War is Declared on Green Energy

Why has the United States government declared war on green energy? I mean, what did green energy ever do to this country that warrants it being declared an enemy of the people and placed on the top ten list of things to destroy? What happened? Let’s back up and investigate this unusual occurrence as there must be a logical explanation.

Let’s begin on a topic I believe everyone can agree on. There is only one world on which we can maintain life, and that is earth. Human actively, spurred by a crippling population explosion and advancement of third world countries into the industrial revolution is overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other emissions, which is acting like a blanket in the upper atmosphere trapping earth’s natural heat.

This blanket of gases is not suppose to be there. Nature didn’t put it there, we did by burning fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas. I believe scientists and people who don’t believe in science can agree on this fact.

Trump pushing clean coal ignoring climate change

So what’s this got to do with anything? This is where the first battle begins between the two factions of science and non-science. Science claims this blanket has created a global warming which is wrecking havoc with our weather patterns and thus our environment. This claim is based on facts, but facts matter little to the non-science faction, who claim this is a natural phenomenon that the earth has experienced before.

This is most likely very true. After all the United States was once glacier covered and deep seas existed where only desert wastelands now exist. It might be noted these changes occurred over millions of years. Keep that in mind for future reference.

So for sake of argument let’s look at may happen if the war on green energy was called off.

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Improved Health

Air and water pollution from coal and gas fired industrial plants are responsible for creating breathing problems, cancer, heart attacks, neurological damage and a host of other illnesses. With the dismantling of the EPA, which is charged with policing illegal pollution, the health concerns will only become worse.

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A Harvard University study showed the health care cost for treating such pollutant induced illnesses at $74.6 Billion dollars a year. It doesn’t matter your social status, although the wealthy can afford medical treatment while the poor suffer, or literally die, the causes of such sickness affects everyone. Cancer doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor.

The irony is green energy technology simply does not create the types of pollutants which poison the air and water. Although in all fairness geothermal and biomass systems do emit air pollutants, but are generally only a fraction of coal and gas fired facilities.

Wind and solar energy require essentially no water in which to operate, thus eliminates the risk of water pollution. Perhaps more importantly in some cases, by not consuming water, allows greater amounts of water available for distribution for agriculture, drinking water and other water needs. That may not sound important, but if you live in the Southwestern United States you realize water is growing continually scarcer and more expensive.

Jobs and other Economic Matters

Alright you’re not a scientist, tree hugger or visionary, you’re just a regular Joe worried about making a living and having a difficult time doing it.

Fossil-fuel-generated technologies are mechanized and capital intensive where as renewable energy alternatives are more labor intensive. Manufacturing and installing solar panels is more labor intensive than coal or oil extraction requiring more employees. That should be a great thing, right?

But here’s the giant rub, fossil fuel employees make a good wage while the jury is still out on wages renewable energy employees will command. Does it make sense to lose 250,000 jobs which pay $50 an hour (benefits included) to gain 500,000 jobs at $20 an hour? 250,000 more people working, but at much lower wages. Is that a fair trade-off?

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Old Ways into New Ways

I guess it depends on whether you’re losing or gaining a job, but in my opinion the answer is a resounding No. This is the classical Race to the Bottom agenda that the government and big business love to employ, which is the exact reason the American middle class, America’s backbone, is nearly extinct.

Why should this subject even enter into the overall discussion of renewable green energy vs fossil fuel? Let’s face it … like it or not, right or wrong, everything in life depends on money. Were Amazon, Facebook, Google created for the benefit of mankind? Hell, no they were created to make the owners wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Trying to bring an illegal criminal enterprise to justice? Follow the money.

Point is, if we were talking losing 250,000 jobs at $50 an hour, but not only replacing them, but adding another 250,000 at $50 an hour, the public would be screaming for the advancement of green energy by the government.

Can we accomplish this? Is the government the answer? Yes, to the first question. Absolutely no to the second. The labor hating government is the largest obstacle to overcome to accomplish the goal. Instituting Rights-to-work laws which essentially cripples unions making them ineffective at collective bargaining, is the single most negative action enacted which stagnates workers wages. Are Unions good? YES! Are there some lousy scoundrels in the union leadership? YES!

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Fortunately or unfortunately I have personally witnessed Union Officials of both types. Union officials that place their greed above the memberships needs should be tar and feathered and run out of town. But then someone will say all the politicians should be included in that group. Touche’ can’t argue that.

But remember, the point is to create good paying jobs in the renewable energy sector, not menial flipping hamburgers wages. Whatever means required to reach that goal is the correct one, unions are just a traditional method utilized.

Speaking of Government

Government loves money, as your taxes illustrate, so green energy should be a no-brain-er for them. For example, Local governments could enjoy a windfall of revenue from green energy with several avenues of new revenue. The property owner where the power company installs their wind turbine will be paid $3000 to $6000 per megawatt, plus royalties, plus rights-of-way leases, all resulting in more taxes being paid. The green energy company is also required to pay taxes. Farmers can produce feed stocks for biomass power facilities. The list goes on and on.

UCS analysis estimate that by 2025 a national renewable electricity standard would result in $263.4 Billion in new capital investment in renewable energy technology, $13.5 Billion in additional landowner income and $11.5 billion in new property tax revenues which flows directly into the local government’s coffers. That’s a lot of money.

Stable Energy Prices

The government likes to crow the example of federal spending to a normal household budget, when it serves their purpose. Using that example what happens to the household budget when hit with a massive and unexpected expense, it shatters possibly destroying peoples’ lives.

Historically fossil fuel prices have experienced very dramatic price swings. In the years prior to 2008 coal demand far exceeded coal production due to global demand, skyrocketing coal costs. In 2008 world demand plummeted as did the price of coal. Natural gas experienced the same dramatic shift in 2005. In 1974 the entire United States economy came to a grinding halt when the price of oil shot up and oil production was cut by OPEC. Utilizing more renewable energy would cushion the blow of a sudden spike in fossil fuel prices regardless of whether it be coal, gas or oil.

There is a price to pay. Upfront investments to build renewable energy platforms of whatever nature, will be expensive. However, once the initial sticker shock of construction is endured the facility will be extremely cheap to operate. Most clean energy technologies employ free fuel, sun, wind, water which can result in very stable costs of energy after the initial investment is recouped.

Additionally, costs of renewable energy technology has steadily and will continue to decline. The average cost to install solar panels on a home has declined 70% from 2010 to 2017. Cost of wind generated electricity has dropped 66% between 2009 to 2016. There’s no reason to doubt the continued cost reduction as technology improves.

Reliability

If I turn on a light and the bulb blows I’m immediately aggravated. Now I gotta find a bulb, a ladder, undo the light fixture, etc etc. How aggravated would you be if there was literally no power at all, for days, weeks or months.

We won’t even discuss the eventual total depletion of fossil fuels, but let’s talk about temporary unavailable fossil fuels. Hurricane Sandy devastated much of New York and New Jerseys fossil fueled electric producing capacity leaving millions without power. Green energy systems in the same pathway of Sandy resulted in much less damaged capacity. Why? One reason is the green energy system is spread out over a large area, which requires massive destruction to put it down.

Water scarcity is also becoming an increased risk potential for non-renewable power plants. Coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants require a tremendous amount of water to function. The recent dramatic shift in weather patterns have produced, and will continue to produce severe drought conditions. An examination of the quickly disappearing Lake Meade should send shivers down your spine.

The risk of disruptive weather events will only increase as droughts, heat waves, more intense storms and increasing amounts and severity of wildfires become more frequent due to global warming.

So What’s the Problem?

By now you may be thinking the argument for increased renewable green energy appears to be solid. So what’s the problem? Why is it taking so long to get going?

Well, in a nutshell … a nut. The Trump administration has declared war on green renewable energy for several reasons. The most ridiculous reason is their absolute denial that Climate change is real. They immediately publicly declared their ignorance by withdrawing from the Paris Climate agreement, the only country in the world to do so, an agreement America spearheaded and helped negotiate. This denial comes as Miami is slowly sinking into the Atlantic ocean due to rising sea levels.

Another reason is pandering to a particular voting block. Trump is an expert con-man who feeds on peoples’ fear and frustration. Coal workers, Steel workers and other hard labor good paying union jobs have been decimated by global free trade. I know, I was an autoworker who suffered greatly under NAFTA. But instead of promoting new skill training for displaced workers, which could feed directly into the green energy segment, he initiates a trade war through tariffs which may destroy the American economy, if not the world’s.

Trump is dismantling the EPA, encouraging renewed pollution of the air and water.

Trump is selling off public lands to mining companies at an accelerated pace. These are not his to sell, but that doesn’t stop a dictator.

Who has declared war on Green Energy? The Trump administration.

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Basics of Geo-thermal Power

There’s a very simple reason the “experts” suggest installing a wind/solar energy hybrid system, especially for off the grid living. Historically, in the United States, weather patterns fluctuate, summer … strong solar … weak winds. Winter … weak solar … strong winds. This fluctuation provides reliable green energy year round. There is another year round energy source.

Simple Geo-thermal theory explanation: The United States experiences a wide spectrum of weather conditions from blazing heat to frigid sub-zero cold, Most times in the same city or state. However, just a few feet under the earth’s surface the ground temperature remains relatively the same regardless of surface temperatures. This constant 45/7 to 75/21 degree F or C, is the source of heat we will tap into in order to create a Geo-thermal heating and cooling system.

