survival first aid basics

Survival First Aid Basics: Skills and Gear to Keep You Alive

survival first aid basics

With the current state of modern medicine, getting a cut, sprain, or broken bone is no longer the death sentence that our ancestors faced. With proper medical attention, you can get patched up and on your way in no time.

But what do you do if these medical systems fail, are destroyed, or are jammed with other survivors?

How will you make sure you or someone you love doesn’t die unnecessarily?

The best way to insulate yourself from this type of tragedy is to make sure you learn some basic survival first aid.

First aid is an invaluable skill set to learn and to help get you started we have teamed up with Dr James Hubbard of TheSurvivalDoctor.com.

Besides being a practicing doctor for the last 30 years, Dr Hubbard has also published five easy to understand books on survival first aid (see them here). In this article he walks us through some basic problems that are likely to occur in a survival situation and what you can do to save lives when it matters most.

What are the 3 basic First Aid skills you should learn for a survival scenario?

JH: The skill I most recommend learning is how to stop a wound from bleeding. Most of the time, applying pressure to the wound will work. Also know how to use a tourniquet.

Learn abdominal thrusts for choking. A person can die from choking within minutes, so even in normal times, when emergency services are available, this technique can save a life.

A third important skill is the skill of improvisation. Remember to use what you’ve got. If you don’t have the perfect medical equipment, you may be able to make it out of something common. For example, you can make a decent tourniquet from a belt or a T-shirt. I go over a lot of other ideas for makeshift supplies in the book.

But what about CPR?

JH: That is important to know, but a lot of people are surprised to learn that CPR is only going to keep you alive for a certain amount of time. So it’s most helpful if emergency services are on the way or if you have access to an AED—automated external defibrillator. A lot of public places and even some homes have them.

The longer you keep doing CPR without a defibrillator to restart the heart, the less likely the person is to survive. Experts say to do CPR until you’re completely exhausted. I agree, but in truth, after about ten minutes, the person is unlikely to survive.

Exceptions are victims of hypothermia and drowning. They’re likely to live longer, without irreversible brain damage, because they have lower metabolism—less need for blood and oxygen. Some people, especially children, have survived after multiple minutes—even an hour—of having CPR.

What’s your number-one piece of survival equipment?

JH: Besides my book, I’d say the brain—knowledge. You’re not always going to have the specific equipment you need. If you have knowledge, you can improvise.

What are your top-five must-haves for a “go” bag?

JH: Vinyl gloves to protect yourself from infectious disease and fluids. I like vinyl because some people are allergic to latex. It’s better to buy too large than too small because you can always get a larger size on. And if someone else is using the gloves, they may have bigger hands than you. You could improvise by putting any type of waterproof material over your hands.

I like to keep some SAM Splints. They’re flexible splints that become rigid when you bend them. They’re so versatile, and you can use them for many types of sprains and broken bones.

Have some elastic bandages to use on sprains. They help with stability and with compression, which in turn can decrease swelling. With compression, watch the circulation though; your toes or fingers shouldn’t become numb or cold. You can also use an elastic bandage to keep a SAM Splint in place.

You’ll need bandage scissors or any type of strong scissors that can cut cloth, tape, and the SAM Splint.

And throw in some tape. Duct tape is my favorite. It’s a good waterproof, very sticky type of tape. However, any type of tape will do—the stickier the better. You can use it on bandages or to cover a wound after putting down some sort of cloth or padding. If you have to walk for help and your shoes are causing blisters, put duct tape in the shoes on the pressure points to relieve the friction. Duct tape does have latex in it, so it’s good to keep a latex-free option in case someone is allergic.

One reason I like these supplies is you can use most of them in multiple ways for multiple problems.

I live in a busy city and never go hiking; do I really need these skills?

JH: Yes. There’s always the risk you won’t be able to get medical care due to natural disasters, upheaval, or all kinds of other things.

A few years ago, there was an episode in England when some city dwellers, because of riots, were not able to get medical treatment in a timely manner. Ambulances were overwhelmed with calls, and it wasn’t safe to go into the streets and try to get to help. For unsafe times like that, the book also gives hints on when you really need to get to the doctor if that’s possible and when it can wait.

Even in ideal times, with emergency services just down a couple of streets, that first few minutes before they reach you can save a life.

What are some common household items you can use to treat a cut or wound?

JH: You can stop the bleeding by applying pressure with any clean cloth material, like a T-shirt. Wadded up, the material can apply deeper pressure than your hands would to a rough wound’s nooks and crannies.

You can clean the wound with drinkable water. Or many types of clean liquids will do.

And you can tape the wound with duct tape if the person isn’t allergic to latex. Not all wounds should be closed, but for those that do, a specific taping technique, which I go over in the book, can substitute for stitches if necessary.

What’s the main concern with broken bones and dislocations?

JH: The main concern is usually blood and nerve supply. If the bone is out of place, it can press on a nerve or blood vessel, and you could develop permanent problems. If blood flow is stopped, you could even lose the limb. In the book, I go over ways to check for these problems and try to fix them or minimize the damage, at least temporarily, if you’re unable to get professional help.

