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Zika Virus: 10 Things to Worry/Relax About

Zika virus has been in the news since the beginning of the year, and there’s a lot of information out there; some of it is reassuring and some, well, not so much. Here’s some things you should know that will make you worry/not worry about this infectious disease that’s been reported worldwide. 

1.

WorrisomeReported cases of Zika in the U.S. and its territories will soon hit 20,000. The number of Zika cases IN THE U.S. and its territories reported to CDC’s Arbonet (ARthropod-BOrne virus) national registry has risen to almost 19,000. With some researchers suggesting infection in one quarter of the population of Puerto Rico before the end of 2016, 20,000 cases might be a gross underestimation.

Reassuring: While the Zika epidemic rages in Puerto Rico, the continental U.S has reported a total of 2,964 cases of mostly travel-related Zika virus illness (out of a population of 320 million).  South Florida is the only area in the continental U.S. where local mosquitoes are confirmed by authorities to have spread the disease (about 50 cases).

2.

Worrisome: The actual number of Zika cases is probably close to 5 times the number of reported cases. Zika virus causes relatively mild symptoms like rashes, fevers, joint pains, and reddened eyes, and even then in only 20% of cases. 80% have no symptoms whatsoever, which means that the actual number of cases is probably 5 times greater. This doesn’t count people who wouldn’t go to the doctor for a mild fever or a rash, so it might be even more.

Reassuring: Even if case totals are, in fact, much higher than reported, the virus leaves the bloodstream after a week or so in most people. It can, however, last for months in seminal fluid or, perhaps, the eyes. Once you have recovered from the acute infection, you receive immunity from the antibodies produced by your immune system. Future pregnancies won’t be affected.

3.

Worrisome: Zika is a bona fide pandemic. A pandemic is a widespread occurrence of a disease not normally seen in a place that spreads across different regions. Zika has now been identified in close to 70 countries and has been referred to as a pandemic by the National Institute of Health since at least January 2016.

Reassuring: Despite concerns raised by many health officials, athletes and tourists returning from the Olympic Games don’t seem to have sparked significant new outbreaks in their home countries.

4.

Worrisome: Newborns with Zika infections can have multiple abnormalities, not just microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where a small brain leads to poor head growth. Beside this, however, other evidence of brain damage, deformed joints, and vision or hearing impairment may occur.

Reassuring: The percentage of abnormal newborns in Zika-infected mothers isn’t as high as you think. Statistics for the rate of birth abnormalities in newborns have ranged from 1% to 13% in Brazil and 1% in the previous outbreak in Polynesia in 2013-4, according to a CDC report released last May. There are no numbers that say a Zika-infected mother’s chances are very high of having a baby with microcephaly or other defects.

 5.

Worrisome: We can’t say for sure that Zika-infected babies born looking normal will be unaffected by the virus. Zika is shown in lab studies to kill brain and other nerve cells. What if the number of cells damaged is not enough to make the baby appear abnormal at birth but enough to cause delays in milestones like walking or talking? What if these infants end up having learning disabilities once they’re old enough to go to school? We won’t know for years.

Reassuring: Although our research into the effects of Zika virus is in its infancy, no hard evidence exists that a baby from an infected mother will have later developmental deficits.

6.

Worrisome: Zika virus may be passed through from human to human through seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, blood, and now, tears. Researchers are finding more and more ways that Zika might be transmissible from human to human. A study from Washington University in St. Louis reports that tears of mice carried parts of the Zika virus.

Reassuring:  The vast majority of Zika infections are still transmitted by mosquitoes. Sensible actions like the use of mosquito repellents, the wearing of long sleeves/pants, and drainage of nearby standing water are still the best way to prevent an infection.

7.

Worrisome: There is more than one strain of Zika, and there may have been mutations. Zika, like many viruses, exists in different subtypes (at least two) that could mutate from time to time. This fact might explain why a virus originally identified in 1947 only started causing community-wide outbreaks in 2007, and no reported cases of abnormal babies before 2013. A mutation that increased the severity of effect on humans (at least, newborn ones) may have occurred.

Reassuring: It’s possible that Zika just had never been exposed to such large populations without natural immunity. Researchers haven’t yet reported if the strain spreading rapidly in Singapore is the same one as that in Brazil.

8.

Worrisome: There may already be more than one locally-transmitted outbreak in the U.SDr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor’s College of Medicine, suspects that there may be more areas of local Zika transmission than just the one in Miami. The Guardian reports that he said, “…I think there’s not just Zika transmission going on in Miami, it’s going on all up and down the Gulf Coast and in Arizona, it’s just that nobody’s looking.” The CDC, although it stops short of predicting an epidemic of Zika, believes clusters of cases may still appear in warm-weather states.

Reassuring: Future local outbreaks are likely to be minor in the U.S.  A number of states, like Louisiana and other Gulf and East coast states, are recovering from floods dues to storms and Hurricane Hermine. Cases of Zika virus, however, don’t seem to be arising out of standing water there that would be excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Cities, like Houston, with low-income areas that harbor abandoned buildings and trash, also provide possible sites for the next generation of mosquitoes; Zika virus doesn’t seem to have taken hold there either.

9.

Worrisome: Aerial Spraying with chemical pesticides like Naled may affect honeybees and even humans. Use of pesticides that are neurotoxic might have ill effects on important pollinators like bees, or even human beings. It might be safer to use methods that kill mosquito larvae instead.

Reassuring: Aerial spraying is an effective way to eliminate large populations of adult mosquitoes quickly and rarely affects humans. Naled is a shorter acting pesticide than some others, and when used correctly (before sunrise or after sunset), is unlikely to cause major damage to pollinators, which mostly forage during daylight hours. The recent bee die-off after spraying in Dorchester County, S.C., was due to spraying which occurred at 8 a.m.

10.

Worrisome: A new local Zika outbreak is spreading throughout Singapore in Asia. The location is important because Singapore is an important financial hub for the region. Travel-related cases already have been reported in Malaysia and the Philippines from returning travelers. Given the widespread commercial travel to Singapore, where 300 cases have been reported in 10 days, the entirety of Asia may be affected in the near future.

Reassuring: Here in the U.S., the coming fall and winter seasons will decrease mosquito populations significantly throughout most of the country. USA Today reported in July that Brazil was recording fewer cases of Zika as the Southern Hemisphere entered its “winter”.

 

So, it’s your choice: You can decide either to go look for your worry beads or, instead, cover your eyes with your hat and order another pinacolada. Just don’t forget the mosquito repellent.

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Some Health Benefits of Camping

Most people go on camping trips because they’re tired of the city or ready for an adventure. Whether you enjoy biking, hunting or any other outdoor activity, camping offers you a way to focus completely on a hobby for a few days without external distractions. What you might not realize is that camping can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Fresh Air

When you spend time near a lot of trees, you take in more oxygen. That feeling of happiness that you get when you take your first breath of air at the campground isn’t all in your head–well, technically it is, but it’s a release of serotonin from the extra oxygen. Your body can function with less strain when there’s plenty of oxygen.

That’s not the only benefit of fresh air. Research shows that some time outdoors can improve your blood pressure, improve digestion and give your immune system an extra boost. When you spend a few days outside, you get some serious health benefits from the extra oxygen and low levels of pollutants.

Socializing

Camping alone is plenty of fun, but if you bring along a friend or family member, you’ll enjoy a unique experience together that will help you keep a healthy, happy relationship.

Socializing can extend your lifespan and delay memory problems according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, and apart from the medical benefits, a few close relationships make life more fun. Invite a few friends on your next trip out.

Moods

Regular campers will often talk about how the first few days back from a trip seem happier. This isn’t without merit; spending some time outside in the sunlight can even out the levels of melatonin in your brain.

Melatonin is the chemical that makes you feel tired and can induce feelings of depression, so by camping, you can enjoy better overall moods during and after your trip.

Decrease Stress

Camping also allows you to cope with stress. Stress can negatively affect your health in just about every way possible, and you’re putting much less strain on your mental and physical faculties by giving yourself some stress-free time at the campsite.

The lack of stress is related to the rise in oxygen levels, higher levels of serotonin and managed levels of melatonin mentioned above. There’s also an emotional component at work here, since it’s harder to be annoyed or angry when you’re doing something that you enjoy.

Exercise

Let’s not forget the most obvious benefit of camping: you’re spending a lot of time performing physical activities. Even if you’re taking a fishing trip, you’re burning more calories than you’d burn sitting around an office, and if you hike or bike, you’re performing cardiovascular exercise that will help keep your heart and lungs healthy.

Your activity levels will vary, but hikers burn anywhere from 120-300 calories per hour. Bikers burn 300-500 calories per hour, and fly fishing can burn up to 200 calories per hour. No wonder you work up such an appetite during a long camping trip.

Sun

Sunshine feels great on your skin, and there’s an evolutionary reason for that. When you’re out in direct sunlight, you’re taking on a ton of Vitamin D, which allows your body to absorb calcium and phosphorous.

Sleep Better

Assuming that you’ve got decent camping gear, you’ll fall fast asleep after a day full of outdoor activities. Sleep has an effect on all of your body processes and can reduce inflammation, improve your cardiovascular system and help you stay alert.

Many campers report better sleep cycles when they return for a trip.

Food

If you pack s’mores, you’re not seeing any particularly solid health benefits in this department. However, if you’re fond of fishing and hunting, you’ll likely eat a large amount of protein and healthy fats on your camping trip.

You won’t get any preservatives or unnatural ingredients in a fresh lake-caught fish, and all of the exercise on your trip will help you digest.

New Challenges

No two camping trips are exactly the same, and that’s a good thing. Studies from the University of Texas and University of Michigan show that new experiences help to keep brains healthy.

New activities that are both physically and intellectually stimulating have the greatest effect on brain health, and camping fits both of these criteria.

Meditation

When you go camping, don’t forget to turn off your cell phone. Leave the tablet and the laptop computer at home. Try to disconnect for a few days and enjoy the simplicity of the natural experience.

This isn’t just a general tip to help you enjoy the experience; if you’re willing to enjoy your surroundings without any outside distractions, you could increase your lifespan. Turning off the cell phone and engaging with nature is one of the simplest ways to get the health benefits of meditation.  Meditation may improve a number of serious medical conditions by increasing self awareness and giving a person stress-reduction tools. If you suffer from depression, fatigue, heart disease or even allergies, research shows that camping can improve your overall health.

Just don’t forget to commit to the experience if your cell phone’s off, you’re on your way to developing a stimulating, tranquil hobby that will keep you healthy for years to come.

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How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

This is a great blog written by Brandon Cox about how to start a fire in the wilderness. Check out his site stayhunting. He has some really cool articles and information. Thank you Brandon for letting us share your blog.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

By Brandon Cox / January 27, 2017

How to Start a Fire

Fire is so crucial for survival in the wild especially when lost or just taking an adventure. Ever wondered why almost every person starts a fire when in the wild whether camping or just taking an adventure? In a short while, I will show you exactly why fire is so important in the world and why you must know how to start one. You can agree with me that most people in the wild who find themselves in a situation where they need fire don’t have a lighter.

Well, I promise to show you exactly how you can start a fire in the wild with or without a lighter but first let’s see why fire is so important in the wild.

How to Start a Fire in the Wilderness?

Why is It Important to Start a Fire?​

Most people think of fire as a luxury only to realize of its crucial importance when in an outdoor visit or a survival situation. In a survival situation, fire can be lifesaving enabling you to do a lot and get through the danger of the wild. Most of the threats that people face in the wild when in a survival situation can easily be solved by fire going to show its importance.

Most common ways people die in the wildness and how fire can help?​

  • Hypothermia due to lack of body heat: Fire warms you.
  • Snake and spider bites: Fire scares them away.
  • Attack from predators: Fire keeps them away
  • Insect bites: Fire again keeps them away
  • Dehydration: Fire helps you melt water in ice regions
  • Hunger: Fire helps cook edible raw food
  • Think of committing suicide: Fire boosts your morale becoming your only friend

Those are just good examples to show you how fire is so important in the wild. In when in places with water sources, you will still need fire to boil the water and kill the pathogens and other bacteria in the water. Fire in the wild at night can be the only difference dying and seeing the light in the morning. It will warm you, give you light to accomplish tasks and scare away wild animals. The smoke from the fire can also act as a signal to the search team.

Do you see the importance of fire in a survival situation in the world?

I know you agree with me on this. Fire in the wild is very important to survival. The discovery of fire is what has changed humanity.​ Even before we learn how to start a fire in the wild, let first see how to prepare the ground for a well-built fire.​

​How to Build a Well-built Fire?

Well build fire

You don’t just gather wood and start the fire as most people think. Starting a fire in the wild requires you to prepare. Even in your home, you have the fireplace nicely set. The very first step in starting a fire in the wild is building a good fire pit.

1- ​Build a Fire Pit

There are no fire rings in the wild, so you have to prepare a fire pit. First, choose a good location as this is where you will most probably spend the night. Doing it under a huge tree or under some cliff will ideal. All the vegetation and grass on the chosen spot must be cleared for a distance of 8-10 feet. Once you have a cleared area, dig several inches into the soil to remove the top layer which is set aside for emergencies. You can even use the loose soil as firewall and mount it around the newly built fire pit. If in a place with rocks, mount rocks on the edge of the fire pit to insulate it.

2- Gather Materials​

What does your hunting backpack have that can help you gather as many materials as possible. You will need different materials that catch fire easily and others that burn for long periods. You can make it in the wild starting fire without enough materials to keep the fire going once it starts.