Geo-thermal – Benefits

Geo-thermal energy taps into the earth’s sub-surface to harness the earth’s natural heat, thus creating a renewable and literally zero green house gases. How can that be? Geo-thermal systems heat and cool the home with for all practical purposes, virtually no electrical power, no need to create large amounts of electricity means no carbon footprint, making the process extremely Eco-friendly.

As a Geo-thermal unit maintains @50% relative indoor humidity they are effective in all environments, from humid Florida to bone dry Arizona.

Geo-thermal heat pump systems are extremely flexible and can be designed to be installed in both new and retro fit construction.

Something most people overlook, whether in new construction design or retro fit, is the space required to house a conventional HAVC system. It is substantial especially if space is at a premium. The equipment required for a Geo-thermal system is quite small freeing space for alternative uses.

Perhaps the most important aspect, especially for the average homeowner, is the durability and reliability of the system. Geo-thermal systems have very few moving parts, and those that do move are located inside the house away from the elements, requiring little to no maintenance. Additionally, the system is so quiet no one at home will know when it’s running.

What Next? Evaluating Your Home

A brief description of Geo-thermal variables

Although a Geo-thermal system can be installed literally anywhere in the world, there are variables that will greatly effect the type and degree of difficulty required to install the unit. If your contractor doesn’t agree … fire him before you hire him.

Geological factors, such as the properties and composition of your soil may have a large impact on the type of geothermal system you choose to install. Soil with good heat transfer properties will require less piping than poor heat transfer soil. Areas with extensive rock content or incredibly difficult to trench may be forced to install a vertical loop system instead of a horizontal ground loop system.

Hydrology refers to the surface water availability which affects the type of Geo-thermal ground loop to use. Factors such as depth, water quality, volume and surface area can be imperative in deciding if an open loop system, or a repository for coils of piping for a closed loop system is possible.

The size of usable land can dictate your system. Horizontal ground loop systems are the least expensive to install, but existing landscaping, sprinkler systems or underground utilities may force the installation of a vertical loop system.

Types of Geo-thermal Heat Pump Systems

Unless you are familiar with Geo-thermal you are probably quite sick of hearing about looped systems you have no concept of. We will now delve a little more into the complexities of these different systems.

There are four basic types of ground loop systems, horizontal, vertical and pond/lake systems which are known as closed loop systems … the fourth is an open loop system. Any of the four can be used for residential or commercial use, but climate, soil conditions, land size and local labor cost will dictate which would be the best for the particular installation.

Let’s begin with the Closed Loop System

Nearly all 98% of closed-loop heat pumps circulate an anti-freeze solution through specially designed plastic tubing, which is buried underground or submerged in deeper water in a closed loop system. This antifreeze is run through a heat ex-changer that transfers the heat between the anti-freeze and the heat pump.

Another variation is called a direct exchange, that does not include a heat ex-changer, but rather pumps the refrigerant through copper coils that are buried in the ground, either horizontally or vertically. There are some complications with this system, as a much larger compressor is required, costing more to run and maintain. Additionally the soil must have a high moisture content which may require adding a sprinkler system. Lastly, certain soils, such as a high content of limestone, are very corrosive to copper increasing the chances of a leak being created.

heat transfer diagram

This type of installation for residential homes is preferred due to the cost effectiveness of the installation. It requires the excavation of trenches, one minimum of four feet deep, for 1 pipe to lay in, the second at least six feet deep for the second pipe. A variation of this installation is to dig a five foot deep by 2 foot wide trench, and lay the piping in a slinky method, looping the tubing. This has several advantages, for example it reduces the size and amount of trenching as the slinky method allows more pipe to be placed in a smaller area, which may allow this less expensive method to be used when originally thought there wasn’t enough usable land available.

Vertical System

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Large commercial buildings and schools will nearly always utilize a vertical system because the amount of piping required would demand extensive trenching over a large tract of land, which is normally not available or very expensive. Vertical systems can also be used when there isn’t enough soil over bedrock for deep enough and proper trenching. Installation requires a trench to be dug to hold a horizontal pipe, known as a manifold which connects the vertical piping to the equipment stored inside the building. Depending on the requirements, four inch diameter holes are drilled to 100 to 400 feet deep and 20 feet apart. Pipes are inserted into these holes, with a U-bend connection which redirects the pipe back up the hole to the manifold.

inapondWater-source System

The pond/lake system as its known is by far the cheapest of all installations and is ideal for a cabin or vacation home, although it can be utilized for a full time residence. Installation is simple, a trench is dug from the house to the water source, beneath the freeze line, a pipe is inserted and covered with soil. The pipe will be fished into the water source, how far out depends on the size of the pond/lake, and must be coiled and sunk to a minimum of eight feet beneath the surface. Caution: You must monitor the depth of the water if there is any doubt that lack of rainfall could create an unsafe water level.

Open Loop System

This system, which in my opinion is the least desirable, uses well or surface water as the heat exchange fluid that circulates through the GHO system, then returns to the well or to a surface discharge. This option can only be used when there is an unlimited amount of clean water and groundwater discharge is not a violation of state or local rules or regulations.

Geo-thermal heat pumps (GHP) are not a new craze, they have been in use since the 1940s, of course there have been huge technological advances as with any other technology. Going “green” is a personal choice, but sometimes its largely dictated by cost, and that depends on how you describe cost. The Geo-thermal system may cost as much as 3 or 4 times a traditional HAVC system, however the reduced costs of operation may pay for itself in as little as 5 to 10 years. The system’s expected life span is 25 years for inside components and 50+ years for the ground loop.

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Solar: Basic Science

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When it comes to “personal” solar usage many people fail to realize the simpler the better. We have fallen into the “more complicated the better” mindset which, in my opinion, originates with the cell phone. There was a time being able to make and receive a phone call without being attached to a land line, was not only amazing, but quite efficient and solved the number one issue of being able to communicate from any location.

However, today if the cell phone, I-pad, smart phone, whatever, doesn’t take professional grade photos, emit music as if you were in a symphony hall or order you pizza by you simply thinking about it, its of little value and is about to be replaced by a newer version. Lost is the original intent of making and receiving a phone call.

With this mindset it’s sometimes difficult to remain on task when discussing solar energy, which is …. to harness the power of the sun to produce energy that we can convert to our use. That form is usually electric, but could also be heat-transfer for specific use, such as hot water heating systems.

Quick History Lesson: Solar photo-voltaic (solar cells)

Simply explained Solar cells also referred to as PV cells, convert sunlight directly into electricity. The PV term is derived from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage), thus PV. This is not new technology as it was discovered in 1954 by scientist employed at Bell Telephone, who discovered silicon, an element found in sand, created an electrical charge when exposed directly to sunlight.

In the overall scheme of things a PV system is not really particularly complex considering its tremendous impact on our daily lives. Did you realize calculators and watches are powered by this system? First, panels collect the sunlight and turn it into electricity. The DC current is fed into an inverter which converts the DC into AC power, which is what powers your home. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to follow that logistic.

Basic list of PV system elements:

Panels: PV panels, are your biggest expense as they can run anywhere from $2.45 to over $5 per watt. It can not be emphasized enough, proper placement and mounting is the single biggest thing that can affect the efficiency of the system. Poor location and mounting … poor performance.

Mounting equipment: As previously stated, it’s imperative the location of the panels, calculated to be exposed to sunlight the maximum amount of time over the period of a year, is checked and double checked. Once the location is verified, the real problem is securing the panels with enough integrity to remain in position for 25-30years. It does little good to sweat blood arriving at the utmost pinnacle of efficiency to position the panels, only to have them move due to poor installation techniques or material. Like buying a $100,000 RV with 1 gallon of gas in the tank. Looks good, but totally useless for its intended use of traveling.

DC to AC Inverter: This equipment takes low-voltage, high current signals from the PV panels and converts it into 120VAC (240VAC is also available) which makes it compatible to household appliances & etc. This equipment is the weak link in the system from the reliability standpoint, so don’t sacrifice quality for costs. You’ll regret it later.

 

Tracking Mounts: These mounts move the PV panels, mechanically, over the course of the day so they are directly exposed to the face of the sun, maximizing power production. Dual axis trackers change both azimuth and elevation, while single axis trackers only change azimuth. It depends on many variables which type would be the more beneficial for your use.

Azimuth is an arc of the horizon measured between a fixed point (such as true North) and the vertical circle passing through the center of an object usually in astronomy and navigation clockwise from the north point 360 degrees.” Webster Dictionary

If your like me … you really didn’t understand that explanation, but I include it because someone will.

Disconnect switches: Must be easily accessible and within reach of the smallest family member, and every member must know how to operate it. If any abnormal behavior occurs with the home’s electrical system, immediately disconnect the solar system. Why? Because odds are if something has malfunctioned and has created a safety hazard, it most likely will be the new installation, not the established house electrical system.

Utility power meters: Always notify your local power company that you are going to use a solar power electrical system. Why? Conventional power meters can spin backwards, but most companies will convert your power usage to a TOU (time-of-use) rate structure. It’ll save you a hassle of getting your electric bill correctly formulated.

Use Your Head:

Solar energy, although great, is too expensive to try the old trial and error method of design and installation. Don’t lose sight of energy efficiency being the most cost effective method of reducing the cost of heating and cooling your home. Do your due diligence and work with contractors who have demonstrated their expertise in building and remodeling to energy efficiency. This is especially true when switching to solar from a traditional power source. Get a Home Energy Audit before doing anything. It may offer options that will make conversion, for cost benefits only, unnecessary. It’s up to the individual, but installing any system that will require 30 years to pay for itself is a questionable choice.

