ill effects on important pollinators like bees, or even human beings. It might be safer to use methods that kill mosquito larvae instead.

Reassuring: Aerial spraying is an effective way to eliminate large populations of adult mosquitoes quickly and rarely affects humans. Naled is a shorter acting pesticide than some others, and when used correctly (before sunrise or after sunset), is unlikely to cause major damage to pollinators, which mostly forage during daylight hours. The recent bee die-off after spraying in Dorchester County, S.C., was due to spraying which occurred at 8 a.m.

10.

Worrisome: A new local Zika outbreak is spreading throughout Singapore in Asia. The location is important because Singapore is an important financial hub for the region. Travel-related cases already have been reported in Malaysia and the Philippines from returning travelers. Given the widespread commercial travel to Singapore, where 300 cases have been reported in 10 days, the entirety of Asia may be affected in the near future.

Reassuring: Here in the U.S., the coming fall and winter seasons will decrease mosquito populations significantly throughout most of the country. USA Today reported in July that Brazil was recording fewer cases of Zika as the Southern Hemisphere entered its “winter”.

 

So, it’s your choice: You can decide either to go look for your worry beads or, instead, cover your eyes with your hat and order another pinacolada. Just don’t forget the mosquito repellent.

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Basic Wilderness Navigation Skills for City Folk

If you live in an apartment in the city you’ll have limited supplies and resources will be scarce in the event of a natural disaster or civil unrest. You can do your best efforts in prepping but if you live in an apartment you’ve only got so much space that you can use. In the event that you run out of resources or things just get too dangerous in the city, you’ll most likely want to bug out. Most of you will have a bug out location and chances are that you will be getting to that bug out location, at least part of the way, on foot. If that’s the case, you’ll need some basic wilderness navigation skills because even if you’ve trekked to your bug out location many times, in the heat of the moment when you’re stressed and fatigued or it’s a bit dark or the weather is bad or for whatever reason you have to take a different route, it’s very easy to get lost so I’ve put together these basic guidelines which you can master very quickly.

It’s important to note that in the woods, anybody can get lost, even the most experienced survivalist. In such situations where you can’t be helped by anybody, you will have to find your own way. I know many stories of people doing something like picking berries and getting lost because they see a patch of berries just a bit further that they want to pick, and then there’s another batch just a little further and then all of a sudden they’re turned around and lost. Then panic can set in which can even make people with good navigation skills make silly navigational errors.

The first thing you need to know is which direction you have to go in. Sounds simple but it’s not as simple as it sounds when you’re in a forest and there’s no land marks that you can see. That’s why you have to know your bearings. Secondly, you have to ensure that you remain on the right path.

GETTING YOUR BEARINGS

Knowing your bearings (North, South, East, and West) is absolutely vital to wilderness navigation. Using a compass, you can determine your bearings easily however what if you lose your compass or you accidentally break it? In most cases when in the wilderness, you will have some clues about your current location, e.g. you might know the position of the creek or coast which might either be to the east or west. Therefore, once you determine the location of the creek or coast you can get back home. Ultimately, knowing the direction of north, east, south and west is important to survival in a situation like this.

So how do you get your bearings if you don’t have a compass?

Stick in the Ground: Get a straight stick thick enough to cast a visible shadow. Drive it into the ground and note where the shadow ends on the ground. Then, after about 15-20 minutes, mark another sport at exactly where the shadow finishes. With two points on the ground, connect them by drawing a line between them. The first point represents the west direction and the second point indicates east.

 

Branches of a tree: You can get your way around in the woods by reading trees. A tree with its branches thicker on one side simply shows that they got more sunlight. The other side of the tree with thinner and more vertical branches is because it is not facing the sun, so they have to grow tall to get enough sun light. Don’t just jump to conclusions, make sure you use several trees for confirmation.

Moss: Moss generally grows on tree sides not facing the sun or on rocks not facing the sun so you know that the sun is in the south if you live in the northern hemisphere so that way you can get some basic bearings. To reduce error and increase accuracy, you don’t rely on just one tree or rock, take an average of several.
Stars: Knowing how to find the North Star is one of the basic skills for survival.
Use a watch: On an analog watch, point the hour hand towards the sun. Note this as your first reference point. The 12 hour point on the watch is your second reference. From the middle of the two reference points, draw a straight line across the watch face, the line drawn represents your north-south line.

HOW TO STAY ON COURSE

It might sound easy, but staying on course is a big problem. Many people who get lost go round and round in circles. It sounds ridiculous that someone will continue to go around in a big circle for days but it does happen and the reason it’s so easy to get off course is because there can be obstructions in your way or the woods might just be too dense to get around. If you’re in an open, flat field it’s hard to get lost if you have a compass but if you’re in thick forest and come across an impassable cliff and have to go around it’s very easy to get lost.

Use a big stick: It’s not the most sophisticated method on the planet but it actually works very well. You can apply any of the methods above to get your bearings. Next, with a very long stick, place it in the right direction in the dense area you can’t physically pass. Locate the end of the big stick by walking around the dense area, then follow the direction the stick is pointing. The Scandinavians have been using this technique since the Viking age.

Boxing: When obstructed by an obstacle e.g. a mountain or a dense forest etc. and you are in possession of a compass, you can get around it using the boxing method.

Below are steps to follow.

Step 1: With your compass, turn 90 degrees to the right, then in that direction walk a suitable distance so that you get around the obstruction. Note the number of steps you are taking.

Step 2: Still with the compass in your hand after going far enough around the obstacle, turn left 90 degrees. Then walk far enough to clear the obstacle.

Step 3: Again holding your compass, turn 90 degree left and then walk in that direction a the same amount of distance you took in step one.

Step 4: finally you are at the exact location you intend to be, turn 90 degrees right and walk in that direction. That’s the right direction you needed to go and you’ve safely got around the obstruction.

Aiming off: Are you trying to get to a location that is on a creek or a road? Don’t set off going directly to the location, aim off in one direction. It’s a good idea to aim off because there is a possibility that you won’t exactly get to your intended location and once you reach the road or creek, then the question will be, which way should I go, left or right up the creek or road. If you aim off to the left of your desired location which is on the road or creek, once you reach the road or creek, you know that you have to go right to reach your desired location. Using this method, you might add a bit more distance to your journey, but you will definitely reach your destination.