Friday, December 24, 2010

Winter Driving: Emergency Supplies

Tis the season for travel, and with it the possibility of breakdown due to blizzard, white-out or flooding. Before you venture out on the roads for the white season, make sure you have satisfactory emergency gear in your vehicle and know how to use it:

Basic repair tools: Ice scraper, lug wrench, jumper cables, Jack, fire extinguisher, tow strap or chain, screwdrivers, ratchet set, duct tape, shovel, can tire inflator, sand or ice melt, kitty litter, pocketknife, folding saw, hand ax.
Signaling: safety flares, distress flag or brightly colored bandana, signal mirror or whistle.
Clothing and shelter: blankets or sleeping bag, tarp or tent, and spare clothing: hats, gloves, socks, winter boots, sunglasses.
Food and water: pot or cook kit, candy or energy bars, MREs, freeze-dried food, gallon of water, water bottles, water treatment tablets or filter,
First aid and hygiene: First aid kit, toilet paper or tissue, hand sanitizer, waste disposal kit.
Communication: FRS radio, cell phone, hand crank or solar radio w/cell phone charger.
Lighting: shaker or wind-up flashlight, lantern, headlamp.
In Glove Box: Personal survival kit.
Emergency heat: coffee can stove - small coffee or fruit can, roll of toilet paper (no scented) inside the can, square aluminum pie pan, matches or lighter, and a bottle of 70% rubbing alcohol poured over the TP, and lit - will heat a car interior for hours. Place heater on pie pan on passenger side floor. Crack a window for fresh air. *DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED.

Preparing your car for winter:

1. Check + winterize all systems: tires, radiator, heater, battery and wiper blades.
2. Install snow tires or carry chains.
3. Keep at minimum half tank of gas.
4. Carry emergency supplies, see above.
5. Insure good working conditions.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blizzard Test-dumbie

For the unprepared, your automobile can be a treasure trove of survival resources. With a little imagination and know-how the tools you need to survive are right under your dash…

Improvised vehicle resources:
Cigarette lighter: fire starting
Horn: signaling (in bursts of 3)
Side or rearview mirror: visual signaling
CD’s: visual signaling
Tires or rubber floor mats: can be burned for signal fire producing a thick black smoke creating contrast with snow covered surroundings.
Engine fluids: smeared on rag or cloth and used as fire starter.
Hub caps: visual signaling, shovel, water bowl or dew catch.
Headlights: nighttime visual signaling, inner parabolic as fire starter.
Upholstery, seat covers and interior carpeting: clothing, insulation or in shelter construction.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

50+ improvised uses for the common Bandana

First Aid:
1. Sling
2. Compress
3. Tourniquet
4. Washcloth
5. Pressure bandage tie
6. Finger splint
7. Splint tie
8. Poultice
9. Ankle wrap
10. Wrist brace
11. Hot pack
12. Cold pack
13. Towel
14. Toilet paper
15. Feminine hygiene
16. Toothbrush
17. Fire starter
18. Fire windscreen
19. Hat
20. Scarf
21. Sun protector
22. Sunglasses
23. Dust mask
24. Headband
25. Face mask
26. Earmuffs
27. Hand wraps
28. Belt
29. Socks
30. Shoelaces
31. Footwear insole
32. Knee pad
33. Hair tie
34. Apron
35. Bib
36. Handkerchief
37. Shade
38. Earplugs
39. Blindfold
40. Strainer
41. Dew collector
42. Sponge
43. Tea bag to create infusions with wild herbs
44. Wick clarifier
45. Signal flag
46. Ground signal panel
47. Trail marker
48. Pot holder
49. Cordage
50. Sling pouch
51. Net
52. Lashing
53. Lamp wick
54. Bug cover
55. Food wrap
56. Plate
57. Pack
58. Stuff sack
59. Flashlight cover
60. Bear bag
61. Weapon

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Monday, November 29, 2010

Family Emergency Plan

Your families survival in an emergency involves not only preparedness but also PLANNING!!

Plan ahead and Practice, Practice, Practice!

When creating your Family Emergency Plan:

-Write your plan down & post were everyone has easy access.
-Include content list and locations of emergency kits, house floor plans, important family medical information & emergency telephone numbers: police, fire, hospital, family physician, local and out of state contacts, nearest relative & work numbers.
-Educate your family and yourself on possible emergencies i.e. earthquake, flood, fire, civil unrest....etc., for your geographic location. Kits and plans should be tailored to meet your needs for the most likely potential disaster.
-Keep your plan simple, you will have enough stress and worry as distraction.
-Involve every family member in the creation and implementation of ALL preparedness planning.
-Establish primary and secondary "meeting" places i.e. local church, fire or police station etc.
-Include "communication contact": identify a family member or friend outside of your area who can be contacted to relay locations and messages.
-Always address "5 W's: Who, What, Where, When & Why".

