Category Archives: survival preschool

where else would you rather be?

Cover of "The Book of Eli"
Cover of The Book of Eli

A good post recently went up over at Straight Forward in a Crooked World. Matthew talks about the differences between a “go bag” and a “bug out bag”. He says this about the notion of “bugging out”.

Despite all of its darkly romantic notions bugging out presents far larger issues than staying put. I have tools, vehicles, defensible structure, multiple firearms, ammunition, reloading capabilities, food, clothing…..resources.I’d much rather stay, live uncomfortable for a time, fight when and if I have to than run-fight-survive.

I agree 100%. While the macho image of the Hero wandering the Post-Apocalyptic landscape, living off of the land and surviving at all odds has kept a lot of gear manufacturers in business, the reality of survival is quite different.

Take a read.

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oddball gear you may not have heard of

Vietnam war-era P-38
Image via Wikipedia

I harken us back to the day of the C-Ration. The days when hungry GI Joes had to open their canned pork-n-beans with what was arguably one of the Army’s greatest inventions. The P38 Can Opener.

It’s official designation is ‘US ARMY POCKET CAN OPENER’ or ‘OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I‘, but is almost always called a “P-38” which it supposedly acquired from the “38 Punctures” required to open a C-Ration can.

I have carried one of these little gems on my key-ring for years and have an extra stashed away. It’s well worth the buck or so to pick one up.

survival preschool:evaluate a casualty

To this day. Almost 20 years after basic training. I can still remember the chant some E7 taught us to help us remember the steps in how to evaluate a casualty. Over and over again he had us chant: RESPONSIVENESS, BREATHING, BLEEDING, SHOCK, FRACTURES, BURNS, CONCUSSION, RESPONSIVENESS, BREATHING, BLEEDING, SHOCK, FRACTURES, BURNS, CONCUSSION, RESPONSIVENESS, BREATHING, BLEEDING, SHOCK, FRACTURES, BURNS, CONCUSSION…..
(X about 100)

Ahhh the Army. They sure have a way of hammering stuff into the brain cells.

Now. First Aid is a very important skill to have. This is not to be construed as professional advice and it is not thorough information in the least, this is simply the framework of steps needed to perform a basic first aid evaluation. For HOW to do what is required to deal with these steps, get some training from a qualified instructor. In a nutshell:

First off, always evaluate the scene for hazards. You will do nobody any good if you wind up down next to the person you were trying to assist.

RESPONSIVENESS: Calmly, and in a loud voice ask “ARE YOU ALRIGHT? HEY! ARE YOU OK?”. Gently tap or shake the person to see if he/she is conscious. If the person is conscious ask them questions about what happened, where they are injured etc. This info will help but you will still need to do the remaining steps. Conscious or not..have someone (i.e. point at someone and TELL them) call 911.

BREATHING: For this purpose, “breathing” will cover respiration and pulse. Determine if the person is breathing. If not open the airway, check for pulse and start CPR if necessary.

BLEEDING: Check for bleeding and treat with direct pressure, pressure points and/or tourniquet as necessary.

SHOCK: The rule of thumb I was taught was “if the face is red raise the head, if the face is pale raise the tail.” In general, the commonly taught shock treatment is to place the casualty on his back upon a blanket or something to insulate him from the ground. Loosen the casualties clothing and elevate the feet so that they are above the level of the heart. Depending upon the persons injuries there are alternate positions but you will have to research those yourself…I’m just giving the nut n’ bolts as I recall them here. Keep the casualty from getting too hot or cold by shading or covering him.

FRACTURES: Stabilize the head and spine. DON’T MOVE the person if you suspect a spinal injury (unless this is a crashed on a desert island scenario).  Look for fractures.  Open (bone sticking out) fractures may have to be treated as “BLEEDING”. The basic treatment is to splint in place.

BURNS: Remove the person from what is burning them without getting burned yourself. Put out any flames. Remove any clothing around the burn BUT don’t peel away stuck fabric…cut around it…then loosely bandage.