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Basic Thermo – syphon system

Let’s assume you’ve had a Home Energy Audit performed and with a few changes to the homes windows and insulation, the cost of going solar is questionable, right on the edge of smart or wasteful. You want to do something. What about a solar water heater? Water heaters, especially older non-energy efficient types, are an energy consuming beasts.

How solar water heaters work: These systems are comprised of storage tanks and solar collectors, which use the sun to heat either water or a heat-transfer fluid in a collector to provide hot water to the house. The most common system utilizes a well-insulated storage tank to hold and maintain hot water. There are two types of solar water heating systems; Active direct circulation which require circulating pumps and controls, and Passive, which don’t.

Direct-circulation systems circulate water through the collectors and into the home, which can be used in climates where a freeze is uncommon. Indirect-circulation system pumps a non-freezing heat transfer fluid through the collectors and into a heat ex-changer, which heats the water that then flows to the home. These are used in cold weather climates.

A Passive Solar Water Heating System is typically less expensive than active systems, but not usually as efficient. But … the passive system may last longer. There are essentially two basic types of passive systems.

Integral-collector-storage: These systems can only operate in fair weather environments where it rarely freezes, and there is significant sunny daylight.

Thermo – syphon systems: The collector must be installed below the storage tank elevation in order for the warm water to rise into the tank. They are normally more expensive to install than the Integral-collector.

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Storage Tanks & Solar Collectors:

Solar water heaters will require a well-insulated storage tank, which has an additional inlet and outlet connected to the collector. There are 2 tank systems which include a traditional type water heater, as the solar heater will preheat the water before being pumped to the traditional water heater tank.

***Note*** Nearly all solar water heating systems will require a back up system in order to compensate for unusual high demand or cloudy days.

Questions to Answer Before Purchasing a Solar HW system:

1. Arrive at a firm estimate of the cost and energy efficiency of the particular system. The last thing you want is a $1000 increase surprise in the middle of installation, or a system that falls far short of expectations.

2. Evaluate the site’s solar resources. Some building lots, or current home location, is just not suitable for enough exposure to sunlight to provide the energy required without expensive modifications or unchangeable natural hindrances.

3. Double check the required size of the system. Some contractors, whether by inexperience or by deceit, will offer a less expensive system claiming it’s plenty big enough to do the job, but is totally inadequate. It’d be like buying a car with a little bit of brakes. Not a good idea.

4. This may actually be the first step you need to take. Check local codes, covenants and regulations which may prohibit you from installing a solar system. Usually, other than the cost of building permits, local governments rarely pose a problem. However, belonging to a homeowners association, or something similar, may prohibit any “unsightly” additions to a property. That’s an ambiguous term which can create unnecessary headaches and legal fees.

Screen Your Contractor:

Few people realize that a “Licensed Contractor” simply means the contractor paid a fee to the municipality to do business within its borders. It is no guarantee the contractor knows what they are doing. Ask questions and expect plain forth right answers.

1.What experience do you have installing and maintaining solar systems? Ask for referrals or site locations of finished jobs. A contractor proud of his work will welcome the opportunity to display its workmanship.

2. Does the company have experience installing the type of system you want? Solar systems have a general operating principle, but no two systems are identical. Are they capable of handling unexpected problems, such as hitting rock 8 inches down where there wasn’t suppose to be any.

3. Years of experience is a factor to consider, but don’t let that stop you from hiring a newer contractor. The new guy may be excellent and has a burning desire to begin a reputation of quality service, while the guy with 5 years experience may have performed shoddy substandard work, skating from one scam to another. Check your BBB.

We have only scratched the surface of understanding the many types of solar systems available, and they improve and become less expensive as time goes on. I just wanted to expose you to a few basics of solar water heating and its principles.

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Bug Out Bag-How to Build One

A bug out bag (BOB) is a cute name for a very serious piece of survival equipment. Many people don’t put enough serious thought into deciding which brand, what type of material,what size, etc. their bag should be. Just like there are no two people who are identical, the makeup of BOB’s won’t be identical. Let’s examine some issues.

Let’s begin with an easy question. Do you select a bag which is large enough to carry all the supplies you feel you need, or a bag that fits your body style and strength, leaving some supplies out? The easy answer … it Depends.

Doesn’t matter if you are addressing a real life crisis situation, or a weekend overnight hike, your intent is to be on the move. Therefore, the first requirement is the bag must allow you to carry it, fully loaded, comfortably for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean requiring help to put the bag on and only being able to walk a mile before you have to stop because you’re exhausted or the straps have dug so deeply into your shoulders you can’t take the pain.

Sounds like an easy remedy, buy a smaller, comfortable bag and adjust your supplies to the space available. You’ll be surprised if packed correctly, how much you can get into a small area. This is an answer, but not the only one. Anyone with military experience is probably snickering right now. The military decided for you what was required and you just had to adapt to make it work. Too heavy to lift and put on? Sit and attach it. Too heavy to get up off the ground after securing it? Get help from another grunt. Straps hurt? Get used to it.

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Many survivalists will agree with this strategy and they have some valid points. Supposedly, you have thoroughly researched your needs and decided such & such items are required for your survival. Based on that logic, if you start unloading vital supplies because of the weight factor, you are reducing your chances of survival with each eliminated item.

As usual, although sometimes hard to attain, a down the middle answer is the best. Attempt to buy a bag, that when fully loaded, is comfortable as far as straps, etc are not painful to endure, but the weight will tax your strength limit. You will become stronger as your body adjusts to the extra weight it is now carrying, although you’ll be sore the next day if you haven’t hiked in a while, plus as you use items the weight will reduce.

Deciding What to Pack

This research can drive you absolutely nuts. There are so many survivalist suggestions for the absolutely bare necessities you must include, from what I’ve found they are all excellent depending on the situation, but it’ll make your head spin and wallet shrink. If this is too much of a hassle to handle, or you just don’t know what you’ll need, you can buy prep-packaged bags ready to go. However, keep in mind no two bags are the same and they are constructed with a specific area and anticipated needs. In other words, a bag designed for usage in American Southwest (Arizona) would do little good in the Canadian Rockies. To have a bag that fulfills your every anticipated need, build it yourself.


Customizing Your Kit

Let’s begin with general categories of survival supplies:

Shelter/safety Protection …. tent, sleeping bag, etc

Water … sterilizing methods, metal cup, etc.

Fire … Methods to start a fire, matches, lighter, flint & steel, fire-stick, etc,

First Aid … small first aid kit is best

Hygiene … soap, tooth brush, etc.

Food …

Tools … fold-up spade, etc

The types of items you choose for each of these categories will depend directly on your personal knowledge. The more you know how to use various items, the more useful and efficient the items in your pack will be in an emergency situation and the less you will have to pack. It must be noted here, the bug out bag will be packed differently than a bag used for hiking, as it is designed to include items which will save your life in an emergency, not add to your enjoyment, like music playing devises. Although content will differ, packing strategy remains essentially the same as a properly packed bag will be easier to carry and will hold more.

General Packing order: Heavy items at the bottom of the bag … lighter at top.

Gear: Unless you’re going snorkeling, then it doesn’t matter, it’s important to keep your gear dry. There are professional grade plastic bags available, but I have found Ziploc bags work just as well. Lining you bag with a commercial grade trash bag will help keep moisture out and gives you an extra way of carrying things should the need arise.

Test Your Gear: Always test your equipment, and the best way to test your kit is to actually go and try it out. Spending time using your bag under non-disaster conditions will not only help you determine what is essential and what may be missing, but also allows you to test out your equipment and become more proficient with its use. Waiting until you’re lost before trying your handy GPS, which doesn’t work, is not wise. That’s all I’ll say on that subject.

Let’s Check Out More Tips:

Make your list of what you want your bag to hold. Double check it to make sure you haven’t overlooked something. Satisfied you have everything? Great. Now … start scratching items off the list. The bag is for essentials, not comfort, it can’t hold your entire life. Put it to the test. Think you need everything you have packed? Strap on the bag and walk around the neighborhood for an hour or so, then head out and take on some hills. Chances are you’ll be more than willing to discard items when you return home.

Once you have finished your trial and error procedure and have your bag packed, perform an inspection, at least semi-annually, to insure no food has spoiled or medicines or vitamins have expired. Rotate your stock. Such as a vitamin may be good for 3 years, but a particular food for 1 year and it’s already 6 months old. Replace.

Being new to the survival way of thinking there’s a tendency to buy everything available, just like a kid in the candy store. Gotta have it all. If money is no problem, then I’m not so sure you’re the type for a bug-out, but anyway, monetary expenses are not the only factor to consider. There’s a term known as opportunity cost, which simply means there’s only so much room in the bag, so much money to purchase things, so much weight that can be carried. If you are maxed out and an opportunity to acquire something more valuable or useful presents itself, you must either not obtain that item or obtain it and leave something behind in order to make room. That’s why it’s important to choose carefully what you pack.

Ever hear of Murphy’s law? If something can go wrong it will is essentially the meaning. Keep spares of items that are essential. Remember you are going to have to survive on what you brought with you. Two super compact yet powerful flashlights, like a Surefire E1L, pocket sized, is better than a super duper high intensity, it’ll light up a football field, that you have to discard because it’s too heavy to carry.

Plans and rules are made to be broken, but they serve a purpose. Have a plan in place and pack your bag in accordance to that plan. If you anticipate hiding near a lake, fishing gear is essential, hiding in a cave, flashlights and fire starting equipment is a must. You get the idea.

Learning skills will allow you to adapt, be more creative and require packing less equipment that you can substitute natural materials with, a limb line instead of a fishing pole, plus skills can be used as barter should the need arise. I strongly suggest packing a softback survival manual, nobody can know it all, but the book may contain it.

