SURVIVAL—HOW NOT TO BE A VICTIM

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SURVIVAL—HOW NOT TO BE A VICTIM

Postby Mike Brooks » Wed Sep 12, 2007 5:22 pm

By Neal Browne

WHO ME?
Let’s be honest—we never think it will happen to us. It’s always the other guy that the search and rescue teams head out to find. But the embarrassing fact is that those who end up lost, stranded, injured, or unable to make it back never thought it would happen to them either.

Each year it’s estimated there are (ready for this?) 50,000 search and rescue missions across the United States looking for people lost or in trouble. They are most often hikers, hunters, skiers and snowmobilers. Search and Rescue crews say the numbers don’t lie: Men 20-25 years old and 50-60 years old are statistically the most likely targets of their operations, although they’ve rescued hundreds of people of all ages, and both genders, all too frequently.

Nobody needs to rehearse why we all love to venture into the wilderness or mountains, but if unprepared, you might not come back at all. And if you do (here’s another staggering number), the average cost of a full-scale search and rescue operation is $32,000. Many states require that you pay back those costs.

PREPARATION

Proper preparation won’t take you any more time than properly preparing for your hunt or your hike, but it just might save your life, so you can hunt another day.

“Right preparation, right thinking, and the right equipment are key,” says Peter Kummerfeldt, the former survival instructor for cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. “The biggest danger,” he says, “is getting cold and wet. That’s the quickest set-up for hypothermia, which can kill you.” (Hypothermia happens when your body starts losing heat faster than it can replace it).

THE DANGERS OF HYPOTHERMIA

Hypothermia is deceptive. It can even happen on only a moderately cool day, especially if it’s raining. Experts say it pulls you in a spiral downward: It shows itself first as uncontrolled shivering and blurred thinking (even though you won’t notice just how poorly you’re thinking). I can attest to that myself. For me, it wasn’t the wilderness, but rather coming home from work years ago on my motorcycle (when I was a 24-year old know-it-all). A 70-degree day turned nasty with a cold front that brought 41-degree temperatures and blowing sleet. Neither my insulation nor my rain gear was adequate. Still, tough-guy here thought he could make it, and wasn’t going to be humbled by a little storm. It was only a 30-minute ride home, and yes, I got there without putting the bike sideways, but then the interesting part began.

I came inside and while trying to get warm, what I thought were complete rational sentences (I was in broadcasting and was paid to talk well) ended up being incomplete, and at times, incoherent phrases. My family knew something was stranger than normal. After about an hour’s immersion in the tub with continual fills of more hot water, they told me they wished they had used a tape recorder, because that would be the only way I would believe how out-of-it I was. Their verdict was unanimous. I finally realized just how imperceptibly and subtly hypothermia comes on. I knew I was very cold. I didn’t know how stealthily it had robbed my ability to function and think well, while I thought I was just fine.

Wrong, or blurred thinking leads to wrong and sometimes disasterous decisions that can take your life if you’re in the back country and a long way from shelter and warmth. During my reporter days, I even had the uncomfortable task of finding a man who had made it back to his car during a powerful blizzard, but had frozen to death inside it, all because he too was not properly prepared. All we could do was call the Sheriff.

YOUR MUST-HAVE SURVIVAL KIT

Time to cut to the chase—What to do to protect yourself, every time you go out. First, always tell at least two people where you expect to be, what route you plan to take, and when you expect to be back. If you don’t show up, they can get help.

Second, Kummerfeldt recommends that you always, always, always take a small survival pack with you. “The best survival gear made is useless when it’s left in the truck.” So what should you include?
He recommends a complete survival pack, but even if you don’t take that everywhere, you should never, ever be without your smaller “belt pack,” Make it something that is always in your pocket, or on your belt even when you just venture out from camp a little ways.