Scope the area and collect as much wood as you can to help you with the fire. If you’re in the camp where there is tinder, then use to start the fire.

​Tinder

Tinder is among the smallest and easiest materials to get a fire started in the campfire. The following are some of the tinder forms:

  • Wadded paper
  • Wax
  • Wood shavings
  • Cardboard strips
  • Fire starts and commercial fire sticks
  • Dryer lint
  • Dry leaves (works well in the case of wildfire where other materials are not easy to find)

Kindling

The next step is kindling the fire where you size it up by adding small branches and twigs that you collected earlier. Branches and twigs of about 1/8 and inches into the fire to size up slowly but ensure you don’t put it out.​

Tip: Add small twigs and branches and slowly increase their size as the fire grows.

Firewood

Lastly, you can add logs that burn for long to keep the fire going up to the next day. Whole logs or split ones can both work depending on how long you want the fire to burn. The logs and woods must be completely dry to burn and stay lit for long.

Tip: Splitting logs might be impossible in the wild so start by putting them near the edge of the fire and let them catch fire slowly.​

Water

Water is very necessary just in case you need to out the fire in the morning all when finished. Pour water on the fire when done to stop it spreading to other areas. Stir the ashes to ensure there is no fire left and then pour more water. You can always repeat this over and over until the ashes are cool to be held in your hand before you leave the scene. The worst mistake you can do is leave a campfire or a fire in the wild unattended as this can lead to a catastrophic widespread of fire burning the entire area.

Tip: The dirt or dug soil can be used to cover the fire area and prevent any chances of the fire starting on its own.​

Ignition Source

What is the easiest way to start a fire in the wild? If lucky to have a match or lighter in your hunting bag, then you’re good to start. However, what happens when you have nothing that can start fire fast? This is where your fire starting skills are tested. You have to go the old ways our ancestral used to start a fire with any available tools. Did you know your bow can be used to start a fire? If you go hunting with bows and arrows, then your bow can be used to start a fire, but we will get to that in a short while. There are several other ways to start a fire in the wild that will discuss in a little while as you look forward to improving your fire starting skills in the wild.​

3- Six Popular Ways You Can Build a Fire

​Before you build a fire, you need to understand all the six popular ways that people build a fire in the wild to suit specific reasons. The arrangement you choose to build your fire will determine how long it lasts and how fast it burns. You can see why it is important to know the way you will build your fire. I’ll show you some of the most popular ways that people build fires in the wild and the purpose each way serves.

​3.1- The Teepee Fire

The teepee is the most popular arrangement and one you need to know. Build a tepee by arranging the tinder and kindling it in the shape of a cone. Lit the center and let the logs burn from inside falling inward to feed the fire. Building a tepee is ideal when you have wet wood or green wood that does not burn well. The flame is usually hottest at the tip where there is oxygen. The heat generated from this arrangement is very intense and burns out wood quickly but ideal for warming you at night.

The teepee arrangement is probably the one you’ve seen in survival series where one needs to keep warm and have the fire burn until morning. The thicker end of a log or stick should always be placed at the top where the heat is intense so that it burns inward.

Video illustrating the teepee fire arrangement

​Pros

  • Gives intense heat
  • Starts fire faster
  • Can burn wet or green wood

Cons

  • Burns woods quickly

​3.2- The Lean-to Fire

The lean to fire is another great arrangement that does not need a lot of effort if you set it out correctly. Choose a medium sized log and place tinder next to it. The kindling is the leaned across the log as illustrated in the video below. Small dry branches and twigs can be placed after several layers of tinder. Once you light the tinder, you can add as much kindling as needed to grow the fire.

Video how lean fire is built

​Pros

  • Fire will size up without much trouble
  • Once set up, fire starts pretty fast without any additional task

Cons

  • More tinder and kindling are required.

3.3- The Cross-ditch Fire

The Cross-ditch fire is by far the most lasting arrangement for making any wildfires. On a tinder bed, put kindling in a crisscross fashion before you add woods and logs. Once everything is set, light the tinder and fire will slowly size up.

Video how cross-ditch fire is built

​Pros

  • Efficient consumption of fuel
  • Long lasting to see you through the night
  • Suitable for cooking

Cons

  • A bit tedious to build

3.4- The Log Cabin Fire

The log cabin fire simply means creating fire by having a cabin arrangement. This is achieved by first kindling twigs and branches into the shape of a cabin while leaving a space in the middle. Place two sticks in opposite directions 4-6 inches apart. Continue stacking more sticks across each other until a square cabin is created.

Create a reasonably sized box and add tinder into the box. Once tinder is filled in the box, place more sticks on top of the cabin to cover the tinder. When everything is set, go right ahead and light your tinder.

Video showing the log cabin fire

​Pros

  • Rarely collapses
  • Long lasting
  • Provides warmth on all sides

Cons

  • Burns out wood much faster

3.5- Upside Down (Pyramid)

The upside down fire is where your fire starts at the top and burns all the way down. It is quite simple to start. Place two small branches or logs on the ground in a parallel position. Have another solid log on top of the first layer in a perpendicular position. Keep on adding a few more layers alternating their direction each time. Each layer placed must be smaller than the previous layer.

When done, light the top of the layer and leave the flame to travel naturally down. This is another great way to light a fire in the wild without straining.

Video Upside down fire

​Pros

  • Long lasting
  • Fire burns downwards requiring no attention during the night
  • Quite fast to start

Cons

  • Requires several logs that might have to use some power tools like chainsaw to cut and split firewood
  • Does not produce intense heat

3.6- Create a Star

The star arrangement of fire is where you place log from different side meeting in the middle to form what appears like a star. I know woods in the wild can sometimes be in shortage especially if your hunting backpack does not have enough cutting items. Saving the few logs you find can get you through the cold of the night. This arrangement is quite effective at preserving wood where you pull them back a bit when you need to decrease the intensity if the fire.

Video How to build the Star Fire

​Pros

  • Quite effective and long lasting
  • Consumer wood well
  • Conserves fuel

Cons

  • You have to monitor and control the fire regularly

4- Bonus: Tips/Tricks When Building a Well-built Fire

4.1- ​Choosing the Fire Location

Choosing Fire Location

Fire in the wild does not have the comfort zones that come with building fires in the camp or at homes. There is no fire pit, and one has to set a good spot to create a fire pit. You can agree with me choosing a location is very important. You don’t have to be the one burning the forest down. Stay away from trees and bushes that may catch fire and spread it.

A clear area away from dry leaves and other dry twigs is an ideal one. You don’t want to wake up smelling smoke everywhere so carefully choose a location that does not bring smoke your way. Check for the breeze and if its steady, you will know which direction the smoke will be going. Start your tinder where you intend to build your fireplace. Many times I have seen people start a fire somewhere and carry the tinder to another place. If you start your tinder somewhere else, then create a temporary fire there before transferring the fire to your main location.

4.2- Choosing the Foundation​

Foundation

Choosing a good foundation is crucial as poor foundations will kiss fire that as just started. Avoid wet and cold areas if possible and build your fire on a dry foundation. In cases where every part is wet or cold, try and build a foundation for your fire using dry rocks. I REPEAT, DRY ROCKS as wet rocks can explode in your face. I will tell you later on why wet rocks are not ideal for starting a foundation especially those taken from the riverbed area.

The aim here is to elevate your foundation away from the water beneath. Dry dirt can also be used to raise the foundation higher. If possible, try and make air flow beneath the foundation. A good way to do this is have rocks on two sides with two opening instead of having rocks circle your foundation. A good spot with a good foundation and big rocks around it will make it easier for you to start a fire and maintain it. The big rocks act as the windbreaker creating a barrier around the fire pit preventing the wind from spreading the fire.

4.3- Best Time to Start a Fire in the Wild​

When is the best time to start the fire? Do you wait until dark falls to start the fire? When planning to start a fire, timing is very crucial. It is always important to start the fire a few hours before the sun goes down. This can be 2-3 hours earlier as you need the light of the sun to collect materials and observe what you’re doing.​

4.4- Safety Tips​

  • Never Leave Before Putting out the Fire​ – Fire might not seem dangerous especially when controlled but can turn ugly and destroy millions of properties and life. The first rule when leaving the spot of the wildfire is always to turn it off. I have said this before and will say again; ensure you extinguish the fire completely before leaving the scene. Poor water on the fire and cover it wet soil before pouring more water. You must be able to hold the wet ashes in your hand and confirm there is no slightest of burning wood that can start a wildfire once you’ve gone. Most of the fires seen around the world are mostly caused by human error, and you don’t want to be one causing it.
  • Never use Rocks from the River Beds​ – I talked about this earlier when building your foundation using rocks. Wet rocks from the river beds have water in them that will expand once heated. These rocks can explode on your face causing serious injuries when the water expands and breaks them apart. The water in the rocks boils and increases in size exploding the rocks into small pieces. It is simple science that you probably learned in high school that you must be aware of when using rocks to build a foundation.
  • Build Fires Away from Branches and Steep Slopes​ – To avoid the risk of the fire spreading, build it away from overhanging branches, rotten stumps, dry grass, leaves, logs and steep areas. Even the extra wood you set aside must be piled some distance away from the fire.
  • ​Never Leave a Wildfire Unattended – Even the smallest of breeze will spread the fire away and start a wildfire. This is why it is necessary to have every material ready before you starting the fire.​

Pro Tips to Start Fire in the Real Challenge Situations- Advice from the Famous Blogs

You probably have everything you need to start a fire in the wild but what if the situation is challenging? Can you start a fire in a rainy or windy condition? Advice from famous blogs written for the survival men and women out there will show you how to start a fire in the most challenging situations.

1 – Start a Fire When Wood is Wet – From EHow

It seems totally impossible to start a fire when the wood but when that is the only option, you have to do it to see the next day. You must put in some extra effort to overcome the challenges of damp wood. It might be a bit challenging, but the steps from the Ehow should help start the fire easily


2 – Start a Fire When It Raining – From ArtOfManliness

Starting fire is one thing and knowing how to start it in a rainy condition is a whole new thing. You can agree with me that learning the skill to start a fire in a raining place is important for avid campers and frequent hikers. Choosing a good location and collecting dry tinder are among the most important things to do. The ArtOfManliness blog clearly illustrate how to start a fire when it is raining.


3 – Start a Fire  When There is Snow – From OffTheGridNews

Starting fire when there is snow should not be difficult as long as you have a few dry limbs to set the base. The problem is when your wood is frozen. Frozen wood is even harder to start than wet wood as you have to thaw it first. Start by choosing wood from high up the branches where there is no snow. Lay the base of logs in the snow to act as your foundation. The melting snow should not worry you as it rarely melts and if it does it will not affect your fire. You can then pile your tinder and kindle it before lighting the tinder.

If there are rocks around, building a fire pit and raising your spot some levels above the ground is also a good idea. Follow this OffTheGridNews for step by step instructions on how to start a fire when there is snow.


4 – Start a Fire  When it’s Windy – From ModernSurvivalBlog

Well…, Windy conditions create a dangerous situation to start a fire in the wild. In fact, some states even have laws restricting fires in the wild or outdoor spaces when the atmosphere is windy. Windy spreads fire quite faster, and you can have the whole forest to fire in minutes. So, how do you get to start a fire in a windy situation?

The Dakota Fire Hole​

The Dakota fire hole is a method used to start a fire in a windy area and has several advantages over other methods.​

How to build a Dakota fire hole?

  • Dig a hole a foot long and a foot wide
  • Enlarge the bottom of the holes inches wide to accommodate more wood
  • The hole becomes the chamber of the fire pit
  • One foot away from the hole, dig an airway channel that will connect to your Dakota hole at the bottom
  • The diameter of the airflow must be a foot and angle down towards the bottom of the Dakota hole
  • Fill your fire pit with tinder and kindling before lighting it
  • Adds more materials to build the fire
  • The airflow acts as a suction drawing in air and resulting in a hot and efficient burning of wood.

​Pros of the Dakota hole

  • Burns very hot
  • Uses little fuel
  • Creates less smoke
  • Safe when there is the wind
  • The flame burns under the ground shielding it from being seen during the dark
  • Easily supports cookware
  • Easy to extinguish by filling the hole with soil
  • Avoids Detection

Cons

  • Might not be visible to the search team
  • A bit tedious to build

Top 20 Best Ways to Start a Fire Without a Match Lighter

Fire by Friction

1. Hand Drill

The hand drill is one of the simplest and old ways to make fire. Create a V-shaped notch on a board or piece of limb and drill it with a dry stick until the tip glows red and you have your ember collected. You must have your tinder nearby to blow and get a flame.​

2. Fire Plow

The fire plow is one of the simplest methods to start a fire in the wild if your hands ache from the hand drill method. It is simply rubbing two sticks together until heat is generated through friction. Create a groove on a piece of wood and use a stick and move a stick through the grove forth and back until ember is created. Once again, you must have your tinder nearby.​

3. Bow Drill

This is where your hunting tools come into play. In the bow drill, you don’t need your arrows but the bow to create heat on a piece of dry wood through friction. The string of your compound bow is used to tie to a dry wood that is then rotated on a dry board or piece wood to create an ember.​

The bow drill is easy on hands and requires less effort to drill. However, in a real life situation, it can be difficult to set up requiring a reliable cord.