We will look at other factors in other posts, such as having multiple bug out bags, creating hidden caches and overlapping functions, but for now this is enough to digest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing For Survival

Let’s assume you have used your basic survival skills wisely. You have a shelter built, a fresh source of water located, a fire started with plenty of firewood gathered, being an expert in native vegetation you have gathered piles of edible fruits and berries, about all you’re missing is the satellite TV. There’s only one small problem… you’re still lost in the wilderness with a slightly sprained ankle, not totally disabling, but painful to walk on.

You have now exhausted the supply of fruit and berries, they don’t really do a whole lot for filling the gnawing knot in your gut, and if you gorge, you run the risk of having diarrhea and other unwelcome events enter the picture. You have no weapon, so hunting is out of the question, couldn’t walk well enough to drag a 200 pound deer carcass back to camp if you did bag one. Best you could do is attract wolves, mountain lion or a bear. That ain’t good.

You’re going to have to eat something substantial or you’ll begin getting too weak to hike out of your situation. Your best, and very tasty choice, is fish. I can hear you now. “Oh yeah, I’ll just tote in a couple fishing rods and reels, bucket of bait, lures, stink bait.” We’re not talking sport fishing … we’re talking survival fishing.

Prepare For the Worse

Anytime you venture into the wilderness or just off the beaten path, you need to pack to be prepared. Always carry an assortment of hooks, lines, swivels and small weights as part of your survival pack. Packing 40-50 hooks, a reel of line (100-400 yards) are not heavy nor do they take up much space.

Let me state this for the record before we go too far: I have had people tell me I should inform readers to not break State or Federal fishing laws, as there are a few proven fishing methods that are illegal. Are you people nuts? I suggest you do whatever you must in order to survive and pray for a game warden to pop up out of no where and arrest me. Rescue is rescue.

Now back to fishing. Let me tell you a story. I had a very good friend, not a great looking guy, but good personalty. When I was younger I’d watch him work the night clubs enduring one shut down after another by women of all sizes, colors and shapes.


I finally asked him “didn’t it bother him getting shut down by so many women?”

Nah,” he said smiling, “it’s a numbers game and eventually one of them will say yes.”

Well, that’s the way you need to view survival fishing. It’s a numbers game. That’s why you need so many hooks, and of various sizes, to put the maximum number of lines in the water. Eventually a fish is going to take the bait. Another reason for carrying so many fish hooks is that fish at a higher altitude are prone to be smaller than fish located in the valley, therefore you’ll need various size hooks depending on the possible size of fish you are searching for.

Should you have misplaced your hooks, because I know you didn’t forget them, you can make a fish hook out of just about anything, such as, fish bone, other animal’s carcass bones, natural thorns, pieces of scrap metal, anything that can be fashioned to a sharp point.

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Scouting the area. In a way fish are like people, they live everywhere, but there are areas where most of them congregate. Look for grass, weeds, even lily pads growing alongside the water’s edge and in the water. Fish such as bass and walleye like to stay in cover (grass and weeds are considered cover). Hiding in cover gives several species of fish an instinctive feeling of security, therefore simply put … more of them in the area. The problem with casting and trolling in this type of environment is that you will inevitably get snagged in the undergrowth, which can create feelings of frustration to panic, if it’s your only hook.

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Line Fishing

One way to avoid the snagging issue is to utilize overhead tree branches as your fishing pole. Tie your line to a branch over the water, near the cover (grass and weeds, fallen trees, etc), and let your baited hook settle to the bottom, then raise the hook a few inches. Catfish are bottom feeders, but most other fish tend to want a little space to maneuver.

Plan on getting wet while securing your lines because unless you have a boat, or can walk on water, wading out to the target spot with require getting in the water. Tie as many lines as possible, remember the numbers game, but use a little common sense. Don’t have 10 lines in a small area… spread the hunting area out as far as possible increasing your odds of a fish coming by.

Again, you’ll want to set as many lines as possible, but you may have to make them individually. What I mean is, if you make 10 lines all ten feet long, you may find as you set them 10 feet may not always be long enough to reach your desired depth or the water at all. A way to mass produce the lines is be sure to make them extra long. You can always wrap a 15 foot line around the limb to bring the hook up, but you can’t extend a 10 foot line to 15 feet.

Get Creative. Ever think of throwing a packet of balloons into your backpack? These balloons can be inflated and used as “floats”, if there are no overhead branches available.

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Balloons or Jugs

Simply tie a baited hook, along with a weight and swivel, around the knotted end of the balloon. Then tie an additional line that you’ll use to retrieve the balloon and hopefully fish. Be sure the balloons are large enough that when inflated it has enough surface area to float on top of the water. Your line and hook will hang vertically, and float amid the grasses and weeds, submerged logs, etc. When a fish bites, it won’t be able to pull the balloon underwater because it has too much buoyancy.

The second line is obviously just as important as the bait line. When a fish is caught it will simply swim off with the bait and balloon if it’s not secured to the land. Additionally, wind, currents or just the natural rotation of the earth will make the balloon float away without being secured.

Finding & Using Natural Bait. Nature will provide an abundance of bait to use for fishing as insects and worms are found everywhere on earth except frigid arctic areas. Worms, grubs, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars and crayfish are but a sampling of natural fish bait. A caution here: Be careful turning over logs or rocks in the wild as there may be a snake or other unwanted creature lurking beneath it. You’re looking for prey … not to become prey.

Minnows and leeches also make good bait. Simply insert your hook through the tails and let them do their thing, swim. They aren’t going anywhere and are natural acting.

If possible you may want to vary your bait. Use worms on ten lines, crickets on ten others, etc. Fish don’t always strike the same bait, that’s why they make zillions of different artificial lures.

Where and When. There are no 100% in nature, but there are general rules. Here’s some general rules for fishing.

Spring: Spring is an ideal time to catch fish as many are hungry after a long winter and are now becoming more active due to warmer water, as well as laying eggs near shore. Fish along the shoreline, especially in areas of cover. Cloudy and rainy days make good days to fish, the fish don’t worry about getting wet. Note: If the rain is pouring down forget fishing as the water will become too murky for the fish to see.

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Summer: Fish will often move to deeper, cooler waters as the temperatures rise, which can pose a problem if you don’t have access to a boat or raft to fish from. To combat this disadvantage try fishing early mornings or later evening as well as river fishing, where you’ll usually find cooler water. In the summer, hot temperatures over several days can have a real negative effect on fishing. Water of shallow lakes, ponds and even smaller rivers that become too warm for too long, causes the oxygen level in the water to drop, causing fish to become sluggish. Patience and luck is all you can have in this situation.

Fall: Similar to spring, water temperatures tend to be cooler, as outside temperatures drop, making fish more active near the shoreline (important for people fishing from the bank from tree lines). Fish will feed more aggressively than in previous weeks, as they prepare for winter by packing on the fat.

Camouflage: Ever see a turkey hunter in the woods? If you did I will bet any amount of money he won’t bag a turkey. Why? Because turkeys have spectacular eyesight and if you saw the hunter with your puny human eyesight, I guarantee you that turkey spotted him from a 100 yards away.

So why don’t we ever think about using a little camo when fishing? Fish can see and hear things above the water and as with any other animal, will scurry away from possible danger. Any shiny and metallic item you’re wearing or fishing with might reflect sunlight, and/or movement, will spook fish. You don’t have to paint your face or conceal yourself in the brush, but be mindful of what you’re doing .. you may be defeating your purpose by chasing the fish away as they start to investigate your baited hook.

Fighting the Wind: You will encounter windy conditions and that can present decent opportunities for fishing if you know how to read the environment. The wind will kick up waves which restricts light penetration from above making it harder for the fish to spot you or your movements, thus camouflaging you. Even in clear water, the wind can kick up sediment, making the water somewhat cloudy, which also makes it difficult for the fish to see you. As with a lot of things in nature, the wind is a two edged sword. While it hides you from the fish, it may also hide your bait. They can’t try to eat it if they can’t see it.

To adapt, fish facing into the wind. Fish will almost always face into the current and the wind produces a current, although temporary. (I mention that because conditions change and so must your tactics.) Throw your hook into the wind, landing ahead of the fish, and the bait will float backwards into the approaching fish. When fishing the shore, prey fish will be pushed in the direction of the wind (current) towards the shore. Shore fish facing the wind.

Fighting Depression: There’s little worse than fishing all day and not catching a thing. In a crisis situation that can cause deep depression or despair to set in. Am I going to starve to death? It becomes important to realize why the fishing may have been lousy that day.

A weather front approaching can directly affect the fishing as fish react to changes in barometric pressure. Many types of fish will feed aggressively as a cold front approaches, but slows to a trickle or stops all together when the front hits, and may last several days after the front moves out.

Should a warm front approach the rise in water temperature will make the fish feed more. However, that is true in cooler weather as the sluggish fish respond to the warmer water, but reacts in reverse in the heat of the summer. The hotter temperatures force the fish deeper and slows feeding during the day.

Cloudy drizzly days can provide good fishing. Fish will venture out of the grassy areas into more open waters, which reduces the odds of becoming snagged. Insects will also be knocked off tree limbs into the water, creating an easy meal, except one of those bugs is connected to your fishing hook. Again, hard rain voids it all. You might as well hunker down in your shelter just like the fish are doing.

In stormy weather, beware of lightning strikes. Get away from the water. It’s not worth the risk.

