Monday, January 31, 2011

Get Out Now!

The latest from Egypt is that there are approximately 2,400 American who want to get out of the country now, before problems escalate to the point that they end up being hostages the way Americans did in Iran back in 1979. Secretary of State Clinton warned against a takeover that resembles the one in Iran, so it's past the time when folks who want to leave should be packing their toothbrushes.

The problem is that most people don't do anything until they're told to do it by someone in authority. Maybe it's a failure to put two and two together. Maybe they can't count that high. I don't know what it is, but most will simply stand there staring at the world falling apart around them as if they're watching TV. Then, inevitably, they will demand that the government do something to save them.

Is it ignorance or insanity? Maybe it doesn't matter, because the outcome is the same. Perhaps the insanity is that we keep saving those who are too stupid to save themselves. I don't know, but it's frustrating.

But as long as I'm on the subject of getting out, let's talk about evacuation for a minute. In the situation in Egypt, an alert individual could see the chaos coming for weeks in advance. At least days in advance, people could start quietly boarding airplanes to elsewhere. Some probably did, but they don't make the news headlines. The ones who end up in the news are the ones who didn't recognize the trouble that was coming.

This is the kind of crisis that shouldn't catch anyone unawares. It isn't like an earthquake that just suddenly explodes beneath the pavement. This is one of those slow-cooking societal eruptions that gives advance warning in the form of public outcry and protests way before the situation blows completely to pieces. Anyone who travels to those parts of the world where the domestic political act is walking a tightrope should be fully aware of the potential for disaster, and have their toothbrush packed and ready to run at all times.

Our State Department has issued advisories to U.S. citizens who want to get out of Egypt that they should expect lengthy delays at the airports, and they should bring food, water and other necessities with them. That sounds like what we used to call a "bug out bag" or what I now call a "grab and go" kit. In the kit should be all the things you need to live without outside resources for at least 72 hours.

That doesn't mean 3 square meals per day or enough water to take a bath. It does mean enough emergency rations to keep you alive and able to keep going until help arrives or you get to a better location. High-energy foods such as Power Bars, some water and a water filter system so you can make drinkable water out of non-drinkable water sources, toilet paper (try going without that for 72 hours!), and any medications you absolutely need to stay alive and well. Some kind of shelter, even if it's only an emergency blanket, a method for for starting a fire, a signal mirror, a whistle, some cordage so you can rig up a lean-to. Basic stuff.

By all means, throw in your toothbrush and toothpaste, some hand soap, insect repellent, and sun screen. The point is to be able to stay alive and live with some level of dignity without having to depend on outside sources of supply for at least the first 72 hours of a crisis. If you end up evacuating to a refugee camp, you'll be a step ahead of the game if you have some of your own personal stuff with you.

Now, about evacuation — Get out early, ahead of the official declaration of emergency conditions. To do that, you must keep your eyes on the situation at all times. Don't get so lost in the daily dazzle that you fail to see or hear what's going on around you. Then listen to your gut. If something starts to feel weird, pay attention to your instincts and get out early. It's far better to misread the situation and leave too early than it is to fail to read the situation and get caught up in the chaos.

In sailing there's an old saying — when you first think about reefing (reducing the amount of sail that is up), you should already have done it. The point is that If you ignore your gut feeling, the wind is going to punish you severely.

If you're in a situation that doesn't feel right, grab your bag and get out now! Don't wait for the authorities to be in the streets with bullhorns telling you to evacuate. By then, it's a little late and you're going to end up competing with all the other masses of humanity who are trying to do the same thing at the same time.

Use your head. Analyze the situation, make a decision, and do what needs to be done.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Danger of Running The Vehicle Heater

Trying to stay warm inside a vehicle can be deadly, as two young girls found out. The two victims of this near-tragic incident were only 4 and 7 years old. They were playing inside the snowbound vehicle in the Bronx, New York while their mother was outside shoveling the snow away so they could drive off. To stay warm, the engine was  running and the heater was turned on.

Apparently, some snow got piled up against the tailpipe, backing up the exhaust and forcing it into the vehicle. Both girls soon lost consciousness, and when they were admitted to Lebanon Hospital, they were both in critical condition. The 7-year-old was placed in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to treat her near-death  condition. The last report I received said the doctors were trying to determine in the younger girl would need the same treatment.

