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Surviving Outdoors – How to Build an Emergency Shelter

The great outdoors can be so much fun and enjoyable, until an unexpected disaster happens and you find yourself without shelter to protect you from the scorching heat, harsh winds, or biting cold. Having knowledge about basic survival skills when you get stranded in the mountains or deep in the woods could save your life, as well as your companions’ lives. One of the most essential things you need to know is how to build an emergency shelter.

It is very important that your shelter keeps you warm and dry. One of the most basic shelters that you can build is the triangle shaped crawl-in leaf hut which is built using only objects that you can find in nature like branches, twigs, and leaves.

What you need in an emergency shelter

A sturdy framework is of utmost importance. You will need to find a solid branch or wood to serve as your ridgepoles. They should be as long as your body, including your arm extended upwards. Both ridgepoles should neither be too heavy nor too thick, since you must be able to lift it into place. Next, you need two forked branches, each forming a Y on one end. These should be strong enough to support your poles. Then, you will need a lot of sturdy branches that will serve as your hut’s ribs. Their length should depend on how high your ridgepole is off the ground. Finally you need to gather heaps of leaves, grass, ferns, and other vegetation, as these act as insulators for your hut.

Start building your emergency shelter

The main framework

Prop up one end of the ridgepole on top of a small log or rock to make extra room for your feet. Use the two Y-branches to support the other end of the poles, creating your triangle-shaped entrance. Check if you could fit your body through it. If it’s too low, then you have to find longer Y-branches.

The leaf bed

It is important that your back does not touch the ground to maintain your body heat. A leaf bed will insulate you from the ground. Make it thick enough so that even if the leaves compress once you lie down, your back will still be off the ground.  Usually 8-10 inches.

The ribs of your shelter

Take the sturdy branches and lean them against the ridgepole at an angle. Each branch should extend just slightly above the ridgepole to prevent water from seeping in once the debris is placed on top and to prevent winds from dropping it below the edge of the ridge pole. Place them as close together as possible. Notice that as you go towards the back end of the hut, the triangle gets smaller and smaller, so you will need to use smaller branches as well.

The vegetative covering

Now it’s time to place the vegetation that is going to insulate your shelter. Add enough leaves, grass or ferns so that the covering is thick enough to keep water and cold air out while trapping the warmth inside.

Your crawl-in hut is now finished! Enter by crawling in feet first, on your back. Now you can survive the night in your warm and snug shelter.

Optional modifications

When the entrance is left open, the warmer temperature inside will escape. You can opt to use your bag to cover the opening. Alternatively, you can create a doorway using more twigs and Y sticks covered in vegetation to make a smaller, tunnel-like entrance.

You can also adjust the size of your crawl-in hut if you want to make it a two-person shelter. Just look for a longer ridgepoles and longer branches then place the ribs and Y sticks at a broader angle.

The crawl-in leaf hut is not only very easy to make, it can also withstand the rain and cold winds, providing you with great protection as you survive in the wild.

Tips to Bear-Proof Your Campsite

Whenever you are planning to go camping, safety must be a top priority. You need to equip yourself with the right knowledge and strategies to keep you safe from possible attacks from wild animals.

Bears are the most common invaders of campsites. They do not usually attack campers, but what they are after is the campers’ food.  Smell is their strongest sense so the goal is to make your campsite bear-proof as to not attract them with the smell of your food. In this article, you will find a few techniques that you can use to prevent attracting bears to your campsite. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these tips before you plan your next camping trip.

Layout of Your Campsite

An obvious way to keep bears from visiting your campsite is to choose an area away from places where bears commonly hang out. For instance, choose an area far from a bear’s natural food sources.

You also need to make a strategic layout of your campsite to avoid bears visiting while you are asleep. Campers commonly use a layout wherein the sleeping area is a good distance away from the food storage and cooking area. The layout has three points, your sleeping area, food storage, and cooking area. These points are 25-50 yards away from each other so in case a bear does visit your food storage or cooking area at night, you are far enough from it to have time to react. You must also consider the wind direction, which should be towards the cooking area, not your sleeping area so the bear will not come across your tent.

Keep Your Site Clean

Keeping a clean campsite is key. You should not keep anything that smells like food in your sleeping area, and you must not take or keep any kind of food in your tent. For your leftovers seal them in air-tight containers and store them in a vehicle if it is close by.  Regarding trash, bury or safely burn it. Keep the clothes you use for eating and cooking in an air-tight bag and don’t store them in your sleeping area.

After eating and cooking, immediately wash your utensils and cooking stuff so that the smell will not linger. Always remember that bears can smell food several miles away so always keep your campsite as odor-free as possible.

Hang Your Food

You have to use a strategy with your food storage to keep your food out of reach of animals, not only bears. There are also skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and other wild animals that could be interested in your food so you need to securely bag and hang it far from their reach. Secure your food in an air-tight bag, which is odor-free and impermeable.