If you’re dealing with an open fracture, a main concern is infection. “Open fracture” means a broken bone has gone through the skin—maybe only briefly before going back in. This puts you at high risk for a serious bone infection.

How can you tell if someone has had a concussion?

JH: If a person has had head trauma—from either a hit or a jerk of the head or neck—and then has any symptom caused by that trauma, they probably have a concussion.

Many years ago, we thought you had to be knocked unconscious to have a concussion. Now that belief has changed, and we know there can be at least temporary brain damage with much less. For example, you might be dazed, have a headache, feel nauseous or dizzy, or have trouble sleeping. These are just some of the possible symptoms of a concussion.

What’s the first thing you should do if you get bitten by an animal?

JH: Get away from the animal!  If we’re talking about wounds: If it’s dangerously bleeding, stop the bleeding. Wash the wound out well with water.

Do not close it or get it sutured. Animal bites are especially prone to infection, and closing the wound will give those germs a nice breeding ground. Keep it open so you can regularly clean it and so your body can get rid of some of the germs.

With most normal wounds, cleaning with plain water will suffice. But for animal bites, there’s some indication that Betadine-type solutions work better when you’re trying to wash out rabies germs.

survival first aid basics
If you get bitten by an animal: FIRST get away from the animal, then do what you can to avoid infection.

What do TV shows and movies get wrong about CPR?

JH: The actors don’t press hard enough—because they can’t. You’re supposed to press the chest down about two inches, but you don’t want to do that on a living actor.

Also, the actors usually still do artificial respirations with the chest compressions. Today, it’s recommended that in most circumstances, when laypeople perform CPR, they only to do the chest compressions. Exceptions are when you’re performing CPR on children younger than puberty or on drowning or drug-overdose victims.

Also, in the movies and on TV, people come back to life just from chest compressions. In real life, that’s basically unheard of. It’s very, very rare. You do the chest compressions in order to keep the brain alive until you can shock the heart back.

survival first aid basics
Don’t do what the TV Doctors do. Especially this guy.

What’s the main concern with broken bones and dislocations?

JH: The main concern is usually blood and nerve supply. If the bone is out of place, it can press on a nerve or blood vessel, and you could develop permanent problems. If blood flow is stopped, you could even lose the limb. In the book, I go over ways to check for these problems and try to fix them or minimize the damage, at least temporarily, if you’re unable to get professional help.

If you’re dealing with an open fracture, a main concern is infection. “Open fracture” means a broken bone has gone through the skin—maybe only briefly before going back in. This puts you at high risk for a serious bone infection.

What’s the first thing you should do if you get bitten by an animal?

JH: Get away from the animal!  If we’re talking about wounds: If it’s dangerously bleeding, stop the bleeding. Wash the wound out well with water.

Do not close it or get it sutured. Animal bites are especially prone to infection, and closing the wound will give those germs a nice breeding ground. Keep it open so you can regularly clean it and so your body can get rid of some of the germs.

With most normal wounds, cleaning with plain water will suffice. But for animal bites, there’s some indication that Betadine-type solutions work better when you’re trying to wash out rabies germs.

survival first aid basics
If you get bitten by an animal: FIRST get away from the animal, then do what you can to avoid infection.

Where is the best place to be in a thunderstorm to avoid getting hit by lightning?

JH: In the inside part of a house—away from windows—or in a car. If you’re in the woods, there’s no great place.

Some experts have said to keep walking, so if lightning strikes you, hopefully one foot will be up and one down and you’ll be grounded. Others have said squatting on the balls of your feet, heels together, head down, hands off the ground, will help.

survival first aid basics

These theories are debated. I think the best idea is to stay away from metal poles and structures, and make sure you’re not the tallest thing around—or beside the tallest thing. Squat under a low-lying group of short trees.

People don’t usually die when they get struck. They sometimes have burns. There will be a boom that can cause hearing loss. They can have abnormal nerve troubles and are prone to get depression later on.

Can you really drink seawater, urine, and blood?

JH: Yes. It might help very short-term—meaning several minutes or so; it may get you out of a dangerous situation. But after that, it’s going to do more harm than good.

There’s too much concentration of chemicals in these fluids. Your body will try to dilute those out, so you’ll urinate more than usual. In turn, you’ll become more dehydrated.

Also, you’re putting toxins into your body. With urine, your body has just expelled those chemicals because it doesn’t need them. They’re not like a poison; they won’t kill you immediately. But they’ll be more concentrated in your body and will affect your kidneys in multiple ways.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a lot of skills we can learn to improve our chances of survival. If you are interested in this topic, start off with the basics and build your survival skill set from there. This is a skill that no one ever regrets learning. Always remember, Chance Favors The Well Prepared.

Further Reading:

Your Thoughts?

Is there a survival first aid skill you think everyone should know? Do you have a piece of first aid gear that is a must have for a bug out bag? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

Read More

herbal medicine chest

Primitive Skills: Herbal Medicine Foraging & Uses


herbal medicine chest

One of the most important things to stock in your home and pack in your bug out bag is your first aid kit. One way to keep your first aid kit full when bugging out is to learn herbal medicine foraging skills so you can identify and harvest useful natural remedies as you move.  A person’s health is, after all, essential to survival and should always be a top priority no matter what the situation is.