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Emergency Prep Tip #3

After drinking untreated questionable water, crush (cold) charcoal from your campfire or woodburning fire place/stove (black bits, avoid white ash) into a powder, the finer the better. Man-made briquettes should be avoided, these often contain petroleum accelerants. Mix your ground powder with water creating a "charcoal tea". A bandanna or piece of clothing can be used to strain larger chunks and drink.

Charcoal has been used for millennia to calm upset stomachs and absorb ingested toxins. Having a bottle (purchased from your local health food store) on hand, is an inexpensive, safe, non-perishable method to combat stomach aches and pains.

*None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or medications. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Friday, November 5, 2010

One EMP burst and the world goes dark....

Interesting article from USA Today 10/27/10....

The sky erupts. Cities darken, food spoils and homes fall silent. Civilization collapses.

End-of-the-world novel? A video game? Or could such a scenario loom in America's future?

There is talk of catastrophe ahead, depending on whom you believe, because of the threat of an electromagnetic pulse triggered by either a supersized solar storm or terrorist A-bomb, both capable of disabling the electric grid that powers modern life.


Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Monday, October 25, 2010

Foiled: Be Found Alive....

Prior preparation is your key to overcoming an unexpected emergency, having an adequate kit and resources on hand (the ability to make a fire effortlessly and crawl into a shelter within a matter of minutes) is crucial to you making it home alive.

The following is a technique that will aid Search and Rescue's tracking personnel in identifying your shoe tread pattern, track size and shape. The more information you can provide the better.

1. Place sheet of medium weight aluminum foil on a carpeted surface, if carpets not available lay a piece of clothing down and use it. Make sure foil is large enough for your entire track.
2. With the footwear you will be wearing on your excursion, step onto foil making a clear imprint of your shoe’s tread and size.
3. Finish the process by signing each imprints owners name to the bottom of the foil.
4. Leave your foil imprint and the above trip information with two responsible individuals, with instructions to notify local Search And Rescue if you do not return at appointed time.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Tips for Regulating Your Body Temperature in the Outdoors

If you find yourself overheating you can safely regulate your body temperature by:

Too Hot…
• Removing your hat
• Loosening clothing, pull up sleeves to expose forearms, opening pit-zips and unzipping your outer layer to allow in cool air.
• Removing articles of clothing.
• Reduce the intensity of your workout or pursuit.
• Stop and take a break.
• Drink cold water.

Too Cool…
• Add a hat.
• Close Jacket, “zip up” all pit-zips and pockets, closing all areas where air can easily circulate out of your clothing – usually at the neck, wrists, waist, and ankles.
• Add additional clothing to your insulative layer.
• Wear all three VIP layers for maximum protection against the elements.
• Drink hot liquids and eat high calorie foods

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Field expedient methods of killing Intestinal Parasites

In the United States the two primary types of intestinal parasites are helminths and protozoa. Tapeworms, pinworms, and roundworms are among the most common helminths found in our population. In their adult form, helminths cannot multiply in the human body. Protozoa are single cell organisms which have the ability to rapidly multiply inside the human body, which can allow the development of serious infections. These parasites are usually transmitted through contact with infected feces (for example, through contaminated food, or water) often the result of unwashed hands. In the U.S., the most common protozoa are giardia and cryptosporidium.

Signs and Symptoms of infection:

Parasites can live within the intestines for years without showing any symptoms. Symptoms include the following....

• Abdominal pain
• Diarrhea
• Nausea or vomiting
• Gas or bloating
• Dysentery (loose stools containing blood and mucus)
• Stomach pain or tenderness
• Lethargy
• Rapid weight loss

Without some form of treatment, ALL of these symptoms have the potential to be life threatening in any type of emergency situation, whether in the wilderness or urban jungle.

