You might not know it yet, but there are some easy tricks to sheltering yourself in an emergency. Wilderness lovers and people in many traditional societies use these simple survival techniques. You can, too! Your Bank Account Whether you are in the outback or in an urban environment, you need to understand your body’s “bank account” and how to save your body’s resources for important withdrawals. In an emergency, you should keep your body’s account of heat, stamina, and water safe. If you don’t conserve them, you might not have them to withdraw when needed to make better shelter, get food, or do other essential actions. Quick Shelter What I call “quick shelter” is a deceptively simple idea: if you want to reduce loss in your body’s bank account, do simple things to quickly stop losses of water and energy. Whatever it takes, become very protective of the body temperature, stamina, nutrition and water you have in your body when you don’t need to work. I’ve seen many people deplete their resources by exerting themselves or staying out exposed to the elements for no good reason. Save it for when you build, travel, get food, etc. In cool climates, put on head and hand gear, pile leaves on yourself, sit against a rock that reflects warm sunlight. Zip up your coat and sit on the leeward side of a tree to protect against cold and wind. Wipe snow or water from your clothes. In hot areas, lying in shade, avoiding activity, and enjoying a cool breeze does wonders. Deserts can be broiling hot in the day but turn cold at night. When heat starts to drop, gather any easy insulation, from plants to clothing, in case it’s needed at night. Strong wind can deplete your stores in any environment, too, [...]
Browsing modern survival
Did you ever dream of being able to start fires like early explorers, ancient royalty, traditional societies, early authors, or your great-great-great-grandma? These techniques, and more, have been used for campfires for millennia. However, they were also used in homes, kitchens, and anywhere else you needed heat and light. Here’s a peek at skills that pretty much everyone knew before safety matches came into widespread use in the mid-19th century. Hand Drill The hand drill is one of the earliest methods people came up with to start fire. And, it’s one of the most difficult ones, too. I’ve watched Maasai warriors of East Africa do this on the wide blades of their spears. They, of course, made it look easy. After all, they’ve probably been doing it all their lives. It’s not easy for most of the rest of us. –> You’ll need a straight spindle of harder wood perhaps 1 ½- 2 feet long. –> Make tinder out of anything that catches fire readily-dry grass, leaves, bark-and form a little nest. –> Cut a V-notch in a piece of wood called a “fire board” or “hearth board”, making a small depression next to it. Cottonwood, cedar, and willow are some of the options. –> Put bark or something similar between the spindle and the fire board. Fir or horsetail wood are a few possible materials. –> Put the spindle into the depression on the fire board. Keep pressure on the board, rolling the stick between your hands. You run your hands up and down the spindle again and again and again until an ember is glowing on the fire board. –> As soon as that ember shows up, drop it into the bark and shove it into the tinder, gently blowing to keep it alive and coax it into [...]
Fire? Me? Make a fire? Where’s the microwave? Whether keeping the family happy with an autumn blaze and marshmallows, traveling in any climate or country, or keeping yourself alive in an emergency, knowing how to make a fire is crucial and easily learned. Even if you live in a city, knowing how to set up a fire could be useful in an emergency situation for heat, light, signaling, or cooking. This article discusses campfires, but the same principles apply to your grill, fireplace, or urban emergency. You might just need to use other items. It’s Not That Tough Mom grew up on a mountain ranch, and Dad spent lots of time riding the Rockies on his horse before heading off to hunt treasures. They know how to make fires. We made fires in two fireplaces in the old house, a fire-breathing stove in our cabin, on camping trips and during expeditions. So, I was expected to learn fire building from an early age. When your parents are able to conjure flame quickly from almost anything, it can be a little intimidating. Why did I need bundles of paper and a box of matches when it took just a little tinder and a quick touch with one match for my folks to be fanning flames? But, I learned that it’s really not that hard to do.
In my last piece on this subject, Bugs: A Cheap, Nutritious, Sustainable Way to Eat, I introduced the idea of eating insects for survival or as a regular source of food. In this article, you’ll find ways to do that. First, in survival, then in the comfort of your kitchen. Insect Foods for Survival Here’s one way to save yourself a lot of time and energy gathering and preparing food. Yes, you can hunt, fish, and look for fruits, but just remember that there’s a good chance you’re surrounded by food right where you are: insects. After all, they’re 4/5 of all the animals on this planet. Any place that you normally find bugs is open season. Look for shady spots, protected areas and moist locations. Take a peek under rocks as well as in, and underneath, trees and shrubs. Caves and cracks or crevasses in the earth and rock are also likely spots; but, remember that you need to keep yourself safe while surviving. Be cautious not to get involved with a snake, unstable rock, or other safety issues. Collect crawling insects in whatever you have: a can, bag, or any other container. The better it seals, the more food you’ll be able to keep from walking or falling away. Grasshoppers, beetles, worms, grubs, termites, crickets and larvae can be good finds, but other bugs are good food, too.