The Big Kahuna Complete Pack has in it these items:

---A Nalgene water bottle (best kind, won’t taint the water, holds up well)
---A water purifying device (bacteria in even “clear” streams can give you diarrhea—you don’t need that!)
---A small tin cup or bowl (you can melt snow for water, and boil it or purify it to keep yourself hydrated)
---A knife
---Thin, but durable, goatskin gloves (don’t neglect keeping your hands warm)
---A flashlight, extra batteries (put electrical or duct tape over the lens to protect it when not in use)
---A mirror and a whistle (for signaling)
---A small, short camp saw (He says an axe can slip and hurt you more often, causing extra problems)
---One layer of extra insulation (He recommends polar fleece: light, warm, doesn’t soak up water)
---Rain gear (windproof and waterproof, keeping you dryer and warmer)
---A GPS (they are becoming less expensive. Don’t trust your own innate “sense of direction.”)
---Head gear (a long, versatile hood that can be worn like a scarf, but pulled up over your head and cinched down with a draw-string is best. Keeping your head warm is critical)
--Protein Bars (good for keeping up your energy level, even though you can survive without food for 2-3 weeks)

Your Always-With-You-Even-if-You’re-Taking-A-Short-Walk Pack should contain these additional items:

---About 20-25 feet of nylon line or small rope (all kinds of uses: shelter, rescue, safety line, etc)
---A Metal Match (that will strike under almost any conditions)
---Back-up regular REI matches (Kummerfeldt says they are the best) in a waterproof container
---6-8 Cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly in a waterproof container (use one to get a fire started)
---Compass (not as good as a GPS unit, but far better than nothing)
---A large (big as you can get) plastic garbage bag (For visibility, get an orange one from your state highway department if you can. Otherwise, make it a 55-gallon (or larger) regular bag. You’ll cut out only the corner or toe of the bag to form about a 5-inch diameter hole—just enough for your eyes and nose, to see and breathe. With your hood up, pull the bag over you to keep you dry and wind-proof. Tuck in your legs).

FINAL TIPS

Kummerfeldt recommends that you take a full survival course in the off-season. Until then, these essentials will help keep you dry, warmer, and lessen the effects of the wind---your best bet to come out alive.
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Excellent advice

Postby thumper » Fri Sep 21, 2007 6:02 pm

That was a very good example of what to have in a Survival kit, and how to use it. I hope people will take it to heart and prepare, then make it a habit to carry at least a small one everytime they go for a walk.
If I could add a little bit of info that I think is also critical, it would be to have a basic first aid kit. It doesn't have to be big, or store bought.
Just a few large, elastoplast bandages (They hold better when wet, than the non stretch kind), a tiny tube of antibiotic ointment, one small roll of gauze dressing with a couple safety pins, (can be used to cover a larger wound or even to make a sling to immobilize an injured arm), a tiny bottle of alcohol gell (used as waterless disinfectant) also great for starting a fire, A roll of black electrical tape ( this can be used to hold dressings in place, sprained or broken fingers together, hold a make shift leg splint in place, or even used to hold your clothing together around your body, if it gets torn badly. Some chewing gum, longest lasting you can find, it will take your mind off hunger, provide some sugar, and great to offer to a kid who might be with you, to cheer them up. Last small item, a vial of pain medication, extra strength, Ibuprophen, Tylenall, Isprin etc. a combination is best. Avoid Aspirin if you have an open cut that is bleeding badly, as it will cause it to bleed more, but there is nothing better for swelling, or a heart attack victim, than aspirin based medication.

All of these items fit into a package no bigger than your fist. I've carried one for 35 years. If you still feel that you will never get lost, and never be in a situation to need this stuff, then make sure you carry it!! Because you may be the one who finds another lost soul who is injured, and you will have everything you need to offer them comfort and encouragement, until extraction can take place, you will also have a friend for life.
The most important aspect of having a kit such as what has been described is not only what the contents can be used for. It is that it will keep you from entering a state of panic, which ALL lost people experience. With some it only lasts a few moments because you now realize you are lost, but you are carrying the tools necessary to make a night of it, and add to your adventure list. But if you don't have the preparation, you truly panic, and attempt to race darkness to get out of the bush, dropping essential equipment, becoming totally disoriented, and most likely injuring yourself in the darkness. Because you not only fear being lost, you now fear the darkness, the cold, the rain, the animals, the hunger and thirst, the pain and the loss to your loved ones. All of which take a severe toll on your ability to survive. Far better to just fear embarrassment of getting lost, but knowing you were prepared and made it out alive!!! Remember who uses FEAR to destroy us, Remember that Knowledge casts out Fear.
If you HATE then there is no GRACE! The opposite of LOVE is APPATHY, The opposite of HATE is UNDERSTANDING!
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Any new ideas