4. Fire Saw

This method uses a piece of wood that is practically sewed into another wood on the ground to cause ignition.​ You can check this video on how fire saw works:

5. Fire Thong

The fire thing is a friction method that is quite fast and efficient. The method uses a split branch and a split rattan to create friction. The rattan thong is sawed forth and backward against the underside of the board to create an ember.

​6. Flint and Steel

In the flint and steel method, a spark is created from the steel when the two are put under pressure. You must have your tinder ready for the spark to land on it and start the fire. The ArtOfManliness giving you a full explanation of the flint and steel method

​7. With a Dead Lighter

You can start a fire using the dead lighter pretty simple using some deodorant and a piece of tissue. Spray the aerosols all over the tissue. You must have the tinder and kindling ready. Go ahead and flints the wheel on the lighter placing it closer to the tissue of paper. It may take several attempts, but eventually, the fire will start.

​If your lighter is dead, then don’t just throw it away, it can help you start a fire without straining a lot.

Using the Lens Based Methods

8. Lenses (Mirror/Glass/Magnifying)

You probably tried this when you were little children using lenses to focus light from the sun on the same spot for a few minutes. The concentrated watts from the lenses hitting your tinder will start a fire.

​Lenses can be quite effective in a real life situation. You just have to imagine of all the items in your hunting backpack that might be having lenses.

9. Fire from Ice

You will need a clear piece of ice to start a fire. Shape the ice with a knife to create the rough edges or grind it on stone. Use the heat of our body to finish shaping your ice by melting the rough edges. Hold the ice perpendicularly to the sky and move it to focus the brightest light on the tinder. The tinder will first smoke before igniting but be careful not to drip water on it.

​This is a good one if you’re lost in the wild, and there is ice. Make sure you start the fire before the sun disappears as we discussed earlier. 2-3 hours before the sun goes down is ideal.

10. Coke Can and Chocolate Bar

Any can with a bottom similar to a coke can also be used to start a fire. The bottom of the can is used to reflect light and focus it on the tinder, but first, you have to make it shiny enough using a chocolate bar. A chocolate piece can be used to brush the bottom of the can and make it polished.

​You can even try this on your own to know you can do it when in the survival situation. Who knows what comes your way in the wild.

11. A Flashlight

With your tinder and kindling set, break off the glass cover from the touch but don’t damage anything else. Take out the bulb and break it without damaging the filament. Put the remains of the bulb into the flashlight and screw it. Now you can place your tinder into the top of the flashlight and fill it up. Now turn the flashlight on. It has to ignite although sometimes it can fail if the process is not done correctly.

​Next time you get lost in the wild and need some fire, maybe is important to sacrifice that flashlight for warmth during the night.

12. With Water: Five Ways to Start Fire with Water

It a very unusual way but believes me water can start a fire. All the five ways use the same principle where water is used as the lens to focus light on the tinder and start a fire. The following are ways you can use water to start a fire:​

  • ​Water in an empty light bulb where the water in the bulbs acts as a magnifying lens.
  • Water in a plastic bottle
  • Water in a plastic wrap
  • Water and a picture frame
  • Using ice lens as discussed earlier

Using Chemical Combustion

13. Potassium Permanganate Crystals and Glycerin​

The use of chemicals is not the safest ways to start a fire and should only be attempted when it is the last solution. This is a chemical reaction with an explosive effect so ensure there are no kids around. When you mix these two compounds, a roaring fire explodes. Make sure you have your tinder nearby to start the fire.

14. Brake Fluid and Chlorine

Mixing a brake fluid and chlorine is a fun experiment that usually leads to an explosive reaction from which fire can be started. It is quite dangerous, and only a small amount can be used to start a fire.

​With Battery

15. Batteries and Steel Wool​

This one is quite simple and easy to perform. Just buy some batteries and some very fine steel wool. The finer the steel wool, the better it will spark. Rub the battery on the steel wool, and you will see sparks forming. However, you must be careful as the sparks can be quite dangerous.

​16. Gum Wrapper and Battery

The foil gum wrapper and battery does the trick helping you start fire quite fast. Make igniter strips using the wrapper. Shave small bit from the wrapper gum and create a 2mm bridge in the middle. Find a battery like the AAA batteries and hold the igniter to the ends of the battery. Sparks from the igniter will immediately start a fire.

​17. Jumper Cables and Car Battery

Get the jumper cables hooked to your car battery and try to let them touch. The Spark created can start a fire in the tinder.​

The jumper cables and the car battery is an essential one of you get stuck with your car in the cold and need some fire. It is an easier option that will not strain you.

18. Pencil and Car Battery

This is pretty similar to using the jumper cables, but here you don’t need sparks, the pencil connected to the jumper will become red hot and start burning your tinder.

Use Any Simplest Way to Start a Fire

19. Use the Fire Piston​

Fire pistons can also be used to start a fire. The fire piston compresses air rapidly heating it to the extent of igniting a fire. If you don’t have one, here is how you can build one using a few spare tools:

​The use of a fire piston is quite fast but one you might not have with you in the wild. However, it is always good to know what it can do.

20. Using Fire Steel

Fire steels produce molten sparks when scraped, and this can be used to ignite your tinder. A knife or scraper can be used to scrap it and get the ember.


Correcting Common Mistakes When Starting a Fire

​Smothering the Fire

​Most people in a rush end up throwing wood into the fire even when it is not ready. You have to know when to add wood to the fire. Smothering the fire will block the flow of air and eventually kill the fire. Take it slow and kindle it slowly until it is large enough to add small pieces of woods.

Starting Fire Without Enough Firewood Around​

How often have you found yourself looking for more firewood just as the fire starts to size up? You should not start a fire without accumulating enough firewood to see you through the night. This means leaving the fire unattended in search of more fuel. The fire can extinguish, and you start a fresh or even spread when you’re gone.

Leaving the Fire Unattended​

Never leave the fire unattended at any time as this can be the reason for a wildfire. Once the fire is set, you have to be around monitoring and controlling it at all times. There should be water close by or some wet soil in case it starts to spread.

Using Rocks from the River​

Rocks from the riverbed have water in them that boils turning into steam that can explode on your face. This is a common mistake that you should avoid when making a fire bed foundation. The explosion of the rocks can lead to serious injuries.​


Final Verdict

If you’ve gone through the entire article, then trust me you can start a fire anywhere no matter the conditions. Fire is crucial in pour lives and learning to start in any condition can mean the difference between death and life. Most of these techniques might not appear useful as you’re reading them from the comfort of your home but quite crucial in a survival situation.

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Ways to Help Replenish Your Electrolyes

Only six electrolytes minerals needed by the blood in fairly large amounts are obtained from the diet.

1. Sodium
2. Chloride
3. Magnesium
4. Potassium
5. Calcium
6. Phosphorus

The first two are provided by table salt: sodium chloride. Adding about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your diet per day provides enough sodium and chloride. The typical American diet already has plenty of salt in junk food, fast food, etc., so no additional salt is needed. But if you are eating from a survival garden and from stored food, you might need to add salt to your meals. Be sure to include plenty of table salt with your stored foods.

Magnesium is found in whole grains. Although whole grains spoil sooner in storage, it might be a good idea to have some whole grain flour, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta in storage. You can also grow amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat three crops high in magnesium.

Potassium is highest in potato. Tomato juice and sun-dried tomatoes are also high in potassium. Fruits and vegetables generally contain some potassium. Canned tomato sauce, paste, and juice are a good source of potassium. Potatoes can be easily grown in a survival garden. Some varieties of potato can be grown from seed, rather than from small chunks of potato.

Calcium and phosphorus are both found in cheese and other dairy products. Long term storage of cheese is a little tricky. You can store those boxed mac and cheese dinners the kind with the powdered cheese or the deluxe kind with a paste like cheese sauce. Your other good option is to throw a blocks of cheese in the freezer. Frozen foods keep indefinitely, but the consistency of the cheese may suffer.

If you are trying to survive from stored foods, you will need the three macro-nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as the above six electrolytes. A survival garden is a good option for supplementing stored food. And if any food is still available at markets after the SHTF, you should prioritize macro-nutrients and electrolytes.

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Tip on Preventing Blisters

First of all, remember that blisters require three conditions to occur: heat, moisture, and friction. Eliminate any one of those factors and you prevent blisters.

Buy boots that fits

Friction happens when your shoes or boots don’t fit your feet well. Buy them in a store where the staff knows how to measure your foot size. Try on a variety of brands because they all fit slightly differently; find the brand that fits your feet best. If the best boots you find still don’t fit perfectly, try after-market insoles to customize the fit.

Eliminate heat and moisture: Keep your feet dry

This may be the easiest and most effective strategy  employed: Whenever you stop for a break of five minutes or more,  take off your boots and socks and let them and your feet dry out, eliminating or at least minimizing heat and moisture. As simple as that.

Carry extra socks

If your feet get chronically sweaty, change into clean, dry socks midway through a day of hiking. Try to wash and cool your feet in a creek and dry them completely before putting on the clean socks.

Wear lightweight, non-waterproof footwear

Any footwear with a waterproof-breathable membrane is not as breathable as shoes or boots with mesh uppers and no membrane which also dry much faster if they do get wet. If you’re generally day hiking in dry weather, why do you need waterproof boots? It may seem counter intuitive, but non-waterproof shoes or boots may keep your feet drier because they won’t sweat as much.

Tape hot spots

Carry blister-treatment products like Moleskin—but also carry athletic tape, which sticks well even on damp skin. If you feel a hot spot developing,  stop immediately and apply two or three strips of athletic tape to the spot, overlapping the strips, and then check it periodically to make sure they’re still in place.

Tape preemptively

When you’re taking a really long day hike where you exponentially increasing the amount of friction that can occur, tape your heels before starting out, because you may have developed blisters on them on day hikes longer than 20 miles in the past. If you routinely get blisters in the same spots, tape them before your hike.

Use a skin lubricant

Distance runners have employed this trick for ages: Apply a lubricant to areas that tend to chafe or blister, like heels, toes, or even the inside of thighs, to eliminate the friction that causes that discomfort. Numerous products do the job, from the traditional Vaseline to roll-on sticks like BodyGlide.

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The Pine Tree and Its Many Uses

Did you know pine trees can be used as food, medicine and survival equipment?

The pine is one of the most useful trees on the planet, providing food, shelter, medicine and fuel. Knowing how to utilize this versatile resource could someday be the key to your very survival if you find yourself alone in the wilderness.

There are many species in the pine family (or genus Pinus), and they can be found virtually everywhere in the world.

Food:

Many types of pine needles can be used to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Simply steep a handful of needles for 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep them, the less vitamins will remain, so don’t overdo it.

It’s important to note that some pine needles are poisonous be sure to avoid consuming the needles from the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), the Yew (Taxus) and the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa also known as Western Yellow Pine, Bull Pine and Blackjack Pine). Make sure to learn the differences between the edible and non-edible varieties before making pine needle tea.

Pine nuts from all varieties of pine are edible, although some are small and not typically harvested. They can be a little tricky to harvest and perish quickly once they are shelled but can be stored longer if left in their shells or roasted.

Inner pine bark and pine resin are edible; male pine cones and their pollen can also be eaten. Native Americans chewed pine resin as sort of a natural chewing gum. The inner bark of large pine trees is edible, and the bark from young pine twigs can be eaten as well. Be careful not to damage or kill a pine tree by tearing off too much bark, and never ring the bark from a pine tree.

Instead, tear off small pieces of bark or look for branches that have already fallen. The inner bark can be eaten raw it can also be boiled, fried or cooked over a flame.

Medicine:

Pine resin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It can be directly applied to wounds or sores and helps keep germs out. Pine resin can also be used to staunch the flow of blood.

The resin can also be used to extract splinters just dab some on the skin where the splinter is embedded and within a day or two the splinter should come out on its own.

Fuel:

Pine resin makes a great fire starter, particularly in damp settings. You can usually find a spot on a pine tree where resin is oozing out from a break in the bark try not to injure the tree to collect pine resin, but if necessary, make a small break in the bark or break a branch. The resin will begin to ooze out as protection for the tree.

If you are in an area where there are pine stumps, look for places on the stump where resin has soaked the wood and made it sticky. Tear small strips of the stickiest wood from the stump and save them as aids for starting fires.

Shelter:

Pine boughs can be used to create shelter, and pine needles can be used to make a soft, warm and dry bed.

Water-proofing and other uses:

Pine resin can be used as a waterproofing agent and works well on tent seams, boots and mittens.

Heat pine resin up and mix with ashes or charcoal from your campfire to make glue. Once cooled, the glue will harden but can be easily heated up again when it is needed.

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You Fall Through the Ice, Now What?

 

Even if you aren’t into snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, or other popular outdoor winter activities, it doesn’t hurt to know how to maximize your chances of surviving if you fall through ice.

First, be aware that as soon as your body hits icy cold water, it will experience something called cold shock phenomenon. This phase lasts between one to three minutes, and is characterized by an instinctive gasping response, which can lead to hyperventilation and a huge waste of energy.

As your body experiences cold shock phenomenon, your focus should be to consciously control your breathing. Try to slow your breathing down and know that you have more time than you think to survive. If it helps, remember that many top level athletes experience this scenario almost daily with ice baths following intense workouts.

Once you are relatively calm, try to swim to the point at which you fell into the water and use your arms to grab hold of a solid edge of ice.

For most of us, the natural instinct is to pull ourselves straight out, as we would do in hoisting ourselves out of a swimming pool. According to Dr. Giesbrecht, this is next to impossible.

