Survival 101: The Effects Of Dehydration

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Hand and water in desert

Dehydration is no joke. Whether hiking the Grand Canyon or spending another day at the office, staying hydrated is essential to health. The human body is at least two-thirds water, and once its liquid content is reduced, bad things start to happen. Let’s review mild to serious effects of dehydration to help your water intake efforts.

Mild Effects

Mild side effects of dehydration are mainly just unpleasant, but still serve as indications that water replenishment is necessary. These effects include bad breath, dry skin, tiredness or lethargy , dry mouth, and less urine output and/or darker urine. Other signs include thirst and few or no tears when crying.

Moderate Effects

Moderate side effects of dehydration include muscle cramps, constipation, dizziness, and headaches.

Severe Effects

Severe side effects of dehydration include rapid heartbeat and breathing, sunken eyes, fever and chills, swelling of the brain, seizures, hypovolemic shock, kidney failure, coma, and death. Seizures, for example, occur due to electrolyte imbalances. Such imbalances cause involuntary muscle contractions and even loss of consciousness. Hypovolemic shock is one of the most serious effects of dehydration; it happens when low blood volume creates a drop in blood pressure and bodily oxygen. Kidney failure is another life-threatening complication indicating the kidneys are no longer able to function, resulting in a buildup of toxic fluids and waste in the body.

Tips for Preventing Dehydration

Causes of dehydration include excessive sweating, vomiting, frequent urination, and diabetes. Diabetics are also subject to dehydration due to high blood sugar levels and medications that result in frequent urination. Prevent dehydration by always keeping a bottle of water with you, especially if participating in physical activity under extremely hot temperatures. Opt for water-heavy foods such as cucumber and watermelon, and avoid dry, carb-filled snacks that contain a lot of salt.

Drink at least eight glasses of room-temperature water per day to stay hydrated. Ice water sits in your stomach until the body cools it!

Have you experienced severe dehydration? Share your story in the comments!

How to Avoid a Gator Attack

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alligator attack

One of the risks of recreating outside is that of encountering animals and possible animal attacks. Those encounters hardly ever go well for the parties involved. Take, for example, the death of a two-year-old boy in Florida after he was attacked by an alligator in June 2016. Not only was the boy killed, but officials also hunted down and killed the animal that was most likely responsible.

However, there are things that parents can do to make sure their children are safe from alligators and other dangerous animals. First of all, it’s important to remember that alligator attacks are still relatively rare. There have only been 24 fatal gator attacks in Florida since 1948. Plus, authorities say that humans, especially young children, are often easily mistaken for prey.

Know the Risks

It’s essential to know what animals you might encounter when heading outside, and more specifically, how to avoid attacks. Alligators, in particular, inhabit freshwater lakes and canals in certain parts of the country. It’s safe to assume that alligators are present in every body of fresh water in Florida and that they travel.

Despite their chunky appearance, alligators can move at speeds up to 20 mph, and they are masters at ambush. They camouflage themselves in the water and can thrust their bodies up to grab prey. Alligators then drag their prey underwater to drown it. They are most active from dusk until dawn, so it makes sense to avoid the shores of lakes and canals during those times.

Avoiding Attacks

The best way to avoid a gator attack is never to approach an alligator or attempt to feed one. Stay as far away as possible and avoid swimming or wading in fresh bodies of water. Always take serious “no swimming” signs. If you’re close to a lake or pond, keep your eyes out for large swirls in the water, as that’s a sign an alligator is beneath the surface.

Keep children and pets away from the edge of lakes and canals, and don’t allow them to sit or wade in shallow water. Always know where your children are around water and stay close to them.

What to Do During Encounters

If you do encounter an alligator, there are things you can do to avoid an attack. For the most part, humans are able to outrun gators on land. If someone puts up a big enough fight, it’s possible that the gator will let go. Gators try to avoid people, so the more noise you make, the less likely gators will be around.

Always seek immediate medical attention for an alligator bite and report any alligators that are threatening humans or property.

Photo credit: Andy Lidstone / Shutterstock.com

3 Ways Animals Can Help You Survive

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Attracting Birds to Your GardenCan watching animals help you survive if stranded in the wilderness? Absolutely. Animals know a thing or two about survival, after all. They let you know when stuff’s about to go down! Here are some of the many ways animals will help you stay alive until it’s rescue time:

Danger

Keep a weather eye on the animals around you, as they’ll tell you when a huge predator is about to make an entrance. Birds make great emergency alerts, as they’ll often squawk like crazy when danger is near. Blue Jays in particular do this, while any quail, pheasant, or similar bird that runs out of a bush or other brush in a hurry is a sure signal something unpleasant is nearby. If you weren’t the one to cause the bird to vacate its previous area, you can be darn sure something else did.

Birds and other animals will also fall silent when a big, bad predator is close. If you notice one or several animals doing what they normally do and then stopping for seemingly no reason, something is amiss.

Bad Weather

Use animals to let you know when inclement weather is on its way so you can find shelter as soon as possible. Cows are notorious for lying down when it’s about to seriously rain, while birds flying lower than usual and skimming the ground are another indication that bad weather is about to manifest itself. Birds normally fly high in the sky, but changes in air pressure make them zoom towards Earth.

Another way to tell there’s a bad moon, er, storm on the horizon is when animals disappear. Again, a drop in pressure lets them know it’s time to head home and that you should do the same (even if it’s a makeshift shelter).

Water

Let animals help you find sources of water.  You can tell there is water nearby when you see lots of animal tracks in conjunction with swarming insects and bird flight paths.

Animals can also help you find food, as they usually aren’t going to chow down on stuff that’s deadly. However, it’s important to remember animals are willing to try any number of foods, including stuff that may be toxic. Use your best judgment in these instances to avoid getting sick.

What else can animals teach us about staying alive in the wild? Share tips in the comments section!

Stay Put, Stay Alive

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What to do if you are lost when hikingDid you know the majority of people stranded somewhere in the woods/jungle/desert/etc. are rescued within 72 hours? This means staying where you are is a great, great thing if you find yourself alone in the wild. Review what you need to do while awaiting rescue to help yourself as well as those looking for you.

Don’t Panic

To quote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, don’t panic. Panicking will not help you in any way; it simply leaves you upset and likely a bit dehydrated from hyperventilating. Take a few deep breaths, tell yourself that you’re making the best of the situation until you get rescued, and remind yourself you have the survival skills necessary to remain alive in the wild for a day or three.

Build a Fire

Building a fire is the key to warmth, keeping large predators away, and letting rescue teams know where you are. There are’s numerous options for making fire in the wilderness without matches or lighters; however, if you have such items with you, you’re already one step ahead. Place green vegetation on top of the fire to create smoke and alert people to your location.

Use Reflective Materials

Reflective materials such as mirrors, metal, and anything else that sunlight bounces off of is another way to alert rescue teams to your whereabouts without having to move an inch.

Make Noise

Whether using whistles, pieces of metal, or your own voice, making noise is also key in letting people know where you are. This doesn’t mean you should scream your head off within the first 20 minutes and lose your voice, but any noise you can make will help your cause. As with fire, it will also keep animals away, as our four-legged friends tend to steer clear of loud noises.

Remember, save your energy and avoid dehydration by staying where you are.

Have you ever been stranded somewhere in the wild? What did you do to let rescuers know where you were?

How to Keep Your Kids Safe around Water

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keep kids safe around waterChances are that you and your loved ones will want to keep cool this summer by being around the water. Beaches, pools, water parks, and lakes are all popular destinations for families wanting relief from hot temperatures. However, the water can be dangerous for children. About 1,000 kids die each year by drowning, and it’s the second leading cause of accidental death for those ages 5 to 24.

The good news, however, is that there are many precautions that parents can take to ensure that their kids are safe around the water.

  • Never leave your children unattended. They need constant supervision when in or near water including places you’d least expect it like ditches, fountains, inflatable pools, the bathtub and even the sink. It doesn’t take much for a child to drown. In fact, babies can drown in as much as an inch of water.
  • In public areas, always swim in areas supervised by lifeguards and use the buddy system.
  • Have children older than four take swimming lessons. Those older than age one might also benefit. Adults in the family should know how to swim and consider taking a CPR class.
  • Invest in flotation devices for each child, and have the kids wear them when near the water. These devices should fit properly. For kids younger than five, use a vest with head support and a strap between the legs.
  • Teach your children to never play in the water without your supervision or that of a trusted, responsible adult.
  • Build a fence around your home pool. Use a gate that is self-closing and self-latching with the latch out of the kid’s reach.
  • Bring a cell phone with you when watching kids playing in water. However, keep conversations brief so you won’t be distracted.
  • Make sure kids wear foot protection in ponds and lakes.
  • Know which rides are appropriate for your children at water parks.
  • To cut down on waterborne illnesses, take your kids on bathroom breaks often and shower before entering the pool. Babies who are not potty trained need swim

The water is an excellent place for staying cool in hot temperatures but there are dangers, especially for children. Keep your kids safe by taking precautions to ensure their safety.

First Aid for Heat-Related Illnesses

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Heat Exhaustion

With warmer weather fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about ways to stay cool this summer.  There are a variety of heat-related illnesses that can strike you and your loved ones. These illnesses are caused by prolonged or intense exposure to hot temperatures, typically occurring in the summer months.

It’s important to remember that the elderly, the obese, children and those who work outside are at a greater risk of suffering from hyperthermia, an elevated internal body temperature. Athletes who exercise in hot weather are also at an increased risk. Those who live in humid environments may be more susceptible as well.

Here are some common heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

  • Overheating – Overheating is an elevated body temperature that occurs when the body tries to cool itself through profuse sweating. The first symptoms of overheating that many people experience is muscle cramps. Cramps are caused by the loss of salt and other minerals through sweating. If you experience heat cramps, drink water with a snack or consume a sports drink with electrolytes. Seek medical attention if the cramps last more than an hour.
  • Heat exhaustion – Heat exhaustion occurs with the loss of an excessive amount of water and electrolytes through sweating. This loss can cause problems with circulation and brain function. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headaches, nausea, irritability and the decreased ability to urinate. You can treat heat exhaustion by moving the person to a cooler location and having them lie down. Loosen their clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to their body. Have them take small, frequent sips of water. If they lose consciousness or have slurred speech, call 911 immediately.
  • Heat stroke – The most serious heat-related illness, heat stroke, can cause death or permanent disability without emergency medical treatment. Heat stroke occurs when the body becomes unable to regulate its temperature. Sweating stops and the body can’t cool itself. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion or an altered mental state, a loss of consciousness, hot/dry skin and seizures. If someone around you is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Move the person to a cooler area and try to reduce their body temperature with cold cloths or submersion in cold water if possible.