I'm often asked if it's safe to take shelter inside a vehicle and run the engine so the heater can keep you warm. This incident gives a clear indication of the answer. Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly and sneaky. The gas is odorless, colorless, and the effects of exposure are so subtle and sudden that when you realize what's happening, you probably won't remain conscious long enough to even open a window or move outside.

NOTE: After receiving a reader's remark about the above posting (it doesn't show up in the comments because I don't post comments that contain foul language or bitter rantings, only comments that can be useful to readers), I am prompted to add here that becoming a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning doesn't require that you smother the tailpipe of a vehicle with snow. A perfectly open tailpipe at the end of a faulty exhaust system will still do the job. Leaky exhaust systems are very common and, if the vehicle is sitting still while the engine is running, presents a lethal hazard. So sleeping the night in your vehicle with the engine running to keep the heater operating is unwise. Folks die in their RVs because they left the power generator running all night to keep the air conditioner going, and the exhaust from the generator invades the living quarters, which then become death quarters. People die of CO poisoning in their homes due to malfunctioning gas furnace. So you don't have to be stuck in snow that has covered the tailpipe to become a near-death victim as the two girls in the above incident, or a totally dead victim.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bitter Cold

In Connecticutt, a woman's frozen body was found in her driveway after a neighbor called police. According to the police report, Denise O'Hare apparently fell in her driveway and froze to death when temperatures were close to zero.

As I write this, the wind chill in some areas of New England are down to 50 degrees below zero. That is lethal cold. It's cold enough to freeze exposed flesh almost instantly, resulting in immediate frostbite. And it's cold enough to kill someone unfortunate enough to be exposed to it for very long. During this cold snap, a Philadelphia man froze to death in his car, where he had chosen to sleep the night. 

Wind chill is a combination of thermometer temperature and the additional chilling effect of the wind. From the chart below, you can see the relationship between decreasing temperature and increasing wind.

The best way to protect yourself against wind chill is to stay indoors where you have the benefit of an active heating system. If you must go outdoors, dress in layers that trap body-warmed air between the layers of clothing, wear a windproof shell over all the layers, and make sure none of your skin is exposed. Along with all your other clothing, a neoprene facemask and goggles are essential items of protective gear in extreme cold.

Getting out of the wind is a top priority, so look for a windproof shelter. In bitter cold weather, the inside of a vehicle turns the interior into a perfect refrigerator, unless you have a heat source.

If you close yourself up tightly in an enclosed space and use a heat source that employs combustion of any type, you risk death by oxygen depletion (asphyxia) or from carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use a hibachi or BBQ indoors, and be careful to provide adequate fresh air ventilation if you use propane appliances such as a camp stove or propane heater in an enclosure. 

It's easy to die in times of extreme cold, and you must be careful every step of the way. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sleeping Bag

If you're in the market for a sleeping bag, you might as well get one that has all the right features. Here are the things I would be looking for, if I were shopping for a bag. 

Choose a bag that has a rating slightly lower than the coldest temperature you expect to encounter. Zippers that open from both top and bottom allow ventilation options so you don’t overheat when the weather is warmer than your bag rating. Research indicates that women generally prefer a warmer bag than do men. According to the good folks at REI, the following bag ratings apply:
  • A summer season bag is rated for 35 degrees F and higher.
  • A 3-season bag will range from 10 to 35 degrees.
  • A cold weather bag is rated for -10 to +10 degrees.
  • A winter bag will be rated for -10 degrees F and lower. 
Some cold weather bags are designed to hug your body, while those rated for warmer climates are often rectangular and looser fitting. The best choice is what you’re comfortable with. In a tight-fitting bag, a generous footbox is nice so your feet don’t feel constrained. Try a bag on for size before buying it, to make sure you’ll be okay with the dimensions and overall shape. There are bags especially designed to fit the female body shape, and there are also children’s size bags.

A convenient option for couples is to create a doublewide bag. This is accomplished by having two bags with compatible zippers so the bags can be zipped together to accommodate two people.

High quality synthetic fill material is almost as good as down when it comes to insulation value — it weighs more, doesn’t compress as small, but costs a lot less. Down fails when wet, while synthetics continue to provide insulation value. So, for camping in wet weather, I’m looking for a synthetic fill such as Polarguard, Hollofil, and Micro-loft. For cold weather in a situation where getting wet is not an issue, prime northern goose down is the fill material of choice.