Field expedient treatments:

Intestinal parasites are commonly treated using modern medications available from any health facility or medical provider. However, without access to these medications, the following field techniques can be employed to rid the body of the parasites…

• Eat the tobacco of 1 or 1 ½ cigarettes. The nicotine in the tobacco will kill any intestinal parasite allowing it to pass from the body. This can be repeated every 48 hours till effective.
• Drink 4 tbsp of salt mixed with 1 quart of water. Do not repeat this treatment.
• Drink 2 tablespoons of kerosene. This can be repeated in 24 to 48 hours. Care should be taken NOT to inhale the Kerosene fumes, this can cause lung irritation.
• Hot Peppers are effective only if a regular part of your diet. They can be eaten raw, taken in capsule form (cayenne) or cooked in soups or rice and meat dishes.
• Stay hydrated. Replace lost fluids and replenish electrolytes by drinking sports drinks or other rehydration solutions.

These field expedient techniques to treat intestinal parasites are effective due to their ability to promote a gastrointestinal environment which is prohibitive to parasitic attachment, multiplication and growth. Due to this reaction, we caution that these methods are not without their dangers, Please use only if medical help is un-available!!

*None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or medications. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

5 Essential First Aid Items

Walk into any pharmacy or grocer and you will find shelf upon shelf, filled with hundreds of “over-the-counter” medications, used to treat everything from hair loss to hemorrhoids. This can make creating first aid kits and stockpiling medications a maze of confusion. “Expert” and healthcare professionals have their personal recommendations. The following are five over-the-counter items we suggest that should be bought in bulk and included in all of your first aid and emergency kits.

1) Aspirin: used to relieve pain & inflammation, thin the blood and reduce fever (should not be taken on an empty stomach).
2) Benadryl (diphenhydramine): used to treat itching, rash, allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), and is commonly found in sleep aids (drowsiness may occur with use).
3) Pepto-Bismol: used to treat indigestion, nausea, heartburn and diarrhea. This is essential in the treatment and prevention of Dehydration.
4) Neosporin: Antibiotic ointment for cuts scrapes and burns.
5) BFI Antiseptic First Aid Powder: Powder used for cuts, scrapes, rashes and burns. Keeps wounds from oozing and dry preventing infection and chaffing. Has a long shelf life and is lightweight.

No first aid or emergency kit is complete without these five ingredients, they are inexpensive, easy to find and all treat a variety of health issues. These items will provide a solid foundation on which to build your families first aid program.

*When stored properly, most drugs are “good” (meaning within a reasonable range of their original potency – usually 90%) for years beyond the labeled expiration date when stored properly. Most tablets and capsules require a cool, dark, and dry storage environment (low oxygen is also good).

**None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or medications. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Saturday, October 9, 2010

WATER: The Staff of Life

A few Interesting facts about water…..

• Water is the only substance on earth that naturally exists in three states (solid, liquid, gas).

• March 22 is World Water Day, as declared by the United Nations.

• 97.5% of the water on Earth is salty. 1% of that is brackish.

• 2.5% of the Earths water is fresh.

• Water expands by 9% when it freezes.

• By the time you feel thirsty, your body has already lost more than one percent of its total water.

• A person can live for over a month without food, but only about three days without water.

• 66% of the human body is water.

• 75% of the human brain is water.

• A living tree is 75% water.

• Americans use about 100 gallons of water each day.

• In the US, the average person pays 25 cents for their water each day.

• Many women in 3rd world countries walk an average of 3.7 miles each day to get potable water.

• In many developing countries, private vendors are the only way to get safe drinking water, which charge up to ten times more than piped water would cost. In many African cities, up to 80% of the population gets their water this way. In Namibia, up to 20 percent of the family income is spent on water (plus, they have to pay to use the toilet).

• Globally, 69% of withdrawn water is for agriculture, 23% is for industrial purposes and 8% is for domestic purposes.

• 80% of diseases in developing countries are water-related.

• 60% of infant mortality is linked to infectious and parasitic diseases, most of which are waterborne.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Survivors Mantra....

Developing a positive mental attitude and maintaining the WILL to LIVE is an essential skill or attribute of the survivor. While stability of your core temperature and adequate hydration levels are Key to physiological survival, a lack or loss of hope can be the determining factor between rescue or body recovery.

As crucial as physical preparedness may be, the aspect of mental preparation is paramount and should NOT be neglected. We created the Survivor’s Mantra as a mental exercise to keep your subconscious mind in shape prepared for what may come….

to read more....

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Survivor's Manifesto....

Rules to LIVE by:

Survival and disaster preparedness in general carry an inherent negativity, often having an “apocalyptic” aurora to them. While these topics do tend to feed this mindset, we prefer to see survival and preparedness as a "Lifeskill" set, one which enriches & sweetens life. Being self sufficient and prepared for life’s ups and downs fosters a deeper sense of security, ownership of course and personal freedom.