Being proactive can decrease the risk of overheating and heat-related illnesses this summer. When the temperatures warm up, there are some things you can do like wearing loose, lightweight clothing and drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid alcoholic beverages and other drinks that dehydrate you.

If you plan to be outside, let your body acclimate to the heat and avoid sunburns by wearing a hat and applying sunscreen. Never leave children or pets in a parked car. Remember to pay attention to your body and seek a cooler location if you experience symptoms related to heat exposure.

Coyotes & Bobcats: Small(er) Predator Encounter Tips

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coyote predatorCoyotes and bobcats are among the smaller predators in our world, but that doesn’t mean they can’t rip you apart if they have the inclination. We’ve already discussed what to do should you encounter a cougar, bear, moose or shark, so let’s take a brief look at how to handle smaller predators without serious injury.

Coyotes

These members of the wolf family are known for their cunning and adaptability. They generally keep to themselves unless gathering to howl at the moon. They have no issue being brazen should they realize humans aren’t a threat. If you happen upon a coyote, do not try to feed it unless you want a wild animal sniffing around your property a whole lot. Throw rocks or yell at it to scare it away, and don’t keep garbage or pets outdoors. If you are walking your dog in a coyote-heavy area, put it on a leash.

Coyote attacks on humans are rare, but they do happen.

Bobcats

The wild kitties are increasingly present in urban areas thanks to their adaptable natures. They possess the ability to attack and take down animals up to eight times their weight; however, they will likely flee the scene if you come upon them. If a bobcat takes up residence on your property, you don’t have much to worry about unless you have pets or livestock. If that’s the case, block as many entrances to your property as you can, and never leave food out, whether it’s pet food, garbage, etc.

As with cougars, you don’t want to run if you see a bobcat, as it might mistake you for food and begin a pursuit. Back away slowly and make a lot of noise instead.

Other small predators include badgers, but they pose little threat to humans despite their somewhat ferocious-looking appearance. The honey badger is especially amazing, as its thick, rubber-like skin is one of the many reasons the animal has been dubbed “the world’s most fearless creature.”

Have you encountered one of the above animals? What was your experience?

3 Tips for Surviving a Knife Attack

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self-defense-knife-laws

The old saying goes, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight,” and while this is pretty solid advice, the odds of being attacked by a knife-wielding attacker in a survival situation is very realistic. When the SHTF, it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be more people out there with knives than with guns, making a knife attack an all-too-real possibility.

Whether you’re out of ammo or you’re taken off guard, a knife attack can be a very dangerous situation to be in — doubly so if you’re unarmed. Knowing this, there are some steps you can take to fend off a knife attack and hopefully escape unscathed. By following these tips, you can keep yourself safe and live to fight another day.

1. Stay Mobile

When dealing with a blade-wielding assailant, your greatest protection is distance. There’s a reason boxers’ stats include their reach, because that’s the effective distance of their punches. Add a few inches to that and you have the same measurement including the knife. If you can keep outside of arm’s reach, you can keep yourself from being cut.

Keep your distance, move around a lot, and run whenever it’s possible. Since he’s following you, the attacker can only move where he or she sees you moving to, so there’s a chance he or she will trip and give you the chance you’ve been waiting for.

2. Use Barriers

Anything that isn’t attached to you can be considered a barrier. These can be static objects like benches, tables, pillars, signs or mobile objects like swings, cars, or even a fire.

By placing a barrier between you and the assailant, you give yourself a head start and some advanced warning when the attacker is moving in. They need to clear the obstacle to get to you, making it significantly more difficult. Once you get a good barrier between you and the assailant, it could even give you the chance to pull a weapon of your own or make your escape.

3. Don’t Fixate on the Weapon

The knife in an attacker’s hand is the farthest thing from his or her rotation point in their shoulder, making it the fastest-moving piece of the puzzle, yet their hand is exactly what we almost always focus on, since that’s where the knife is. Instead of focusing on the blade and hand and trying to react to them, train yourself to pay more attention to the attacker’s sternum.

Any movement his or her arm makes will start in the upper torso, meaning you can see an attack starting before it ever makes its way to the blade and possibly to you.

This doesn’t mean you should fixate on the upper torso either. Instead, use your peripheral vision to watch for any movement and act accordingly. This can give you the briefest of advanced warnings, but when dealing with a knife fight, this tiny head start can mean the world.

Everything Else

Escaping from a knife attack isn’t always possible, and sometimes you may have to stick it out and do your best. In these cases, you should protect your vital organs and block with your arms.

A slash to your arm might not be the best option, but it’s far better than taking a blade to the throat. Know that the chances are you will end up being cut one way or another, and try to minimize the severity of these cuts instead of avoiding them completely.

Keep a cool head and you might just get out of a knife attack alive.

Planning Your Survival: Are You Prepared?

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Planning is quite possibly the single most important aspect to prepping, yet so many preppers fail to plan at all. Instead, many choose to prepare for the worst by buying supplies and collecting weapons when they would be much better suited with some good old-fashioned planning.

Survival planning is so important. In fact, the U.S. Army Survival Manual has this to say about it:

“Survival planning is nothing more than realizing something could happen that would put you in a survival situation and, with that in mind, taking steps to increase your chances of survival.”

In other words, planning should be a synonym for prepping. Seeing a potential issue and taking steps to mitigate the potential effects of said issue is what prepping should be about.

There are some key items I want you to keep in mind when to adding some planning to your preps. All it takes is a little, well, planning.

Less Stress

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Before even getting into planning, it’s a good idea to look at the most important benefit to planning: less stress.

Everyone knows that stress isn’t good for you, and while stress can indeed help you out at times, keeping stress to a minimum when in a survival situation is a very good idea. Planning helps keep stress as low as possible and allows for situational stress to have its place.

Planning is important because it helps you remember necessary items and steps. Above that, having a plan for how you’ll find water and where you’ll go in case of an emergency are great, but you should have a plan written down for home defense, food storage, and possible escape routes.

The more you plan now, the less stress you’ll experience when the plans are put into action. Remember that this planning starts with basics like food but goes as far as keeping your car’s gas tank filled all the time and knowing where exits are in any public place in case of disaster.

Types of Planning

Water-Storage

There are three major types of planning; each requires its own solutions, emergency kits, and timelines.

  1. Food and Water
  2. Escape
  3. Long-term Survival

First, you need to plan your emergency food/water storage and sourcing. No matter the location or survival kit type, emergency food storage and water storage is one of your top priorities. Assume you won’t be able to find food or water and plan accordingly. Remember this includes what you can store as well as where you’ll be able to find water long-term.

Next, you need to have an escape plan for each location you spend a large amount of time in — home, work, your parent’s house, even the grocery store. Each place will have its own obstacles and issues to deal with if disaster strikes while you’re there.

Finally, you need to have your long-term survival plan. Once things settle down and you have a better idea of what to expect from the world, long-term survival begins. You need to be prepared for this, which means learning off-grid skills like bushcraft, canning, hunting, fishing, and anything else that can replace goods and services that will ultimately disappear.

Putting Your Plan into Action

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Each of these smaller types of planning all come together into your very own prepping plan. When the SHTF and it’s time to start acting, take a moment and realize which plan you’re following. Knowing if you’re dealing with food and water, escape, or long-term survival will help you know how to act and what supplies to use. By narrowing down your activities to a specific plan, you can avoid stress and overstimulation

The food and water plan starts immediately. If you understand that a disaster struck, your first course of action should be to secure as much food and water as possible. Fill your bathtub with tap water as well as your sinks and any clean bottles you have. That service will shut off soon or become contaminated, so any additional water will help. If you have a grocery store nearby, go clean them out of food and supplies. You should already have emergency food storage and water ready for this, but this is the last push, so every bit helps.

By paying attention you know when to enact the escape plan. This means it’s time to use your survival kit and your bug-out bag to get home or just to hunker down for the first 72 hours.

Finally, you need to know when escape turns into long-term survival. You don’t want to stay in escape mode any longer than you have to. Escape mode causes stress and usually comes with sleep deprivation as you’re always “on” while escaping. Moving into long-term survival mode should mean things are slightly calmer.

Wrap-Up

You can’t plan for everything, and trying to will drive you insane. Break your prepping down into the three major types of planning listed above and add your own specific planning items to their categories, making sure to pay attention when each one starts to come into play.

Once you’re good with these, phase two of planning involves more detailed plans like self-defense, home security, and bartering. But if you can’t get the basics of survival planning down, those won’t do you much good for long. Get started on the basics today and hone those planning skills while it’s still easy to do so.

How to Survive a Gunshot Wound

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edc gunWould you know what to do if you or someone near you were shot? Gunshot wounds aren’t that common. In fact, usually only soldiers, law enforcement personnel, and maybe hunters need to worry about what to do if they are shot. Still, random shootings can and do happen. Probably no one in the Aurora, Colorado theater on July 20, 2012 expected to be suffering gunshot wounds that night.

Fortunately, advances in medical technology have dramatically increased the chances of surviving a gunshot wound. If you or someone else is shot, the most critical factor is getting professional medical attention as soon as possible by calling 911. Of course, your ability to call for medical attention, and also survive the wound depends heavily on where the bullet entered your body.

In general, gunshot wounds to the head and the trunk or torso are more deadly than a gunshot wound to an extremity. The most dangerous place for a gunshot wound is the head, and wounds to the heart and liver cause a serious amount of bleeding. In order to increase your chances of survival, it’s important to assess where the wound entered the body, and then take steps to control the bleeding and prevent infection before medical help arrives.

Here are some guidelines of what to do when gunshot wounds occur to these specific parts of the body:

  • Head – If a bullet lodges in the brain, it’s unlikely that the person will survive. However, if the bullet just grazes the head or hits a non-vital area, chances of survival are better. The key to survival in these cases is controlling the bleeding. Head injuries tend to bleed profusely, and you’re likely to bleed to death if the bullet pierces the carotid artery in the neck. Be sure to apply direct pressure to the wound.
  • The chest – The chest contains many vital organs including the heart, lungs, and spine. Try not to move if shot in the chest. There will probably be internal bleeding. Plus, if the bullet is near the spine, any movement could cause paralysis. The only thing to do is to try to plug the entrance and/or exit wounds with a solid object to make it easier to breathe.
  • Abdomen – Injuries to the abdomen are incredibly dangerous because of the risk of bleeding and the potential for infection. A bullet wound to the intestines can cause massive damage. Don’t drink or eat anything until medical help arrives and places a dressing on the wound.
  • The arms and legs – When shot in the arms and legs, it’s important to control the bleeding by applying direct pressure and elevating the appendage above the heart. Arteries in the arms and legs can bleed significantly.