The most efficient way to get yourself out of the water is to keep your legs as horizontal as possible and kick like you’re swimming, and try to get into a rhythm of kicking your legs and pulling your body forward onto the ice with your arms. Kick, pull, kick, pull, etc.

Once you have kicked and pulled your body out of the water, remember that the ice is probably weak, and that it’s best to roll your body away from this point to an area that looks more solid. Rolling can transition to crawling, and when you are relatively confident that you are on solid ground or ice, you can stand up and walk away.

What To Do If You Can’t Pull Yourself Out Of The Water

If there is no one to help you and you can’t get out on your own, don’t thrash around, as you’ll only lose more heat and get further exhausted.

Try to get as much of your body out of the water as possible to minimize heat loss. Specifically, get your arms up and onto the ice. Keep your arms there and don’t move them. Then relax as much as possible.

If you’re lucky, your arms will freeze to the ice before you become unconscious. If you become unconscious, you’ll stay there a bit longer because you are frozen there – you might get rescued in this state.

What To Do As A Bystander

If you come upon someone who has broken through ice, remember that the most important goal should be to preserve yourself.

We recommends calling for help immediately, be it through yelling at people within earshot, or with a cell phone.

Tell the victim to try to relax and slow down his breathing and emphasize that you are going to help him get out.

Try to talk her out of the water – tell her to get her legs horizontal in the water, her arms up on top of the ice, and to kick, pull, kick, pull.

If the victim can’t get out by himself, find something to throw to him, like a rope, tree branch, or even a ladder from a nearby home, if available. If you throw a rope, try to create a loop at the end of it so that the victim has something to grab onto. If he can, he should try to put the loop around his trunk and elbow.

Please consider sharing these thoughts with family and friends. Always best to be ultra cautious and stay away from frozen bodies of water, but good to know all of this just in case.

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Wild Edible And Medicinal Plants in Wisconsin and Surrounding Areas

We get a lot of questions about what wild plants are there in Wisconsin that are edible to eat or use for medical uses. I did some research and found that are many out there in the wild. I am going to list a few and there uses.

1. Purslane

Also called pigweed. Grows everywhere. Very commonly seen in cracks in the sidewalk. Also grows among woodchips. Comes out in June. Best to harvest in the fall. This is when the plants are large. Has small dark seeds that fall out. Harvest in the morning. Nutritional content varies, depending on what time of the day it was harvested. Cultivated and eaten in Greece. Good in tabbouleh, on gyros and eaten with feta. Tastes like green beans. Very important – purslane is reported to be the highest plant source of Omega 3.

2. Chamomile

Also known as pineapple weed, wild chamomile grows in rocky soil and is seen commonly in driveways. It’s very aromatic. I can smell it when the wind picks up and follow the smell to the chamomile. It’s commonly made into tea and it’s good for digestion, nervousness, anxiety, irritability; it helps to calm and soothe you and it helps you sleep. Chamomile is so safe and mild it is used on children and babies.

3. Mint (Catnip)

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. This plant is more of a medicinal herb than food, although it can be used in place of traditional mint in any recipe. It’s very aromatic. The smell is dissimilar to mint found in grocery stores and distinctive. Use its smell to identify it. It grows in shady areas, under trees and other large plant growth. In cats, catnip is a stimulant and in humans it’s a sedative. Catnip tea can be good for allergies and the respiratory system. Some studies say catnip repels fleas and ticks better than DEET. This plant can help induce menstruation. Pregnant women should be cautious. In large quantities catnip can be an abortifacient.

4. Woodsorrel

Woodsorrel has a sour and lemonly flavor. It can make a good substitute for lemon in dishes. Looks like clover but is brighter and has small, yellow flowers. I see it growing a lot among woodchips, but I don’t think it’s particularly picky about where it grows. A naturopath once told me it was good for the liver, but only when fresh. Not when dried.

5.  Plantain (Plantago Major)

As common as it comes. Brought here by Europeans. Edible and medicinal. The most nutritious thing I have ever heard of. Fights inflammation in the intestine – from carrageenan for example. Detoxifies. Purifies blood. If you have a bee sting, take a piece of plantain, chew it and then place it on your wound. Good for blisters. Speeds healing. Natural Awakenings named them (and dandelion) in a piece about herbs that fight cancer. It can also help with psoriasis.

6. Watercress

Similar to a radish. Spicy and clean flavor. Grows near streams, creeks, pure running water and can grow in mud. Watercress is only as clean as the water it grows in. Boil or sanitize if at all questionable. High in vitamin C. Good for soups, salads, you name it. The wild variety is the same as the kind you can buy at the grocery store, except it is free.

7. Ginkgo Biloba

There are male and female trees. Only the female trees make the fruit and the ginkgo nut, which can be eaten. The fruit is not eaten. The popular ginkgo biloba supplement is made out of the leaves. When harvesting ginkgo nuts, gather the fruit. Remove the fruit using gloves (some people get a rash when touching the fruit, some do not) Wash and then cook the nut. Boil, fry, saute. Whatever you like. When cooked, the shell will remove easily. The cooked ginkgo nut looks an awful lot like a pistachio and you can put it in your mouth and between your teeth to crack then remove the shell, just as you would with a pistachio. The inside is green and reminiscent of a jelly bean. Ginkgo biloba is very nutritious, but also has toxin. They must be eaten in moderation. Taking vitamin B6 with ginkgo cancels out the toxin. (Still – eat in moderation!!!) Do not eat ginkgo nuts raw. Eating the nuts raw is unheard of. It is hoped the cooking process will eliminate toxins, but there is little evidence to suggest it does. In spite of this, cooking them is still your safest bet.

8. Chicory

Young leaves and roots are edible. Found very often on roadsides and in open fields. Comes out in the height of summer, along with echinacea. The root can be made into a coffee substitute and leaves can be enjoyed as a salad green. (There is a variety of chicory grown for its leaves.) The small blue flowers are beautiful, delicate and rare.

9. Sweet Pea

Usually toxic and inedible. The toxin makes you starve to death / waste away. One you’ll want to avoid. Some kinds are edible and can be enjoyed but it’s hard to distinguish the edible from inedible varieties. It’s just as hard to distinguish edible from inedible sweet peas as when foraging for mushrooms. So this is one that should only be undertaken if you’re an absolutely amazing forager and you really love peas and want free ones. Vetch is a look alike.

10. Creeping Charlie

Related to mint. Can be eaten in salads and used to make tea. Abundant. Creeping charlie can be bad for other plants because it can wrap around the plants and choke them. Has purple flowers. Contains a toxin. Nutritious, but eat in moderation. Very commonly seen as wild ground cover.

11. Garlic Mustard

One of the first plants to come out in the spring. Frost, snow and cold weather doesn’t seem to bother it. Invasive, originally from Eurasia. Bad for the environment (in Wisconsin). Grows everywhere. There are volunteers devoted to destroying and pulling this plant up. Take as much as you want. Edible raw but if you boil and change the water several times / eat garlic mustard this way, it will have a milder flavor. Also good when dried. It smells and tastes very strong. Reminiscent of garlic.

12. Stinging Nettle

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. Used for food as well as herbal medicine. Very stingy. Harvest with gloves, or you may get welts. Some say these are good for your immune system but many things are. No need to get stung in my opinion. Boil stinging nettle then serve. Nettles are nutritious and a good source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. There is a contest in the UK where contestants eat as much stinging nettle as they can. Whoever survives is the winner and the toughest / manliest. It’s very entertaining to watch.

13. Cattail

Edible shoots and pollen. The pollen can be used to make pancakes. Very good in survival situations. The brown top can be used to carry an ember. The white, inner spear tastes faintly of watermelon and is the most fibrous food I have ever eaten. The fiber content makes them very good at cleaning teeth.

14. Lambsquarters

Used as food and as medicine by Native Americans. Very mild and tasty. Almost buttery. Wonderful taste for a green vegetable. Not bitter at all. Called wild spinach and by many other names. Contains oxalates, as do spinach. A nutritional powerhouse, but the nutritional content depends on where you harvest it from. It can soak up nitrates from the soil it grows in. Quinoa is closely related to the seed of lambsquarters. The seed of lambsquarters is edible, but hard to harvest. Many people say it’s not worth the trouble. Don’t let that deter you from trying the seed at least once.

15. Rose

There is the wild rose and the cultivated variety. Rose hips are an easy find for the urban forager. There is scarcely a park or garden without rose bushes. The fruit of the rose, the rose hip, ripens in October. The rose hip is edible throughout the winter. This is intentional. Some plants are edible throughout the winter so hungry animals have something to eat. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. They boost the immune system and fight off colds. The outer hull of the rose hip is what is eaten. Some guides say the seeds are edible, some say they are not. I eat the entire rose hip, seeds and all. I grind and chew it very well, but they are prickly and hairy. They can cause irritation. I think it’s too much work to remove the seed, but the best / tastiest experience is to remove the seeds and eat only the outer hull. Miranda Kerr uses rose hip seed oil for beautiful skin. Rose petals are also edible, but strong tasting and for lack of a better word, bitter. Rose petals are often used to make rose water.

16. Violet

Comes out in spring, usually in March but can be April or May if there is an extended cold period / winter. Violets can be violet, magenta, white and yellow colored. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible. Use in place of spinach in your favorite creamed spinach recipe. Delicious! The roots are used to induce vomiting. Violets are commonly topped with sugar. Candied violets are used in baking sweets, treats, and to top pastries. Violets are common, beautiful and grow low to the ground. They grow along with grass, dandelion and garlic mustard, which also grow close to the ground.

17. Echinacea

It is found in prairie and grassland. It flowers in July along with chicory, during the height of summer. If you look for it late, you can find the cones without flower petals. These should be left because they contain the seeds, which create the next generation of echinacea. This is more of a medicinal herb than food. It is good for the immune system. The leaves, flower petals and root are used for herbal tea and tincture. A mild tingling feeling is experienced when drinking echinacea tea. It is unique and reminds me of being electrocuted.

18. Milkweed

Milkweed is of immense importance to monarch butterflies. Many plant it to attract butterflies to their garden. The shoots, flowers, green, unopened pods can all be eaten, but they must be boiled first. Milkweed is poisonous in its natural state. Discard the cooking water. The silk inside the young pods has a texture reminiscent of cheese. Once the growing season has passed, the dead stalks and seed pods still remain. These can be used to identify where new milkweed will appear. Note: The pods must be harvested when they are less than 1.5 inches long. If you harvest them late, they are too fibrous to be eaten.

19. Chickweed

Chickweed is edible and medicinal. It is found all over the world, even in the Article Circle. Its blossoms open in the late morning. Its leaves fold up at night and before rain. Chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. Mouse-ear chickweed must be cooked. Other kinds can be eaten raw. It contains nitrates. Do not ingest any kind of chickweed preparation if pregnant or nursing. This could potentially harm an unborn or nursing child due to the nitrates it contains. One should consider the nitrate levels in the leaves. Upon consuming chickweed, if one feels dizzy, weak, or faint, if you have a headache, see a doctor immediately. You may have nitrate poisoning from consuming too many nitrates. Avoid chickweed if allergic to daises. Good when young as a salad green. Rumored to taste like corn silk raw. Tastes like spinach when cooked. Can be added to soups or stews. Do this in the last five minutes to prevent overcooking. Chickweed contains ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and gamma-Linoleic acid. In addition, chickens love to eat chickweed. This is where chickweed got its name. Chickweed can be used in topical form to calm rashes and eczema, too. It alleviates irritation and swelling from insect bites. Chickweed is not recommended for children in oral form. It can be used to treat an insect bite on a child so long as they do not put chickweed in their mouth.

Some of the fruit plants are Elderflower & Elderberry. Flowers and berries are the only parts edible. Boil or cook them first. Good for the immune system. Grape – fruit, leaves, seeds, young vines shoots are all edible.In fall it has bright red leaves and similar looking berries, they are not edible and very spicy. Black raspberry – leaves can be made into herbal tea, spring time makes the best tea. Mulberry- comes in black, purple,red, pink and white. Black/Purple are rip, Red are unrip, Pink/White are the sweetest.

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Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

hiiking

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.

The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.

Hiking While Disconnected From Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

A study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.

The researchers of this study noted that both technology and urban noise are incredibly disruptive, constantly demanding our attention and preventing us from focusing, all of which can be taxing to our cognitive functions. A nice long hike, sans technology, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe the mind, and boost creative thinking.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD In Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children. Children who have ADHD have a difficult time with impulse control and staying focused, they get distracted easily, and exhibit excessive hyperactivity.

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

How Can You Begin To Start Hiking?

Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family, including grandma! Start out small and test your abilities. Do what works for you — if that means just walking through trails in a park, that’s fine. Any exercise outdoors is better than none. You can easily find maps of trails around your home online, and there are plenty of smartphone apps to map them out, too. I recommend turning off your signal and your phone while hiking though, so you can reap the most benefits of the hike (though it may be wise to at least carry it with you in case of emergency).

Make sure you have some good sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, and a water bottle, and be sure to layer your clothing so you can take things on or off easily as you warm up and cool down. You may want to consider using trekking poles as well, which can increase your speed and take some of the pressure off your knees. Now, can you just do one thing for me?

Go take a hike!

Linked from: http://www.cosmicscientist.com/doctors-explain-how-hiking-actually-changes-our-brains/

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Sleep and survival – smart prepper’s guide to choosing the best portable bed

Today, let’s talk essentials, but with a twist. We’ll talk about sleep and the choice of a best portable bed (air mattress or a sleeping pad) should you ever need one.The word, essentials has been used and rehashed in the preparedness community that the very meaning in vague for most people, so let us take a step back and ask ourselves, “What are the basic human needs?”