Construction features to look for include:
  • Nylon or polyester ripstopsShell material treated with durable water repellent (DWR). The treatment doesn't make the bag waterproof, but it helps moisture bead and roll off the bag instead of soaking into the filler.
  • Anti-snag zipper with a flap or baffle that covers the zipper to keep drafts from coming through.
  • Tuck stitching or internal tubes or baffles to hold the insulation material in place without through-stitching that would allow cold to penetrate.
  • Cold-weather bags should have a hood and collar arrangement to help keep body warmth inside.
  • A pillow pocket where you can tuck a shirt or jacket to serve as padding beneath your head.
  • A sleeve for inserting a sleeping pad, or external attachment points for connecting to a sleeping pad. This helps keep the pad under the bag, even though you might squirm around a bit in your sleep.
  • A stuff sack or roll straps to make packing the bag easier. If the bag doesn't come with a stuff sack or rolls traps, you can buy these accessories at a sporting goods store. In a pinch, you can use bungee cords or a couple lengths of cordage to serve as roll straps. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fire is Life

There are so many benefits to being able to get a fire started when you need one that I thought I'd post a few of my thoughts on that subject. Here are ten reasons you need to be able to make a fire in a survival situation:
  • Warmth for your body — No matter where you are, it gets cold at night. Deserts are notoriously cold after the sun goes down, even if was blazing hot during the day. There is a misconception that the tropics are nice and warm at night. This is fueled by the fact that the temperature might hover in the 70s all night long. But the thermometer does not tell the whole story. You must factor in the reality that there is nearly always wind and dampness to deal with in the tropics, and those are the deadly duo that bring on hypothermia. Even in the tropics, a fire is useful for staying warm. 
  • Dry your clothes — If your clothes get wet, you'll be miserable…no matter where you are. In some cases, it will go way beyond misery and result in death. "Stay dry or die" is not a cliche, it's a reality. 
  • See in the darkness — One survival rule is that you need to start making camp early in the afternoon. The reason for this is because there's a lot to do and you want to get it all accomplished before darkness falls. After dark, it's much more difficult to get the work done, and a much higher risk of injury as you bump into thing, trip over stuff, or wander off and get lost. Having the ability to see in the radius of your campsite after dark is a huge benefit that can be provided by a campfire. 
  • Allow others to see where you are — Perhaps even more important than you being able to see around camp is the ability for others to see where you are. If you're in a non-military survival situation, you want to let the world know your location as soon as possible. A campfire at night will pinpoint your spot to search parties who are looking for you. 
  • Purify your drinking water — One sure way to kill off all the organic contaminants in drinking water is by bringing it to a rolling boil for one minute. The most common water-related problems in the outdoors are Giardia and Cryptosporidium, both of which are eliminated by boiling the water. Inorganic contaminants such as chemicals and heavy metals are not eliminated by boiling, but in the backcountry those are of lesser concern.
  • Cook your food — A hot meal makes a lot of difference to the way you think and feel about your situation, boosting morale and adding energy. Sure, you can survive on raw or cold foods, but if you can heat it up over a cheery campfire, life seems so much more manageable. 
  • Make hot drinks — A warm drink is more important than merely cheering you up…it also delivers important warmth to the core of your body, helping prevent hypothermia. A secondary benefit is derived by adding hydration. Both hypothermia and frostbite are promoted by dehydration, so keeping yourself hydrated will help prevent those devastating conditions. 
  • Push back the psychological demons — Night can be spooky. Every noise is a monster, and at night the wildlands are filled with sound, as nocturnal hunters come out to take care of their own survival needs. If you can fill your campsite with the light of a fire, you'll feel more secure. That will help you remain calm and keep a level head. If you get scared out of your wits, you might panic and make poor decisions that can lead to disaster.  
  • Make a warm bed — If you clear the ground of all combustible materials and then build a spread-out fire over the soil, you can dry the ground and warm it up a bit to become a more comfortable place to sit or lie down to sleep. After the ground is dry and warm, go ahead and spread pine duff or other dry materials over it to build up a mattress. The best solution is to build a hot rock bed, which I talked about in a previous post on June 9, 2010. 
  • Discourage predators from entering your camp — Generally, wildlife shuns contact with humans. But accidents happen when wildlife and humans stumble upon each other. One way to prevent animals from happening upon you in the darkness is to maintain a fire that will show them where you are. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Protect Important Documents

You might think that surviving a disaster would be enough. Live through the crisis then get busy clearing away the rubble and rebuild. Sounds so simple. Life doesn't always work that way.