Campers commonly hang their food about 10 feet or higher from the ground and 5 feet or further from the tree’s trunk. You can also ask local rangers if there are permanent stands or containers where you can hang or store your food.

What If a Bear Comes?

In case a bear visits your campsite, keep in mind that they are really after your food.  Stay calm but keep your distance and identify an escape route just in case.

Remember to always prepare yourself with the right equipment and strategies when camping.

What to Do if you Get Lost

You’ve made all the necessary preparations, planned your hiking route well, and learned how to use a compass and map. But for whatever reason, you find yourself lost in wilderness. What should you do?

Whether you are alone or you have other people with you when you get lost in the middle of nowhere, there is still a chance that you will be found, especially if a friend, a family member or someone at the trailhead or campsite knows your hiking plan. However, not instantly, as some search operations may last for more than a few hours or even days, depending on factors like the size of the forest, how far off the trail you are, and given the weather conditions.

Since you have no way of knowing how long before help comes, there are some important guidelines that you should follow to increase your chances of being rescued alive.

Stop, Think, Observe, Plan (S.T.O.P.)

  •  Stop walking

When you realize that you are lost, the first thing you have to do is to stop walking and keep yourself and your group calm. If where you are is unsafe, find a safer place and stay there. If you don’t know your exact location, walking further in the woods gives you a greater chance that you are going in the wrong direction. Moreover, if you keep on moving around, the search party would have a harder time finding you. So, just stay put and try to relax while you do the next step.

  • Think about your situation

While sitting down, try to remember how you got there. Think about possible landmarks that you may have passed by along the way, and what general direction you were going before realizing you were lost. Also, it is important to think positive. There is no doubt that you will be able to get home safe, one way or another.

 

  • Observe your surroundings

Take a look around you. Are you or anyone in the group hurt? If so, perform basic first aid. After making sure that the injury, if there’s any, is under control, try to figure out where you are. If you have a compass, use that to know the directions from where you are standing. Check your map and try to identify your general location using landmarks that you should be able to see around you. Observe the weather if it’s getting worse or better. Estimate how long it will take before sundown. What do you have with you and how long would your supplies last? What objects are available in the area that could be of use? All of these observations would be necessary in planning your next steps.

  • Plan of action

Based on your overall assessment of your situation, conjure up some plans and act on the best one. Remember to prioritize the group’s needs when deciding on what to do. If you are confident of your location and where you should go, the weather is good, everyone in the group is in good condition, and you have enough time before dark, then proceed carefully while marking your trail with rocks, sticks, or strips of cloth.  If you are not entirely sure about the route, then just stay where you are, call or signal for help, and try to survive until the search party comes.

If you decide to wait, then the first thing you should do is to build a shelter and fire, as they would protect you from weather elements and wild animals. Try to look for water and food source to make sure that you won’t run out of supplies. Remember to keep yourself dry and warm at all times. And again, keep thinking positive.

Keeping your wits about you and carefully planning your next steps when you get lost in the wild could save your life. Also, it is very important that before starting your hike, you should inform someone, ideally a person in the trailhead, about your hiking plan and your estimated time of return. This would help authorities to have an idea if something went wrong and make it easier for them to find you.

A Survivalist’s Guide for Filtering Water during Emergencies

Everyone needs water to survive. If we are not able to consume the proper amount of water that our body requires, we are at risk for dehydration. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, and dizziness. However, drinking water that did not undergo any method of purification can induce greater water loss. You will need to battle diseases such as dysentery and cholera. As a result, knowledge on basic filtering water techniques is important, especially during emergency situations.

  1. First things first: Where do you get water during emergencies?

When disaster strikes and you have not prepared any water for emergencies, then you should know where to get water that is not contaminated by chemicals or microorganisms. When Hurricane Katrina attacked, the water supply was contaminated with bacteria and chemicals. One available source is rain water which is generally the safest, most readily available way to avoid being harmed by water contamination.

  1. Systems for filtering water that you can use

Improvised method

There are many ways in which you can improvise an instrument for filtering water. Here is one method that you can try using the following materials:

  • Charcoal
  • Peat Moss
  • Green Moss
  • Stones
  • Soda Bottle, preferably 2 Liters in size

To make your own system for filtering water, start by cutting the bottom of the soda bottle and invert it. Put the green moss at the bottom layer nearest to the mouth of the bottle. The second layer will be the peat moss, followed by a mixture of charcoal and peat moss. The uppermost layer will be the stones. The materials were set up in such a way that contaminants such as sediments, parasites and bacteria are eliminated when the water runs through it.

Manufactured system for filtering water

There are several companies that have been producing these at a hefty price. The products available vary depending on the pore size of the filter utilized. The good thing about them is that they can be reused again and again for a long periods of time. Ceramic filters are also available which utilize small pores to decrease the amount of sediments and eliminate bacteria and protozoa. Carbon filter can also be used but its effectiveness widely varies depending on the type of carbon used. Carbon blocks are expected to perform better than granulated carbon.