In conclusion. Fishing is a game of patience, a marathon not a sprint, to the goal. Adding skills and knowledge as you just did will greatly enhance your odds of being successful. They say knowledge is power. I differ slightly. I say Applied knowledge is power. Commit these skills to memory, practice them whenever possible and apply them when necessary.

Weather Forecasting – It Could Save Your Life

That bone dry gully you decided provided perfect protection from wild animals and helped reflect the heat of your fire, keeping you toasty warm for your long night’s slumber, has instantly transformed itself into a raging, debris filled tsunami.

Had this scenario actually played out … chances are you are dead. If only you had known a storm was approaching there’s no way you have camped in such a potentially dangerous place. You didn’t read all those survival blogs for nothing. But … it was unavoidable, as Weather forecasting in the wilderness is not possible. Or is it?

Your local meteorologists, with the aid of billions of dollars of technical equipment, stationed around the earth and orbiting in space, can not correctly predict the future weather with 100% accuracy. Therefore, obviously neither can you using the primitive warnings our ancestors depended upon, but what if you could predict with 75% accuracy… 50% accuracy. Would you have died in that dry gully? I would think not.

Using Nature to Predict Nature

There are certain constants in nature that occur with a high degree of regularity. It’s on these constants we will build our weather forecasting skills. Beginning with clouds.


What is a Cloud and How Do They Form?

Most of the time the sky is actually full of water, but you can’t see it because the drops of water are so small they have transformed into a gas, called water vapor. As the water vapor rises higher in the sky, the air gets cooler, which causes the water droplets to start to stick to things like bits of dust, ice or sea salt. As they cool they bump into other droplets and join together, and when the drops become too large to float, gravity takes over and the droplets fall in what we call rain, snow or sleet.

Clouds are not of different shapes, colors, heights, etc by chance. These variances are caused by different atmospheric conditions which create certain weather patterns. If we can read and decipher what type of cloud is in the sky and why that particular cloud is there, we have a very good chance of predicting near future weather. Notice I said “near future weather.” I’m talking about today .. tonight .. the next morning. But, that’s all we’re concerned about with surviving. We’ll gladly repeat the process the next day.

cirrusclouds

Cirrus clouds:

These cloud types are located very high in the sky and resemble thin streaks, swirls and/or curls, and are usually a sign of fair weather. However, be aware that these same clouds in cold climates, that begin to increase in number and are accompanied by a northerly directional wind, could indicate an approaching blizzard. I began with this cloud formation in order to demonstrate there may be other factors to consider other than just the looks of a cloud formation.

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Cumulus clouds:

appear to be fluffy, heaped, piled up clouds. These clouds will settle much lower in the sky than cirrus clouds and are considered fair weather clouds. They will normally make their presence around midday in a sunny sky, but may become larger and move higher in the sky, resembling huge mountains of puffy clouds as the day progresses. Watch for any darkening of color, which could indicate they are transforming into storm clouds.

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Stratus Clouds:

lay very low to the ground making the entire sky gray at times, and almost always indicates strong rain.

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Cumulonimbus begins as a cluster of cumulus clouds which build up and form rain clouds, expect a thunderstorm.

CirrostratusCirrocumulus

Cirrostrastus and Cirrocumulus clouds indicate good weather.

Clouds Aren’t Our Only Indicators

The wind is also a good indicator of the weather. Wind is created when a high pressure area moves to a low pressure area, which means bad weather conditions. Weather moves West to East, therefore if you are facing a westerly wind, it indicates the bad weather is to your East and behind you, or if the wind is at your back, you’re heading into bad weather.

The air never stands still, but for all practical purposes can move slow it seems there is no movement of air. You may be able to tell the direction of the wind by throwing grass clippings into the air and watch how they fall, or wet your finger and hold it into the air, the cool side of the finger will indicate wind direction. You may have seen professional golfers doing this, as they realize there is a wind higher up where they will hit their golf ball, and the ball’s flight could be affected by the wind’s direction.

While sitting next to the campfire observe what the smoke is doing, as the direction it travels could indicate approaching weather conditions. When smoke spirals more or less straight up, you are in a high pressure area, indicating good weather. However, if the smoke continually spirals downwards back towards the flames you are experiencing a low pressure area and the possibility of experiencing bad weather is high.

Hear the old saying “Calm before the Storm”? It’s true. As a storm approaches, the low pressure area it’s riding will, or can, push the area’s normal wind patterns out of the area. This creates a temporary calming of everything, and can create an eerie stillness before the storm arrives.

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Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose. Smells become heavy as a storm approaches, you may smell a compost odor from the plants, or a swamp will emit a nauseous rotten egg smell from the decaying vegetation.

Notice the humidity in the air. Assuming you aren’t in a traditionally high humidity area, a rise in humidity could be a sure sign of approaching rain. Hair frizzing, leaves curling, pine cones closing (they stay open in dry air) are all signs of increased humidity, thus, possible rain approaching.

Let’s Turn Our Attention to Creatures of Nature

Some of these techniques will require patience and the powers of observation, but anybody can do it.

1. Make a mental note of ant hills as you travel or sit around. Ants will instinctively build their mounds higher with steep slopes before a storm. If you know the mounds are now higher, or you notice the ants building it higher … rain is on the way.

2, Birds can be a good indicator of approaching weather. As we discussed, when a storm approaches the air pressure will fall, which causes discomfort in a bird’s ears. Therefore, birds will fly lower to the ground, perch on power lines and lower tree limbs and concentrate on eating ground insects. If you’re by the ocean look for seagulls perched on the beach, indicating a storm approaching. Lastly, birds will become quiet before a storm, lack of singing or chirping could indicate bad weather.

Birds, sensing air pressure, will attempt to time their migration during good weather in order to be able to fly high without the discomfort in their ears created by low pressure. Flocks high in the sky is a good indicator of fair weather.

Of course birds must eat to survive, but they can also predict pressure patterns and duration. If the storm is going to be brief, usually birds will usually pause and wait it out. But if the storm will be there an extended amount of time, the birds will continue to seek food.

Cow, and only cows as far as traditional farm animals, can be good indicators of approaching weather. Cows will tend to lay down in the pasture before a rainstorm, because temperatures tend to drop before a storm and cows tend to like being close to the ground during cold weather.

Ever hear this old saying “ Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning; red sky at night … sailor delight” If you see a red sky in the evening that means there are clear skies in the West approaching you, meaning good weather.

Check out what the snakes are doing. Snakes, being cold blooded reptiles, historically come out of their nests only in order to warm themselves by the sun. If the day is not sunny or particularly warm and you see snakes in unexpected places or times, its a pretty good indicator rain is coming.

Turtles seem to do everything slow and that even means anticipating bad weather approaching. They have an uncanny sense of anticipating, therefore they will move to higher ground a day or two before a storm arrives. The old saying “It’s gonna rain because the turtle is crossing the road,” has a tad bit of truth to it. It’s not the crossing of the road per Se, although that’s when we see them, it’s they’re heading to higher ground and the road happens to be in their way.

I can not guarantee you that any one of these natural signs will definitely mean good or bad weather. But when several begin to align the possibility of bad weather approaching is nearly inevitable and we must remind ourselves of our original purpose. We’re not concerned about whether to carry an umbrella tonight. We’re concerned about not ending up swept away to our demise by a tsunami created by an unexpected thunderstorm.

Survival can be based on a whole lot of little skills that help us make logical and rational decisions. An educated guess of approaching bad weather can be the difference between life and death.
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Five Things That Will Save Your Life

Today I hit my wall. I have writers block. I’ve sat here looking at the blank screen, going to the kitchen for more coffee, going to the bathroom to get rid of coffee, and yet the screen was still white and blank when I sat back down. It’s not like I was embarking on a novel, a great piece of literature impersonating Hemingway, or a black horror mocking Stephen King. No … just a simple survival blog.

That’s when it struck me …. There’s nothing simple about surviving. We, and I mean Me, I, Myself, have become so reliant on modern conveniences I have severe doubts of my ability to survive without electricity much alone in the wilderness. I’m an avid deer hunter, in Missouri opening day is nearly a National holiday. I spend an entire week deep in the woods “roughing it” and hunting prey just like my ancestors. Then I really stopped and thought about it.

Yes, I’m in the woods, but in those woods sets a 34 foot camper with a slide out. Electricity is readily available operating the lights, microwave, radio, satellite TV, while the furnace runs on gas for heat, as does the stove and oven for cooking and baking. Water, hot and cold is supplied from a tank under the camper and is of seemingly endless supply.

Hear the old joke “Does a bear shit in the woods?” I don’t unless I get the urge while out hunting. Which is very aggravating because I must secure my 45/70 weapon, careful not to bang the scope against the tree, they didn’t have that problem with muskets. Then I must peel off my $400 super insulated camouflage coveralls, I never take them off because my $250 boots are a problem to put back on with the insulated socks. If I have a disappointing day of hunting I jump on my Honda ATV and ride back to camp, and some of those logging roads are really rough and bumpy.

I’m ashamed to say, but that’s when I really realized my mountain man persona was fake. It was not done on purpose, no fraud intended, just honest role playing I guess. However, I was not alone. Like I said deer hunting in big in Missouri and the highways are lined with campers and motor-homes, $2000 to $150,000, rushing to the woods to rough it.

To these honest, hardworking people, male and female, my wife loves deer hunting, I dedicate this blog post. I’m going to strive to inform, people like myself, how to actually survive a catastrophe, man made or the wrath of mother nature.


The Beginning:

The first step to understanding basic survival skills is to recognize what is considered the greatest threats to your continued survival. Although dangers in the jungle differ from those in the desert, they all fall within categories of threats.

Exposure ….

Dehydration ….

Starvation ….