An excellent example is Haiti. A year ago, the earth shook and suddenly a few million people were left homeless. Those were the lucky ones — survivors of the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands.

So here we are, exactly a year later. More than a billion dollars has been donated by countries and relief orgaizations around the world to help with the recovery and rebuilding of that devastated nation. The Red Cross alone collected more than 32 million dollars just from text message donations — $10 at a time from so many concerned and caring people who were willing to reach out to help perfect strangers. And what's the result of all that money and time spent? On the ground, it doesn't look like much progress, actually. And in the paperwork there is very little accountability of where all the money has been spent.

The watchdog group called The Disaster Accountability Project ( asked 200 aid organizations operating in Haiti to spell out how much money they raised and how it was being spent. Only 38 of the 200 even bothered to respond. Those 38 collectively raised 1.4 billion dollars and, to date, has spent only half of it. Many refused to declare their goals or provide a breakdown of how they are spending the money.

Lack of accountability can lead to corruption, but that isn't the only problem. In Haiti, the government corruption runs so deep and wide that much of the aid that has been sent to help the country has been wasted or tied up in red tape and never put to the use for which it was intended. There's not much we as individuals can do about that, but it doesn't hurt to be aware of what's going on. What goes on there could go on here, as well. The art and science of hiding money to fatten one's self at the expense of others has been perfected by governments and organizations who, to quote Rahm Emanuel "never let a crisis go to waste."

Another of the stumbling blocks standing in the way of rebuilding in Haiti is that so many important documents were destroyed in the collapse of government buildings, so now people are having a hard time proving that they are the owners of property where a home was destroyed. Without that proof, a new home cannot be built.

And that leads me to my main point: Make sure you protect the important documents that prove your identity, your ownership of property, your medical records, financial records, insurance policies, estate documents, etc. You need to have this documentation for your entire family, with birth certificates for each member and immunization records for children and pets. Proof of ownership of vehicles, boats, airplanes, and other property should be included.

Place a copy of all these documents in a portable fireproof vault (you can buy these at Staples or Office Depot for between 35 and 60 bucks, depending on size). Place the vault somewhere in your home where you will be able to dig it out after an earthquake or flood. These vaults can provide limited protection against fire (like 1/2 hour in a fire of 1550 degrees F, for example) but are not perfect protection against a raging inferno. To aid in waterproofing the vault, place it in a kayaker's drysack or just seal it inside a couple of garbage bag, each of which has been duct taped shut. Off-site storage of a backup vault would be wise, hoping that not all venues would suffer total devastation at the same time.

 You might consider backing up the paper documents with photographic or digitally scanned copies that are stored on CDs or other storage media. These days, it's possible to store the files in "the cloud" of the Internet, from whence they can be retrieved even if all physical evidence of the documents has been destroyed.

That is assuming that there are still computers and an Internet system after the crisis. I suppose if the entire world suffers a thermonuclear meltdown, it won't matter much. But short of that, having access to the important paper in your life can mean the difference between being able to rebuild or having to squat in a tent at a refugee camp while the wheel of government aid grind slowly forward.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Surviving A Small Plane Crash

This morning's headline — A light aircraft is missing and presumed to be down, somewhere in the mountains of southern Colorado. Snow is falling across the area, hampering search efforts, slowing any possibility of rescue for survivors, if there are any.

In the early stages of an incident such as this, there is much that is not known. In this case, it isn't even clear how many people were onboard, so searchers don't know how many survivors to prepare for. So they go in ready to care for as many people as the aircraft can hold.

But what if you were one of the passengers? How would you get out of this alive — assuming that you survived the initial crash? That assumption is based on a lot of luck and the skill of the pilot in putting the plane down with minimal impact. But let's say you do survive — what then?