Billions of people around the world are taking advantage of a food source that is cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly. Are you missing out? It can be a high source of protein; provides vitamins, minerals and fiber; requires little space to produce, and replenishes rapidly. In addition, it is reported to have about 20 times higher food conversion efficiency than other meats. In other words, a better feed-to-meat ratio than beef, pork, lamb or chicken. Great for survival situations or everyday dining. And it’s now being spotlighted in international circles. What is it? Eat Bugs Bugs? You want me to eat a bug? Okay, maybe you’ve never eaten an insect. Or, have you? The United States Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition produces a publication called “The Food Defect Action Levels: Levels of natural or unavoidable defects in foods that present no health hazards for humans”. This volume details acceptable levels of food contamination including how many bugs you can have in your dinner. In it, you’ll find, among many other examples, peanut butter has to have an average of less than 30 insect fragments per 100 grams, wheat flour has to have an average of less than 150 insect fragments per 100 grams and ground cinnamon has to have an average of less than 400 insect fragments per 50 grams. So, pretty much everyone’s eaten bugs already. The thought of eating sushi or even tofu used to disgust many people in the United States; now, however, sales of these food items are doing well. Why not the same for tasty termites and gastronomic grasshoppers?
The subject of survival knives is weird. I think it’s partly because some survival knives have been marketed in ways that make them seem aggressive and creepy. A knife is a useful tool. No matter what you do for work or how active your lifestyle, there is a correct knife choice for you. In this article, you’re going to read something surprising; something that you probably won’t read in other articles about survival knives. You’re presented with constant messages about survival stuff that’s supposed to keep you safe and healthy. Some of them are excellent. Some are, at best, adequate. Some are so bad that you shouldn’t bet your life on them. Knives are some of the more sellable survival items because, aside from being useful, they can be marketed to appeal to some kind of weekend warrior/matinee marauder mentality. Stores will be happy to sell you poorly-made knives that make you look like you’re a movie hero or in Special Ops, but they might not be what you actually need. Examples include some of the hollow handles that break off, compasses (often very inaccurate) in the pommel, and crazy huge survival knives that look like something Conan the Barbarian would wield. These knives might make someone look like a fantasy warrior, but they’re not very useful. One of the prime considerations with any of your expedition or survival equipment is that it needs to be tough and keep working. Hollow handles and fancy bobbles on your blade are just useless: they’ll often bust apart after very little hard use and leave you up against it. Also, don’t get such a nice, fancy piece of equipment that you won’t use it. I was instructing at one frontier skills institute when a participant was asked to cut something, but he refused. [...]
There’s an important, often overlooked consideration to your family’s well-being, but chances are you might not have thought about it. Preparations frequently include such steps as classes to learn outdoor skills, tutoring on how to drive through anything, or setting aside a bunch of food in your closet. But, there’s one area of preparedness that I find much less information about; one that would be critical if trouble strikes. You can help your family with this. Surviving Survival Water, shelter, safety, and food are essential for getting your child get through a survival situation. However, whether it’s a minor incident like the power going out for the night or a major disaster of global proportions, your kids still need to be able to get through it, participate in a way that helps you, and emerge with as little damage to their lives as possible. What will you do with your children? How do you not only protect and feed them but help them feel secure and help yourself by the entire family being more calm and engaged? I call it “Surviving Survival”. It’s not a particularly clever term but helps to remember the point.
In the last article, The Art of Survival Blacksmithing Part One, we looked at ways to set up some simple blacksmithing arrangements. In this article, we’ll try our hand at a couple of basic skills and items that could be useful for survival. You can see people today in developing countries that are building and fixing metal implements with very limited resources. Watching a well-equipped smith working is impressive; watching someone crouching by a hut using only a few small tools to create or repair things is astonishing. You can learn from those people and improvise ways to set up and work with hot metal. How to Do It 1-2-3 Just like learning anything, your first attempts have a good chance of not turning out well. Keep trying. As mentioned before, I’m not a blacksmith. These are things I picked up over the years.
Yeah, I know. When you hear “blacksmith”, you think of some guy fixing wagon wheels in the Old West or a living history interpreter talking to tourists in Colonial Williamsburg. However, knowing basic blacksmithing and ways to improvise the basics of what you need could be very useful for survival in either urban or rural environments. Honestly, you can survive many, if not most, situations without a clue about smithing. But, it can be valuable if you know how to do even a little. Or, at least, it’s good to understand how valuable that blacksmith down at the end of your street can be. There’s no way that I would call myself a blacksmith. Those men and women have real skills and knowledge from years of study and practice. However, I do know enough to be able to do some basic things, even poorly. While on an expedition way out in a nearly-undeveloped area of Latin America, the axle in our truck broke. It was only due to the help of a blacksmith in a small village nearby that we were able to get on the road again. Back at home, we set up a simple blacksmith’s shop and learned a few basics. My welds are messy, I don’t always “read” the metal right, and I’ve made a couple of blades that would send a real smith to the floor with laughter-but, they’d still cut meat or sever a rope in a pinch. I’ve heated and welded together pieces of metal with the blows of a hammer, and most of them looked ugly. But, if I’d needed them to keep going, they would have worked. Whether you find yourself in need of a simple repair or have to make it through a real survival situation, you’ll have an edge if [...]
You’re trapped in a building after a disaster. You’re lost in the desert. You’re marooned on an island. The engine on your boat won’t start. The cell phone’s out, Internet is not accessible, and there are no two-way radios available. But, you’ll be okay. How? Once again, you’ll use the best tool in your kit – your brain – and improvise.