In this article we are going to teach you how to find and use 12 life saving herbs that can be used to treat illnesses, alleviate pain, and give you energy. The best part is that ALL of them can be grown at home of found in the wild at little to no cost!

Learning From Our Grandparents

Way before our reliance on pharmaceutical products to help improve our health, our ancestors relied on herbs and other natural products to alleviate their illnesses.

Many people are already starting to build and grow their herbal medicine chests to create an at-home pharmacy. In addition to making sure that only ‘organic and chemical-free’ elements enter your body, another advantage to creating an at-home herbal medicine chest is that it ensures a constant supply of alternative medicine during emergencies.



How do you start herbal medicine foraging?

It will take years for one to master the science of medicinal herbs, so the best thing that one can do is just figure out what the are the most needed items (check out our list below to see what you may need).

Once you have done this it is time to start putting that knowledge into action!  Go out and try and find some of the herbs you think you may need in the future.  It is never too early to start building up a stockpile.

12 Basic Medicinal Herbs

To help you get started, here is a list of the most basic medicinal herbs including what they are used for and where they are found:

  1. Echinacea – A popular herb, also called as the coneflower, is the best in the list when it comes to fighting colds. What is even better is that aside from being a great plant for boosting one’s immune system, it is also a beautiful plant that can prettify your garden. These flowers naturally grow in Eastern and central North America, in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas.


    herbal medicine chest

    Echinacea, also known as Coneflower

  2. Astragalus – When it comes to the Echinacea’s best partner in boosting the immune system, the Astragalus is on top of the list. Also, the herb also comes with antimicrobial and antibacterial properties essential in getting back to good health. For conditions related to colds and flu, diabetes, heart diseases and even side effects of chemotherapy, the root of the Astragalus can be used. It grows in the wild along the edges of woodlands, in thickets, open woods and grasslands and is hardy enough to survive a North American Winter, should you decide to plant it in your garden.


    herbal medicine chest

    Astragalus can help boost the immune system

  3. Licorice – Although it is super sweet, chewing on licorice root is the best remedy for a sore throat. You can create a tincture or decoction for this, or you can keep licorice ‘sticks’ handy in your herbal medicine chest. Licorice grows best warm climates in deep, rich sandy soil near a stream in full sun.


    herbal medicine chest

    Licorice is great for a sore throat

  4. Chamomile – Chamomile is the go-to herb for those with belly aches. It is also best made into tea and drank in the evenings, along with honey, because of its calming effects. Chamomile grows along fence lines, roadsides, and in sunny fields from Southern Canada to Northern U.S., the plant does not tolerate hot, dry climates.

    herbal medicine chest

    My Mother used to make me Chamomile when I had a stomach ache and I still use it!

  5. Wood Betony – This plant belongs to the mint family and is best used against stress and headaches. It is also great for covering up wounds to relieve it from soreness and inflammation. As you start growing your wood betony, make sure to protect them from harsh conditions and the wind and transfer it only to a herb garden once it has been established. Wood Betony typically grows in woodlands and in copses of trees, although it can occasionally be found in more open areas.

    herbal medicine chest

    Wood Betony can be used to cover a wound or treat a headache

  6. Calendula – This pretty little flower can be eaten and mixed with muffins. Yum! But, aside from filling your tummies, the Calendula is also used to soothe one’s skin. They are used to help heal and soothe rashes. You can make a salve out of it so you can easily grab it to use regularly. Calendula is also very mild even for kids to use. It can be found growing in the wild in open fields and prairies.

    herbal medicine foraging

    Calendula can help make a rash go away

  7. Feverfew – Just like the wood betony, feverfew is also great for headaches and can help dilate the blood vessels. You can take this one as a tincture or tea. Feverfew is commonly found along roadsides and along the borders of wooded areas.

    herbal medicine foraging

    Feverfew is great for headaches

  8. Elecampane – As a member of the sunflower and ragweed family, the Elecampane can grow as tall as five feet. Aside from stimulating the digestive system, it is also used to relieve congestion. Elecampane grows abundantly in pastures and along roadsides, preferring wet, rocky ground.

    herbal medicine foraging

    Elecampane can help with indigestion

  9. Horehound – Although horehound is among the best herbs for coughs, they are extremely bitter and will require lots of sugar – or honey – to make it easier to one’s taste. Horehound is a hardy plant that thrives in full sun and needs little moisture, it usually grows along roadsides, in disturbed areas, and in fields.

    herbal medicine foraging

    Horehound tastes bitter but is great for treating coughs

  10. Valerian – The root of this herb may not smell its best, but it works very well in a tincture or decoction for relaxation due to its sedative properties. Valerian likes moist soil and its native habitat is marshes and river banks.

    herbal medicine foraging

    Valerian has been used as a sedative for thousands of years

  11. Marshmallow – Nope, this is not the sugary stuff that we all love to roast in the campfire. In fact, this herb works as a mucilage to coat both the throat and stomach. It is also used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Marshmallow plants grow in sunny but cool climates on the edges of marshland and on grassy banks along lakes and rivers.

    herbal medicine foraging

    Marshmallow can help with a sore throat or stomach

  12. Comfrey – This herb, which is also known as bone knit, is great only for external wounds. It should never be taken in as it can be toxic to the liver. Simply mash the leaves and soak them in hot water for a few minutes then wrap the soaked leaves around the wounded area.