And in that specific order are your worse enemies, and pose the greatest threats to you and your family. Therefore, you must know these 4 responses in dealing with said dangers in order to survive.

Shelter ….

Fire ….

Water ….

Food ….

Drive these chilling facts deep into your memory if you think you’re playing Cowboy and Indians.

Extreme Weather, especially frigid wet conditions, can kill you in the short time span of 3 minutes.

A lack of water can kill you in 3 days through dehydration as the body shrivels like a prune.

No food will kill you in 3 weeks as the body consumes itself, eating fat, then muscle, then organs

It must be noted before continuing there are disagreements, difference of opinion would be better, within the survival community of which element of danger requires addressing first. Some say water, some say shelter while others maintain without fire you’re just wasting your time. Here is where you’ll have to utilize common sense. Caught in a snow storm … better find shelter. Desert environment … water is priority.

Let’s begin with shelter.

Short definition: “A structure that will protect you from the elements.” That protection can be in the form of an overhanging cliff, a fallen tree or a make-shift stick and leaves structure. Let’s look at 2 of the easiest shelters to build.

The lean-to is one of the simplest primitive shelters to construct, taking about an hour or so, depending on material availability, to build.

leanto

Step one: Locate a strong, somewhat straight pole and secure it between two trees. You can lash it, wedge it between low branches, whatever it takes to keep it from moving.

Step two: Lean sticks against the side until completely covered. These can be stripped of leaves or full of leaves as long as they are strong enough. Then heap leaves, grasses, palm leaves, whatever helps block the elements.

The shelter is not perfect. It doesn’t hold heat and if the rain or wind shifts direction it could pose a problem. However, it is quick and easy to build with little or no tools.

The Leaf Hut. This is essentially finishing the lean to structure, but requires more work and time, but offers better weather protection and insulation. Select a sturdy pole at least 9 to 12 feet long.

leafhut

The leaf hut is a two-sided, wedge-shaped lean-to with much better weatherproofing and insulating qualities. To build one, select a long, sturdy pole 9 to12 feet long. Prop it up in the fork of a tree; or set it on a rock, stump, or two forked prop sticks. Then, cover the sides of the pole with tree branches to act as ribs. These are placed at an angle along both sides of the ridge pole. Place the ribs close together so that your hut covering won’t fall through. Next, heap vegetation over the framework (this can be anything that traps air, including grass, ferns, moss, pine needles, brush, or pine boughs). Two to 3 feet of vegetation covering all sides of the shelter is enough to keep you dry inside. Finally, fill the inside of the hut with a thick pile of vegetation for your bedding.

Fire:

Not to debate evolution, but scientist that do subscribe to that theory maintain man broke away from animals due to the discovery of fire. Not just for warmth, protection, etc, but they maintain cooking the food, instead of consuming it raw, helped build brain cells and … well, the rest is history. Believe the theory or not there is no disputing fire is a vital element in a survival situation.

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Don’t lose the ember

There are basic requirements for starting fire, no matter the method you use. You must have very dry flammable material which easily catches fire. Cotton balls, dry leaves, paper, wood shavings, dried moss, Brillo pad, paper money (won’t do you any good if you’re dead) cattails, the list is endless depending on location.

You must have elements (tools) in which to create an ember or spark. This can be two sticks, flint and steel, matches, lighter, magnifying glass, a battery, anything to create heat. Obviously some methods are extremely hard to perform successfully, while others are quite simple. I prefer simple. I highly recommend carrying some sort of fire-starter to insure success. Knives with built in fire-starters are available for instance.

Tip: Starting with an extremely flammable source of kindling is crucial and fabrication of a fire making tool (bow & string) can be trying. The actually physical effort required for starting a fire with primitive methods is exhausting and requires concentration. All this can lead to your forgetting to have an ample amount of small dry sticks to create a sustainable fire once you get your kindling going. Don’t forget fire building material.

batteryfire

Did you know if you make connections across the two poles of a battery with a Brillo pad, you will start a flame?

Water: Unless you are in weather conditions which can lead to imminent death, like minus 20 F, I believe finding water to be the number issue to resolve, and I say that because lack of water leads to the quickest death of all other dangers.

Just because you locate water doesn’t mean problem solved. Salt water will have to be desalinized, debris littered water will have to be strained, all water no matter how clean it appears should be boiled. I realize you can filter water with natural products, charcoal, sand, pebbles, and that may be the route you’re forced to take. But if possible … boil the water.

Even if the stream water is relatively clean and safe to drink, there are still parasites that although not deadly, can still give you a stomach ache or a little worse. You’re in a bad enough situation, why take an unnecessary risk because you decided to get lazy.

Food: Our bodies are used to eating and it’s a natural reflex to feel hungry as the body realizes it’s burning calories and not replacing them. However, unless you are in an expected long term situation, food is the last thing to worry about. But if you have a shelter built, a fire raging and a good supply of water … let’s go get some grub.

There are literally hundreds of types of snares, some easy to build, others not so much. I don’t have the time, energy or space to list a bunch of different types. However, I’ll tell you about one that I bet you’ve never thought of … a rat trap. It’s essentially nothing more than an over sized mouse trap, but can easily capture small game, squirrels, chipmunks, weasels, etc etc. This is a low-cost, low-tech, and easy to transport device and by incorporating simple food-based baits with these traps, you can be sure to have food and fur at camp each night.

traps

Use your eyes to help your chances of eating. Scour the ground for droppings, rubs, foot prints, trails. The first thing you need to know is what kind of animals are in your area and are they a possible target. You may know moose are present, and you may even have a rifle, but a moose will range for miles and miles, an unlikely target.

Generally speaking, small game animals are active in the early morning and early evening. They are wary of being spotted by predators and cling to areas of dense vegetation and cover. They travel along the edges of open ground using fence-rows and waterways as a corridor. They are predictable and habitual; just like us. They tend to travel the same trails and will usually choose the path of least resistance. All of these traits can be exploited to put meat in your belly.

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Lastly, Butchering & Preparing Food:

The only reason I mention this skill, because every animal is butchered differently, is because you can totally destroy the kill if you don’t take care. Number one, a sharp knife is the Most critical tool you need. Ever hear the saying “You won’t cut yourself with a sharp knife.”? A razor sharp knife allows you the control to carefully cut whatever it is you’re butchering, while a dull knife will require undue pressure and a sawing motion. Ingredients for an accident.

Pretend you are undressing a doll. Sounds dumb but it’s the best I could come up with. Slice through the fur and skin, not too deep as you don’t want to contaminate the meat with bile from the organs, around the legs, the head and down the belly. Begin at the head and begin peeling the fur and skin off. This is not an easy task and some animals are damn stubborn about giving up their coat even dead.

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It will look better cooked

Remove all the internal organs, known as gutting, and discard, leaving only the meat to cook. Be sure to discard the guts far from your camp. You don’t want to eat it, but there are a lot of forest creatures, some you don’t want to meet, who will and they can smell it from miles away.

Survival is not just one thing. It’s a combination of education, experience, common sense, preparation and a host of other variables. Having all the fancy tools in the world won’t matter if you don’t know how to use them. Experiment, practice, read, observe. One day your life may depend on it.

The Pharmacy is Closed

It’s an unfortunate fact should you become involved in a crisis situation you will, if not immediately, eventually incur some sort of injury. Without treatment any wound, trivial or not, can become infected, but assuming you will be dirty and unable to properly sanitize yourself, the risk of serious infections skyrockets.

Suddenly feel like you should be leaning on your musket wearing a coon skin cap?

Best not to count on Walgreen or CVC being open for business as usual and hospitals, if available could either be inundated with injuries, or depending on the crisis … quarantined. You’re going to have to fend for yourself.

For a true survivalist the issue of possible injuries has been recognized and plans prepared, to the best of their ability anyway. But to a rookie or a recent convert to the situation … the fear experienced by realizing they don’t even have a bottle of aspirin, could be paralyzing.

Stop! Take a deep breath and think. Our ancestors dealt with the same problems. Ever visit a replica of a colonial town? The pharmacy had 5 or 6 bottles of powder on the shelf and a few mixing tools. In other words, for the most part pioneers handled their own medical treatment. You can do the same.


The same herbs, grasses, roots etc etc they used to treat minor ailments are most likely still growing right around you. You just have to know what you are looking for and what to do with it when you find it. Let’s begin.

Pain is nature’s way of notifying you something is wrong. Most of the time the degree of sustained pain equals the seriousness of the ailment, but not always. Now that we have acknowledged natures calling card … we’d sure like to do away with the pain, as no matter how small … it’s irritating.

wildlettuce

Wild Lettuce

Wild Lettuce and Prickly Lettuce aka Opium lettuces are excellent painkillers, which people have used for centuries to relieve pain. Those people didn’t care, but for your personal info, the medicine is non-additive and a great alternative to opioids. Although not native to North America, brought over from Europe, India & Pakistan, the lettuce pretty well grows everywhere in the continental USA.

Wild Lettuce grows to 3 – 4 feet tall and produces small yellow buds and has a bitter milky sap inside the leaves. This milky substance is known as Lactucarium, which affects the Central Nervous System, thus reducing and/or eliminating the pain, again non habit forming and risk of poisoning is zero.

There are three common methods to extract the medicine:

A. Pick a handful of leaves from the plant, cut them into small pieces, place them in a pot and pour just enough water in to entirely cover the leaves. Heat the pot, but be careful NOT to let the water begin to boil, that will compromise the medicinal value. Strain the leaves from the water, let pot continue to heat until the remaining liquid becomes syrupy. Drink after cooling.