Thankfully, we live in an age where it is more likely to survive a gunshot wound. However, there are a lot of variables to surviving a gunshot wound including proximity to professional medical help and location of the wound. With some basic medical training and calling for help right away, you are more likely to survive.

4 Tips For Not Drowning

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swimming survival skillsLearning how to not drown is pretty darn important, as death by water is enough to ruin anyone’s day. Water safety is an essential survival skill, so if planning any trips that involve the great blue sea, rivers, lakes, or any other waterway, check out the following tips so you and those you care about will stay aware and safe.

Don’t Panic

Remaining calm is one of the most essential things you can do in the face of danger. Whether unexpectedly falling into a body of water or finding yourself swept away by an ocean undertow, riptide, or huge wave, refusing to panic is very, very necessary. Many drown due to exhaustion because they start flailing around out of paralyzing fear.

If you’re in the ocean and an undertow or riptide takes hold of you, let it do its thing. You might be carried quite far from your starting point, but if you save your energy, you’ll be able to swim back to shore or have a lifeguard rescue you.

Swim at Designated Areas Only

Swimming in designated areas is a great way to stay safe. If swimming in the ocean, do so only when there’s a lifeguard present, and for goodness’ sake, don’t swim at night. The same is true of lakes and pools — it’s much better to swim with other people and lifeguards around. Rivers aren’t usually swim-worthy unless you come across a small pool free of currents. Currents in this type of waterway go every which way making drowning a very easy thing.

Remember, if you’re in doubt about any swimming area, avoid it.  

Tread, Tread, Tread

Learning how to tread water is another necessity in your fight against treacherous water. Treading water is often done in pools by those learning how to swim, but it’s helpful no matter what body of water you’re in. Currents can make treading difficult, but the more you know about staying afloat, the better. Treading takes little effort and may be the difference between life and death.

Additional Tips

 Other tips for not drowning include keeping a weather eye on your companions and having them do the same for you It also helps to respect the water you’re swimming in, especially the ocean. The ocean is incredibly beautiful and wonderful, but also a serious force of nature that demands serious respect.

 Have you any near-drowning stories? Share them in the comments section!

3 Post-Apocalyptic Skills You Probably Haven’t Thought Of

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definition-of-survival

Imagine this: You’ve spent years perfecting your survival plan, learning skills, stockpiling food, and building what amounts to a fortress that’s basically in the middle of nowhere. You’re all set to ride out almost anything the world has to throw at you. When the inevitable disaster finally does come, you’re all set. This is the idea that many preppers have as an ideal scenario, but there’s one thing missing: the rest of the world.

When talking about a disaster, is the act of surviving enough? For some people the answer to this is a resounding yes, but if you stop and think about it, surviving is only one small part of the larger picture.

Whatever the disaster is, it’s up to the survivors to rebuild and make society function once again. These may not be skills you would think about when deciding what to learn for survival situations, but without people helping to make things better, you won’t be surviving for much. There are some skills that you can learn to help make things better, and they’re probably not ones you would naturally think of.

1. Public Speaking

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When thinking about disaster survival, most people focus on doing things solo, or with a small group of people. In a true TEOTWAWKI situation, these small groups will, at some point, need to start joining forces to make any real changes.

Learning public speaking can help you lead these larger groups and direct them to get work done as a team. While most survivors may not be comfortable talking to large groups, having this skill can easily make you into a leader, which can help you practice skill #2.

2. Town/City Planning

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Once groups start to come together to form communities again, the need to plan a town or city will be crucial to long-term survival. This can range from deciding which buildings in a deserted town to rebuild first to have basic needs met to the complete planning and layout of a new community.

This doesn’t have to be full-size buildings and roads, but instead can be tents, cabins, even hand-built shelters. Organizing people into a community builds trust and gives a feeling of normalcy and togetherness that’s crucial to keeping a group of people together.

These skills can be learned by attending local community planning meetings, reviewing common town layouts, and even paying attention to how your own town is laid out. This is easier to see when your town is smaller, but even visiting a small town can give you insight into town planning. Another great resource is this link from The Guardian where they talk about building a city from scratch.

3. Issue Resolution

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The only sure thing about bringing people together into a group is that there will be conflict. Add into the standard types of conflict a stressful situation like major disaster and you have a recipe for some very heated arguments and more likely than not, all-out fights.

By studying conflict resolution, you can help a community be better organized and work together better. Force and threat of violence will only go so far in stopping people from fighting, which is why knowing how to successfully resolve conflicts is so important.

Check out the tips in this link for a great place to start, and while it’s given in the first person, think about how these would apply to others and how you could use them to resolve other people’s conflicts as well.

Bringing It All Together

By learning these skills and more, you can be a positive force in rebuilding the communities that disaster has torn apart. Hiding away and surviving is great for when a major disaster first happens, but when you transition from immediate survival mode to long-term survival mode, it’s time to come out of hiding and start building communities once again.

This doesn’t mean that you should run up to the first person you see and invite them into your survival plan and hope for the best, but communities can and must be rebuilt, and by not joining in the rebuilding process, you actually hurt the survival of everyone.

Off Grid Cooking Methods + Dutch Oven Recipe

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dutch oven cookingCooking is an essential life skill. Everyone must learn the basics of cooking at some point. And when it comes to survival, knowing how to cook off the grid is a must. Being able to boil water and cook meat using primitive methods can mean the difference between life and death in some emergency situations.

Off-the-grid cooking is more challenging and time consuming in the absence of electricity and modern conveniences. However, it can also be more rewarding. There is nothing more gratifying than making a full, hot meal for yourself and your family by cooking like the pioneers did two centuries ago.

The basic foundation of cooking off the grid is learning how to build an outdoor fire. In a pinch, a fire serves as a cooking method as well as a source of heat for staying warm. Fires can be fueled with wood, charcoal or even dung. Place a Dutch oven or reflector oven on the fire pit and you can make casseroles, pies, cobblers, cakes, bread, beans and stews.

Dutch oven cooking, in particular, is extremely popular; whole cookbooks are dedicated to it. Here’s a simple recipe for baked beans using a Dutch oven.

Fortunately, modern technology has made off-the-grid cooking even easier through the use of stoves that employ many different kinds of fuel sources. Outdoor camping stoves are lightweight, extremely versatile in terms of fuel, and great for boiling water or reheating. Some of these stoves have internal battery packs and can even charge cell phones! Other types of off-the-grid cooking methods include propane grills, solar stoves, and woodstoves.

The trick to off-the-grid cooking is finding a method you’re comfortable with and then practicing. The more that you practice, the more you will grow in your confidence, knowledge, and skills.

This One Simple Tool Could Save Your Life

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survival-axe-hatchetThe hatchet was immortalized in the novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. Remember reading it in your middle school English class? It’s the tale of a city boy whose plane crashes in the vast Canadian wilderness. He survives, though the pilot isn’t so lucky; he learns how to stay alive in the wild for 54 days with nothing but — you guessed it — a hatchet.

The small axe is one heck of a survival tool, and it lends itself to numerous applications that help you not die. Let’s review some of these applications before you go hatchet shopping.

Fire Starter

A hatchet is very helpful when needing to start a fire. It not only makes it much easier to cut large pieces of wood, but also functions as a striking tool to create sparks. Make sure to use your hatchet for this purpose only if necessary , such as when dealing with a lack of matches, paper and flint strikers. This is to avoid premature dulling.

Defense

Finding yourself face to face with a large predator such as a cougar or bear is never ideal, and there’s no running away, as it sends a clear message that you’re food rather than a potential threat. If nothing else works and the animal runs at you, it sure is helpful to have a hatchet in your hand. Use a hacking motion to maintain your defense.

Ice Cutter

Cutting ice and hard snow for water is much easier when you have a hatchet, as is digging out a snow shelter.

Splint Assistance

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

Light Reflector

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

Hammer

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

What are your favorite uses for a hatchet? Share them in the comments section!

When Looting Becomes Survival

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One of the biggest fears many of us have in an emergency situation is the all-too-real danger of looting. All it takes is a protest to get out of hand, and before you know it, people are breaking into businesses and homes to take what they want. This only gets worse when you add in a true disaster that may never be recovered from. It’s times like these you have to ask yourself if what’s going on is simple looting or if it’s for survival.

Take, for example, Hurricane Katrina. This SHTF-level event laid waste to an entire city, leaving thousands of people stranded for days without help. In this situation, would you consider taking supplies from local businesses for looting or survival? Is there even a difference?

Looting vs. Survival

The truth of the matter is there’s a very big difference between taking supplies for survival and merely looting. Sure, for a typical riot your best bet is to steer clear as best you can and avoid the area until it’s done with, but what about a city-wide event that you can’t avoid?

Most people that would be considered looters take for fun or for their own gain. They look for items that are far from necessary like televisions, stereos, computers, and of course, money. It’s these people that you need to be guarded against and avoid at all costs. These people fall under mob mentality and lose their sense of right and wrong. To them, it’s considered fun to run amok, break anything, and take what you want.

Taking for survival, on the other hand, is very different. In a case where you must take supplies without a method for payment, taking only what you need and damaging as little as possible is key. The act of taking an item that doesn’t belong to you is stealing, no matter what the reason, but in the case of a major disaster in which your life is in danger, it’s understandable.

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Now, don’t take this as me telling you to go ahead and steal if you need it. Taking something that doesn’t belong to you is a crime no matter the reason. If you take something, even if it’s for survival and are caught, you will be charged with theft, plain and simple.

That being said, cases of extreme duress shouldn’t be made worse by not taking what you need. The difference in this case is taking what you need versus taking as much as you can carry. For example, let’s say a major earthquake has struck, and all safe paths out of your city are cut off. You should have supplies at your home, but if you’re cut off from home base, or your home is destroyed, you should feel justified in heading to a grocery store and taking 72 hours’ worth of supplies. This includes clothes, food, water, and medical and travel supplies.