Portable filters

Portable filter pitchers are available in the supermarket. However, they are not very effective against filtering out pathogens and other contaminants since the rate of filtration is very fast and the barriers used are not sufficient. They can only help improve the quality of water in terms of taste and appearance.  This could be a good approach for secondary filtering after more aggressive filtration is employed.

 The ones who prevail in the worst situations are those who are prepared

Once you’re done filtering the water you intend to drink, try your best to boil it first for at least 10 minutes. This is so that any microorganism that have not removed by physical means will be killed with heat. Change the material used for filtration whenever it starts to look dirty. Make sure to be prepared with all the materials that you need since disasters do not occur based on a schedule.  A good idea is to prepare and store these materials in a plastic covered bin ready for use when the need arises.  Remember we humans are made up of 50-78% water, with the higher percentages for those under one year of age, so be ready to assure that these hydration levels are consistently maintained.

Renting out your Hunting Land

Recently, more and more hunters are opting to rent out their land. This business venture is a great way to utilize the hunting land that you are currently not using. Quite a lot of people are beginning to realize that hunting land is actually a lucrative investment. You can hunt and do outdoor activities on it when you are available; then you can get a more or less profitable income whenever you are not.

Get Income from a Generally Untapped Resource

Hunting land is still basically an untapped resource. It is rarely commercialized, and it is barely known by other people outside of the hunting sport. This means that your clients will probably be hunters who have the same principles as you when it comes to the use of hunting land. Since few people know about this prospect, it is not as competitive yet. Many people testify to having their hunting land leased very quickly, giving you almost zero downtime. Starting now while it is still a bit unknown also gives you the chance to become an expert in the field and find more prime spots before others begin to try renting their own land.

Receive Numerous Benefits from Renting Out Your Land

Renting out your land doesn’t just give you the chance to be a more profitable landowner. It also has a few more positive benefits that can be enjoyed such as:

  • Added land security even while you are away, especially if you lease your land with the help of a reliable company.
  • The ability to know exactly who is using your land at the moment, and for what purpose.
  • Meeting new hunters as they rent out your land.
  • Have the area regularly used as hunting grounds, even when you are not around, so that it doesn’t just go to waste for the rest of the year.

Ease of Renting Out Your Hunting Land

Renting out your land is generally easy. You have two equally acceptable methods of leasing your hunting land. The first is by renting it out independently. This can be more tedious regarding the logistics but you can meet renting candidates first hand. This gives you the chance to be more cautious about who gets to use your property. You can also choose to rent out with the help of a company. This gives you the freedom from all of the little details you need to manage, and most companies would be able to provide some security to your land. However, you will have less of a hands-on approach regarding those who are getting the leases.

Renting out your hunting land is a surprisingly lucrative business venture. It is very easy to do; you can simply sign some papers with a company and they will take care of the rest. Renting out your land is also a great way to use your land for better purposes whenever you are not using it, all while reaping other great benefits at the same time.

How to Navigate without Technology

Navigating these days is quite convenient with GPS. Before the GPS, there were only the compass and cartography. But did you know that in the old days, before there were maps and navigational aids, nature was used to navigate? Known as natural navigation, the sun, moon, wind, stars, plants, and animals aided in conquering new territories.

 

You may think that there’s no need to learn navigation using nature. However, if you suddenly find yourself lost in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have anything to aid yourself as to where you are, you’ll definitely be grateful that you have knowledge on how to navigate using the stars.

 

Finding the North – The North Star

 

Knowing how to find the North Star is one of the first skills you should learn.

Also known as the Polaris, the North Star is visible from the earth’s surface during clear nights. It always points to the north, which means that when you are able to locate it, you’ll know where the north is.

To find the North Star, look for the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), which is a constellation made up of seven stars that look like a ladle. The Big Dipper is located just north of the celestial pole. You can also use the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) to locate Polaris, although this constellation is smaller and more difficult to find in the night sky. Polaris is the brightest of the Little Dipper stars and can be found at the tip of its handle.

Depending on the time of the year, the Big Dipper may be tipped in different directions. First, find the two stars (Merak and Dubhe) forming the outer edge of the Big Dipper. These pointer stars in the cup of the Big Dipper are the two farthest stars from the handle. Then, draw an imaginary line straight through these two stars. The North Star will always be five times the distance between these two pointers in the direction where they point.

 

Use Cassiopeia to Find the North

 

The North Star is almost equidistant from the Big Dipper and another constellation called Cassiopeia, which is shaped like a “W.” Thus, you can also locate the North Star using the Cassiopeia. First, locate Cassiopeia’s middle star. Then, draw an imaginary line straight to the North Star.

For travelers, simply finding the North Star allows them to determine all the compass points: on your left would be the west, on the right is the east, and the back is the south.

Using stars as navigational tools is as old as antiquity. Despite modern technology, it is practical to know how to navigate using the stars. When you find yourself suddenly in an unfamiliar territory, without maps, compass, and communication equipment, looking at the clear night sky will surely tell you where you are. Safe travels!