The priority list is likely to stack up like this:
  • Take care of life-threatening injuries. A plane crash is likely to cause physical trauma, so stop the bleeding, clear the airway to enable breathing, stabilize fractures or potential spinal injuries, treat for shock from blood loss or simply caused by the psychological effects of the crisis. If you don't already know how to do all this, I recommend enrolling in an emergency medical technician course of study. 
  • Preserve body core temperature. This means shelter from exposure to wind and precipitation. (By the way, you might be able to use the cabin of the wrecked plane for shelter. Images of explosion are created by Hollywood for audience thrill, and do not reflect the reality that most planes don't explode on impact. Nevertheless, be aware of the danger posed by the potential spread of fuel and weigh your options. You might have to move away from the wreckage until the fuel has evaporated or otherwise dissipated.) Wrap up, covering the head and neck, wear gloves (mittens are better) and insulated footwear. 
  • Establish a shelter a short distance from the wreckage, but stay within view of it (searchers will find the wreck before they would find you if you wander away from it) and build a fire. A simple lean-to that will block the wind and precipitation is sufficient, and position the fire in front of it so the warmth reflects off the slanted roof to warm your back while the flames warm you from the front. 
  • Improvise shelter parts from anything you can strip off the aircraft — headliner, carpet, upholstery, aluminum panels, windows, wiring for lashing things together. If you can access some of the aircraft fuel, use a small amount (we're talking teaspoons, not gallons) to help get your fire started. 
  • Take advantage of every opportunity to create visual signals. Lots of smoke from your fire, reflective items to use as signal mirrors, etc. If the aircraft radio is operational, that is your first choice. Try the cell phone to see if, by some miracle, you have coverage. If you have a personal locator beacon (PLB) or SPOT Satellite Messenger, this is the time to press the magic button that will bring rescue. 
  • Hunker down and conserve your energy. If you are alone, do your best to keep your faith up that rescue is on its way. If you are in company with others, take care of their injuries and other survival needs, and employ positive conversations to keep their spirits up. Help is on its way, but you're going to need to be patient, especially if the weather is bad enough to slow down the process. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Tough Decisions

There are times when the stress of the moment activates a natural inclination to jump up and run. Sometimes that's the right decision. Sometimes it is not. Let's look at a few scenarios, to catch the spirit of this issue.

  • You're alone in a dark ally when suddenly out of the shadows a thug approaches you with a knife and demands your money, threatening to kill you if you don't comply. 
  • The smell of smoke awakens you to the horror of your house on fire. You don't know where your spouse is, but two young children are in a bedroom down the hall. 
  • In the middle of the night, you feel something slither into your sleeping bag. Instinctively you know it's a snake, but you have no idea what kind. 
  • As you round a blackberry bush, you come face-to-face with a bear.
  • A sudden microburst of wind topples trees onto powerlines, dragging them from their poles and onto the ground all around where you are standing. 
Of course there is no end to the variety of scenarios we could play with in this exercise. But let's take these few one at a time to work through the decision process. 
  • The thugging — Questions to ask yourself as you make a decision about how to handle this situation might include such variables as your physical condition. Are you even capable of running away, or are you crippled and using a walker just to get around? (You see, it's not always easy to make a snap judgement based on a short description of a scenario.) Do you just hand the guy your wallet and hope for the best? What other options are open to you? Can you create a distraction by throwing a pile of bills into the air so they scatter and cause the thug to divert his attention from you while you escape? Are you a martial arts expert with years of experience disarming knife-wielding opponents? Are you a little old lady who can fake a heart attack? What is the best decision to make?
  • House on fire — Can you get to a phone to call 9-1-1? Have you prepared your family by doing fire drills, complete with escape training through windows by using collapsible ladders kept in bedrooms for just such an emergency? Do you run through the house screaming to find your missing spouse? Do you jump out of the window, grab a garden hose and start spraying the house? Do you try to rescue the kids? Do you feel the closed door to detect heat on the other side before opening? What do you do?
  • Snake in your sleeping bag — I have to admit that this one gives me the willies, just thinking about it. If ever there was a time to remain calm, this is it. All snakes are cold-blooded, so it would be natural for one to seek the comfort of your warm sleeping bag. It isn't there because you look like a good meal — it's only trying to stay warm. But do you lose your mind, jump up and start screaming while trying to extricate yourself from the bag? Or do you just lie there pretending to be dead, hoping the serpent won't defile itself by having your dead carcass for a midnight snack? Think about how you would handle this situation. 
  • Bear in the bush — Do you know what to do if you find yourself sharing blackberries with a bruin? Do you know the different habits of different types of bears…black bears vs. grizzlies for example? Do you run, or stand your ground, staring the bear in the eyes to convince her that you're bigger and badder and she better leave your bush alone? Do you look for a tree to climb, or fall down and do your best imitation of a corpse? The right decision might save your life — the wrong one will get you killed. 
  • Powerlines down — With live wires snapping around you like high-voltage snakes, what is the right thing to do? Do you just stand still and hope the wires won't jump and touch you? Do you carefully try to pick your way through the tangle of wires so you can escape to safety? Do you take your shoes off or leave them on? Is it safe to throw your coat over the wires so you can pass by without danger? Do you try to move the wires with a stick (as long as it's wood, it should be safe, right? Not!)? Make the wrong decision and you're toast — literally!
The point of this whole exercise is to prompt you to think about what you would do in a variety of situations. When I was studying Taoism, I was impressed by the concept of figuring out all your possible moves ahead of time, so you would never face a situation you hadn't already considered. That lowers the surprise factor significantly. There is wisdom in planning how you would handle tough situations, inserting as many "what would I do if…" variables as you can think of. Eliminate the surprises and you are able to remain more calm and make the right decisions. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Survival Conditioning