Water. Food. Sleep.

Right?

And while the topics of the clean water and water filtration systems and food, energy bars, our minimum needs are a subject of every 4th or 5th article that pops up in the community, try and think back to the last time you read an actionable article about sleep.

Chances are – you can’t…sleep is the one most commonly misunderstood basic human needs. The misconceptions about it have transferred from our everyday lives to the way we think about preparedness.

It all started the very first time we thought to ourselves, “I have to finish these reports but I’ll make up for the lost sleep at the weekend.”

Importance of sleep

The making up for the lost sleep at the weekend thing – IT’S A MYTH AND IT DOESN’T WORK. It’s been proven in studies for some time now that only one night of lost (or bad) sleep interferes with how our body functions.

And while those reports being late might not be such a big deal – what if you vigilance and responsiveness are affected when the time comes to defend what you love the most?

So, with that said, let us move on to the meat of this guide – proper planning of our sleeping arrangements or, to be more precise, choosing the best air mattresses for our shelters and sleeping pads for our BOBs.

Choosing an air mattress for our shelters

Whether you have an off-the-grid shelter or disaster strikes at home, the importance of owning a versatile secondary bed (s) cannot be over-stressed. There are a number of scenarios that will put them to good use.

Bear in mind that the kind of air mattresses we’re talking about here are only really an option for your shelter or as a backup bed to have in your home, not for your backpack. They are way too bulky and heavy.

Still, to get the most out of it, you have to know what you’re doing when choosing – so let’s make sure that you do.

Today, we’ll be talking about the INs and OUTs of choosing a good air mattress.

Materials of top airbeds

Most of airbeds are made of PVC, with some plasticizers added to increase durability and comfort – we want only the most durable and reliable air mattresses for our shelters.

There are thousands of them out there and it can be confusing, so let us cut through the clutter and get very specific about what to looks for.

Increased durability and low puncture resistance

Look for thicker PVC for increased durability. Go for anything close to 0.6 mm thick. Most of the airbeds will feature PVC that’s around 0.4 mm thick, there are only a handful that are extra thick…and don’t worry about not finding the information, those companies that make the extra-durable blow-up mattresses go out of their way to stress in the fact sheet.

Always take a special note of the weight of these babies because 50% added thickness will usually mean 50% added weight, so think about how that applies to your plans. It’s a good fit if it’s standing on the shelf in your shelter, but it’s not an option if you plan to bug out with your essentials in your backpack.

Safety and fumes

If you’ve ever owned an airbed, you know the issue of the rubbery smell lingering for days. It doesn’t feel great and there’s always that underlying feeling that it can’t be healthy.

In reality, safety concerns of an airbed are a thing of the past and the chemicals used in the manufacturing are a thing of the past. In fact, a study of off-gassing (fumes) as reported by users has shown that, in the long run, the issues of fumes and smells with airbeds is lower than any other type of mattresses (see graph below).

air mattress and fumes

Make sure that you inflate/deflate the air mattress a couple of times and leaving it out of that bag for a day or two before storing it on that shelf.

This will allow you to notice any flaws with the product as well as air it out and get rid of the plasticky smell.

If you still have concerns, you can always go with an air mattress that’s completely PVC-free and entirely textile-made. These are even more durable and less prone to punctures but there aren’t many of them and it might be a challenge to find one that would suit our other needs (like power-independent pump).

Power sources and the pump

Power outages are one of the first things that our minds go to when we think about calamity and it should, chances are high they’ll happen.

So the last thing that we want is to be stuck with a piece of plastic in a bag that requires electricity to be inflated, so…

Choose an air mattress that can be battery and manually-operated…

We are looking at an air mattress here with our prepper glasses on and the ones that you would do choose as a guest bed for when you have friends over will not do the trick.

We want a product that’s self-sufficient and that will serve its purpose even if the power is out. This spells battery or manually operated (preferably both).

Air Mattress Manual Pump

Lucky for us, there are airbeds out there that are designed for prolonged camping trips and these beds check all the boxes of our needs, too.

Making sure it fits the bill:

  1. Inflate/deflate the bed using the batteries or the manually/leg pump (usually comes separate)
  2. Make sure that the nozzles that come with the pump fit and can be used with your new air mattress
  3. Again, leave it out and inflate/deflate it a couple of times before storing to make sure it all works properly

Comfortable air mattress – what to look for

You might think that being comfortable is only secondary in a survival situation but let’s go a step back and remind ourselves of the importance of PROPER sleep.

Proper sleep doesn’t mean just getting the few hours – it means getting enough of all the sleep phases. That’s where the comfort comes in.

It might not be a big deal for a night or two, but should you find yourself sleeping on your secondary bed for months, it becomes increasingly important, so let’s take a moment and discuss what comfort means when it comes to air mattresses.

Chambers, weight distribution and comfort

When it comes to comfort, it all comes down to how well your weight is distributed across the sleeping surface – and chambered designed a much better job at that than any other internal structure.

Cchambered Design of an Airbed

Most of the time, the choice will come down to beams (air columns that run side to side) and the mentioned chambers.

Chambers pretty much act as a spring in a regular mattress, making the bed more comfortable and reducing the stress the seams suffer, making the bed most durable.

Go for 30+ chambers.

Thinking size and height

Air mattresses come in all the same sizes as your regular mattress and the size issue is pretty self-explanatory and comes down to what your space can accommodate but, thinking from a prepper’s perspective, twin size is the sweet spot.

Here’s why…

Twin size airbed comfortably sleeps two people. If you go a size up to a full, queen or king size and you still have a bed that can still only comfortably sleep two people but takes much more space.

You can also pick between a low rise and high-rise air mattress.

To sum it up – specifics of your scenario might change but generally, if you are looking for an air mattress for your shelter, a twin-sized chambered designed air mattress made of extra-durable PVC will cover most scenarios.

Thinking quality

An airbed is not something you can save a lot on and even if it was, you shouldn’t.

I guess you could say that about every item in your preparedness plan but it goes double for an air mattress since it is much more fragile and the difference between a high and low-quality airbed and a high and low-quality flashlight will be much more noticeable.

So, for your shelter, stick with the best brands and products that have stood the test of time.

How can you tell?

Look for low long the air mattress has been around

If you have set your eyes on a particular model, take your time researching it, looking it up on e-commerce sites and see how far back the users reviews go. Read the reviews of the air mattress and what people are sharing about it…its ability to hold air, the comfort, the reliability of the pump, etc.

Look for any changes in quality that might not be evident at first glance (know how to read air mattress reviews)

With the shady outsourcing practices and tenacious attempts of the companies to cut cost, it has never been more important to be an educated buyer.

Here’s a good tactic to spot any patterns of quality change – when you ticked all the quality and feature boxes, you still haven’t confirmed if the blow-up beds merit the ratings you are seeing today.

So, sort the reviews and read them starting from the more recent ones – these will be most relevant and will give you the best idea about the current quality of the air mattress.

Any change in quality will be reflected here.

Bottom line

A well-rounded survival plan cannot ignore sleeping preparations anyway you look at it.

What good is an expensive blade if the hand wielding it is shaking?

In Dirt Farmer Wisdom, Jo Jo Jansen says, “Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds” and he’s right on the money.

Protecting what you cherish and love calls for you to be your best self. Good sleep is an important piece of that puzzle.

Stay smart about staying safe.

Linked from: http://homesteadandprepper.com/sleep-and-survival-smart-preppers-guide-to-choosing-the-best-portable-bed/

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Drinking sea water to survive?

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Everybody who has accidentally swallowed a bit of sea water knows that drinking a glass of it isn’t possible. Drinking sea water is dangerous and will result kidney failure. This is what everybody thought until Dr. Bombard proved that people could survive on sea water (we are talking about staying alive, not healthy).

Alain Bombard (October 27, 1924 – July 19, 2005) was a French biologist, physician and politician famous for sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in a small boat.

Alain Bombard was born in Paris. He theorized that a human being could very well survive the trip across the ocean without provisions and decided to test his theory himself in order to save thousands of lives of people lost at sea.
On October 19, 1952 Bombard began his solitary trip, after visiting his newborn daughter in France, across the Atlantic for the West Indies.

Bombard sailed in a Zodiac inflatable boat called l’Hérétique, which was only 4.5 metres (15 ft) long, taking only a sextant and almost no provisions.

Bombard reports he survived by fishing (and using fish as source of both fresh water and food) with a self-made harpoon and hooks and harvesting the surface plankton with a small net. He also drank a limited amount of seawater for a long period on his trip.

The minimum amount of water considered necessary to stay in good shape is 1.3/4 pts (1 litre) per day. It is possible to survive with 2 to 5 oz (55 to 220 centiliters) per day.

Many experts still disagree with Bombard’s theory, but the fact that he has survived 63 days on drifting raft without any other food and water than what the ocean could provide him gives a lot of credit to his research on sea survival. Bombard doesn’t disregard the danger of drinking sea water. During his testing periods he got sick when he tried to drink more than 32 oz of sea water per day for more than five days.

After numerous tests and various castaway experimentation (drifting at sea for weeks), he came to the conclusion that people could safely drink sea water in quantities not exceeding 32 oz per day. Safely here doesn’t imply healthy, it is rather the maximum amount of sea water a man could drink without experiencing major health complication or life threatening conditions. Of course all his tests were limited on himself (although many other people like the crew of La Balsa expedition and the Incas themselves were known to regularly drink sea water). If you must drink sea water, follow Dr. Bombard ‘s advice.

DRINK MAXIMUM 32 oz PER DAY and start as soon as possible (don’t wait to be dehydrated). Of course adding fresh water would improve your physical condition; but how to obtain fresh water in the middle of an ocean?

Rain water

 

Depending on your location, it might rain daily or very sporadically. In the tropics, one short rain storm could dump much water. Often the unprepared castaways have not been able to take advantage of those strong sporadic rain storms (if it rains daily you don’t need to be too concerned). Many have died of dehydration in areas of heavy rains. Don’t wait for the rain to be prepared.

Any large surface of fabrics such as canvas or plastic are great to catch rain water. If you have sails, make a giant bowl with them (make sure you rinse them before). In heavy sea make sure you protect your water collection plant from the waves. You don’t want the ocean to spoil your precious drinking water. If you don’t have any sails or not enough tarps, use anything from rain jackets and pants to garbage bags, wetsuits, life jackets, etc. Cans and bottles make great containers to store water but are not very efficient to collect it. You might also collect water from the gutters of your dinghy. Pockets of rain water might also form in various places (which you can lap if difficult to transfer into a receptacle).

Drink all you need from the rain, but if you have been on a rationed diet, drink very slowly as to not vomit (a normal reaction after forced drinking following dehydration).

Store as much rain water as possible. The first water collected might still contain a bit of salt (save it separately. You can use it to wash wounds and moisten lips and eyes. When you run out of containers, think of anything that can be made into a container (plan this beforehand). To not mention the obvious, fill up your diving BC, and everything that is inflatable. If you are on a raft. You can partially fill up the tubes of your raft. It won’t sink (rafts are extremely buoyant) but it will even stabilize it more in heavy seas (you can then pipe the water out when needed (for example with a snorkel or diving hose). Even condoms (never leave home without them!) can be thoroughly rinsed and after fully inflated, they can contain and preserve much water.

Condensation
In some dry places (little to no rain), nights might bring much condensation (a good example is Baja in Mexico). You can collect the drops of condensation with a canvas or plastic tarp (or sail) set as a bowl (to cover the maximum surface area, make sure the water collected gets funneled the proper way to be stored.

 

Saline and foul water

When the water is first collected it might contain too much salt to be drinkable, but it could still be used to clean wounds, humidify lips and rinse the skin (especially where rashes, dryness and soreness have developed).

Foul water collected on a raft is usually safe to drink but because of the taste it might cause vomiting. To avoid vomiting is can be absorbed rectally by means of a water retention enema!

Another beneficial use of water enema: After a long period of dehydration (and diet)the stomach shrinks and can’t hold much water. During a strong rain storm, if you don’t have much container to store water, you want to fill yourself up. You can absorb up to one pint rectally.

In case of severe dehydration the body will more quickly be hydrated with an enema. It is a method that has saved knowledgeable survivors. But careful not to use salt water (sea water is as dangerous absorbed rectally as it is orally).

Fish
Fish can provide a source of water. You can drink the aqueous liquid found in the eyes and spine bones. Those are almost free of salt and a good source of drinking water (especially if you catch large fish or in large quantities).

To extract the liquid, cut the freshly caught fish in half. Break the vertebra’s apart and suck them (no water in shark spines). Also suck the eyes.

You can also suck on barnacles and similar shellfish which are often found on hulls, ropes (or even whales). Taste first to make sure it isn’t too salty. If it taste too bitter you might want to discard it as well.

The Incas were believed to chew on fish to obtain water. Later, members of La Balsa expedition also survived by twisting pieces of fish in clothing to extract the moisture (after removing all the blood). They also suck on the waters from the eyes and bones. Dr. Bombard even made a machine to press fish and extract the precious fluid they contain.