Postby thumper » Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:23 am

Hi everyone, I see a few people have looked at this post. I would imagine some of you have come up with a few small gadgets that are also useful.

Share your thoughts.
If you HATE then there is no GRACE! The opposite of LOVE is APPATHY, The opposite of HATE is UNDERSTANDING!
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Postby slingshot » Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:59 pm

These are good tips. I would like to add a few ideas if I might.

For most of us when we think about survival we tend to romanticize about it. The first thing that comes to mind for many is building a self-bow and taking a rabbit or deer to eat. Or setting a twitch-up snare.

The first thing that should happen is that we all plan properly to avoid survival situations in the first place. Secondly, people should know where we are going and when to expect us back so they can send out a search party if necessary. Thirdly, we should all carry some form of communication unless you are traveling to an area that is so remote it would do you no good. There are also personal Emergency Locator Transmitters available now, for a small fee of course. Get a good one, and it could save your life some day.

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty. You did everything right, and somehow you still find yourself in a wilderness survival situation. Priorities are what is important. Most people die from hypothermia. Depending on the season, the weather, and how you are dressed, Shelter is usually the first priority. This can be as simple as building a small root shelter, lean-too, or finding a small unoccupied cave. Fire is probably going to be your next priority depending on temperatures and weather. A fire can help keep you warm and dry. (more on fire later)

You can last without food for a long time, so forget hunting for the meantime. WATER is going to be your next priority. Depending on temperatures and your activity level 3 days is about the norm for making it without water.

Hopefully you have a canteen full of water and some purification tablets in your survival kit. Hopefully you are not injured in such a manner that prevents you from travelling and finding a source of water. If you don't have purification tablets, you will need some type of container you can use to boil the water and of course you will need to build a fire which brings me to the next point.

It is great to know how to use friction methods to start fires to impress your friends, and maybe just maybe it will come in handy some day. There are a lot of ways to start a fire that require less energy. NEVER go on a hunting trip without a good disposable lighter in your pocket. Two or three might not be a bad idea. As a backup a little double ought steel wool can also work wonders if you have a flashlight with you. You can also purchase a magnesium firestarter at most Army surplus stores. Simply shave off the magnesium into your tender and use your knife to strike the other side.

Finally, if you are so deep into the wilderness that you have not been found after 3 or 4 days, and you are still alive, it is great to know your plants (what is edible, and what is not). If we assume that your hunting equipment was lost, or damaged and you can't use it to take game, the next thing you would want to consider is gathering edible plants. If you are not very familiar with wild plants however, I don't recommend this! This would probably be one of the best types of survival courses to take in my opinion.

After all this is said and done, snares are much better than primitive weapons for taking game since you can have multiple snares set at the same time and they can be working while you sleep.

I love to learn and play with primitive skills that include building snares, flint-knapping, making cordage, fire skills, and constructing primitive weapons, but these are definitely not a priority in most survival situations.

One more thing...check this site out: www.survival.com The guy who owns the site is Ron Hood. He makes the best survival and primitive skill videos I have ever seen!

There is a lot more to be said on the subject, but this is about the best I can do without getting too long-winded.
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Postby Mike Brooks » Thu Dec 06, 2007 10:58 am

thanks for sharing
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not into your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5
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Postby silvertip » Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:09 pm

I would add the basic small hatchet...and a few more meals...and extra water...and the good 'ole tarp...t :grin:
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Postby Mike Brooks » Sun May 11, 2008 7:03 am

I like the Mountian House Freeze dried foods, great in a pinch and tastes real good, just my two cents worth :grin:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not into your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5
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