The medical supplies are one of the most important aspects here. In a major survival situation there won’t be a hospital to go to if you need stiches, so you need to plan ahead. Don’t forget to check out the pharmacy for supplies, too. While most people will loot pain pills and other narcotics, you should focus on antibiotics and other helpful medicines. Pain relief pills are important too, but while you can bear quite a bit of pain, you can’t convince yourself you’re not getting an infection.

Remember, someone with a family full of kids won’t play by the rules and wait for help to come, so why should you?

Where NOT to Loot

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Food, clothing and travel supplies are all great items to “liberate” in an emergency, and with these in hand, the next logical step is to head to a gun shop to get a weapon and some ammo, right? This is not something you want to do. Remember, anyone in that shop probably doesn’t want to share, and they’re all heavily armed and possibly well-trained. Instead of a dedicated gun shop, think of a big box store to get what you need, as these aren’t as likely to be as dangerous.

Remember though, this is still stealing, so all bets are off once you do. Don’t attempt to loot from any location you don’t feel is safe, and don’t loot unless it’s absolutely necessary for your survival. You may have to account for your actions at some point, so make sure you feel comfortable with whatever you do.

Wrap-Up

Simply put, looting is illegal. Nobody likes a looter, which is why you probably cringe every time you read that word. Looter. If things go from bad to terrible, however, you may not have a choice in the matter if you want to survive. Think about the consequences of looting and how they align with your need for survival and your want to be a good person.

Looting is far from safe, too. Expect to meet some resistance to varying degrees when looting, and understand that while you may not want to do it, the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) calls for drastic measures.

So, what’s the difference between looting and survival? It’s the crossing of a line that only you can draw to know when you must act. Draw that line now and act on it when you must; just be prepared for what comes next.

How to Survive the Cold like a Navy SEAL

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Few people would disagree that Navy SEALs are a pretty tough group. Their training alone is more than most of us will experience in our entire lifetime, and that’s only what they do BEFORE they become SEALs. As tough as they are, even a SEAL is vulnerable to the cold, especially when he’s wet. Hypothermia can affect a SEAL just as much as you or me.

So what happens when a SEAL gets wet when it’s frigid out? Well, the same thing happens to them as would happen to us: They get in trouble. How much trouble are we talking about? More than you probably can guess. If you look at the crash of flight 1549 into the Hudson River a few years ago, the 20-degree air temperature and 40-degree water temperature was more than enough to give passengers hypothermia for the few minutes they were exposed. The average person can survive in 41-degree water for only 10–20 minutes before reaching hypothermia.

While the passengers were dressed far less appropriately for the emergency situation than the SEALs were, the fact remains that the combination of water and cold made an already dangerous situation far deadlier.

So how does this relate to you? Well, you’re probably not planning on taking any outdoor baths in the winter, but it’s all too easy to fall through ice on a lake, slip into a stream while hunting, or be forced to enter water to save someone or something during an emergency. As soon as you get wet and cold, the hypothermia clock starts ticking. What do you do?

If you listen to TV survival shows, then you probably guessed that you should build a fire as quickly as possible, strip down to your skivvies, and hang your wet clothes to dry. While this seems like a great idea, it can be one of the worst things you can do.

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The Rewarming Drill

John Barkow of Sitka Gear worked with Navy SEALs on how they can survive and recover from becoming drenched in a frigid environment without any external help. He did this by convincing SEALs to drop their packs and walk into a half-frozen lake in the middle of winter during a sleeting winter storm. Any one of those would be too much for most of us, but they (somewhat) gladly did all three.

Barkow said this “was meant to mimic the scenarios you hope to never encounter.” The dunk took place after a three-hour patrol hike, far away from any quick assistance. The SEALs would stay in the icy water for 12 minutes before being allowed to get out.

Instead of stripping off their layers and building a fire like you would think, they instead followed John’s tenant of survival by “getting immediately out of the elements and gaining control of the situation.” So, how do you get control of a situation this dangerous and likely deadly?

Getting Warm

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Instead of the strip and dry method we assume is correct, Barkow had the SEALS pull their backup synthetic outer layer from their packs and put them on OVER their drenched layers. They split into pairs with one SEAL putting up a small tent and the other preparing the stove to boil water. No fires yet — just a camp stove and boiled snow.

From here, both men got into their tents and into their sleeping bags. Once the water was boiling, they made a hot drink and rehydrated some chili. Once consumed, they continued to lie in their bags and tents and wait. What they were waiting for is for their metabolism to kick into action and start to warm them from the inside out.

After a few hours, the SEALs gradually stopped shivering and were warm enough to function again. During this time, their bodies had nearly dried their base layers, partially dried their mid-layers, and their outer layers were nice and frosted. At this point, they could build a fire if necessary and dry out anything else that needed it while being completely safe without any more risk of hypothermia.

How Does It Work?

So how does this seemingly magical recovery after a 12-minute dunk work? Well, there are a few key items at work here. They are:

  1. Proper supplies carried in their packs
  2. Proper layering of clothes
  3. Warm-when-wet outer layer and sleeping bags

Synthetic layers are the key to being safe in winter weather. While down might keep you toasty when its dry, it can quickly absorb water and lose its primary form of insulation when wet. Cotton is another example of this idea. Cotton holds liquids for an extended period of time, which in this situation, would mean a much slower drying time.

Therefore, cotton and down in both layers and sleeping bags are a big no-no in winter survival situations. Here’s a great instructional piece by REI on proper winter layering. Just ignore the parts about down insulation.

By having a moisture-wicking base layer, the water/sweat is wicked away from your skin to the mid-layer. The mid-layer should be breathable as to allow for moisture to continue its path away from you to the outer layer. Here, it should collect, and if done correctly, the proof should be seen as frost on the outer dry layer.

The only additional layer you need to carry along with you is the emergency synthetic outer layer. The rest should dry with your body’s heat.

There are more “rewarming drills” including one without a tent or sleeping bag. While we strongly recommend you don’t ever try your own rewarming drill, knowing what to wear in case you’re forced into this situation is critical to surviving in cold weather, especially when you have to carry everything on your back and weight/space is at a premium. Check out the full article here and gain a little more respect for Navy SEALs.

Prepping Effectively in an Urban Environment

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The chances are pretty high that if you’re reading this you don’t live on a pristine prepper compound with a year or more of food and supplies saved up. If you are, then kudos to you — you’re living the prepper dream. The rest of us, however, have to find a way to fit prepping into our daily lives and, most likely, smaller spaces.

This means the best ways for urban preppers to always be prepared is to stick with smaller, more manageable prepping techniques. By working with what you have at hand, you can be a more effective prepper and overall be ready for a variety of disasters without needing any extra space.

Bug-Out Plan

Simply having a plan on how to bug out if a disaster is more than you can handle will put you ahead of the curve. The plan should be compiled by asking five basic questions, including:

  1. What is the signal that you need to leave?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. How are you going to get there?
  4. What are you bringing with you?
  5. How long will you be gone?

In other words, you need to lay out the basics.

Anyone that’s driven in an urban environment during peak construction season knows how quickly detours and closed roads can mess with what would otherwise be a simple trip. Keeping this in mind, you need to know what your escape route out of your urban area is, and have a few backups as well.

Think of ways to get where you’re going that don’t involve major roads, as those will most likely be the first to be impassible. Unlike directions given to you by GPS, you’re not looking for the quickest or shortest ways out, but the most effective and least likely to be jammed with traffic.

When you have your routes determined, outline them on a map and keep it in your vehicle at all times. Make sure to outline at least one walking route as well. If you don’t have a car at all, outline three or four walking routes for safety.

Stay Gassed Up

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This is possibly the simplest tip in the entire list while being one of the most effective. By keeping your car/truck/motorcycle topped up with fuel at all times, you can be ready for a disaster that could cut off fuel to your area. Something as simple as a multi-day power outage could make it hard to get fuel, which is what you need to escape if things get bad.

Never let your vehicle drop below a quarter tank unless you’re on a long trip — then never below a half tank. Consider everything under a half tank to be for emergencies only. Depending on your vehicle, that should be good for at least 150 miles or so.

Understand Riots

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When disaster strikes, riots are often soon to follow. Riots can break out for a variety of reasons, ranging from general social unrest to major court decisions to true TEOTOWKI scenarios. The most important tips for understanding and surviving riots are to blend in by becoming the grey man, never going against the current of moving people, and steering clear of law enforcement.

For more on how to deal with a riot, give this post on riots a read.

Home Security

Bugging out isn’t always the best option. There are many times your best bet is to hunker down and weather the storm, so to speak. In situations like this you want to make sure your home security is up to the challenge.

Extra deadbolts and protection for ground-floor or fire-escape side windows is critical. If you’re in an extremely urban environment like a downtown apartment, your best security in a bad situation can be blacking out your windows to avoid attention. By securing the major point(s) of entry and making it appear as if nobody is there, any potential threats will most likely move on.

Along with these passive forms of security, you need to have some active ones, too. These include weapons like a handgun, shotgun, and even baseball bat or other striking weapon. As always, abide by any local laws concerning weapons in your home.

However you secure your home, make a plan. Know what you’re locking, where you’re placing your guns for easy access, and how you’ll black out the windows to hide the light in your home. In a case like this, the plan is almost more important than the acts themselves.

OpSec

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When you’re living in an urban environment OpSec can be very difficult to ensure. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, OpSec is short for Operational Security. This refers to how well you hide your prep operations from others. This is critical to survival because if everyone around you knows you’re prepping, you’re the first place they’ll go for help or to “liberate” supplies from.

Thin walls and shared ingress/egress points means anything you bring in will most likely be seen and talked about. Keep conversations about plans quiet and bring in supplies late at night when you’re less likely to be seen. Whatever you can do to keep your prep as quiet as possible is a very good idea.

Water and Food

In a small urban home it can be difficult to store more than a few days’ worth of food and water, but even this can be a major help in an emergency situation. Pay attention to the free space you have and use it wisely. Plan for 3 days’ worth of food and water for each person in your home to start with and go up from there, adding a day for each person as you go.

Physical Fitness

One thing you can control no matter how small a home you have is your physical fitness. By staying in peak fitness you can rest assured that any emergency hikes or escapes will be within your physical ability. You don’t need to be extremely outwardly muscular but should be able to hike for an entire day without too much pain, and should be able to do so with a full pack on.

Start becoming fit now and you’ll be ready later.

Everyday Carry

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Finally, having an effective everyday carry (EDC) will help you be ready for emergency no matter where you are. A standard EDC should include a multi-tool, knife, fire starter, weapon, and anything else that you might need to survive on the fly.