    Aside from this, comfrey is also recommended to be planted around fruit trees as it aids in pulling up calcium and minerals from the soil. Comfrey most commonly grows in in damp, grassy places. Although it likes damp soil it’s root is hardy enough to survive a minor drought.


herbal medicine foraging

Comfrey is great for healing wounds but should NEVER be ingested

How are these herbal medicines used?

Any of the medicinal plants listed above can be used to cure ailments in different ways, except for comfrey which should only be applied externally.

Method 1: Making A Tea

Among the most popular ways to use herbal medicines is to make them into a tea. To do this, one simply needs to create an infusion by boiling water and adding the leaves into it. Steep it for about 10 minutes (but going longer is okay as well), strain the herbs and use it as your drink all throughout the day.

Method 2: Making A Decoction

As for the roots and bark, one can create a decoction by adding a handful of the dried or fresh herb into a pot of water. Let it simmer after boiling then strain the herbs out. The decoction can be kept for a day inside the fridge but is best used within the day.

Method 3: Making A Tincture

To create tinctures, you can use alcohol to get the oils out from the herbs and preserve them. It is recommended to use dried herbs and enough vodka or brandy to soak it to about a quarter inch. Shake it every day for one month to eight weeks then strain and bottle. The regular dose of a tincture is about 30 drops for three times each day.

Herbal Medicine Foraging Conclusion

Growing, creating and using medicinal herbs can be a lot to take in but it can get easier once you get used to it. In time, your garden will not only make your house beautiful but will keep your family healthy as well.

If you don’t have a garden try going out in the woods and identifying (or even harvesting!) some of these herbs.  Herbal medicine foraging is a skill that pays dividends for the rest of your life once you learn it!​

Further Reading


Your Thoughts?

Do you have a natural or herbal medicine that you use? Do you think this is a good skill to add to our survival knowledge?  Do you have a herbal medicine foraging tip to share?  Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

Author Bio

Lisa Farland is a writer at Happy to Survive – a blog that will help you thrive and survive, and offers articles about preparedness, and off-the-grid, self-reliant living. Lisa is an avid minimalist camper, prepper and survivalist.

Read More

how to carve a wooden spoon and bowl

Bushcraft Skills: How To Carve A Wooden Spoon and Bowl


how to carve a wooden spoon and bowl

In a long-term survival situation, you may need to fashion your own cooking and eating tools from whatever is available. This article will give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a spoon and bowl from wood that you can scavenge or find.

The wooden bowl and spoon are a good starting point for making tools as well as a useful introduction to wood carving. Carving them will teach you the primary skills you need to implement when creating other useful utensils. I suggest you start off with this basic project and then expand from there based on your personal needs.

This is a great skill for people of all ages. Kids find whittling fun and adults often find it relaxing so let’s get started!

The Humble Spoon And Bowl

Wooden spoons and bowls were some of the first tools carved by our ancient ancestors thousands of years ago. They were valued for their ability to help prepare, cook, and eat food. In modern times, we have the advantage of having metal tools and a seemingly endless supply of wood carving and whittling resources online that help us perfect our craft.

Essentials Tools And Materials

Project 1: How To Carve A Wooden Spoon

Choose Your Wood

It helps to choose a block where the fibers in the wood run straight and parallel. Basswood and other soft woods are common choices as they are easy to use and allow you to make precise cuts without needing to apply a lot of force.

Flatten The Wood

Begin by taking your axe/hatchet and evening out one side of the wood. You’ll need to refrain from striking the wood. Instead make precise and controlled cuts with the grain. Following this, use your knife and continue making controlled push cuts until the grain is even enough to draw the outline of a spoon on the flat side of the wood.

A push cut is a whittling technique where the carver holds the object being carved in their off hand and the knife in their dominant hand while making strokes away from themselves to remove the desired amount of wood shavings from the block. In our case, it would be to make one side of the wood flat.

Draw Your Outline

Once you have the side flat, draw a rough outline of a spoon. Visualize how small or big you would like the spoon to be and make a rough sketch of it on to the wood. It doesn’t need to be nice and pretty, just obvious enough to give you a visual barrier throughout the guide.

Safety Note!

Whatever knife you use, make sure it is SHARP! Dull knives become extremely susceptible to accidents when carving since they are more prone to slip and cause you to lose control. Take care of your tools and they will take care of you!

Shaping The Handle

After drawing your rough outline, you will want to position the wood vertically with the handle side pointed downwards. You are going to be carving with the grain so start removing material downwards with your knife.

The goal here is to remove wood shavings along the edge where the handle and the head of the spoon meet. Aim to remove small portions of wood instead of hacking off chunks. This will leave you with a larger margin of error should you slip.

Carving is all about maintaining control of the knife, this is necessary for the item being carved and for the safety of the carver.

Do not carve on the drawing or against the grain. If you go against the grain it could very well split the wood and ruin it. Leave just enough space, about a 1/2 inch, between the edge of the wood and the outline of the spoon.