The core of BeFoundAlive’s philosophy about being self reliant, prepared and lifestyle planning can be summed up with in the following Guiding Principles:

to read more....

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Monday, August 16, 2010

To Drink or Not to drink

I find it humorous that one of the most common questions I get asked while in class or workshops is “Can I drink my own urine?” Apparently, their reference to this odd practice is Bear “something or other” from the Discovery channel.

This controversial practice is one which is tossed back and forth between survival experts and authors on a regular basis. Seems each year news stories surface of survivors overcoming dehydration and emergency situations by consuming their own or others urine. Most often however, we don’t get the full picture of other determining factors in these survivors success (mental attitude, environmental factors, severity of dehydration etc.), thus propelling the myth further into the survivors lexicon.

To further understand and decipher this myth, let’s look at the facts:

• Urine is sterile when it leaves the body; it’s the contents of the “plumbing” which should cause immediate concern.
• Urine has a 2 to 3 day shelf life depending on environmental conditions, heat, humidity and method of storage.
• The color of urine is a prime indicator of hydration level*, the darker the fluid the greater the dehydration. Catching ones urine for drinking is best done while your body is properly hydrated and urine appears clear. *Certain medications and vitamins can darken urine, no matter hydration level.
• As the body dehydrates and available moisture used, urine becomes increasingly concentrated with waste: toxins, uric acid and sodium. Continued consumption of these in increasing doses can speed dehydration and cause possible renal failure, drastically enflaming the severity of the situation.
• The nature of survival situations in general, dictate that the severity of the situation is not realized until things turn for the worst: weather change, debilitating injury, darkness, early stages of hypothermia etc. Therefore, it’s a survival technique which should NOT be relied upon.

Understanding these simple physiological facts, we STRONGLY advise against drinking one’s own urine to re-hydrate (regardless of WHO does or promotes it), it is simply poor survival strategy.

The ability to address dehydration is a necessity for ALL outdoor enthusiasts and disaster preppers. Without this post evolving into a “book”, here are a few basics….

1. PLAN ahead: knowing natural sources and techniques for obtaining water from the environment. Know how to read the landscape and natural indicators (flora & fauna).
2. Be PREPARED: carry enough water* on your person to last the anticipated time in the outback and a means to make water “potable”, whether chemical, mechanical or pasteurization. *Its recommended 1 gallon per person per day.
3. KNOW the facts.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Monday, August 9, 2010

Myth of the Mylar Space blanket….

Was out hiking the other evening with some friends who did not seem prepared for any type of adventure, even a couple of miles into the front-country. They each carried a small "Camelbak" its free pocket stuffed with a few energy bars and two Emergency Mylar Space blankets. I inquired, “what will you do if an emergency occurs”. Each of them referred to their "space blanket" and cell phones as “survival” tools.

I have heard this claim many times before, "a space blanket provides an adequate shelter and can keep one comfortable on an unexpected night out". I have always said “the term space blanket is a falsehood; the thin plastic sheet is neither a miracle material nor a blanket”. Don’t believe the marketing claims!

By definition: "Blankets" trap heat in insulating pockets of dead air space, the thicker the insulation the higher the heat retention value. Blankets do not add heat, they simply trap it.

A thin plastic sheet has no insulating properties; the plastic barrier immediately becomes as cold as the snow, rock or cool wind and will immediately conduct that cold through wet clothing to the body, possibly effecting your core body temperature. A space blanket is not a blanket, nor an effective barrier between you and the environment.

While the Mylar Space blanket is not completely useless, with a little improvisation it can be RE-purposed to meet the needs of many a survivor:

• The aluminized material does in fact reflect radiant heat, just not body heat, used behind a fire or in the rear of a shelter as a heat reflector, can increase shelter temps dramatically. Also effective in providing shade in a desert environment.
• Can be worn under clothing as an effective “vapor barrier”, reducing convective heat loss.
• Aluminized Mylar material is translucent, can be worn over face and eyes as emergency sunglasses, reducing sun exposure and possible sun or snow blindness.
• Opened, the reflective surface makes an excellent rescue signal. Waved as a flag or beach towel in the sun, sends off a large reflection with the effect of a huge broken mirror.
• The polyester material the aluminum is bound to can be: used as a fire starter, cut into strips and twisted into cordage and used in a depression to collect, store and boil water w/ hot stones.