Check out this post to fine-tune your EDC and get it ready for real-world use.

Prepping in an urban environment is tough. Small space, people everywhere, and countless added threats make it a tough place to be safe. If possible, a prepper should not live in an urban environment, but sometimes this is unavoidable. By following these tips you can be as safe as possible when prepping for an urban environment.

How to Survive a Riot

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Social unrest is something that is becoming more and more common, and while these incidents range from people justly speaking their frustrations to greedy looting and destruction, riots are something you want to avoid at all costs. As people increasingly feel the need to protest and riot over any perceived injustice, the danger of a full-blown riot becomes more real.

By being prepared for a riot and knowing what to do to stay safe, you can effectively avoid them and the dangers associated with being caught up in one. Check out the steps outlined below and see how you can be more aware and better prepared for a riot.

The Warning Signs

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Depending on the type of riot that is breaking out, specific warning signs can vary, but the key idea of “sensing” something bad is nearly always there. If you see a crowd of people carrying protest signs and chanting or yelling, this can be the start of a peaceful protest or all-out riot.

Having situational awareness is crucial to surviving a situation like a riot. Knowing what is happening in the news in and around your area is important, too. Keep a close eye on anything that seems to be emotion-filled or tied to local or national events.

The Easy Way Out

If you can find an easy way out before rioting starts, take it. If your situational awareness is telling you something bad is coming, don’t wait around to see it. It’s all too easy to think that something is happening a few streets over, so it’s no big deal. Don’t get caught up in the moment by watching. Get out as soon as you can.

Be the Grey Man

Even though you’re not part of the riot and just looking to get out, you need to make yourself look like part of the crowd while you make your escape. Blend in and don’t make it appear that you’re just trying to leave.

Don’t do anything illegal or stupid to blend in, but chant along, mirror what others say, and if anyone asks you a question about it, just agree with the general consensus. The worst thing you can do here is stand out. This can make you a target even if you’re indifferent and just want to leave.

Blend in to take attention away from yourself, but only do this as you find a way out. The goal is still to get out as quickly as you can while still being safe.

Go With the Flow

A large crowd of people can be compared to a raging river. The water all flows one direction, making it easy to move with the current and nearly impossible to move against it.

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Never go against the flow of a crowd in a riot situation. Not only does this take longer to escape, but it draws unnecessary attention to yourself. Instead, move with the flow of people while aiming yourself at the edge.

Don’t cut across the crowd either, as this is a sure sign you don’t want to be there. By moving forward as you move to the side, it appears you just want to see more of the action. Go with the flow and you’ll be safe while getting out as fast as you can.

Avoid Law Enforcement

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Even though you’re not part of the riot and just got stuck in it, law enforcement doesn’t know that. If they were to see you approaching them, it could be considered an attack and they would most likely return your gesture with some form of violence.

Never try to escape past a guarded police line. Sure, you know that you’re just trying to get the hell out of Dodge, but they don’t. For the time being at least, police are not your friends. Get away from them as quickly as you do from the rioters and you’ll have a far better chance of safety and survival.

Prepare for an Attack

Finally, you need to be ready for an attack at any moment. Before, during, and after a riot, emotions are at an all-time high. “Mob mentality” kicks in, and people that would otherwise let many things slide become enraged and ready for a fight.

Simply stepping on someone’s foot or looking like you’re not part of the protest/riot is all it takes to incite violence. It’s tough, but you need to be the grey man while keeping full situational awareness until you’re well outside the danger zone.

When talking about self-defense in a riot situation, things get even more difficult. Depending on the size of the crowd, pulling a gun or other defensive weapon can cause far more harm than good. If you’re perceived to be a threat to the riot itself, everyone around you will work to take you down, and you can’t fight everyone.

This is why escape and evasion are the only truly safe ways to avoid a fight in a riot. Now, if you’re currently being attacked, all bets are off. Do whatever you can to survive if you’re actively being attacked, including pulling your gun. Just remember you’re in a crowd and the chances of an innocent being hurt are extremely high. Basically, consider it your very last resort.

By preparing for an attack, and for a riot as a whole, you can be as safe as possible when civil unrest happens. As these protests are televised and showcased to the world, expect them to be more and more common and pop up more quickly than ever before.

DIY Cold and Flu Remedies

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Peppermint Herb Uses

One of the downsides of cooler weather is the arrival of the cold and flu season. As people head inside because of rain and snow, it is easier for cold and flu viruses to spread. Even though you might take preventative measures like hand washing and getting plenty of sleep, there is still the risk of getting sick.

While many people turn to prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines at the first sign of a cold or the flu, there are several do-it-yourself remedies to try in order to relieve symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms and homemade treatments.

  • Sore Throat – Having a sore, painful throat is never fun but often accompanies a cold or the flu. If you come down with a scratchy throat that makes talking a chore, try gargling with items you already have around the house. These include honey, salt, and peppermint. You can also try hot chicken soup. Be sure to add some pungent spices like garlic or curry powder to thin the mucus in your throat.
  • Stuffy Nose – Clear up a stuffy nose or throat with steamy water enhanced with fresh ginger or a few drops of eucalyptus oil. You can also try taking a warm shower and using a saltwater spray to rinse out the nostrils. Be sure to get plenty of hot liquids, and try to avoid coffee, alcohol, and caffeinated drinks while you’re feeling bad.
  • Running Nose – A common yet annoying symptom of a cold is a running nose. Running noses occur when there is an increased production of mucus as the body tries to rid itself of a cold or flu virus. Treat a running noise with garlic soup or ginger tea. You can also drink a warm glass of milk or water with turmeric added to relieve a running noise.
  • Coughing – Raw honey is a natural antibiotic that helps to keep your throat moist in order to relieve coughing. Try taking 1 tablespoon of honey 1–3 times a day in order to alleviate coughs. Thyme also helps to open up the airways and relax the muscles of the lower respiratory system. Make a thyme tea by combining 2 tablespoons of dried thyme with 8 ounces of boiling water.
  • Fever and Muscle Aches – Get plenty of rest to combat a fever and muscle aches. Your body needs rest in order to heal. Drink lots of liquids. Water, clear soups, broth, and even electrolyte replacement drinks work the best to promote immune functioning to combat a cold or flu.
  • Nausea – Relieve nausea with peppermint. It helps to relax the stomach muscles so that food can move through. Peppermint can be taken in many different forms, including tea. It’s also extremely safe during pregnancy.

Disclaimer: We are not health professionals and nothing we write is intended to cure or diagnose. You should consult your doctor or other health professional for your healthcare needs.

How to Craft an Effective Bug-Out Plan

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When it comes to disasters, nobody truly wants to leave their home and all of their belongings, but there are times that the decision is made for you and the only safe option is to literally head for the hills.

The act of heading out from your current home to find safer conditions is known as bugging out. While bugging out means grabbing your supplies and getting out of Dodge while the getting is good, it does not mean that you should just all of a sudden throw what you think you need into a bag and run. The only way bugging out would be safer than staying where you are is having an effective bug-out plan in place. By crafting an effective plan for bugging out, you can make sure you have what you need, know where you’re going, and most importantly, know when to make the call. There are five key questions you need to ask yourself to make an effective bug-out plan, and by focusing on these, you should be able to safely and effectively bug out when the SHTF.

1. When should you leave?

When it comes to bugging out, knowing when to make the call to leave is by far the most critical decision. Leave too soon and the disaster may pass, opening you up to looting and destruction of your home, but leave too late and you can easily doom yourself to being trapped in whatever disaster you’re trying to escape.

For example, think about a wildfire. These are definitely not something you want to be around, but knowing where the fire is, how it’s spreading, and what your overall risk is all play in to your decision on staying or leaving.

2. Where are you going?

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There are few reasons you’d ever leave your home, possibly forever; you need to know where you’re going.

For natural disasters like earthquakes, floods and fires you should know where shelters are and where the best places to be in each scenario are. For example, you’d want a high spot during a flood and a place away from the woods or fields in case of wildfire.

If the disaster you’re worried about is more of the man-made variety, then you’d be wise to plan a bug-out spot that’s far from civilization. Each scenario you have should include at least two locations to bug-out to.

3. How are you going to get there?

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With the location in mind, the next question you need to ask yourself is how you’re going to get there. Are you taking your car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, or are you hiking out of town on foot? Ideally the motorized means of travel are the easiest, but depending on the type of disaster you’re planning for, they may not be an option.

Roads can become clogged and fuel can quickly become a precious commodity, combining to make it hard, if not impossible, to escape to your bug-out location by vehicle. As with the other questions above, you need to come up with a few different options based on the scenarios you’re planning for.

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On top of the means of transportation, you need to have a map of how to get to your bug-out spot. While today we use GPS navigation for just about everything, this technology can easily become disabled during a major disaster, rendering it useless. What you need is the tried-and-true analog method of travel: map and compass. Plan out at least two routes to each bug-out location on a map meant specifically for your bug-out plan, and store it with your compass and any other bug-out necessities.

4. What are you bringing with you?

Speaking of those necessities, deciding on what you need to bring with you is the starting point of building your own Bug Out Bag. This bag should include everything you need to survive for 72 hours. Sure, you might be bugging out for more than that, but we’ll get to that in just a minute. For now, understand that your bug-out bag is your 72-hour survival best friend.

The basics you need to include are food, water, fire starters, a first aid kit and some additional clothing. After this there’s quite a bit you can add to make bugging out better. Check out these posts on everything you need to know about bug-out bags.

5. How long will you be gone?

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With your 72-hour bug-out bag in place, you need to ask yourself how long you plan on bugging out. If you’re just leaving to avoid the aforementioned wildfire or flood, then a few days should be fine, but if you’re planning on bugging out for longer, possibly forever, then you need to think about the bigger picture.

Maybe escaping with just a backpack of supplies won’t do. If you have the time to think about it, you should bring enough supplies to keep you going for as long as possible. This is where knowing when to bug out comes into play. By gauging this correctly you may be able to escape with a carload of supplies before the highways become crowded and people start looting those of us that are more prepared.

Think about those scenarios we discussed above and estimate how long you’d need to bug out for each. By knowing how long you plan on being gone, you can better prepare for the exact supplies you need. Too few and you run the risk of, well, not surviving. Too many and you run the risk of being slowed down or targeted for looting.

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Think about your answers to these five questions so you can keep yourself and your family alive. Who knows, maybe the idea of bugging out might start to be not so scary after all.