It is believed that indigenous people were the pioneers in ocean navigation and survival at sea. They too might have drunk sea-water. Two famous expeditions tried to prove that the Incas and Huancavilcas could have migrated on balsa rafts from South America to the south Pacific islands. Their experience also forced them to drink sea-water over extended period of time. The Kon-Tiki raft was an exact replica of the Incas crafts. Lead by Thor Heyerdahl and his crew of four, the Kon-Tiki traveled 4,300 miles from Peru to Ranoia Reef (South Pacific) in 101 days. A later expedition called La Balsa, followed the route of the Kon-Tiki with a similar raft. In 1972, they left from Ecuador and covered 8,600 miles to reach Australia.

If prepared, man can survive at sea, even in a castaway situation! We have distillers that will also help with making sea water drinkable.

 

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Feeding Babies In Times Of Trouble

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To paraphrase Terry Prachett, the author of the popular Discworld series, taking care of a baby is the easiest part. There’s none of those crazy child-rearing garbage to put up with – just put milk in one end, and keep the other end as clean as possible. Works for me!

On an ordinary day, the first part – putting milk in one end of the baby – is something we take for granted in developed countries. Even if you are not a breastfeeding mom, the ease with which can can obtain formula would make our ancestors weep with envy. Before formula became widely available, women who were unable to breastfeed because of medical issues would be forced to find alternate means of feeding her infant. Many of these milk substitutes were incredibly unhealthy, and were ultimately a leading cause of infant mortality. One of the few ways a woman could keep her child alive if she couldn’t feed it herself was to make some kind of agreement with another woman who could nurse the baby for her.

All of this begs the question – what if, Heaven forbid, something were to happen that would send us back in time to this situation, whether it be permanently or on a temporary basis? Even if you have stash of formula in your long-term food supply, what if your water source is contaminated? It’s not difficult to imagine a worst-case scenario that involves a hungry baby, but no way to feed him or her. Aside from stocking up on formula (which is a perfectly legitimate option for feeding infants) what can be done?

Preparedness and Breastfeeding

If you are a breastfeeding mom, you’ll need to add the following to your emergency preparedness plans:

  1. Extra water. The rule of thumb for non-pregnant adults is one gallon per person per day. A breastfeeding woman should store half again as much, or more.
  2. Extra food. A lactating woman needs extra calories. One medical professional explained to me that a breastfeeding mom should be eating the equivalent of an additional peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day. That’s not much, but if you already have very little extra food on hand, storing high protein and high calorie foods, such as nut butters and fruit jam, would be a good idea.
  3. A good hand pump. I have a Medela Harmony in addition to my electric one, and I like it a lot. You might need to pump for any number of reasons. If you don’t have electricity, having a manual back-up is essential. This particular model is also extremely portable, so it can fit easily in your 72-hour kit.
  4. Some formula, as a last resort. Stress and anxiety can cause your supply to drop. There is wisdom in having an alternative on hand. The danger in using formula in this situation, if you have your heart set on breastfeeding exclusively, is that you could cause your supply to drop even further. Milk supply is tied to demand, and use of formula decreases demand. That said, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Milk Donation for Feeding Babies

For every woman who has trouble with her supply, there’s one who self-identifies as a jersey cow. Overabundance of milk is a problem that I’m sure many people would like to have. I don’t have to describe what that’s like – if you are one of these people, you already know. If you know that you have more milk than your baby needs, you can use it as a valuable resource that will benefit your whole community. Essentially what donation does is to connect women with low supply and women with high supply, so everyone is happy, especially the babies.

In healthy babies, it doesn’t matter a ton in the long run whether they are fed formula or breastmilk. For sickly babies, however, the difference is much greater. Hospitals often refer to human colostrum and breastmilk as “white gold,” because they see the difference it can make in the health of preemies. Medical centers regularly request donations on behalf of infants in the NICU. There are usually some health and quantity requirements. Milk banks put the milk through tests to make sure it is safe to distribute. To make it worth their while, they won’t take less than 100 ounces at one time.

For more information, you can go to the websites of La Leche League, National Milk Bank, and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Information about the proper care and storage of breastmilk.

Of course, donating privately is as easy as handing off a bottle of expressed milk to a friend. It’s not uncommon in my town for a woman with a baby in the NICU to ask friends and family for donated breastmilk. Another option, should the situation arise, is to use breastmilk as a commodity for bartering.

Cross-nursing (occasional nursing another woman’s child while also nursing her own) and wet-nursing (complete nursing of another woman’s child, often for pay) are generally frowned upon in most modern circles. The La Leche League actively discourages these practices for multiple reasons. However, it can be done. I have cross nursed two babies in my day – the first was my niece, and it didn’t feel weird at all (it was an emergency). The second instance, though, was the daughter of an acquaintance and that was so weird I will probably never do it again.

For Formula-Fed Babies

Not everyone is willing or able to breastfeed, and there’s no shame in that. Most women I know would really like to, but have been hampered by some health issue or other. The answer here is twofold:

1) stockpile formula like there is no tomorrow (babies always seem to need more of everything than you expect)

2) in case there really isn’t a tomorrow make friends with a lady in your neighborhood who might be able to spot you the odd bottle of milk should the need arise.

Be sure that you are also storing an adequate amount of clean water with which to mix the formula. Most infant deaths related to formula feeding in the third world are caused by a contaminated water supply, or adding inappropriate amounts of water. If you can, develop a system for sterilizing bottles and other feeding equipment that does not require electricity. A solar oven, such as the Solavore or Sun Oven, can cook food at temperatures in the 300-350 degree range, which is plenty hot for sterilizing baby bottles.

There is much more that could be written, of course, about “putting milk in one end” of a baby. For more information about keeping the other end as clean as possible in an emergency, try this article about cloth diapers.

Linked from: http://thesurvivalmom.com/feeding-babies-times-trouble/

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Build your own Underground Bunker

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Okay, so you might not be able to do all this by yourself, but this might get you started on your way to having your very own, very quiet and thick skinned underground bunker.

Why would you want one?

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it. Most people don’t do the whole underground thing, unless they’re mad dictators or something of the sort. The problem with this is that none of us are reallyready, if you catch our drift. If something were to happen, where you would need an underground, reinforced hideout, you’re out of luck now, aren’t you? Yes you are.

 

Whether you build this thing as a standard panic room or a separate shelter, it would be a good addition to your home, it’ll raise the property value (considerably) if you ever want to move away, and if the day should come when “they” decide to drop the big one on your local town, you’ll be up and about along with the cockroaches in no time, while everyone else are so much dust in the wind. Nice, huh? Yes it is.

What to do first.

According to BunkerBuilders.com, you have to find a suitable place for your bunker. They’ve got a nice checklist which we will take the liberty of reproducing here.

Things to consider when deciding where to build your underground shelter:

  • As deep underground as possible to protect from radiation, flying projectiles and debris.
  • Outside of areas known to be flood prone, including areas within the 100 year flood plain.
  • The bunker should be placed so that the evacuees have a short route to the entrance.
  • Away from any potential debris field and its emergency exits and air inlets can be extended on several sides of the building into zones that are free from debris and fire.
  • The bunker should have as much of its external walls against the ground as possible for protection from heat and for support provided by the surrounding soil.
  • Away from potential fuel concentrations, flammable materials, vehicles and hazardous materials.
  • Away from large objects and multi-story buildings, light poles, antennas, satellite dishes or roof mounted mechanical equipment.
  • The bunker should be made easily concealed.

Most sane people who decide to build themselves a bunker or a hardened part of their house to use as a panic room won’t fall in this trap, but we’re going to warn you anyway; If the people you’re looking to buy a shelter from (yes, some come pre-fab) has 2012 “Planet X” propaganda on their website, you should probably look elsewhere. “Stealth Installation” (yes, there are companies advertising this) isn’t really a viable option either, since a genuinely safe underground bunker will be noticed during construction. Also, you’ll probably need permits to build them, unless you live on a remote farm or on a huge property in the middle of a forest somewhere.

Ready-Made, perhaps?

We’ll mention one other alternative before we go on, however. There are a lot of read-made, nuclear-proof homes out there. It’s true! They’re on the market, too – readily available for purchase by anyone (who has the money). Granted, they can be expensive, but if you

have 400,000 – 4,6 million dollars just burning holes in your pockets, then this could be just what you’re looking for. What about a beautiful home built on top of an Atlas F missile silo with all the trimmings? 2000 lbs blast doors, several stories of hardened housing down into the earth, all the comforts of a top-notch residence on every level.

This probably isn’t for everyone, however, even if you’ve got the money and the financial planning for it. Most of these sites are pretty dreary – location-wise, at least. You pretty much have to choose between living in the middle of some desert or other (there’s one smack in the middle of Texas, for example) or deep in some woods where you actually need that private airstrip (like in the picture, there).

So we’ll go on to how you should go about building your own – slightly-smaller-than-a-missile-silo underground bunker. Should be fun.

Get your Permits, mister.

Make sure you’ve got the permits you need to dig and build in the place you found while following the list up above there. If you can’t meet all of the requirements, that’ll probably be okay, but you do need to come close, however. Also, you need to make sure that you’re not going to dig through your neighborhood’s watersupply, cables, drainage tunnels and all of those nasty things that seem to do nothing but cause trouble once they see daylight.

Once you know you’re allowed to dig, and you won’t cut off the nation’s internet access by severing a fiber cable down there, you’re good to go. Now you either get yourself a machine, or you hire someone to dig your hole for you. If you’re not in construction and you haven’t dug a hole like this before, hiring someone to do it for you is probably a great idea.

If you want to try doing this yourself, eHow has a nice write-up of a (very) basic shelter, which is probably possible to pull off on your own. It does require a lot of concrete work, which can be trying unless you have a lot of experience, but not impossible at all.

If you want something more than a basic shelter with four concrete walls and a bucket to do your business in, however, you should leave the construction itself to a professional contractor.

What you should do yourself is designing the place, making sure that you get it exactly the way you want it.

Bunker Design

One of the most fascinating bunker designs out there is the Vivos approach. This company is building bunkers all over the US, and will also build one for you, based on their own designs, but customizable to no end, apparently. Even if you don’t buy a bunker off them, it’s a good idea to check out their specs here (be patient with that pdf – their site is as slow as cold molasses).

As futuristic as anything out there, these bunkers will apparently be able to save you from anything – tsunamis, anarchy, radiation, blasts, heat, fallout – they’ll apparently save humanity when 2012 runs out too… yes, we said something about that up above, we know, but still. These bunkers are seriously neat.

The military has been building bunkers for a long time, and they’re probably the best people out there when it comes to making secure, timeless and useful bunkers, functional to the bone and efficient on top of that. You would do well to read one of their survival guides, for example, before you start prioritizing your bunker design. Basing your design on the army’s specifications is a very good idea, but you might want to add some more comfort to your hole – after all, you don’t know how long you’ll be in there, and if you plan on using this space as an addition to your normal living quarters, then you might want more than four concrete walls and a wooden bunk bed.

Sitting down and drawing up your bunker is a good idea – remember that you don’t necessarily need to reinforce every single wall in there, as long as the structure is sound and strong. Plan for drywalls inside the shelter, so you can hide air filtering, wiring and pipes, just as you would in a regular home.

Some things to consider when designing your new underground shelter:

– Light.There’s not going to be any windows, so plan for more light sourcesthan you would in a regular house. Make sure that you have emergency lighting on separate curcuits – you never know when that might come in handy.

– Air. Filtration systems aren’t cheap, but the most common flaw in private bunkers is a lack of adequate ventilation. Spring for the bigger one, if in doubt.

– Water. Again, filtration systems aren’t cheap, but they’re necessary if you’re going to use an outside source as a water supply down in your bunker. The alternative is to get a water tank, but depending on the size, that won’t keep you for long. Plan to have more resources than you think you’ll strictly need.

– Food. Stock up with emergency stuff, and get the fresh meats and fruits down there when there might be a need for them. Storage of food is what drains the most energy, so plan for this. Use ground cold/heat to store your food, and go for high-quality dried foods (such as MREs) and canned goods. That will get you a long way.

Linked from: http://snallabolaget.com/?page_id=1343

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12 Rainwater Collection Tips

rainwater-collection-tips

Why is it important to learn rainwater collection methods?

Living in such a modern world nowadays, most people don’t worry about much at all. They can mostly get what they need at home with just a push of a button or a flip of a switch. Even going camping outdoors is more like “glamping” these days, with food, water and even internet easily accessible.

But what if you run out of water, either at home or while spending time outdoors? What if there’s no way to get water elsewhere? Even if you were able to collect water, how would you make it safe to drink?

The following rainwater collection tips are for those who may find themselves in dry spell conditions, or even those who might like to save some money on their water bill.

Rainwater Collection Tips for Preppers

1. Check State Laws Before Collecting Rainwater

state laws rainwater collection

 

Are rainwater collection systems legal in your area? A water permit is required for some states in the US, while others don’t allow you to collect any rainwater at all. Better safe than sorry.

 

2. Collecting Rainwater At Home Using Food Grade Rain Barrels

rainwater barrels

Place the barrels beneath your downspouts. You can use cheesecloth, a coffee filter or a screen trap will help filter the water from sediments.

 

3. Make Your Own Rain Barrel

This tip will help you go through the Do’s and Don’ts in making your own rain barrel.

3. DIY Rainwater Collection System

five gallon bucket

This tip will help you collect rainwater mostly using materials that can already be found lying around your house. It may take a few hours of your time every day but it will surely put your power tools to good use. Plus, you don’t spend much for by paying someone else to do it for you.

 

4. Make An Emergency Water Filter

Using an ordinary bucket, you can fill it with different layers of certain materials that probably won’t cost you a cent. Just don’t forget to place a hole at the bottom.