• When enclosed in the material, it is extremely noisy, possibly drowning out the yells of rescuers or SAR aircraft.
• The fragile state of an opened blanket is evident immediately; a small nick and breeze can result in shreds of Space blanket material. Usually these blankets are made too small in size for an average adult and require both hands to keep in place.
• As stated above, they are technically NOT a “blanket” & are ineffective in capturing, retaining and reflecting body heat.
• While extremely compact and lightweight, opening one can be extremely difficult, especially in any wind or with an injury, getting it back into its previous folded size is a feat for the Gods...
• THE biggest drawback of Mylar Space blankets: they are perishable. Their sensitivity to light and heat can, with time, produce a brittle, unmanageable and flaking state. Most preppers store these in their emergency kits for years, occupying valuable space, and may be unreliable when needed.

"So If I remove the Space blankets from my emergency packs, is there an alternative?"

While lacking the compact nature and light weight of the space blanket, there are a number of effective alternatives. 1) A clear 55 gallon drum liner is perhaps one of the most useful items one can carry. Its possible uses are only limited by your imagination. 2) Adventure Medical's Heatsheet Bivy, a lightweight, durable, immediate shelter. 3) Lastly, lets not forget your #1 line of defense against the elements: Proper Clothing. Dress for the worse, hope for the best.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Thursday, July 29, 2010

First-Aid Training

First-aid Training should be mandatory for the survivor. Your ability to survive takes a quantum leap forward by knowing even basic first aid and human physiology. While this might seem obvious, it escapes many experienced and not-so experienced outdoors-people and prepers. The goal of learning survival skills and being prepared is to keep the human body alive. Learning basic first-aid skills gives you insight into how the body works; its requirements, its priorities and its fragility. Having an understanding of the bodies basic needs from a medical perspective will give you insight into what you truly need to prepare and include in you emergency preparations.

A great place to start for the basics:

Wilderness Medicine institute:

CERT Training:

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


On any typical sweltering summer day in the desert southwest, Flood safety is the last thing on most minds. Your dry throat, the searing sun and heat attest to the regions bone-dry reputation. Yet each summer brings an unexpected risk, Flash Flooding.


I was in the middle of a week long, late summer, backcountry trip in Utah's canyon country. Two days from the nearest trailhead. My only supplies consisting of a basket of primitive gear: a grass sleeping mat, clay pot for cooking and water purification and a small handmade basket carrying various stone and bone tools for daily chores.

The weather had been un-seasonably warm, daytime temps in the 90's, night in the 60' retrospect it was "the calm before the storm". These canyons are notorious for their late summer flooding. Monsoon produced thunderstorms often hover over the surrounding mountains dropping torrential rains, the topography funnels this moisture violently downhill....bottle necking into the numerous slot canyons dotting the slick rock Utah landscape.

The last weather forecast I had heard called for high pressure and sunshine.

My canyon trip was going as planned up to this point.

Pinenuts, trout and grasshoppers were plentiful, my stomach was full.

The afternoon was beautiful, the sky a sea of blue, scattered with a few high clouds.

I curiously wandered up a narrow side canyon of the Escalante River. In search of the remains of the canyons ancient inhabitants: the Anasazi.

The overgrown trail tripped in and out of the creek for the better part of an hour. While stopping to tighten my sandal, my attention turns to the sparse scrub oak surrounding me and the unusual fog of silence now blanketing the area. Over the creeks low gurgle my ear picks up a low volume grumbling vibrating off the tight canyon walls....and another....frozen in my tracks I strain to determine the source.

The slice of sky overhead revealed nothing but deep blue, but the weather to the north, to the mountains was obscured. I knew with mountain rain would come the inevitable runoff and potential DANGER.

"I CANNOT be in this narrow canyon when that runoff arrives" I told myself. "I have gotta pick up the pace".

As my direction and speed shift down canyon, I notice the water quickly rising, now lapping just below my calves.....

20 yards ahead I spot a rock shelter, a small 6x8ft shelf eroded into the sandstone wall, 5 foot off the deck of the rising creek. On hands and knees I crawl onto the sandy shelf. Another few minutes and I would have been swept down the narrow canyon by the swirling muddy torrent.

Perched on my sandy safe haven, my mind has difficulty wrapping itself around the strange scene, blue sky, warm sunshine and the creek rising violently. The rumbling of boulders tumbling along the floods bottom shakes me from my hypnosis.