Most of us live day-to-day in conditions that don't require us to physically chase our food, kill it, butcher it, and drag it home for dinner. Nor do we live a nomadic lifestyle that demands finding a new location of a suitable site for the construction of our shelter every afternoon before daylight vanishes and the cold of night sweeps in upon us. Most of us don't have to engage in a daily hunt for supplies to kindle a fire to give us light and warmth and to cook our food and purify our water. And, speaking of water, most of us do no more than turn a tap to access all the water we need — already hot or cold according to our desire. We live in a time of great blessings.

But the truth of the matter is that all these blessings can have the effect of making us soft, if we allow that to happen. We can lose the knowledge of how to provide for ourselves. And not only the knowledge is lost, but the physical ability to perform tasks that were common to our ancestors two generations ago.

That would be fine if we could live in perfect confidence that nothing will ever happen that will require us to have those physical and mental skills that were once a part of daily life. But we can't. Every day, the headlines tell of people struggling to survive one kind of disaster or another, either natural or manmade. Sometimes it's the weather, or a geologic event, or disease, or human conflict. There is no shortage of catastrophe in the world, and we might find ourselves caught up in something of that nature someday. The purpose of this blog is to help spread information about how to prepare ourselves for those moments when our world gets turned upside-down, and what to do during and in the aftermath of those events.

The title of today's post is Survival Conditioning. I would like to propose a two-pronged approach to this conditioning — first mental, and second physical. It's been said that 90% of survival is mental, and I believe that. By that, I don't necessarily mean cerebral — I mean psychological. Yes, the cerebral part (knowing what to do) is important, but the psychological component is absolutely critical. The knowledge you can pick up from books, taking classes, talking with other people, watching TV, etc. But the psychological aspect comes mostly from personal experience, coupled with wisdom (the wise use of knowledge). You become psychologically stronger as you gain experience. Once you've weathered the storm, so to speak, you won't be so easily terrified when the next storm comes. Emotional strength comes  slowly but can rise to the moment of need immediately when you're facing a crisis. It's the ability to lead with confidence, with an even temperament, with compassion, with encouragement toward others who are struggling.

The second prong — physical — is developed by doing. You can't sit on a couch and watch an exercise video and become physically fit. You have to be up and doing, or that aspect of conditioning will never be yours. The physical demands that come with any survival situation are both sudden and enormous. You might have to jump out of the way, run for your life, pick up and carry something heavy, keep going for hour upon hour. Each survivor's story is unique insofar as the physical demands are concerned.  Those who either give up psychologically or can't keep up physically fail to survive.

The truth is that it isn't all about your abilities, either mentally or physically. Sometimes pure luck (being in the right place at the right time) plays a huge role in whether or not you will make it out alive. But in every event, your chances are better if you are both mentally and physically prepared.

So, back to my proposal. Let's call it a New Year Resolution, since this is the beginning of a new year — I propose that we continue working on the "learning" aspect of both urban and outdoor survival topics, but that we also get out and put into practice the physical components. That means we go hiking and camping, learn to gather tinder and make kindling and start our fires without matches or flame devices. It means we take inventory of our home supplies of food, medical supplies, etc and take an orderly approach to setting aside a quantity that would carry us through a disaster for several months if we were fortunate enough to be able to shelter-in-place at our home.  It means putting together a substantial 72-hour kit for the vehicle. It means putting together a logical evacuation plan. It means doing.

I wish you a Happy New Year and my hope that you will never need to use what we talk about here — but that if you ever do need it, that this blog will have served you well.