Building the Perfect Campfire

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A big part of prepping is not only having the right equipment to survive, but also knowing the proper skills as well. One skill that’s critical to survival in the outdoors is building a proper fire. We’re not talking an emergency fire that you have to start with what’s on hand, but a good, solid campfire that can be set up properly to give you maximum efficiency.

The trick to building an impressive fire is making sure the flames have ready access to oxygen. Building your fire in a way that easily feeds air to it will ensure success.  Ready to learn how to build the perfect campfire? Let’s get started.

Step 1: Safety First

The first step in building any fire, emergency or not, is making sure the area around where you’re building the fire is clear of anything flammable for about 8 feet in any direction. This means leaves, garbage, kindling, and of course any fuels should be outside the 8-foot range.

Once the fire is established, you can return items like logs or camp chairs to sit on, but for now take the time to clear them out.

Step 2: Build a Cabin

Building a good fire starts with the base. You want the base to be larger logs to give the fire a solid base while pre-feeding in the fuel that’ll keep the fire going once the smaller wood burns off.

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Three logs will form the base of the fire. Lay them with space between each, but not much. The logs should be about as big around as your forearm, and the space between them should be about half of that. Next, stack two more logs on top of this, with two more crisscrossed on top. When done it should look like the start of a

Finally, fill the inside of your new log cabin with kindling and tinder before topping it with a “roof” of small to medium-sized sticks. Make sure the roof isn’t too tight or air won’t flow.

Step 3: Top it with a Tepee

Make a mound of fire starter, like dryer lint or some other flammable material, on the roof of the log cabin and top it with very small twigs and tinder. This will be your spot to light the fire.

Inverse Campfire Inverse Campfire

Next, take 7–10 small- to medium-sized sticks and build a tepee of sorts on the roof of your cabin. Make sure there’s enough space between the sticks to allow for air flow. We’re trying to protect the fire from wind while still allowing air to flow to the new flame.

Alternatively, you can also build the teepee in the middle of your log cabin setup, placing the bottom of the teepee on the ground.

The other big reason for using the tepee method is to give your fire the medium-sized fuel it needs after burning through the kindling without smothering the fire. This allows the medium-sized wood to automatically add itself to the fire when it’s ready.

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Step 4: Light My Fire

When you’re all built and ready to start your fire, light the kindling inside the tepee and let it burn. The tepee will eventually collapse and fall into your log cabin. This will take the fire from burning the small kindling to burning the medium-sized wood from the tepee.

Once the tepee wood burns through, the inside of the cabin should be burning very well, and the side of the cabin should start to burn evenly. Once these start to darken and burn, the fire is fully established and you can increase the size of wood added to it incrementally if you’d like.

Wrap-Up

Knowing how to start a successful fire is important to survival, not only for warmth and cooking, but for peace of mind. Having a fire helps to keep spirits up, animals away, and give an overall better feeling to the camp.

Practice your fire building skills on your next camping trip and perfect your log cabin before you need to use it in an emergency.

Dangers Rodents Present

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RodentSure, most rodents are relatively cute and cuddly-looking, but that doesn’t mean you should pick them up or keep them as pets. Rodents present a variety of dangers and are among the bigger challenges for pest control companies. Let’s review some of the dangers rodents such as mice and rats present and how to ensure they stay the heck away from your home.

Parasites

Rodents play host to a number of parasites, including mites and the dreaded ticks. Mites and ticks carry deadly pathogens.

Germs

Rodents don’t have to harbor parasites to cause trouble. Their urine and feces contain germs that wreak all kinds of havoc on human health. As if that weren’t enough, rodents are capable of depositing hundreds of fecal pellets in the span of a week. They can also urinate in thousands of areas within the same time frame.

Diseases

Rodents carry a whole slew of un-fun diseases, which are transmitted via excrement and direct contact. Examples of the many viruses spread by rodents include rat-bite fever, the hanta virus and oh yeah, PLAGUE.

Property Damage

In addition to making you and your family sick, rodents pose threats to property such as books and clothes.

Tips For Keeping Rodents Out of Your Home

Keeping any and all rodents out of your house may seem like a lost cause, but fear not. There’s plenty you can do to ensure mice don’t take up permanent residence in your home. If you have a cat, you’re off to a great start, as mice and rats aren’t going to venture where kitties are waiting. Depositing fur and even urine-soaked litter in high-traffic rodent areas of your home also helps keep the little twits away.

Other tips include sealing all holes and cracks in your home and checking your foundation for gaps. Never leave food out or keep trash cans with food in them open. Store food in sealed containers instead. Get rid of dense vegetation around your house as well as stacks of firewood against or near the home. Pick up fallen fruit from backyard trees if applicable, and never leave garbage cans uncovered. You’ll attract raccoons and possums in addition to mice and rats.

Have you dealt with a rodent infestation? Share your tail, er, tale of horror in the comments section!

[HA1]Maybe a little more detail here? How do they pose a threat? By chewing these items?

Dangerous Amphibians

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Golden poison dart frog

You may really love amphibians, or you may find them completely gross. Either way, it’s a good idea to know which ones can potentially kill you, especially if planning on visiting assorted jungle locales. Let’s review a few of the most dangerous amphibians on the planet and what they can do to you.

Golden Poison Dart Frog

Generally speaking, if you see a brightly colored frog, run in the other direction. Bright colors are a telltale sign the animal is poisonous. The Golden Poison Dart Frog, for example, is bright yellow with greenish-black legs. It resides in the rain forests of Central and South America, and features poison so toxic even small amounts of the stuff can kill you. We’re talking 0.0000004 ounces of poison. Yep. The poison attacks the nerves and muscles, and ultimately causes death via respiratory or muscular paralysis.

Colorado River Toad

This chubby toad is also called the Sonoran Desert Toad. It lives in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Both skin and venom are poisonous, with glands the main defense system. The poison is enough to kill an adult dog; however, the chemicals it emits are also used in drug consumption. They cause auditory hallucinations and euphoria when smoked, but should not be taken orally. In other words, do not lick this toad.

Blue Poison Dart Frog

The Blue Poison Dart Frog lives in southern Suriname, South America, and can be found near moss-covered rocks and small streams. The frog is bright blue with dark blue and black spots on various body parts. It secretes poison to keep predators away. While the amphibian may not be as deadly as the Golden Dart Frog, it’s still a good idea to maintain a good distance.

Other dangerous amphibians include the common toad, cane toad, Pacific newt, American toad, and Fowler’s toad, among others.

Have you had a run-in with a dangerous amphibian? Share your story in the comments section!

Cooking Like a Boy Scout

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The Boy Scouts of America are a pretty great group to be a part of. They teach young boys the basics of survival. When taken seriously, this training gives boys skills they can bring into their adult lives for not only emergencies, but for everyday use, too.

Cooking is something that must be done even if there’s an emergency going on. Just about every food requires some type of cooking, and during or after a disaster you’ll be cooking everything you eat, so knowing how to cook is pretty important business.

Just like almost every other survival skill, there’s a lot we can learn from the good old BSA, AKA The Boy Scouts of America. From quick measurements to tried-and-true recipes, cooking like a Boy Scout could be the thing that saves you someday down the road.

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Quick Measurements, Sans Utensils

Last time I checked, my bug-out bag didn’t have a set of measuring spoons in it, and I’m willing to bet yours doesn’t, either. While these useful kitchen utensils are easy to ignore, being able to cook without knowing how much spice or other ingredients you’re adding to a recipe is a quick way to ruin some much-needed food.

If you’re cooking without anything to measure with, just use this Boy Scout chart and you’ll be just fine:

  • One open fistful = 1/2 Cup
  • Five-finger pinch = 1 Tablespoon
  • Four-finger pinch = 1 Teaspoon
  • One-finger pinch with thumb = 1/8 Teaspoon
  • One-finger gob of shortening = 1 Tablespoon
  • Center of palm = 1 Tablespoon

Along with these, write down some basic standard measures and you’ll be able to measure anything with nothing more than your hand.

  • 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce
  • 16 tablespoons = 1 cup = 8 ounces
  • 2 cups = 1 pint = 16 ounces
  • 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 ounces
  • 4 quarts = 1 gallon = 8 pounds (128 ounces)

Now, you can measure with some level of certainty without having to carry a full set of kitchen measuring utensils into the wild with you.

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Substitutions and Equivalents Make it Easier

When you’re in an emergency or disaster situation, chances are you won’t have any food you want readily available. What’s more, you probably only want to store the bare essentials in your larder so you can maximize how long you can survive from your supplies.

With this idea in mind, knowing some basic substitutions can help you make more from less while using the proper amounts of the replacement food.

Substitutions:

  • 8 ounces sour cream = 1 cup of low-fat yogurt
  • 1 cup milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 ounce baking chocolate = 3 tablepoon cocoa powder +1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs = 4 slices of bread, or 26 saltines
  • 1 tablespoon instant minced onion = 1 small fresh onion
  • 1 cup honey = 1 cup molasses

Equivalents:

  • 1 pound of butter or shortening = 2 cups
  • 1 pound flour = 3 1/2 cups
  • 1 pound sugar (brown or granulated) = 2 1/2 cups
  • 1 stick of butter = 1/2 cup

There are obviously hundreds more substitutions and equivalents, but this is a great start that can get you pretty far.

Do the Duty Roster

When you’re out in the wild fending for yourself, it can get tricky keeping everyone honest about what job he or she should be doing. To keep things fair and civil, creating a duty roster is the best way to share responsibilities and keep everyone contributing.

The key areas of cooking are:

  1. Water
  2. Fire
  3. Cooking
  4. Cleaning
  5. Securing food

With these major areas covered, just about any meal can be made. Laid out in a grid it would look something like this:

boy-scout-priorities

Your duty roster can change based on how you want to split up the chores, but with this in mind you can simply set daily expectations. Whether you keep people on the same task for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day or cycle every meal, it’s a visible way to show that everything is fair and to hold everyone accountable.

It’s All About the Menu

Finally, all of this would be for naught unless you had some recipes up your sleeve. What recipes you use specifically are up to you and the supplies you plan on keeping. Try to keep your recipes close to what you eat now, to give a sense of normalcy, but also to avoid any shocks to your system. If you never eat rice and then you try eating it three times every day, bad things are probably going to happen.