The brown liquid continued to rise....soon lapping at the edge of my dry patch of earth. Panic swelled in my chest, as I realized I wouldn’t survive the rising flood water if swept off the ledge.

Instinctively, I clenched the rear wall of my earthly protector. Silently praying for deliverance.

This tiny ledge would be my home for the LONG restless night ahead. I hunkered down waiting for the new day....

As I eagerly watched the canyon lighten with the rising sun, the roar of the flood long subsided, leaving behind the remnants of the night’s storm.

I anxiously flee my nights abode and continue quickly down the the open country and to safety

Flash Flood Safety Tips:

• If a wash or canyon bottom is flooded, do not cross. Take an alternate route. Or, wait until the water recedes. 6 inches of water is enough to sweep you off your feet.
• Climb to high ground and stay put. Do not try to outrace a flood on foot.
• Never camp on low ground next to streams since a flash flood can catch you while you're asleep.
• Always be careful when approaching a wash or slot canyon, even if it’s not raining or cloudy in your location. A wash or slot can become flooded by a thunderstorm several miles away.
• Be familiar with the topography, hazards and resources in the area in which you travel and recreate. Be prepared!
• Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest statements, watches and warnings concerning heavy rain and flash flooding in your area. Local ranger stations are an excellent source of seasonal info.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fear Factor....

Fear is THE MOST common emotional response to any perceived stressful or emergency situation. Its physiological and psychological effects can range from slight anxiety to overwhelming panic to cardiac arrest. Recognizing fear and having the ability to control it will greatly increase the odds of your surviving an emergency situation.

In a recent polling of our survival students, we asked students to identify their most common fears in an outdoor (wilderness) setting. What we discovered: generally, we all posses similar fears, perhaps genetic throwbacks to primal times. The following list is a compilation, (I am sure it will not surprise many), of the most prevalent fears found in our poll. **Not necessarily in order.

1. Heights
2. The dark
3. The unknown
4. Death
5. Loneliness
6. Suffering/pain
7. Wild animals (spiders & snakes….)

How does fear affects YOU: Our physiological reactions to stress and fear are not necessarily a negative thing, these response are a crucial part of our “fight or flight” mechanism. Allowing us to adapt and respond appropriately to unknown or traumatic circumstance. Understanding how this affects us is key to recognizing and controlling these potentially life threatening reactions.

Impairment of Circulatory and Metabolic System: as learned in the survival “Rule of 3’s” we can survive 3 minutes without oxygen, this illustrates the immense importance of maintaining a healthy circulatory system. Impairment of this function can cause: dilated pupils, dizziness and black-outs, racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, headaches, labored breathing, sweating, tightness in chest and possible cardiac arrest.

Impairment of Rational Thought: clear judgment is essential to handling any type of survival or emergency situation. As stated in previous posts, “Your #1 survival tool is your brain”, lack of the ability to rationalize, improvise and find solutions can be the determining factor to your survival. Lack of judgment manifests in the following: Shock, denial, shame, a sense of helplessness, depression, loss of hope, confusion, anxiety, panic, hallucinations, loss of appetite and inability to relax.

Impairment of Motor Skills: the ability to perform simple tasks from striking a match to operating a signaling device can be severely impaired due to adrenaline release and the effects of the previous two “Impairments” mentioned above. Both fine and complex movements require a steady hand & a calm mind. As the ability to move is impaired, you will experience: uncontrollable shaking of hands and extremities, inability to focus on the task at hand, flight, loss of “hand-eye” co-ordination.

Dealing with and controlling Stress and Fear: Both stress and fear are a necessary part of our human experience, some believe, throw backs to our more primal days when predators hunted US. Mounting an offense and effectively confronting stress and fear is a valuable technique to learn, while these affects will always be present, YOUR ability to control them makes YOU the master of your destiny…..

Methods of controlling fear

• Be Prepared: accept the fact that you could find yourself in a survival situation, prepare mentally, physically and spiritually. Carry a survival kit which can meet environmental and seasonal threats, fits your skill level, obtain survival training and maintain a positive mental attitude.
• Be aware: educate yourself on possible threats, personal weakness, weather patterns, possible animal encounters, environmental (i.e. flash flooding, avalanche etc.) and human hazards.
• S.T.O.P: once lost execute the following survival acronym, S-stop, T-think, O-organize, P-plan.**This will be covered more thoroughly in a future post.
• Focus: once a plan of action has been established, focus on the plan and accomplishing your desired outcome.
• PMA: crucial to getting home alive!! Having the WILL TO LIVE and HOPE will help you maintain that “UNKNOWN” survival factor. Practice Autogenic breathing technique.**This will be covered more thoroughly in a future post.
• Act: once a plan has been established, follow through, focus on goals.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Causes of Survival Situations

Today’s post will examine some of the most common reasons people end up in a backcountry survival situation. Most individuals don’t have the realization of their dangerous predicament until it’s too late, increasing situational stress and preventing an adequate response (i.e. shelter, fire construction….etc.) to the impending problem.