Take care of your tools and they will take care of you!



Click to Tweet

Shaping The Spoon

Flip the spoon over so that the head of the spoon is now pointed down. Use your knife to make push cuts and thumb push cuts around the top part where the spoon head is located. Leave about an inch of space between the edge of the wood and the outline of the spoon. We will be drawing a line outside our previous rough drawing to determine the thickness of the edge.

Be careful carving end grain, this is where people are most likely to cut themselves. Stay mindful of where your hands are and how much tension you apply when making cuts.

Scooping The Spoon’s Bowl Out

With a hook knife, make controlled downward scoop cuts while pushing the blunt part of the hook blade with your thumb. Think of it as if you’re scooping ice cream from a bucket, at first you’ll need leverage from your other hand to get the initial scoops, and the further into the wood you get with the hook knife the easier it gets.

Eventually, the head of the spoon starts taking the shape of the hook knife. Afterwards, take a carving knife and do thumb push cuts to shave off the side material so it is flush with the outline.

Re-size

Even out one of the sides flat enough to draw the spoon’s profile. Once the side profile outline is complete, carve off the excess material to finalize the shape of your spoon.

Sanding

The final and most time consuming part is sanding down the project, which is to help create a more detailed and aesthetic finish to the final result. When you reach this step, ideally, you’ll use a low grit sandpaper, a medium grit, then a high grit.

I use a 400 grit to help get rid of all the uneven cuts, then an 800 grit to shape the spoon/bowl, and finally the 1200 grit to finish it all out so that it looks nice and clean.


Project 2: Making A Wooden Bowl

The steps in making a wooden bowl are quite similar to the steps explained for making the spoon. The tools we will use will be slightly different while the size and thickness of the piece of wood will be larger.

Generally when making a wooden bowl, as with the spoon, you start by selecting your wood. We can carve our bowl in any size or style we like, so choose a block that will match what you are going for.

Select The Right Wood Block and Tools

With enough time and dedication it is possible to make a wooden bowl out of nothing more than a straight carving knife, but that also requires more experience. I suggest starting out with the following tools:

Make A Rough Outline

The outline will be a guide as you remove bulk pieces from the wood during the first stage of carving. Use a tape measure to mark the desired thickness of the edge of the bowl, this will help maintain consistency all the way around. Once you attain measurements, draw an outline that connects all the marks into two concentric outlines. If you want a large bowl, then the lines should be about an inch apart.


how to carve a wooden bowl and spoon

Some advanced woodworking tools

Shape the inside of your bowl

With the adze tool, make downward cutting motions similar to when using a hatchet for removing large portions of wood. Don’t constantly cut one way, you will need to cut from opposite angles in order to evenly cut your bowl to a desired depth.

As you progress deeper, the cuts will need to be more precise to prevent from cutting too far.

Once you are happy with the depth you have carved, even out the inside as much as you can with the adze tool or a straight carving knife. Either work fine, but I prefer to switch over to a carving knife since it is more accurate, which makes this process easier.

Cut and carve the outside

Ensure that the wood is secured to your work surface and then begin to remove the outside wood carefully. You will be working towards the outline you drew on the top and the base of the bowl.

This carving should be done using push cuts with the carving knife. You can start off a little bit aggressive but make sure you rein it is as the outside of the bowl quickly starts to take shape. Ensure that you frequently check the thickness of the bottom and sides to keep things even. Make sure you do not punch through the wall of the bowl!

Sanding

Again, one of the most time consuming steps, but necessary to remove all the uneven edges. You may use the same assembly of grits to sand it down that was mentioned for the spoon, moving from roughest to finest grit as you progress. A nice touch to add is melting beeswax and mineral oil together then lathering it over the wood brings a classic color to the final product.


Conclusion

As you can see, carving a spoon or bowl is a relatively easy task that does not require a lot of time, material, or money. People of all ages can master this skill, you never know when it may come in handy! I encourage you to give it a try and let me know how it goes. Good luck whittling!

Further Reading


woodworking projects

Click on the image to get access to 16,000 woodworking projects complete with step by step tutorials!

Your Thoughts?

Have you ever carved a tool out of wood? What was it? Do you have any wood carving tips or tricks that you would like to share? Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

About The Author

Nathan Dobson operates a wood carving website that provides highest rated top quality recommendations for all things wood carving related. Includes reviews, how-to’s, wood carving guides, and everything else to help beginners start and veterans learn new techniques. Go to our website to see our top picks http://www.bestwoodcarvingtools.com/

Nathan began wood carving 6 years ago with just a basic pocket knife while camping. He ended up thoroughly enjoying the craft and learned everything he could about it. He’s come to learn various methods to carving wood while discovering the best techniques to give to those looking to start and even veterans like himself.

Read More

tactical watches survival

Are Tactical Watches Useful For Urban And Wilderness Survival?


tactical watches survival

Survival situations can arise in the blink of an eye, so we are always looking for ways to increase preparedness. However, carrying all of your survival gear on a daily basis simply is not practical for most people. Therefore, we also try to find lightweight gear with multiple functions that can be carried discretely as you go about your day. With so many features available, tactical watches are a survival tool worth investigating.