CONCUSSION: Look for cerebrospinal fluid that may be leaking from the ears and/or nose. Look for unequal pupils. If the person is displaying any of those sit them down or lay them on their side and watch them till help arrives. If they loose consciousness go back to step one and start over. Maintain an airway and support the  head and neck.

As I said earlier. This is just a framework. You may come across someone on fire. Obviously you will have to skip right to the BURN part. If after the person is extinguished he/she is yelling in pain, then obviously the RESPONSIVENESS, BREATHING steps can most likely be skipped. However, if at some point the person looses consciousness you may very well have to go back to the top and start over. Be sure that when help arrives you tell the medicos what happened and what you did to help.

For more information visit THIS SITE.

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survival preschool: shelter

A working knowledge of how to construct an emergency shelter is an important survival skill. I found this nice video that shows how to construct one.

The spruce root as cording was an interesting tip. Although I would have to get better at my tree identification skills to make that one work. I know its a pine/evergreen.

Spruce Trees
Image by sandy richard via Flickr

An important point made by the instructor is the necessity of a good axe. I don’t know how many campers or hikers routinely carry one due to the size and weight, but it may be a good idea to consider what you would use for the purpose. Those cable saws are nice..I have owned one or two but they certainly are labor intensive and time consuming to use.

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survival preschool: fire starters

I recently attended an entry-level wilderness search and rescue course taught by some State Forest Rangers. At one point in the class the discussion turned to gear and equipment and a Ranger spoke about starting fires. He mentioned a fire starting device I had never heard of before (which isn’t unusual, I’m no expert in the stuff), cotton balls impregnated with petroleum jelly. Here is a video:

Pretty impressive. The cotton, once prepared is even semi-waterproof and will light and burn after a soaking.

The Ranger suggested taking some large-bore drinking straws cut to size, melting one end closed over a flame, stuffing the cotton into it and then sealing the other end (be careful not to ignite the cotton). This gives you a longer term,individual use, waterproof storage container that keeps the cotton from drying out. When you need to use it you slice the straw open, fluff up the ball and light it.

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survival preschool: 98.6

Cover of "98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keepin...
Cover via Amazon

An absolutely fundamental and immediate survival concern (once you have survived the immediate safety crisis that is) , believe it or not, is maintaining your body temperature. Hypothermia or hyperthermia, otherwise known by their more common name…exposure; are the leading causes of death in the bulk of survival situations.

So on this topic I am in total agreement with survival expert Cody Lundin. He believes that this issue is so vital that he named his book, 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive.

Since this is “preschool”, I am not going to bore you with all the descriptions, symptoms and treatments for exposure. Check out the wikipedia links above for that. Suffice it to say that everything from clothing to shelter has to do with keeping your body’s core temperature at 98.6 degrees.

A waterproof breathable (hard shell) jacket
Image via Wikipedia

On the issue of clothes. Clothes are at the top of the list in our survival concerns. Our clothes are necessary for protecting us from the elements and maintaining our body temperature. You should ALWAYS be prepared for the environment you go out in by either wearing or packing the proper clothing.

Clothing systems for both hot and cold environments can be broken down into three components.

  • Base Layer: These are the clothing items that go against the skin. They trap air close to the body and should be made of materials that wick moisture away from the body.
  • Insulation layer: Added or subtracted as the outside conditions change, insulation layers go between your base layer and your outer garments.
  • Environmental Layer: This is your outside shell. The environmental layer protects you from the elements; wind, rain, snow, sun, brush etc. Ideally, your outer garment should be lightweight, loose fitting, wind and water resistant/proof and have the ability to be vented if you begin to sweat too much underneath.

In cold weather you need to try and trap your body heat close to your core by using insulating layers of clothes or air space. This is done by adding or subtracting insulation layers as the temperature dictates. Exercise and food intake will also effect your body temperature .

An acronym to remember for cold weather clothes is COLD.