The skills taught by the majority of “Outdoor Survival” schools and media neglect to take this into account, for example: The bowdrill fire technique which is commonly taught, while a valuable skill to own, in an Emergency situation there are simply too many variables and possible mistakes to be made(humidity, tinder sources, physical ability), making the bowdrill an unreliable fire starting method to depend on when the chips are down.

Prior preparation is your key to overcoming an unexpected emergency, having an adequate kit and resources on hand (the ability to make a fire effortlessly and crawl into a shelter within a matter of minutes) is crucial to you making it home alive.

The following are the leading cause of most Emergency situations in the backcountry:

• Fatigue, fitness level (both physical and mental).
• Shame.
• Dehydration.
• Unrealistic goals, “summit fever” or "get-home-itis.
• Ego, forging ahead, overconfidence.
• Over reliance on technology.
• Shortcuts, change of plans.
• Lack of awareness: weather patterns, terrain & potential hazards.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Monday, July 5, 2010

Search & Rescue Stats....

Seems human stupidity and arrogance is big news these days, I routinely come across outdoor gear adds featuring "survival celebs", who have gained notoriety based on their bad choices, being unprepared and breaking cardinal backcountry rules. Survival of the "common sense" challenged??

I wonder what Darwin would have to say about this and the following statistics??

Between 1992 to 2007 our national parks were host to 78,488 individuals involved in 65,439 Search & Rescue incidents. The results of these "call-outs": 2,659 fatalities, 24,288 ill or injured individuals, and 13,212 saves.

More fun facts....

1. Estimated number of SAR missions in US each year: 50,000
2. Percent of SAR operations aiding lost individuals: 36%
3. Percent of SAR operations in Nat. Parks to find lost hikers: 40%
4. Duration of average search: 10 hours
5. Average daily cost to operate a full scale SAR operation: $32,000
6. Most likely group to be SAR targets: Men 20 to 25/ 2nd Men, 50 to 60
7. Leading activities requiring assistance: Hiking (48%) and boating (21%).
8. Fatalities: Hiking(22.8%), suicides(12.1%), swimming(10.1%), and boating(10.1%).

Be Prepared: Tips to Staying Found:

-Carry a survival kit at all times, even if only out for a day hike. Most survival situations occur while on short afternoon or day outings.
-Get in the habit of leaving emergency contact information with at least two responsible individuals.
-Study weather patterns, geography, environmental hazards, i.e. avalanche, flash flooding, dangerous animals, etc.
-Know your limits. Don’t overestimate your skill or underestimate Mother Nature.
-If part of a group, know each member’s strengths and weaknesses. Set your pace to the slowest member of your group.
-Your #1 survival tool is your brain. Use common sense.
-Plan for the unexpected.

Don't become a statistic....

**"Dead Men Walking: Search and Rescue in U.S. National Parks", Wilderness & Environmental Medicine (Volume 20, Number 3), 2009.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Friday, July 2, 2010

Emergency Prep Tip #2

Tip #2 - Preparing for emergencies needn’t be expensive, plan ahead and buy small quantities over time. Create a list of foods your family regularly consumes, these should: Have a long shelf-life and be non-perishable (can goods are an ideal choice). Do not require cooking. Meet nutritional needs. Can be easily stored. Have a low salt content (salty foods increase thirst). Ease of access and portable. At minimum you should keep a 2 to 4 week supply of foodstuffs on hand at all times.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fire Craft

Hunter-gatherers, both ancient and modern consider fire as LIFE. Fire allowed early humans to not only cook wild foods and keep potential predators at bay, but to aid in the migration and eventual exploration of the globe. The ability to make fire is the MOST IMPORTANT skill for all outdoorsmen to own.