The tactical watch is possibly the most impressive form of wearable technology. With many practical uses, as well as specialized functions for extreme operations, tactical watches can provide you with a wealth of information to aid you in survival. The key to making the best choice is to determine how you are most likely to use it and finding the features that best meet those needs.

Survival Features Of Tactical Watches

Sure, a tactical watch sounds like an awesome piece of must-have gear but choosing one will be based on exactly what you will be doing. Completing a threat assessment will help you decide which features will most benefit you, then you can look for the watch with the best design for those features. No matter how you plan to use your watch, a secure comfortable fit and ease of use will play an important role.


tactical watches survival

Telling Time

In a world where we rarely use phones to talk, it isn’t too far-fetched that the primary function of a watch is the one least considered. How the time is displayed is a matter of personal preference. Digital or analog, military or standard 12 hour, or any combination may be available, depending on the specific tactical watch.

In addition to simply displaying the time, there are useful features that come into play in a post-disaster situation, such as a full calendar and sunrise/sunset indicator. Having a sense of how much time has passed when bugging out will provide a sense of stability and continuity. You can be sure the water boiled for a full 10 minutes, plan when to check your traps, or figure out how far your bug out party can travel during daylight. It is especially useful to know the exact date if you are tuning into emergency broadcasts for instruction, such as when and where relief efforts will commence.

Standing Up To The Elements

Tactical watches are built tough to withstand rigorous activity and a variety of conditions. Some have extra features to deal with special situations, such as diving, parachuting, and high impact activities.


tactical watches survival

The face will typically be made of a scratch- and shatter-resistant material, such as sapphire or mineral crystal. Stainless steel is a common material for the bevel and casing, due to its durability. Anodized aluminum is a lightweight alternative that does not compromise strength.

Tactical watch bands come in a variety of styles of materials, including nylon, rubber, leather, and steel. There are advantages to each material, depending on intended use and personal comfort.

Other areas to consider that are specific to your needs are low-temperature resistance, submersion, impact resistance, and dust resistance. You’ll want to make sure that the construction is solid and will keep out anything that could damage the internal mechanisms.

Finding Your Way

Navigation features range in accuracy and capability. For simple orientation, you might get by with compass points on a rotating ring to give you a general idea of the direction you are heading. Some tactical watches have an actual button compass integrated into the watchband, while others use a digital or analog compass display.


tactical watches survival

Altimeters are usually displayed as a real-time reading but some tactical watches are able to record elevation data. Tracking your elevation is very useful in conjunction with topographical maps, making it easier to know if you are on the correct trail.

For more precise navigation, you can choose a watch with a digital GPS readout so you are able to pinpoint exactly where you are. This can be very useful if you need to share or record your specific location coordinates, such as for search and rescue, locating your bug out camp, or coordinating a gathering point for your bug out party. For day to day use, approximate location may be sufficient but if you spend a lot of time in remote areas, you may want to go with a tactical watch that has GPS.


tactical watches survival

Monitoring Your (Or Someone Else’s) Health

For daily use, a heart rate monitor can be used to track your activity. This is a great feature for fitness training but it also has survival applications. Unless you pack a stethoscope into your bug out bag, a heart rate monitor is the next best thing when you or a member of your bug out party is sick or severely injured. For conditions such as disease, loss of blood, and shock, keeping track of the person’s heart rate and being alerted to accelerations or decelerations can be life-saving.


tactical watches survival

If you are a traversing high-altitude region, an altimeter will also help with health maintenance. Altitude sickness can occur at 8000 feet above sea level and if left untreated, can result in death. The first warning signs are headache, nausea, and fatigue and should not be ignored. Breathlessness, caused by fluid in the lungs, is a sign of High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) and can be accompanied by fever and a frothy cough. Drowsiness, clumsiness, and irritability are signs of fluid on the brain, known as High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE). Both of these conditions are fatal. Therefore, paying close attention to your altitude is especially important to your survival.


tactical watches survival

A thermometer can assist you in making sure that your shelter is warm enough, knowing when to avoid being exposed to extremely low temperatures, or conversely, extremely high temperatures. The general safe temperature range for humans is 40F-95F. Spending prolonged time on the low end of that can result in hypothermia or on the high end of the range, hyperthermia. Being aware of the temperature will help you make decisions that favor your survival.

Top 5 Tactical Watches

#1 Garmin Tactix Bravo


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Garmin Tactix Bravo on Amazon.

This watch is built tough for handling rigorous field operations. A high-strength domed sapphire lens is mounted in a stainless steel bezel and rear case plate. The buttons are knurled for ease of grip and are also PVD-coated stainless steel. The display is non-reflective and night-vision compatible. Two interchangeable nylon straps are included.

The high-resolution display turns the watch face from an analog clock to a personal GPS device, with TracBack technology for finding your way back to your starting point. You can view your precise coordinates or switch to map view and follow your progress point to point. Mark locations along the way, such as water sources or dangerous terrain, and share them using Bluetooth or ANT+ wireless connections.


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Garmin Tactix Bravo on Amazon.