B. Pick a handful of leaves. Allow them to dry, then grind them into a powder, make a herbal tea and drink it.

C. Dry the leaves and smoke them like a cigarette.

waterlily

Diarrhea Lily

(Nymphaea alba) AKA Diareha-water lily is an aquatic plant that has many medical benefits for gastrointestinal conditions.

You will be digesting safe, yet abnormal foods, and your body may rebel until it becomes more accustom to the menu change. To treat this rebellion use the water lily.

The water lily is a perennial plant which grows in wet environments. The leaves and pads appear to float by themselves, but are actually attached to a flexible stalk which derives from the root (rhizomes). The leaves are nearly round, 7 to 12 inches across and have a slit which makes the plant appear to be a Pac-man character. The large white flowers with yellow centers have their own stalks, 25 or more petals which emit a strong fragrance when open in the daylight hours.

The rhizome (root) portion of the plant is where the medicinal value comes from, as it is an astringent. To make the medicine, use a non-aluminum pot, this is very important because aluminum alters the chemical structure of the plant. Fill it with about a pint of water. Note: Do not crush the rhizome until ready to place into water. Place a handful of crushed root, slowly heat to a simmer, do not boil. Allow about a ¼ of the water to boil off, cool, strain the solid particles from the liquid and drink.

The medicine is very good at treating diarrhea and dysentery.

beautyberrybush

Surviving in the wild, no matter where you are, except maybe Antarctica, you will have to deal with insects, which can make life a living hell. They are natures way of laughing at our agony, but as with most things in nature, there is a solution. Today’s modern bug repellents consists of Deet, which is not available naturally.

However, the Beauty Berry Bush (Callicarpa Americana) a deciduous shrub or bush, which grows in the Southeastern United States, contains a natural insect repellent which rivals Deet in effectiveness. This is not an old legend, this is based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture findings.

Crush leaves and wipe them over your entire body and clothing. This will take time and will have to be repeated every few hours, depending on how much you sweat, but the relief will be worth it.

If you are lucky enough to have a few supplies. Crush the leaves and place them in a jar, pour rubbing alcohol into the jar until full, then secure cap. Allow this to sit for a few hours totally extracting the contents of the leaves into the alcohol. Remove as much of the leaves as possible and use the liquid to rub on the body and clothes.

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Honey is not only a great food source, delightfully sweet and packed with energy, it is also a medicine. Use honey to treat a cough or raspy throat. It is also an antiseptic that can be smeared on cuts and burns. Be aware of getting honey in the wild, don’t tangle with African-i zed bees as they will ruin your day.

For general knowledge here are additional uses for honey.

Acne can be treated with honey. Thoroughly clean the face, apply raw honey to the area, allow to set for 30 minutes then wash off. The honey contains anti-bacterial properties and helps the skin stay moist.

Arthritis is basically the inflammation of the joint. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties which will reduce pain and swelling.

Believe it or not locally produced honey can help reduce allergies. Allergies are the result of a negative reaction to pollen. Honey is produced by using this local pollen. Repeated eating of the honey will result in the body building an immunity to the negative effects of the pollen. This is not an overnight cure, but it will work.

redadler

Red Alder Tree

If you have never experienced the itchy agony of having poison ivy or poison oak, count your blessings. The red rash and bumps contact with the plants cause are miserable, especially if you have no treatment available to curb the spread and lessen the itching.

Luckily the Red Alder tree (Alnus rubra) is native to North America. The tree is hard to miss as it can grow to over a 100 feet tall. The bark is a mottled light gray and is relatively smooth to the touch. The leaves are ovate, 4-5 inches long with a serrated edge.

Pick a large handful of green leaves, Not dead leaves, crush them into a powder, place them into a container of water and bring to a simmer. Let the leaves to set in the water allowing its chemical properties to leech into the water. Once cooled use a rag or cloth, saturated with the broth and wipe all over the effected area. Continue this treatment until the rash is completely gone.

hackberrytreebark


A sore throat, besides being painful and aggravating, is a sign of inflammation caused by an infection. Left untreated the infection could morph into a serious disease, such as strep throat. Native Americans would take pieces of the Hack-berry tree bark, crush it into a powder and make a tea of it. Repeat this treatment until the soreness is gone.

toothachetree

The Zanthoxylum clava-herculis tree is a two edged sword. It is an excellent pain reliever, but only grows in the Southeastern United States. It’s commonly known as The Toothache Tree because chewing on its leaves or bark causes the mouth, tongue, lips and teeth to go numb.

Identification is quite simple because the bark appears to have little pyramids growing out it. Not easily ignored.


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Poisonous Plants

I considered making this a post of its own, but we are talking about making brews to drink, rubbing leaves on ourselves and smoking leaves. So I thought it may be prudent to continue the lesson with the direct opposite of medicine … poison.

A person can become poisoned by ingestion (eating), contact (physically touching) or inhalation (breathing it in)

What are the effects of accidentally becoming poisoned? It can range from a mild skin irritation to death. Some people ask “How poisonous is such and such plant?” This question is nearly impossible to answer definitively because:

Some plants require you to come into contact with a large amount of its leaves or bark, while others will cause death with only minute contact.

Every plant, possibly growing in the same area, will contain various amounts of the toxins depending on soil content. A plant that comes into water runoff containing Miracle Grow will produce more toxins than a water starved plant.

Every person has a different level of resistance to toxic substances. Most people happily eat peanut butter, while that same substance is a deadly poison to others.

When dealing with a possible life or death situation, its imperative we dispel misconceptions, or “I heard” logic. For instance, Watch what animals eat, it won’t be poisonous. Most of the time this is true, but not always. A honey badger can withstand numerous strikes from a cobra, which is on their menu, not so a human.

If you boil the plant in water all the poison will be removed. Again, not true in all cases. Just like boiling water removes enough bacteria to make the water safe to drink, it does not destroy everything the water contains. The same with all red plants are poisonous. Not always true, Nature has a habit of making red and/or bright colors as a warning, but cherries are red and chocolate covered cherries are a delight.

The bottom line is…. there is no one set rule or guideline to identifying poisonous plants. Only education, learning the native poisonous plants will totally protect you. If in doubt … don’t eat it.

Beware plants are great impersonators, as many poisonous plants look exactly like another edible plant. At a causal glance Poison hemlock appears very similar to a wild carrot. Possibly worse yet, some plants are safe to eat in certain seasons or stages of growth, but not in others. A Poke weed is safe to eat when it first starts to grow, but becomes poisonous as it ages. A May-apple is edible, but ONLY the ripe fruit, the green parts are poisonous. Did you know potatoes and tomatoes are perfectly safe to eat (obviously) but their green parts are poisonous.

To repeat: Unless your are absolutely sure of what the plant is and the possible danger … do not eat it!

Mushrooms are extremely difficult to identify and unless precise … could be deadly. Mushrooms attack the gastrointestinal and central nervous system, some causing death very quickly, quicker than a poisonous snake bite, and some deadly mushrooms have no known anti-dote.

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In addition to eating harmful plants, poisoning by contact is the most common method of contamination. Common plants like poison ivy excretes an oil which gets on the skin during contact, which can cause persistent and irritating itching, and scratching the area can cause it to spread. This oil can also be spread person to person. A person has the oil on his hands, grabs the steering wheel of the tractor, and the next person grabbing the steering wheel contracts the poison.

You will rarely, if ever, see a rancher or farmer burning brush without a mask of some sort covering his mouth and nose. The smoke created when burning poisonous plants can be just as dangerous as the plant, if fact possibly much worse because you inhale the poison into your respiratory system.

Points to remember: If you do eat any plants, keep a log and a sample of it. If accidental poisoning occurs the medical personnel can quickly tell which plant caused the illness.

Signs of possible poisoning are: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, diarrhea, depressed/slowed heartbeat and breathing, headaches, hallucinations, a dry mouth, falling unconscious. Coma and death can quickly follow these symptoms so don’t brush them off as no big deal.

 


 

Don’t Drink the Water

 

We’ve always been told not to drink saltwater, specifically referring to the ocean. It’s traditional wisdom we don’t question, but why not? We question everything else. Why can’t we drink saltwater? To answer that question we’ll have to turn to some medical expertise to see the effects of saltwater on our bodies.

So let’s begin with the question: What happens to our body when we drink saltwater?

It seems logical if we are drinking water, salty or not, we are replenishing much needed fluids our body requires to function properly, avoiding dehydration. However, in reality if we drink 3 ounces of saltwater, our body will expel 5 or more ounces of the fluid we’re trying to replenish. How can that be? It’s done through a process known as osmosis, and we’ll learn how that works before we’re finished.

Let’s begin with the kidneys. The kidney’s act as the body’s filtering system, removing harmful, unneeded or unwanted impurities from the blood, storing this waste in the form of urine, which we excrete when we urinate. This necessary and natural process keeps our body healthy, which is why people with kidney problems must go through dialysis, a medical manual filtering and cleaning of the blood.

It’s important to note the kidneys only filter liquid, solid waste is handled in a different part of the body by different organs. Here’s the rub, the kidneys can only make urine out of water with less than 2% salt content. Saltwater normally contains 3.5% salt, therefore it cannot be turned into urine. So how does the body get rid of it? The kidneys must rob other parts of the body of enough water to dilute the salt to 2% or less. What other parts? Our cells.


kidney

Body cells are isotonic, which means they must contain 2% or less of salt to remain healthy. The cell’s membrane is semipermeable, which by design, makes sodium entering into the cell extremely difficult, a safety precaution to keep excess salt out, however, water can move through the membrane easily. The body likes equalization and when the salt content in the blood becomes too high, water is extracted from the cell to reduce the salinity of the blood. This process is called osmosis and can have disastrous results, because as the cells excrete water they shrink in size and that ain’t good.