 

5. Build An UltraModern Rainwater Harvesting System

rainwater collection system

Collecting and transporting a rainwater barrel outside your home can be tiring and time-consuming. Installing a system with a more complex design may help. Some systems have an overflow pipe that releases excess rainwater to a designated location in your property.

 

6. Install A Greywater System

If rain is scarce in your area and you’re just trying to save on your water bill, you might want to consider installing this system. You can recycle water from dishwashers, sinks, showers, and washing machines for use other than drinking.

 

7. Make A Belowground Still

This would increase your chances of survival for outdoor enthusiasts. This is a very basic way of collecting water if there isn’t any fresh water source for miles.

 

8. Make A Solar Still

solar still infographic

This is another ingenious way to collect drinking water in the wilderness. Just choose an inclined surface then dig a trench. With a stick, plastic bag and a few rocks you’ll quench your thirst in no time.

 

9. Plant Condensation

plant condensation

If there are a lot of plants nearby you can collect water through the process of condensation. You will need a plastic bag and a 550 cord or anything similar to that material. Wrap the plastic bag around the end of the plant or a branch of a small tree then wait for the water to condense at the bottom of the bag.

 

10. Use Rags To Collect Dew

wringing out rag

Dew is most heavy right before sunrise or shortly after that. By tying rags on your ankles and walking through grass covered with dew you can wring the now wet rags into a container. It may not be enough but it will get you through a couple of more hours.

 

11. Purify Water Taken From Unreliable Water Sources

water purification tablets

Purification tablets or 2% tincture iodine can come in handy when you need to purify water to make it safe for drinking. Make sure you purify water taken from swamps, lakes, streams, springs and ponds.

 

12. Use Tiny Zinc Oxide Wires Made In The Form Of  Spiny Cactus

cactus

These cacti spike inspired design was able to collect water from the air five times more efficiently than its original counterpart. This will work wonders for those that run out of water in the desert. If caught unprepared, collecting water from miniature cactus spines can suffice.

Just surf the web and you can find a lot more tips in collecting water from a variety of sources. Regardless of your location or type of environment you are in, knowing how to collect water in different ways is crucial for everyday living and survival.

Linked from: http://survivallife.com/rainwater-collection-tips/

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How to survive in the wilderness and mountain-military techniques

how-to-survive-3

Necessary elements of life

One of the most important things to survive is water.

The human body contains 70% water, and the loss of 15% of this amount causes death. Without water you can not survive more than 4-5 days, the body loses fluid due to heat, stress, colds and fatigue, fluid to be topped up. Even in cold places you need at least 2 liters of water a day to be effective. Almost anywhere in the globe there is water in one form or another (snow, ice, dew, etc.)

Do not substitute water with the following liquids:

Alcohol – dehydrate the body even more

Urine – contain substances hazardous to organisms

Blood – is salty and is considered food, but require additional liquid to be digestible, can transmit diseases

Seawater – accelerates dehydration, can cause death

There are many ways to acquire water (meaning the cases when there is a river, stream, lake or other natural source of water) depending on the city where you are in the wilderness act one way in jungle otherwise, etc. I will describe several methods of gaining water in forest areas or where there are trees.

Sweat method

You need a plastic bag that you dress a twig with leaves (make sure the tree is not poisonous otherwise water is not drinkable), the bag must be tightly tied with a rope or you around the branch, after several hours leaves sweat and water accumulates in bag.In  hot summer day you can gather up to 300-400 from a bag. You must to use your bags to accumulate the required amount of water

Dew gathering: early morning or late evening tie a piece of cloth clean on foot, walking or on a stick and walk through iarba. Cloth will gather water (dew) from grass, periodically drain into a bowl, certainly is the slowest way, but safe.

Food = ENERGY

30 days is the maximum period that can withstand a man without food.

In an extreme situation you will need every drop of energy, food being the only source. Natural resources can save in any case only have to know how to use them. I have several recommendations in this case, some more important than others but the main rule is:

Do not eat if you do not have WATER

how to survive 1

Human digestive organism needs water, if water is a problem eating you will become dehydrated and harder, which can cause death. Few are places on earth where you have to go more than 30 days without going to civilization .Calculate the distance and time to the place where you arrive, the food divided as follows: 1/3 2/3 in the first half and in the second half of the road.

Make a regular habit to eat every day  (lunch at noon ex.o), chew food well as the organisms they support it.

In the wild can eat what nature gives mushrooms, nuts, fruits, herbs and roots of edible plants, small animals or large (if you manage to catch them), fish, lizards, snakes, snails and will advise if you have insects. If you have not experienced hunter I will advise you not to try to catch animals, you spend useless energy.

Careful with mushrooms and fruits, if you are not sure do not eat, the result can be fatal.

Shelter

The shelter must protect you from rain, sun, wind, help to survive; -in some parts of the world you need to shelter more than food or water.

For example prolonged exposure to cold can cause fatigue or weakness and a weak person has no desire to survive.

The most common mistake in the construction of the shelter is that you do too much body heat and fails to heat it;

how to survive 2

Shelter should be large enough to protect you but also the need to be small enough to preserve your body heat, especially in cold climates.Different types of shelter after the place where you are for example, the arctic or desert, jungle or forest, every time you build something else.Different also the seasons, winter snow or summer heat are so many types of shelter types cite season.

The importance of fire. Types of fire. Methods and tools for fire ignition

Modern man does not like fire. Fire historically has become more of a tool than salvation.In dawn of human civilization killer fire was the most important thing in human life, loss of fire was a tragedy for the tribe and punishable with death who had to take care of the fire, and fail.

how to survive 3

The principle of ignition-fire is to start with small twigs and slender, gradually passing on higher. began ignite paper, dry bark, moss or fir branches on a short time they give a strong flame to ignite the branches of 3-5 mm thickness and then the thickest. The secret is to put the wood gradually from the smallest to the thickest. Paper or branches are lit from the bottom up, not vice versa, because fire spreads from the top down hard.

Fire with fire is used for drying clothes, heating and preparing food; the flame for light and food preparation and the smoke is used for signaling. Division is relative, you can turn any fire in fire smoke if you throw him green grass and branches, if a fire with embers increase the distance between him turn wood fire flame converts into large, etc.

Weapons

The knife is king arms without knife is no survival with a help of a good knife can do everything or almost everything, can build shelter, can make weapons, you can defend yourself or you can hunt without it you’re dead in the wild, so if you have not – the important thing to know how to do one of the materials that are found around you.

Glass, tins, hard stone, bone, pieces of metal – are all possible materials to your future personal knife. Personal I would not go anywhere without one in my pocket …

I could not tell you the exact name of it ideal knife, but there are a few requirements; a knife to be:

RESISTANT

BIG

SHARP

If you go into the mountains for a long time you need two knives. One to be great, the type layout, replacing the ax and one smaller for peeling potatoes, etc.

Each of survival as on the website or its praise his wares or merchandise company that has a contract to report. American and options in Bowie until you can tangle easily mock. A high price does not always look good quality. There are several criteria in choosing a knife: blade length, knife or blade stable miner, double tais or not, it is made of metal (steel, titanium, nonferrous metals, etc.)

how to survive 4

The knife that you take with you in the wild is the most priceless object that you possess. Regardless of the nature of the trip that you always need to have a knife on you. It can be used in different situations, not only in extreme situations.

Sun tracking, star tracking and compass tracking

The simplest way of finding the direction is sit back to 12 day in the sun, the north is exactly the direction that shows your shadow.

There are a few rules that must be remembered:

Winter sun rises southeast

SOUTHWEST sets in

Summer sun rises northeast

sets northwest

Spring sun rises at EST

sets in the west

Of course these rules are valid if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you have good sense of observation, then you know that: more snow melts in the south, all in the southern part of the tree is more pitch. Ants make their anthill in the south of trees or house. Birch bark is darker in the north and more open to the south. Tree trunks, stones, rocks in the north are covered with moss.

Survival in mountainous terrain

Survival in the mountains involves techniques and procedures characteristic.

Mount, as we know and the people, has its unwritten laws, which if not respect them, pay, and the price in such a situation can be even life.

Preparing to survive in the mountains must focus on that mountain environment is extremely unpredictable.Weather has special features: in a single day, the mountains may fall several types of precipitation (rain, drizzle, sleet, snow); temperatures are much lower and rainfall more abundant than in other areas; the higher the altitude, the colder temperatures. Therefore, when such actions envisaged in the village, the soldiers must have their protective equipment against the cold and rain, even if they are planned to take place in summer. An extremely important piece in the mountain environment is sleeping bag. A good sleeping bag will give the military the necessary comfort for rest and strength to take it to an end the next day. If there is a sleeping bag, it can be improvised from dry leaves, pine needles, Parachute material. survival are necessary: a waterproof jacket, a knife, matches kept in a bag not to wet a quality compass, a map, a flashlight, rations for emergencies and signaling means (mirror, smoke grenades etc. ).

Nature term is another important factor that influences the chances of survival of the military in the village. Large level differences, rugged terrain covered with dense vegetation, specific mountain environment, hinder much movement. Moving the mountain environment requires permanent existence of the risk of injury. Sprains, fractures, sprains could and limbs are the most common. Also, observation and orientation are more hampered. This could cause delays in movement military and fallacies. Lack of landmarks for orientation can cause frustration and irritation, and these negative feelings contributed to the worsening military situation. Therefore,  to survive in the mountain, the military must observe a few rules:

– “Equip yourself properly” in the mountains !: survival requires appropriate equipment;

– “Do not go in the dark” means !: If you do not have night vision do not move in the dark because it will increase the risk of injury;

– “You do not build shelter the valleys‘ !: As I mentioned, the weather in the mountain environment can change very quickly and after rainfall forming torrents may surprise you;

– “Moving up the line share ‘!: Try to stay on the same altitude to ease your moving.Any survival situation involving the purchase of food and water. Characteristic mountain environment temperate and tropical areas offer plenty of opportunities for procuring food and water. However, the military must be cautious when choosing a certain plant or animal to feed. Most nuisances disappear once boiling or cooking with their fire. However, there are no toxins that disappears with cooking (see mushrooms) and they can endanger the life and health of the military. A plant consumed by animals is not necessarily an indication that it would be edible and humans. To be sure food is edible, it should be cooked very well. Before you consume, the military must taste the food and wait a few minutes to see if any side effects, then you can proceed to power. Water is preferable to be boiled before being consumed.

Linked from: http://www.blacklistedprepper.com/survive-wilderness-mountain-military-techniques/

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How to Bug Proof Your Hammock by Serac Hammocks

With the sun shining once again, it’s about time to dust off that hammock. Oh, you don’t have one? Didn’t you hear? Hammock camping is the new thing. It’s lighter, cozier, and way cooler than any other sleeping method around. Snark aside, hammocks are on the rise, and this has furthered a new crop of hammock-related questions.

One of the most common: What about bugs?

We got in touch with Jeff Zhang of Serac Hammocks, who wrote a guest post for us on how to bug proof your hammock. Serac Hammocks sells just one type of hammock — the Classic, which is lightweight, knot-free, and a screaming deal. The company is dead set on increasing awareness about hammock camping, and recently released a free e-book that describes everything about the process. We covered that here.

How to Bug Proof Your Hammock

As the weather gets warmer and the temperature rises, mosquitoes come out to play. Mosquitoes are completely inactive in the winter, hibernating through the cold months. But once the temperature warms, the mosquitoes begin to come out in force. I hate mosquitoes, but they sure as heck love me. To keep my undesired suitors at bay, I always make sure I’m properly equipped to bug proof my hammocks. Here are a couple ways to make your next trip sucker free.

Get a Jungle Hammock

A jungle hammock is a style of hammock that features a built in mosquito net. These hammocks provide full protection even in the buggiest conditions. They are often sold as complete shelters and can run several hundred dollars.

A cheaper alternative to a jungle hammock are parachute hammocks with a built in mosquito net. These hammocks are essentially the same as the popular parachute nylon camping hammocks, but with an attached bug net. These hammocks can also be used as a normal hammock by flipping it over, making it a versatile choice. This way, you can just hang out without being constricted within the net.

But watch out for low quality netting. A net that feels soft and lightweight might be comfortable to to the touch, but they will tear easily. A single hole in your netting can make it all but useless. Instead opt for a bug net that has strong individual fibers with a more textured feel.

Use a Mosquito Net Designed for Hammocks

If you aren’t looking to buy a new hammock just to fight some mosquitoes, you can still find great protection for your hammock. Many types of netting exist that are designed specifically for your hammock. The concept for all of them is essentially the same. The hammock is strung through the mosquito net through two openings on each end. The mosquito net is suspended with a ridgeline above the hammock. You can get in and out of the mosquito net through a zipper on one side.

A separate mosquito net provides 360 degrees of protection for your hammock. Unlike a built in mosquito net, a separate mosquito net will prevent insects from landing on the outer layer of the hammock itself. This reduces the chance of persistent critters biting through the fabric. This ridgeline style setup is also very easy to master.

Treat your Hammock and Gear with Permethrin

Sometimes we just want to sleep under the stars without a net obstructing our view. If you don’t want to fumble with a bug net, you can treat your equipment with permethrin. Permethrin is a synthetic molecule that is similar to pyrethrum, a natural compound found in chrysanthemum flowers. Permethrin not only repels insects, but it will kill ticks, mosquitoes and all sorts of other buggers on contact. It is the active ingredient in many insect repelling fabrics. It kills insects that come in contact with it by overloading their nervous system. But for us, don’t worry, it’s nontoxic and completely safe for topical use on anyone over the age of 2 months.