The Garmin Tactix Bravo also has great features for training purposes, such as monitoring stride length, cadence, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation. The heart rate metrics provide a stress score, performance condition, and lactate threshold readout so you can track how your body is handling physical activity. It also tracks sleep patterns to create a record of your overall health.

One of the coolest features of the Tactix Bravo is the ability to download additional screens to customize to your specific needs. You can even set it up to receive alerts from another device, such as emails and texts from your smartphone.

The battery life depends on which mode you are using: 20 hours in GPS mode or 50 hours in UltraTrac mode. A USB charger is included.

#2 Casio G-9300-1 G-Shock Mudman


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Casio G-Shock Mudman on Amazon.

Named for its resilience to mud and debris, the G-Shock Mudman has internal gaskets on all of the buttons and screws that are designed to handle dirty work. A sapphire crystal face protects the digital display, which features 12 or 24 hour time, date, temperature, pressure, and directional readouts. It also tracks the phases of the moon in a visual graphic.

The Mudman is shock resistant and water resistant to a depth of 200 meters, making it a suitable diving companion, as well. For navigating on land, use the digital compass with full 0-359 degree range, corrected for magnetic declination.

Since it is solar-powered, the G-Shock Mudman does not need to be charged or wound and it can last up to 8 months on a full charge even without exposure to light. This is a great feature for backcountry survival.

#4 Timex T49859 Intelligent Quartz Tide-Temp-Compass


tactical watches survival

Click the image to view the Timex Tide-Temp-Compass on Amazon.

With several key nautical features, the Timex Tide-Temp-Compass is ideal for boating, swimming, and snorkeling. Behind the mineral glass lens is a quartz analog clock with concentric rings that include analog tide tracker and temperature displays. The digital thermometer reads air or water temperature, and the watch is water resistant to 100 meters. An Indiglo light allows you to view the full face in low lighting.

The stainless steel case has a slide-rule bevel with directional indicators. A fourth hand on the clock serves as an analog display for the digital compass. The sturdy stainless steel band features a deployment clasp for a secure fit. Overall, this is a rugged watch by a trusted brand, and more economical than others in its class.

Conclusion

Tactical watches are far sturdier than other electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets. If you rely heavily on your smartphone to provide tactical information, keep in mind that it may cease to function in a disaster scenario and it likely wouldn’t survive 100 meter submersion, even in the toughest protective case. The convenience of having a wealth of information at your wrist and the extreme durability of tactical watches makes them a useful tool for survival situations.

Your Thoughts

Which features do you think you would be most likely to use in a survival situation? Do you think tactical watches can replace other survival gear? Share your opinions in the Comments section below, thanks!

Read More

how to move silently

How To Move As Silently As A Cat

how to move silently

It’s the quintessential moment in any horror flick – the part where the heroine is trying to sneak silently away from the bad guy by moving stealthily through the old, rickety house (aren’t they always set in an old, rickety house?), but try as she might to move quietly, her position is given away by a loud creak from the old wooden staircase.  We all wonder, why doesn’t she know how to move silently?

Makes for great suspense, but in the real world, learning how to walk silently is a valuable skill that should be in every prepper’s survival arsenal. Moving in silence is not only a valuable skill, but also easy to learn and practice. Think about your safety in a SHTF situation – how beneficial would it be to be able to move or run in silence?

how to move silently
Knowing how to walk quietly on a creaky floor or staircase gives you the advantage of stealth.

There are many instances you may run into where such a skill could save your life, including sneaking past checkpoints or aggressive / hostile people, scavenging while other (potentially hostile) people are around, leaving an area when unfriendly people arrive, or successfully stalking prey while hunting.

how to move silently
The slightest sound can alert your prey and ruin an opportunity to secure a meal.

Learning to use stealth techniques is an invaluable survival skill that you and any member of your family can learn – plus it’s easy to practice! In this article, we will teach you 5 essential tricks for moving in silence – as well as 1 bonus trick! – that will allow you to move undetected and help keep you safe.

5 Tricks for Moving in Silence

1. Maintain Your Center of Balance

If you are carrying anything, especially a backpack, stash it if you can as it throws off your center of balance. Look for somewhere safe you can leave it where it will be recoverable later. While a well-fitted backpack will be cinched tight to your body and have good weight distribution, it’s a surety that the added 30-50 lbs you are carrying around will change your center of balance.

The reason this is important is that it is far easier to sneak around quietly with your natural movements and center of gravity as opposed to your body trying to compensate for the unexpected extra weight.

how to move silently
Moving in silence is more difficult with the added bulk of a backpack because it throws off your natural balance. Image credit Joseph on flickr.

2. Get Rid of Noise Makers

When trying to move silently, if you have anything on you that jingles or jangles – get rid of it. If you are carrying items such as keys, change, jewelry, gear, buckles, or straps hanging off your body or bag that have the potential to make noise, make sure to eliminate them from your person.

how to move silently
Bring only what is necessary for the mission and be sure to secure any gear so that it will not make a sound when you move.

Zippers are another item that can give you away when trying to move quietly, but ranger bands can help with this – you can learn how to make ranger bands here or purchase them here. The video below shows how ranger bands can be used to silence zippers:

Also be aware of the clothing you are wearing. Some clothing may have the potential to swish or get caught on things, especially loose cargo pockets, which can easily get caught on a corner or exposed nail.

how to move silently
Silent clothes are slim-fitting with minimal protrusions. This large hooded jacket may keep you warm but it would make it difficult to walk quietly.