The kidneys are not the only organs negatively affected by too much salt. If you consume alcohol you are probably aware of the signs that you are over indulging and are starting to become intoxicated. Your body motions are not as fluid and coordinated, your thought process becomes muddled, you may begin to slur your words. Well, the early signs of salt poisoning are quite similar, as you’re becoming intoxicated on salt exactly the way you become intoxicated on alcohol.

When you become intoxicated the Central Nervous System (CNS) is negatively affected. The CNS is responsible for controlling every function of the body from breathing to thinking to controlling your bladder. When the CNS becomes intoxicated it senses the body is not reacting normally, therefore it reduces blood flow to what it deems less critical body functions. In other words, you may stumble or have trouble thinking logically, but you remain breathing and your heart continues to pump. If the CNS continues to become more intoxicated, more saltwater consumed, it will take more drastic actions to maintain life and this can become disastrous.

Salt poisoning can provoke anything from very mild symptoms such as jittery-ness, lethargic reactions and confusion… to more deadly reactions such as dehydration, which can then lead to a spike in blood pressure, seizure and a coma. Let’s exam how these happen.

cns

The jitters by themselves may not seem like a terrible reaction to have, merely a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing. But keep in mind that along with jitters comes a possibility of a dangerous increase in respiration, blood pressure and heart rate. Continued exposure to both those symptoms can lead to much more severe responses such as a myo-cardial infarction, or a heart attack. Likewise, lethargy and confusion can impair judgment and inhibit good decision making, such as I’m in real stress and require medical help.

Seizures can not only be extremely scary, they can be life altering. Normally an intoxicated induced seizure does little to no harm, but repeated episodes can lead to brain damage, because all seizures create bleeding around the brain and any such abnormal activity around the brain is dangerous.

I’ve tried to satisfy the intellect of my readers, but now I’ll bring it down to my level. If you’re chugging seawater thinking your doing yourself any good, you are actually taking in sodium that is incurring a net loss of water, leading to depleted body fluids, muscle cramps, dry mouth, and yes, thirst.

The body tries to compensate for fluid loss by increasing the heart rate and constricting blood vessels to maintain blood pressure and flow to vital organs. You’re also most likely to feel nausea, weakness and even delirium, and as you become more dehydrated, the coping mechanism continues to fail. If you don’t drink enough water to reverse the effects of excess sodium, the brain and other organs receive less blood, leading to coma, organ failure and eventually death.

I temporarily loss my mind and drank a lot of saltwater. Is there any way to reverse the effects of the saltwater poisoning? The best way to reverse any potential side-effects of salt poisoning is to consume large volumes of fresh water in order to dilute it. Depending on the degree of poisoning, the body may be able to purge the excess salt on its own. However, you still must increase your freshwater intake in order to replace missing fluids. However, while trying to replace the saltwater volume with fresh water, you must be careful to not do so too quickly. The body and brain adapt quickly to the higher concentration of salt, a rapid infusion of freshwater before it can effectively rid itself of saltwater can cause the brain cells to swell, which can lead to brain swelling, damage and ultimately death.

In a situation where freshwater isn’t easily available to you, but will be shortly, attempting to purge the saltwater is a good start. If you’ve had too much to purge effectively, and no freshwater is on hand, electrolyte rich alternatives such as coconut water is a good alternative. However if this method is used, you should see a physician quickly after to assure that an imbalance hasn’t occurred.

In the event that someone has already started to exhibit some of the more severe symptoms of salt poisoning, it’s imperative to get them to a physician, hospital or para-medical personnel as quickly as possible.

Bottom line: Don’t drink the water if it’s salty.

The One Most Important Survival Tool?

 

Good luck trying to get three (3) or more people in today’s environment to agree on anything. A beautiful sunny day … no, we need rain. Don’t even start on politics. Therefore, I’ll assume you will grant me some slack on the issue of creating shelters from a tarp.

That blue, comes in various colors, tarp that we use to throw over our firewood in order to keep it dry, or drape over our prized antique auto to keep the leaves from staining it, that very tarp could prove essential in helping insure you stay alive in a survival situation. Let’s look at some variations of shelter building with a tarp.

Wedge Tarp Tent

wedgetarptent

This type of shelter is very good for windy conditions, specifically when the wind is blowing constantly from the same direction. The wedge design provides an aerodynamic shape which disperses the wind and rain away from the main opening. The installation will require at least 5 tie down pegs, of course the more the merrier.

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To build the wedge tarp shelter, simply stake down two corners of the tarp into the wind (not opposing corners). Then tie up a line to the center of the opposite side of the tarp. Tie the remaining two corners down toward the ground. Use more cord and of a less steep angle for open wings and better ventilation. Tie the last corners down sharply for the best weatherproofing.


Tarp Wing

tarpwingtent

This design is great for keeping rain off you and the campfire, as well as offering shade from a blistering hot sun. Obviously the size of the tarp dictates the area size to be protected, but the rope tie downs can be as long as necessary. To hang the wing tarp tie up opposing corners of a tarp, two up high and two in lower positions. Be sure the tie downs are secure as a sudden gust of wind will make the tarp react like a ship’s sail, billowing and breaking loose if not secured taunt.

The Tarp Burrito

burritotent

Let me begin by saying this is not only one of my least favorite shelter, but I’d say use as a last resort. Why? Because you will be relatively tightly wrapped inside the tarp there will be little to no ventilation, which causes moisture to form. And as we all know moisture permeating a sleeping bag is not good. However, there will be situations which require you to use this type of protection so let’s learn how to build it.

It looks easy, just roll up in it, but that’s a sure fire method to insure discomfort. Lay the tarp out in the area you are going to sleep in. Fold one side over @ 1/3 of the way, straighten, then fold again, in the same direction. This will form a loosely rolled tarp where the seam is on the bottom. Tuck one end of the tarp underneath itself, closing the end, then carefully shove your sleeping bag into the center of the roll.

Depending on the length of the tarp, if there is quite a bit of excess length, you can place rocks on the folded under portion to insure it stays closed. The configuration is complete, all seams are under you which keeps them pinned down by your body weight and you have a flap for an opening which you can close or leave open depending on conditions.

Tarp Tepee

tipi

Chances are you probably built a primitive tee pee as a child. It’s the original American home built by Native Americans, originally covered with animal hides, then replaced by canvas.

There are many traditional ways to build a tee-pee, remember it housed entire families, but for a quick field shelter we’ll stay simple. Use rope or twine to bundle a few (3 or 4) straight poles together, lacking twine, use forked sticks to lock together. Place other poles in a circle around the main supports. Pull the tarp or other covering into place, and tie down well. Try to size the framework so that you tarp covers it completely.

Practical tip: Make the tarp come together so that you have a door flap, which can be closed in cold or wet weather; or opened for ventilation and easy egress.

A-Frame Tarp Shelter

atarp

The A-frame is designed to offer the greatest protection against rain and wind when secured close to the ground, or still protect against rain but allow ventilation when constructed higher off the ground.

An A-frame goes up fast. Simply secure cordage, rope, twine, or a long straight stick between two trees. Throw the tarp over the support, center, secure to the ground and bingo. You’re done.

Desert Tarp

deserttarp

This type of shelter originated with desert cultures, particularly in Northern Africa and the Middle East, dating back 100’s of years. Due to the recent warfare in these areas American military includes it in their survival training.

To get started with this shelter, you’ll need two tarps and several dozen feet of rope. Locate a natural indention in the ground or dig your own low spot. Lay one of your tarps out over the low spot and drive stakes at each corner of the tarp.

Secure the second tarp tightly to tie down stakes, leaving one foot or two of air space between the two tarps. The idea is to keep you insulated from the heat radiating from the ground and shaded from the direct sunlight overhead. The temperature differences between under and outside the tent could be 20 – 30 degrees F. An incredible difference.

Tarp Hammock

hammack

This is an excellent and comfortable survival tool, but I only mention it in case you want to tinker with constructing one. I say that because it requires you to tie knots that the normal person lacks the knowledge to perform.

sheetbend

This is a quick way to improvise a hammock to get off the ground in wet or bug-infested environments. Use an 8 x 10 tarp and some ¼ inch braided nylon rope. Start out with one of the long sides of the tarp and roll it up halfway across the entire tarp. Then roll up the other long side to meet the first, so that the whole thing looks like a 10-foot long, two roll bundle. Now, tie a sheet bend securely to each end of the tarp, leaving 15 feet or so of rope on each end to tie to your trees. Select leg-thick or thicker trees about 10 feet apart, and securely tie the end of each rope to a tree, as high as you can reach.

halfhitch

Wrap around the tree twice for good grip on the bark, and then use two half hitches, with an extra hitch for added security. Tie to the trees high up to compensate for the settling of the hammock as the knots cinch down. You can tie up another tarp as an “A” frame between the two trees that the hammock hangs from to give yourself a roof.

Survival Tip: To help minimize critters from walking down your tie lines to you, spray each cord with bug repellent. To insure snakes are discouraged soak rags in kerosene and tie to the lines, which will also ward off bugs. The smell may not be pleasant, but snakes in the hammock are worse. (In my opinion anyway)

**** Be sure to not sleep too close to an open flame if using this method. Obviously kerosene is highly flammable.

Is the plastic tarp the most important tool in your survival kit? No. But it plays its part in the overall strategy of surviving in a crisis situation.

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