You can buy spray bottles of permethrin to apply to your own gear. Once properly applied, it is odorless and leaves no residue. A hammock treated with permethrin combined with insect repellent makes a powerful mosquito shield. This is great for people that are weight conscious about their gear or simply don’t want a mosquito net. Keep in mind that permethrin has “spatial repellency” to insects. This means that mosquitoes may swarm around you, but they will not land on a hammock that has been treated.

Use Natural Mosquito Repellents and Camp Away from Water

The easiest way to avoid mosquitoes is to set up camp far away from where they are likely to be. Mosquitoes tend to swarm around water sources where the females lays her eggs. Campsites that are far away from rivers and lakes will have a much lower concentration of mosquitoes. Having a hammock gives you plenty of options for campsites. However, this will only reduce the overall number of mosquitoes. It’s very hard to completely be rid of them.

Natural insect repellents exist also exist, but are less effective than netting or chemicals. Natural oils like citronella are effective mosquito repellents. You can apply these to your skin before camping in your hammock. Drinking a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar can also reduce the amount of mosquito bites you’ll encounter.

Don’t Let the Mosquitoes Stop You!

All of this is our best advice, but keep in mind that when we’re outdoors, mosquitoes are often a fact of life. But just because they’re buzzing around, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy a trip into the wild! Whether you get a mosquito proof hammock or simply modify your existing one, hammock without fear the next time you’re out.

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16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

Scavenging resources in a wilderness survival situation can turn up life-saving stuff. That’s why developing a possum mentality is vital!

Our ancestors walked our woodlands and learned to use the resources most modern outdoor enthusiast overlook. Essential woodland resources seem to be invisible to the modern eye. The stuff you’ve got packed in your woodcraft/bushcraft kit or bug out bag are consumable. You’ll eventually use up that roll of duct tape… or, more than likely, you forgot to pack it.

Not a problem. Pine trees produce a sticky substitute with superior benefits!

Learning to identify and use natural resources has gotten me out of many sticky situations in the woods. Pardon the play on words as we explore the many uses of this tacky, amber-colored pine sap I call Jewel of the Woods!

Collecting Sappy Jewels

Pine trees secrete resin as a defense to close wounds from insects or other forces. The sap provides a protective layer or sealant over the injury . The sap hardens forming an amber glob which turns dark in color over time. On fresh wounds, you’ll notice a whitish layer of sap covering the damaged area. With time, large clumps form making it easier to harvest.

Harvesting fresh resin can become a sticky situation. The fresher the glob, the more sticky and pliable. On dedicated Jewel of the Woods harvesting trips, I carry a grub knife, one I don’t mind getting covered with resin. To remove sap from my good blades in the woods, I use a bit of Everclear (190 proof) from my flask on a piece of cloth.

For hardened resin, poke a sharp object (grub knife or sharp stick) into the base of the glob and pry it loose. It’ll break off and fall into your hand or container underneath. That’s when you’ll notice the crystalized form inside which resembles a beautiful piece of amber stone.

For hard-to-reach spots high in trees, my friend Joe at  Feral Woodcraft shares his clever resin harvesting tool.

Now that you’ve gathered a fair amount, what’s this sticky stuff good for?

A.) Self Aid

  • Pine sap properties include: antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Treat wounds – apply it to cuts like you would super glue. Follow first-aid protocol for cleaning/flushing first.
  • Stop bleeding – apply a soft glob (heat if necessary) to help stop bleeding.
  • Treat skin rashes and eczema with ointments,tinctures, and salves. For tinctures, use 190 proof Everclear since resin won’t dissolve with watered down alcohols.
  • Chew softer sap straight off the tree like a gum for sore throats and colds. You could pre-make “gum” with these ingredients: bees-wax, pine sap, and honey.

B.) Glue/Epoxy – Pine Pitch

  • Turn pine resin into pitch sticks. Jamie Burleigh has a great tutorial of his method on Primitive ways.
  • Hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows and gluing other primitive tools and weapons.
  • Waterproof boot seams, canoes, and containers.
  • Patch holes in tents and tarps.
  • Pretty much any thing you need to glue or patch in the woods, pine pitch is the product.

C.) Candling Device

  • Place globs of dried resin in a fatwood torch to extend its burn time.
  • Pitch sticks, described above, can be used as a makeshift candles.
  • Melt sap and soak a cotton bandana or rag wrapped around a stick for a torch.
  • Melted or liquid sap poured over a dried mullein stalk works as candle/torch.

D.) Fire Craft

  • Fire is life in a wilderness survival scenario. Even on weekend camping trips, fire offers core temperature control, cooking, and hot cocoa! Resin is your secret weapon to starting and keeping a fire going in wet conditions. Anyone who’s used resin-rich fatwood in rainy conditions appreciates its important role in fire craft.

  • Resin is highly flammable. Once lit, you can dry marginal tinder and small kindling.

  • Harvest liquid sap into a container from a fresh cut in a pine tree to add to a makeshift torch. Secure the container under the exposed bark to collect the sap. Use this liquified sap as torch fuel.

Once you learn to identify this sticky life-saver, you’ll find it difficult to walk past a pine tree without scanning for this Jewel of the Woods!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance.

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3 HERBS FOR SHTF HYGIENE

Soapwort, licorice root, and sage are three herbs, all easily grown in a home garden, that can really help you in case you run out of hygiene products post-SHTF. Soapwort can be used as a replacement for soap, licorice for toothpaste, and sage for deodorant.

Herbal Hygiene

Rather than keep ten years’ worth of deodorant and toothpaste on hand, I’d rather just keep one or two extras in the medicine cabinetand know what I can use from my garden instead. Part of this is because space is at a premium in my living quarters, partly because I’m a stubborn minimalist, and partly because I’m a kooky herbalist. Take your pick.

So, let’s take a look at the three most basic components for personal hygiene: something to wash skin, hair, and clothes; something for oral health; and something to keep the arm pits from getting quite so stinky. Three easy to grow, perennial herbs that fit these functions perfectly are soapwort, licorice, and sage. Being able to use these three herbs in a pinch can be handy, or they can supplement an existing daily routine as a more natural option.

Soapwort- Saponaria officinalis

Soap Substitute

Soapwort is a beautiful perennial plant that is hardy in US zones 3-9. It grows to be about three feet tall, and prefers rich, compost-heavy soil. It can be a little finicky about light requirements, as it likes sun but not too much afternoon sun. If it likes its growing location it can become invasive, but if that happens, just harvest more of it.Soapwort leaves and roots can be dried for later and still lather when used.

To make a soap solution with soapwort, use 1 tablespoon of dried leaves or roots (three tablespoons if the herb is fresh) per cup of water. Bring the water to a boil, add the herb, and allow to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes. Strain and cool before use.

Soapwort solution can be used for hair, skin, and clothing. It is very gentle, and is often found in high end organic facial care products and used to clean antique textiles. So by all means, don’t wait for SHTF!

Soapwort is toxic to fish, so don’t wash with or dump soapwort solution directly into a pond or stream where live fish are present.

Licorice Root- Glycyrrhiza glabra

Toothbrush/Toothpaste Substitute

Another perennial in the three to four foot tall range, licorice is hardy in USDA gardening zones 7-9. It prefers full sun and moist soil but doesn’t appreciate clay.

The plant will need to grow for two or three years before the roots are large enough to harvest. Once they have matured, they should be harvested in the fall, when the plant has focused all of its resources down into the roots before winter. The flavor and chemistry of the roots will be at their peak during this time.

Not only does licorice root contain antibacterial and anti-inflammatory components, it’s also shaped perfectly for turning into a simple toothbrush substitute. I use them in addition to a regular toothbrush/toothpaste routine, but some people successfully use licorice root alone.

Licorice root typically grows in a long, thin shape. Once it has been dried (this technique won’t work on a fresh root), choose one end of the root and soften it by standing in a glass with a half inch of water or by sucking on it until the root softens (usually about sixty seconds either way). Peel back the outer root bark (the brown looking skin on the root), and gently chew the root until there is a quarter inch or so of “brush” at the end. Gently rub along the gumline and over each tooth to clean the mouth.

Licorice has a sweet taste, so there’s no need to fear that your brush will taste like pencil shavings. After each use, trim away the used “brush” with a knife or scissors and store in a clean place until next use.

Sage- Salvia officinalis

Deodorant substitute

Sage is a small to medium perennial herb that prefers a very sunny location with dry, well drained soil. It will grow from zones 4-8 in the US. Many people are familiar with sage as a culinary herb, but it also has more medicinal uses.

Make a strong infusion of the fresh or dried herb to spritz or splash the underarms and help control body odor. For best results, make the infusion in the evening and allow to sit overnight before straining. It will need to be applied more frequently than a store bought deodorant, because it will not be as strong. It is not an antiperspirant, either, so it won’t keep you dry.

Fresh sage leaves can also be added to an oral hygiene routine with licorice root. Simply rub a fresh sage leaf over the gums and each tooth. Sage has a stronger flavor than licorice, but the leaves can be harvested more often and more easily than licorice roots, so it’s a good option to know.

Soapwort, licorice, and sage have many other herbal uses, but they are definitely botanical all stars when it comes to personal hygiene. Knowing how to grow and use them will mean you always have a back up plan for soap, toothpaste, and deodorant.

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Pemmican: The Original Fast Food of the Native Americans

Pemmican is a tasty high-protein treat that’s perfect for snacking, traveling, hiking, camping, and for disasters or other crisis events, where cooking meals may be difficult. As a bonus, this lightweight nutrient-packed food needs no refrigeration.

Traditional recipes for Indian pemmican usually calls for a mixture of shredded jerky, dried berries and nuts, along with a bit of melted fat to hold it all together. In the old days, it was considered essential for sustaining warriors and hunters on the trail. Pemmican can be eaten out of hand, or added to soups, stews, or anything in need of an extra nutritional boost.

The fast-food idea caught on with the Hudson’s Bay Company and became a standard feature in the North American fur trade industry. The highest prices were paid for Native American-made pemmican that was stored in buffalo skin bags, called parfleches. The filled bags were sealed with melted fat. The parfleches shrank as they dried, creating a kind of vacuum seal that helped to preserve the contents for years. Traditionally, this kind of pemmican was made with equal parts dried meat and melted fat. Animal fat taken from around the kidneys and loins were considered choice. If taken from beef, this kind of fat is called suet. For those who prefer a fat-free pemmican, a recipe is included here.

To eat pemmican Native American style, pop a little bit into your mouth and chew it just about forever, sort of like chewing gum. That way you entertain your mouth and extract every bit of goodness from the dehydrated meat, berries and nuts. It is surprisingly filling when eaten this way. Even though the food is low-volume, it it packs power because it is highly concentrated and loaded with protein.

There are different schools of thought regarding the shelf life of pemmican. Some say it will last for only a month or two; others say it will last for years. It depends upon the temperature and humidity of the environment, the quality of ingredients, and how it is stored. At any rate, the fat content will also determine shelf life. After the fat goes rancid from age, it will taste bad, and should be thrown out. The cooler the storage temperatures are, the longer the fat will stay fresh.

To help extend shelf life, I like to store pemmican in the freezer. If the electricity should ever go out long enough to affect the contents of the freezer, I will take the pemmican out of the freezer, and after making sure that it is perfectly dry, store it in a glass jar or plastic bag in a dark cool place.

For even longer term storage, I sometimes use raisins in place of fat in the traditional recipe.

Fat-Free Pemmican

In a blender, whiz together equal parts of pulverized-to-a-powder jerky, ground dried berries, and chopped nuts of your choice. Add enough raisins so that the smashed up raisins hold everything together nicely. Then you can form marble-sized balls or whatever. No blender handy? Chop with a knife, then pound the foodstuff to a pulp with a rock.

This stores a lot longer than the traditional version with fat. But then, during really high caloric demanding situations such as hiking, working, or coping with a disaster, you’d be wishing for that little extra fat, because it supplies a majority of the calories in pemmican.

Another delicious alternative to animal fat is peanut butter, which provides more sustenance than the fat-free version.

Pemmican with Honey and Peanut Butter

Some people prefer peanut butter to fat; some like a blend of honey and peanut butter. Here is a recipe that helps provide calories without fat:

  • 1/2 pound of jerky, pulverized to a powder, or nearly to a powder
  • 1/2 pound of raisins
  • 1/2 pound of nuts (peanuts, pecans. etc)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter

Warm the honey and mix with the peanut butter together until well blended.
Add all ingredients together. Store in a plastic bag in a cool, dry place.

Native American Pemmican – Traditional Style

Cook chunks of fat over low heat until all moisture is removed and oil is rendered. Strain well, allow to cool until hardened. Reheat and strain again, to make the fat firmer, and to improve its keeping qualities.

Pulverize dried meat (jerky) to a powder. Add equal parts of ground dried berries and chopped nuts. Add just enough hot melted fat into the mixture to lightly coat all the ingredients. Immediately stir the mixture, working quickly to allow the melted fat to soak into the powdered ingredients before cooling. If it cools too quickly, gently warm the mixture in the microwave or over a low flame. While still warm, shape the pemmican into balls, bars or small patties.

Lacking traditional containers such as animal intestines or skin parfleche bags to store them in, wrap the pemmican pieces in wax paper. Store in glass jars or plastic bags.