In a wilderness survival situation a fire can provide the following:
Warmth: Body temperature regulation, staving off Hypothermia, drying out wet clothing.
Signaling: A fire at night or a column of smoke can be seen for miles. To produce an effective smoky fire burn green boughs or other green vegetation. Avoid burning poisonous plants (poison ivy & oak).
Companionship: A fire can raise spirits like nothing else, improving your mental outlook and attitude. By occupying your mind with the task of fire building, you’re less likely to succumb to panic or fear.
Cooking and Water Purification: Cooking wild edibles can make them more palatable, food preservation, boiling wild water, making it potable.
Tool construction: Fire can be used in the construction of tools, spears, burn bowls etc.
Other uses: Smoke repels insects, fire repels predators, provide light.

Fire Building Tips
• Locate fire out of wind, away from overhanging tree branches, against heat absorbing reflective surface, boulders or stacked logs.
• Clear an area at least 15’ diameter, down to soil. And either dig a shallow hole or a ring of rock to contain your campfire.
• Gather three times as much firewood, as you think you will need.
• When building a fire on snow dig down to the soil or construct a platform of green logs.
• Inexperienced fire builders should always start as early as possible in the construction of fire.
• Large bonfires are dangerous; a small fire with fuel the size of your thumb is just as effective, safer and more manageable.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Emergency Prep Tip #1

Today's Blog entry is the first in a series of short informational posts compiled to help YOU, our reader in your pursuit of greater self reliance and peace of mind.

Tip #1 -What if a disaster occurs while on the job? Do you know the emergency preparedness plan for your place of employment? While many employers have been pro-active in preparing for disasters since 911 and hurricane Katrina, a recent national survey indicates that many employees are still unaware of their workplace plan for major or minor disasters. If you don’t know yours, ASK. If perhaps your employer has yet to put a program in place, the plan should consist of: multiple routes in & out of your building, shelter-in-place or evacuate information, plan for both possibilities, know the location (or locations) of emergency & first aid kits and gear, emergency contact information for all employees involved and what possible emergencies might affect your company and location. For more information on the subject please see:

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Saturday, June 26, 2010

WHAT should you put in your 72-hour emergency kits?

"WHAT should I put in my 72-hour emergency kits?"....seems I receive this question almost, phone calls, in line at the grocery store. Now I don't believe in simply providing these seekers with a "list of STUFF" to run out and purchase that will cover ALL their prepping needs. The following is a list of 10 concepts meant to help you maximize the effectiveness of the emergency kits you prepare. Preparing your own Emergency kits allows the flexibility, thoroughness and customization to your families unique needs and circumstance.

  1. Your BRAIN is your most valuable tool. Learn as much as possible about preparedness and self-reliance, first aid and community emergency response.
  2. Each kit should be tailored to meet the needs of each user as well as seasonal and environmental variance.
  3. Your emergency kits need not be expensive. Assemble the basics adhering to the "Survival Rule of 3's" and expand as resources become available.
  4. Components of your kits should be as multi-functional as possible. For example: large Contractor grade trash bags can be used as improvised shelter, water storage and collection or emergency ponchos.
  5. Get the family involved! Have each family member participate in the creation and upkeep and review of kits. Establish a "Emergency Plan" for your family, insure each family member knows the plan, rehearse regularly!
  6. Your kits should be portable and kept in a single convenient location. Accessible to all family members. Kits should be packed in portable containers (backpacks, duffel bags, rolling suitcases etc.) suitable to fitness levels of carrier. You may be required to evacuate in a moments notice.
  7. Twice a year check/rotate perishable items. Attention should be paid to stored water, food and first aid items. Keep a record of contents and date sensitive components. Don't Pilfer your kits for daily needs, when an emergency occurs you want your cache to be complete!
  8. Plan for comfort as well as survival. After facing the trauma of a natural calamity, a "box of pouches and space blankets" isn't going to cut it! Choose items, which will afford a certain level of comfort and familiarity.
  9. Include entertainment items, scriptures, playing cards, games to occupy time, providing a distraction and slice of normalcy.
  10. Don't forget the pets!

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NEW Logo....

Our logo was designed be our founder Z. Baker. The footprints represent our common ancestors, the pathway our ancestors left throughout their journey across time. The circle of flame, becomes a mirror into which we peer to see a campfire spiraling about, representing the curious & hardy spirits of those who came and sacrificed before. Self Reliance skills, often forgotten, await our rediscovery, to unite and better serve us all.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z

New FaceBook page....Follow along.

Greetings all,

We are moving up in the world, yesterday our Blog, today Facebook, tommorow......?? We thank all of you for your continued support and comments. Step on up to our campfire and join the group......

Please follow the Facebook link to your right......See ya on the trail.

Stay healthy, mind-body-spirit! -Z