A good way to organize your meals is to create a menu for each meal. This keeps you organized and makes planning meals far easier, especially if you just look back at something that already worked for you and do it again. Here’s an example of what the Boy Scouts use:

boy-scout-duty-roster

As you can see, there’s a column for cost here. In a survival situation, this probably won’t matter too much, so you can cut that out. The important column that most people wouldn’t think about is the “equipment” column. This column makes sure you have whatever you need to make the meal available. So if you’re away from camp for a day, you know what to take with you. This is also great if you want to plan meals ahead of an emergency, as you’ll know what equipment needs to be purchased and packed. Depending on the number of people you’re planning for, the amount column can change dramatically, too.

In short, this helps you make sense of a difficult task when you’re trying to survive. By taking after the Boy Scouts and always being prepared, you can make cooking in emergencies as easy as possible.

Yosemite Park Hiking Tips

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Yosemite National Park HikingTipsGearing up to do some serious hiking in the stunningly beautiful Yosemite National Park? Before you lace up your hiking boots, do yourself a favor and check out the following tips to ensure you don’t get eaten by a bear, suffer heat exhaustion, or just have an unpleasant trip in general.

Avoid Wearing Cotton

Among the best Yosemite-Park-related hiking tips is to leave the cotton undies at home. What you want is polypropylene underwear and clothing, as they wick moisture away from the body rather than allowing it to stick to you and creating unsightly rashes.

Go For Waterproof Options

Planning on hiking a “mist trail”? Yosemite has a fabulous waterfall that makes the adjoining trail mist-tastic, so bring a raincoat and waterproof clothing if you wish to try this option.

Keep a Headlamp With You

One of your most essential pieces of hiking gear is your headlamp, whether hiking Yosemite or anywhere else. Even if hiking during the day, it’s still a good idea to have your headlamp with you.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Don’t ever leave for a hike without plenty of agua. The National Park Service recommends drinking at least one quart of water every hour to avoid dehydration and the unpleasantness that follows.

Don’t Leave Without Sunscreen

Remember to slather on the sunscreen unless you love the lobster look. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses while you’re at it, and bring a lip balm that contains sunblock. Your kisser can get burned too!

Bring the Insect Repellent

Yosemite is chock-full of mosquitoes, so bring whatever bug spray you favor and apply it every three to four hours.

Invest in Hiking Boots

If you don’t have hiking boots, now’s the time to invest. They provide the traction and support other shoes can’t match.

Another general hiking tip to keep in mind? Hike on established trails! Failure to do so could easily result in run-ins with the aforementioned bear among a slew of other problems.

Have you hiked Yosemite? Share your experience in the comments section!

Best Survival-Based TV Shows

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survivorman

There’s a whole slew of survival-themed television series out there, some of which fall into the “reality” category. Others are fictitious, but easily serve as potential warnings about the future. Check out a few of the best survival-based television series and maybe learn a new skill or three:

Survivorman

Survivorman was a Canadian-produced television series that aired on the Outdoor Life Network starting in 2005. The last of the specials aired in 2014. The show followed host Lee Stroud as he used his survival skills to last in various remote areas for up to 10 days at a time. Stroud brought very little food, water, and equipment to each thoroughly scouted location.

Falling Skies

The post-apocalyptic/sci-fi series starring Noah Wyle ran from 2011 on TNT until August of this year. Wyle played Tom Mason, a former Boston University professor who helps lead a group of civilians out of Boston following an alien invasion. This invasion nearly destroyed the Earth some six months before the show begins. The aliens’ goals are outlined in the fourth season, which includes — surprise! — enslaving humans.

Man vs. Wild

Man vs. Wild is a survival series starring Bear Grylls, a British adventurer who is left stranded in various locations around the world with his film crew. Most of the time Grylls is in a jungle or forest, and he occasionally has a celebrity companion, such as Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller. The series aired from 2006 to 2011 on the Discovery Channel.

The Walking Dead

What survival show list is complete without The Walking Dead? The horror/apocalyptic series aired from 2010 to 2015 on AMC and begins with deputy sheriff Rick Grimes waking up from a months-long coma to find he’s living in a world overrun by zombies. He eventually meets up with his wife and son, and together with other survivors tries to make it in a crazy, zombie-filled world.

Did your favorite make the list? Honorable mentions go to Marooned with Ed Stafford, Extreme Survival and Survivors.

Archery Safety Tips

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Archery Safety TipsWhether you’re channeling your inner Katniss Everdeen or simply want to learn more about archery, it’s essential to take safety tips to (proverbial) heart. This is important not just for your own safety, but to avoid shooting the eye out of those around you. With that in mind, let’s review a few excellent archery safety tips so you enjoy each and every shooting session.

Inspect Your Arrows

Take a good, hard look at every arrow before you shoot it. Look for cracks and other signs of damage, as a damaged arrow could easily snap and injure you or anyone nearby.

Wait in Line

If engaging in archery practice with a bunch of other people, it’s important to know your lines. Literally. First, there’s the waiting line where you stand patiently with other archers to take your turn. Next, there’s the shooting line, or the line you stand at to shoot your bow. Finally, there’s the target line, but it’s mainly used as practice for young archers.

Don’t Point

Never, ever, ever point your bow at anything other than your target, even if there’s no arrow drawn. This will help you create correct shooting habits. While you’re at it, never draw your bow if there’s something between you and your target, even if you don’t intend to shoot it.

Load First

Refrain from pulling your bow back if there’s no arrow drawn, as it could damage the bow or you. Ouch. Load your arrow before pulling the bow back — always.

Take It Off

Take off your watch and any jewelry before you begin shooting, as such items could interfere with the process.

Listen Carefully

Listen closely to your instructor whether shooting indoors or out. Your instructor will let you know when you can shoot, when you can’t shoot, and provide plenty of other vital information.

Use these and other archery safety tips to stay injury-free during practice sessions!

Are you an experienced archer? Share your best safety tips in the comments section!

Survival Tips From Animals

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PorcupineSurvival skills are pretty darn important, and there’s much to be learned from the animal kingdom. Most animals have several very effective ways to protect themselves from predators, with methods ranging from the practical to the bizarre.

Let’s check out a few of the many ways the animals in our world protect themselves from harm and how their skills can help you out of sticky situations:

Flee From Danger Like Zebras

The black-and-white-striped African members of the horse family flee from predators by staying in groups. If you’re going to flee, doing so with a bunch of other people is usually the best way. However, if you’re turning and running from a large animal such as a bear or cougar, it’s probably not going to end well.

Fight Back Like a Porcupine

When faced with a predator such as the aforementioned cougar or bear, it’s sometimes necessary to fight back. Running will only make them think you’re food, but if you fight back, they’ll realize that maybe you aren’t their post-lunch snack. Porcupines fight back via their oh-so-sharp quills, which rise up at the first sign of danger. While you might not have quills to defend yourself, using your fists, any nearby branches, and anything you have or can reach will certainly help.

Blend In

Many animals use camouflage to protect themselves, such as the chameleon, octopus, and squid. Wearing clothing that blends into your surroundings can help you survive, as can taking steps to blend, such as rubbing mud or dirt on yourself. While you don’t want to get mistaken for a deer and get shot, the ability to blend and subsequently disappear can be a very great thing when trying to survive.

What are your favorite survival tips from our animal friends? Share them in the comments section!

Essential Swimming Skills for Survival

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swimming survival skills
One of the most neglected areas of survival preparation is that of water safety training. According to the American Red Cross, only half of adults in the United States can perform the essential skills they would need to survive in the event of a water emergency. These critical skills could ultimately save lives.

Certain swimming abilities are necessary in order to live through water emergencies, like being stranded in open water. Situations that could leave you stranded in open water include being swept out to sea by strong currents, plane crashes and sinking boats. The swimming skills that could help you survive in these situations include:

  1. Treading Water – Treading water involves moving the hands and feet in particular ways to keep oneself on top of the water. Usually only the head is above the water to allow for breathing. Although there are many floating techniques, the most popular one is to move the hands and arms horizontally across the body while flutter kicking with the legs. Treading water allows a person to recover their breath if they’ve swallowed water and to stop and orient themselves in the middle of a swim.
  2. Survival Floating – In any water emergency, it is critical to stay afloat. This can be accomplished through many different kinds of personal flotation devices, some of which can be improvised. However, if you find yourself without a raft, lifeboat or other flotation device, you can use floating techniques to conserve energy. The most common way to float is on the back, but this should be done only in calm waters. In rough waters, lie facedown in the water, lifting your head to inhale and then exhale back into the water.
  3. Rising to the Surface – When immersed in deep water suddenly, it is important to be able to get to the surface quickly in order to breathe. It is helpful to activate one’s flotation device for the best results. However, you might find yourself without one. In those cases, orient yourself in the water by moving toward light. Flutter kick with your legs, and use your arms by pushing down against the water all the way to your hips.
  4. Front Crawl – The front crawl is the fastest, most efficient way to move in the water. The front crawl is performed by flutter kicking with the legs and using the arms to scull the water. The arms and hands enter the water thumbs first out past the head and then pull horizontally along the length of the body. The swimmer breathes by turning the head to one side and then exhaling into the water.

As always, it is a good idea to practice these techniques before a survival situation occurs. Check your local area for swimming lessons in order to learn these essential water safety skills.

Top 26 Vinegar Survival Uses

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survival medicine hacks

Distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are dual-use and inexpensive products, making them a perfect item for preppers to stockpile. The plethora of ways vinegar can be used now in our daily lives and after the SHTF will not only save money, but also provide a non-toxic alternative to many cleaning chores.

Vinegar has been used for home remedies, cooking and cleaning for centuries around the globe. Folks from ancient Rome to the early inhabitants of China held vinegar in high regard for its medicinal and disinfecting properties. In 5000 B.C. the Sumerians used vinegar to preserve and pickle food. Helen of Troy was said to pour vinegar in her bath water to help her relax. In 247 B.C. the famed military commander Hannibal drenched massive boulders in scalding hot vinegar so the rocks could be cracked into small pieces. Once the heavy obstacles were reduced to rubble and could be easily removed, his army was able to continue on its journey through the Alps.