3. Don’t Move Blindly

how to move silently

When moving in silence, always scope out your path ahead of time, don’t stumble along blindly. Before moving, make sure to take a few seconds to survey the area around you and scope out the best path to take.

You’ll likely need to employ some improvisation at some point, but having a general plan of where you are going, including things to avoid and knowing where safe / quiet areas are, can mean the difference between detection and moving stealthily to safety.

If you have a long way to go, plan your trek by stopping in safe or concealed areas and then scoping out the next leg of your trip from there.

4. Look Out for Landmines

By landmines, we mean surprise objects that can give away your presence if stepped on. Items to be on the lookout for include broken glass, dry leaves, twigs, and animals.

how to move silently
Learn how to walk silently by avoiding noisy objects, such as pine cones and twigs.

When scoping out your path, try and find the way that has the least amount of debris that could potentially make noise and give you away. As you’ve no doubt seen in the movies, something as simple as the snap of a twig can immediately alert others to your presence.

Additionally, look out for animals and avoid them at all costs. The bark of a startled dog or the rustle of a bird hastily flying away are key indicators to others of your location.

how to move silently
Startling a flock of birds into flight is a dead giveaway of your presence.

5. Proceed with Caution

Even weight distribution and foot placement are key to moving stealthily and keeping your footfalls as quiet as possible. Always move carefully and with intent.

If you are unsure about your next step, test the location lightly with your toes and gradually place the rest of your foot down once you’ve determined it’s safe. Also be mindful not to knock anything over if you need to lean against something at some point. The video below gives a detailed demonstration of stepping with your toes first to walk quietly across any surface:

Bonus Trick For How To Move Silently

While the preceding 5 tricks will help you to move quietly and undetected, there is always the chance that something will go wrong, which brings us to our bonus trick – always have an escape plan.

If you are detected and need to run, it’s imperative you know which way to head in order to flee safely. Sometimes it can be as simple as going back the way you came, but in case that path is blocked or otherwise inaccessible it’s always prudent to have at least one additional escape route.

If escape is not a viable option, you may want to have some means of defending yourself against whomever detected you. This could include non-lethal options such as a flashlight or pepper spray, or entail more serious options such as a survival weapon or firearm.  

survival weapons

General Stealth Techniques

Along with the tricks above, keep the following in mind when attempting to walk or move undetected:

  • Use a red flashlight to move at night as this will preserve your night vision and attract less attention EC11 and EA21 from Nitecore both come with a secondary red LED in addition to their main light for just this purpose.
  • If avoidable, do not sneak around barefoot – yes, it is quieter to move barefoot than with shoes, but you will be in serious trouble if you get caught as it is much harder to run barefoot and you run a higher risk of injuring your feet
  • Be aware that floorboards will make more noise in the summer than in cold weather.
how to move silently
While you may be able to walk lightly over these rocks barefoot, running could cause serious injury to your feet.

Practicing How To Move Silently at Home

If you want to learn to move as silently as a cat, reading this article is a great start, but you’ll need to practice what you’ve learned. The great thing about stealth movement is that it’s a survival skill that’s easy to practice in your everyday life. Here are some tips and tricks on how you can incorporate stealth movement into your daily life and learn to move undetected:

  • When you’re just beginning, feel free to practice in socks or barefeet, but after you start to get the hang of walking silently, start practicing in the shoes or boots that you plan on wearing when bugging out
  • Take advantage of everyday situations to practice, such as movie night – when getting up to grab some popcorn, see if you can sneak back without anyone noticing;
  • Practice walking quietly past your pets – see if you can pass by Fido without attracting his attention
  • Turn practice into game time with your kids – start a game where one person sits centrally in a room (blindfolded, if need be) and challenge everyone else to get from one side of the room to the other without being heard (this also has the added benefit of teaching all members of your family how to move silently)
  • When moving around at night, see if you can move silently enough so as not to wake up your baby / husband / wife
  • While at work, try walking into your co-workers’ cubicles / offices / workspaces without them noticing your presence, at least until you say “Hello,” – no need to creep anyone out!

Conclusion

The ability to move about undetected is a highly valuable skill to have in survival situations and can be learned and mastered by anyone. Moving stealthily has myriad life-saving applications as well as practical uses for everyday life. Running or walking silently is a skill that can be practiced almost anywhere, which makes it one of the easiest survival skills to master. In order to learn how to move silently, keep in mind these 5 key tricks:

  1. Maintain your center of balance
  2. Get rid of potential noise makers
  3. Don’t move blindly, choose your path intentionally
  4. Look out for landmines
  5. Proceed with caution and have an escape plan!

 

how to move silently

What are you waiting for? Start practicing now and pretty soon you’ll be able to move around your friends and family as stealthily and silently as a cat!

Your Thoughts

Can you think of other situations where it is important to know how to move silently? Have you practiced stealth techniques on your own or with your family? Tell us about your experience in the Comments section below, thanks!

Read More