  • C= keep yourself and your clothes CLEAN
  • O= avoid OVERHEATING
  • L=wear LOOSE clothing in LAYERS
  • D=keep DRY

And remember to wear a hat. Your head looses a large percentage of your bodies radiant heat. You will notice an immediate warming when you cover your head in a cold weather environment.

Drops of sweat
Image via Wikipedia

In hot weather your primary concern, clothing wise, is protecting yourself from the sun. Sunburn effects your bodies ability to cool itself. In hot weather your skin is your survival tool because your body depends on sweating to regulate body temperature.

Your clothing goals here are to wear loose layers of clothes that  will protect you from solar radiation while providing airflow that will slow the evaporation of sweat for efficient cooling. If your sweat evaporates too quickly you will rapidly dehydrate.

So…while not as exciting as learning how to build a Rube Goldberg style dead-fall trap to hunt wild game..you now at least have a good idea of what it takes to survive in the most common survival crisis situation. Exposure.

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survival preschool: no man is an island

A replica of one of the original covered wagon...
Image via Wikipedia

One of the major “disconnects” I see amongst the “preparedness types” is the belief that survival means stocking up on weapons and ammo and defending what is YOURS. While that may in fact be a concern depending on your location and situation, the reality is that true “survival” through major incidents really depends on the help of other people…and you helping them.

Our American pioneer ancestors knew that they had to be “self-reliant” to survive out on the frontier where help was not guaranteed or readily available, but they also knew that “living” for the long term required the help of others. Those “others” may have simply been numerous family members who were required to divide the labor (and hence LARGE family’s) to neighbors who lived a few miles away that you could trade goods with (lessening both your work loads) and get help from in times of need. “Self-Sufficiency” means not being a burden on others and being able to live for a period on your own, it doesn’t mean preparing to be the “last man on earth”.

The fact of the matter is that “lone wolf” survival…while possible for the short term…is a losing proposition for the long term. The “mountain man” of frontier myth had a dirty little secret, they were not known to have had long lifespans. The successful ones only “lived off of the land” long enough to make their fortunes in trapping and business exploration before returning to society. Besides the known difficulties of weather, scarcity of food and medical care, the fact of the matter is that the workload of having to “live off of the land” is staggering.

From the family, to the tribe, to the village, to State…Country, the ultimate purpose of them all is economy of effort. We have farmers to supply food so others of us can provide medical care. We have construction workers build our homes so that others of us can make clothing. In an emergency, while you better be able to provide for yourself for a significant period of time; if things look like they may go on for a long time, you will need to help others and you will need their help as well. Like it or not, any life worth living will depend on the good will of others.

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survival preschool: lets be realistic

Old emergency rations featured in a display ca...
Image via Wikipedia

The first part of being prepared is figuring out what it is you need to be prepared for.

For some people, disaster preparedness is more an issue of addressing their fears than it is about preparing for a threat that they may actually face. People are afraid of various things; an asteroid striking the Earth, “Mad Max” type societal breakdowns and Y2K style disasters are amongst some of the more cinematic “zombie apocalypse” fears that people worry about. In the meantime it seems that a large number of these people don’t think twice about the all too real times that their power went out for a number of days in a bad snow storm, the tornado that destroyed the development across town last year or the time their car broke down on an isolated road in freezing temperatures.

Coated in ice, power and telephone lines sag a...
Image via Wikipedia

While being prepared for major disasters is good advice, I think that it’s equally important to be prepared for the threats that your locale and lifestyle bring with them. If you live in New Orleans, a City on the coast below sea level, then you should be thinking about what you will do during a flood. If ice storms are known to knock out power in your area on occasion, your preparation is going to be different than someone from the “Big Easy”.

Your hobbies also come with a cost. If you are a camper/hiker/climber who frequently packs into a wilderness area far from civilization, your risks are different from someone who does not and requires different preparation, gear and skills.

Preparedness comes with a price tag. Supplies and equipment come at a cost. Before you invest any time or money take serious stock of what risks you face, what you already have, what you need, and your willingness/ability to live with the decisions you make.

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