Vinegar Survival Uses

  • Sore Throat – Pour 1 teaspoon of white vinegar into a standard-size glass of water and gargle the mixture.
  • Propane Lantern Wicks – Make wicks burn longer by soaking them in vinegar for 3 hours and then allowing them to completely air dry.
  • Wart Removal – Apply a mixture of equal parts glycerin and apple cider vinegar to the warts until they shrivel up and go away.
  • Psoriasis Control – Wash the area where psoriasis is detected with white vinegar several times per week until it is no longer visible.
  • Smell Discipline – Reduce the smell of smoke when cooking or burning wood by placing bowls of distilled white vinegar around the outdoor fire or camping stove.
  • Fleas – Add a few drops of white vinegar to a gallon of water to help remove fleas and other pests from the coats of pets and medium to large livestock. Rub the solution onto the pets and allow their fur to air dry – do not rinse.
  • Food Preservation – Pickle nearly any vegetable that can be canned using either apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar. *Vinegar pickling recipe included at the end of this Survival Based article.
  • Boiled Eggs – Prevent eggs from cracking during boiling by putting 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into the pot with the water.
  • Disinfect Wood Kitchen Tools – Wipe wood cutting boards and cooking utensils with distilled white vinegar to disinfect and prevent the spread of disease from raw meat and potentially tainted produce. Do not clean wood floors with the same mixture; it will dull the finish and its high acidic content can discolor the wood over time.
  • Stomachache – Mix 1 cup of water with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and drink to help cure an upset stomach.
  • Hair Care – Reduce the impact of hard water and remove dandruff from hair by rinsing your locks with a mixture of 1 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. The vinegar smell dissipates as the hair dries.
  • Dentures – Soak false teeth in straight white vinegar overnight, rinse with warm water and brush before use to clean the dentures and remove any food stuck between the teeth.
  • Sprains and Strains – Soak a piece of a paper bag in apple cider vinegar, squeeze out the excess vinegar, and wrap around the injured body part. The vinegar will help reduce inflammation and soreness.
  • Insect Trap – Pour apple cider vinegar into a mason jar to make a trap for fruit flies and other insects. Poke a few holes in the metal lid so the gnats can get into the trap. The apple smell will attract the insects, which ultimately drown inside the jar.
  • Vehicle Windows – Clean windows with a 3-to-1 solution of white vinegar and water to prevent the glass from frosting over and to thoroughly clean the surface without streaking.
  • Wool – Make those sturdy and warm wool blankets a lot less stiff and itchy by adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle.
  • Shaving Razors – Soak razors in equal parts white vinegar and water for an hour to remove residue and to disinfect to allow the disposables to be used for an extended period of time.
  • Blood Sugar Levels – Help keep blood sugar levels under control by drinking apple cider vinegar four times per day.
  • Skunk Stink – Pull a Helen of Troy and soak yourself or your pets in a white vinegar bath to rid the body, hair, or fur of the pungent stench left behind after encountering a skunk.
  • Stings – Dabbing bee, wasp, and other insect stings with apple cider vinegar may help reduce swelling and soreness.
  • Homemade Baby Wipes – Cut a paper towel roll into thirds and then slide out the cardboard roll. Mix together water, natural soap, white vinegar, tea tree oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Use ½ cup each of the water and vinegar and about 1/3 of a cup of each of the other ingredients. Pour mixture over the paper towels after they have been placed in a storage container with a tightly fitting lid. Cotton fabric scraps can also be used to make the baby wipes.
  • Vegetables – Help revive wilting vegetables by soaking them in a mixture of 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar for about 3 minutes. Rinse the veggies with fresh cold water after the soak.
  • Tools and Equipment – Remove sticky residue and rust from metal tools, scissors, and too-tight to turn equipment parts by scrubbing with distilled white vinegar. For particularly rusty or sticky components, soak them in the vinegar overnight before scrubbing.
  • Gardening – Pour white vinegar onto unwanted weeds around home and in the garden. Pour carefully to prevent any splashing that could also kill the food crops growing nearby.
  • Disinfecting Cleaner – Mix equal parts distilled white vinegar and water for a germ-killing cleaning solution. Toss a few orange or lemon peels into the mix to add a bit of fragrance to the cleaner. The vinegar cleaning smell dissipates as the solution dries. During a long-term disaster, illness or disease will spread quickly. Keep the home or bug-out retreat clean to prevent the flu or common cold from infecting your entire family or mutual assistance group. Never mix vinegar and bleach; the release of toxic chemicals can result.
  • Foot Care – Soothe sore and blistered feet by soaking them in a solution of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.

Vinegar Pickling Recipe

Ingredients

  • Vegetable of choice
  • 1/2 cup dried or fresh spices such as mustard seed, cumin, peppercorn, or coriander
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon non-iodized salt

Instructions

  • Wash and cut vegetables and place them in a mason jar.
  • Pour in the spices.
  • Pour the water, salt and vinegar into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Pour the boiling solution over the vegetables in the mason jar.
  • Place in the refrigerator for three weeks.
  • The pickled vegetables should last for up to six months when stored in a refrigerator.

Prepping For a Flood

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_57013387_flooding_signNot every disaster is world ending, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less devastating to those involved. Floods are a serious threat that can ruin lives; as we saw with the post-Hurricane Katrina flooding, floods can easily decimate entire cities.

Prepping doesn’t have to be reserved for End of the World as we Know it scenarios, but instead should be used to keep you, your family, and your belongings as safe as possible in any survival situation — floods included. By knowing your risk and planning accordingly, you can keep safe and survive a flood and live to fight another day.

Know Your Flood Risk

If you live on flat land, or worse yet, in a valley, you’re probably at some level of risk for a flood. Even if you think you’re not at risk, a flood in your area can still affect you by knocking out power, gas, and water service to your home. If you live on a hill but receive your water from a valley, chances are a flood would cut the supply of water off pretty quickly.

NOAA 2014 Spring_flood_risk

The same goes for power and other utilities, too. Calculating your flood risk starts with your home’s chance for flooding but should also include your surrounding area as well. Check out the Flood Risk evaluation tool over at FloodSmart.gov to get a better idea of what might be in store for you.

Understand Flood Terminology

Just as GI Joe taught us, knowing is half the battle, and knowing when you’re at a real risk for flood is important for staying ahead of the disaster. The terminology used by weather predictors is the best way for you to know when you’re at serious risk of being flooded. 

  • Flood Watch: This means flooding is possible, but not expected.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Like a standard flood watch, this means that flooding that happens in a matter of minutes is possible, but not truly expected.
  • Flood Warning: With a warning, flooding is either already happening in areas near you or is expected to happen very shortly.
  • Flash Flood Warning: This means that flash flooding is currently happening in areas near you. If you’re on ground level in a flood-prone area, this is the time to get to higher ground immediately.

Remember, pay attention to this terminology, not only for your area, but along any proposed escape routes you may have planned. Flooding can quickly cut off access by not only covering roads, but completely washing them out.

Flood

Know When to Bug Out

By staying alert to the flood status in your area, as well as your specific risk of flooding, you should be able to keep a mental pros and cons list of staying put or bugging out. None of us like to leave our house and possessions, but a flood that’s strong enough can remove a house from its foundation and make the surrounding area toxic with washed-up waste and chemicals.

Before things get bad, give yourself a fight or flight checkpoint. Once that checkpoint is reached, it’s time to leave. Have your bug-out bag ready along with as much water as you can carry. Bring along important paperwork, money, and anything else you can safely carry and must be kept dry. Have a bug-out location that’s on higher ground selected, and make sure you’re familiar with at least two ways to get there. Knowing the flood risk of those two paths can be a big help, too.

GWB:  Flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area is visible from Air Force One Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, as President Bush was alble to survey the ravages of the storm during his return from Crawford, Texas to Washington D.C.  White House photo by Paul Morse GWB: Flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area is visible from Air Force One Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2005, as President Bush was alble to survey the ravages of the storm during his return from Crawford, Texas to Washington D.C. White House photo by Paul Morse

Waterproof The Essentials

Speaking of things you want to keep dry, now’s probably a good time to waterproof anything you want to stay dry in a flood. This means insurance paperwork, deeds, birth certificates, cash — anything that wouldn’t do well with a good dunk.

Simply placing these documents in airtight freezer bags is enough to keep them safe. Remember, a simple ruptured pipe could destroy all your necessary paperwork and really wreck a great prep. It doesn’t hurt to keep your bug-out bags and other supplies off the floor and put them in plastic containers, too.

Water

“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” The one thing that’s not in short supply during a flood is water, but it’s that water specifically that can really hurt your ability to drink.

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As water levels rise, the chance that sewage and fresh water will mix is pretty high. The same goes for fresh water and chemicals. Once this happens, the available fresh water for drinking can quickly hit zero. As seen with Katrina, this need for clean water can go on for weeks, which is why having a 30-day supply of drinking water is critical for anyone in a flood-prone area.

By keeping fresh water on hand, you can protect against most diseases and impurities that the surrounding water supply might have. Remember, you can boil off most diseases in water, but if the chemical plant down the street flooded too, you won’t be able to boil that water enough to clean it. Just like every other survival situation, without fresh water, all your other plans are pretty useless.

Types of Dangerous Plants

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Whether you have a green thumb or can’t tell the difference between an Ohio Buckeye and a Virginia Creeper, it’s a good idea to have a working knowledge of poisonous plants. It’s an important survival skill to have should you find yourself lost in a wooded area, as it prevents ingesting the wrong thing and meeting the grim reaper.

Let’s check out a few of the most poisonous plants on Earth, shall we?Oleander pink

Oleander

The oleander is a versatile shrub featuring large clusters of pink, yellow, white, or red blooms. Its leaves and branches are the poisonous parts, and cause serious digestive problems in addition to affecting the heart. It is also capable of killing you.

foxgloveFoxglove

The foxglove has been described as a “magical” plant thanks to its lovely drooping purple, white or pink flowers. Capable of growing up to three feet, the plant, despite it’s magical looks, causes heart problems when consumed, no matter which part you eat. It also results in cramps, nausea, vomiting, mouth pain and diarrhea.

elephant earElephant Ear

This tropical plant features large greenish-black leaves that look like, you guessed it, elephant ears. As with the foxglove, all parts of this plant are poisonous. Consuming elephant ear results in severe burning of the mouth and tongue, as well as tongue swelling. If the tongue continues to swell, it can block the throat air passage and cause death.

lily of the valleyLily of the Valley

Lily of the valley plants are also called mayflowers and feature a pleasant scent. Blooms are small and white, and leaves are broad and green. Ingesting this plant results in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, and mouth pain. It can also cause a slow or irregular heartbeat. All plant parts are poisonous.

Other dangerous plants to be avoided include iris, monkshood, yew and daffodil, among others.

Have you ever ingested a poisonous plant? Share your tale of horror in the comments section!