March 10, 2022

So You’re Lost in the Wilderness. Do You Know How To Survive?

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Cars break down, devastating winter storms hit, and sometimes you simply take the wrong freeway exit and end up lost with no cell service.

Dr. David Townes, a professor of emergency medicine and adjunct professor of global health at the University of Washington, says unintended trips to the wilderness are often spurred by accidents — like taking a wrong turn or car trouble — or severe weather changes.

Even for adventurers seeking outdoor challenges, “the common theme is that they’ve underestimated what they plan to do and, tied in with that, nearly overestimated their own abilities,” Townes said.

“If you can avoid getting into trouble, then that’s obviously the most successful strategy.”

But, just like the Scout motto, it’s always good to be prepared. Being ready for life’s twists and turns can be the difference between safety and harm.

Experts broke down the key details for planning and preparing for worst-case scenarios.

Plan ahead

Before you leave the house, be sure to do some research. Look online or talk to locals about your chosen destination, Townes said. Doing so can ensure you’re informed about trail quality, wildlife, water accessibility, maps, and more.

It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast as well, regardless of the time of year.

Once you’ve planned your trip, the US Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service says to give someone all the important details — including your destination, how many people are going, the vehicle you’re taking, the trail you plan to follow, and when you’ll return.

Depending on where you’re headed, you should also make sure to pack these essentials that could help prevent or mitigate emergencies:

  • Water and water-purifying tablets or drops
  • Nonperishable, nutritionally valuable foods such as dried fruits or nuts, energy bars, or beef jerky
  • First aid kit including disinfectants, tourniquets, bandages, and aluminum splints
  • Comfortable shoes with ankle support
  • Insulation (an emergency blanket, jacket, hat, gloves, waterproof rain shell, thermal underwear)
  • Sunscreen, and hat
  • Lightweight shelter, if possible, such as a bivy sack, tarp, or one-person tent
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Waterproof matches, lighters, and fire starters
  • Duct tape, knife, screwdriver, and scissors
  • Map, compass, and locator beacon
  • Charged portable battery

Be sure to dress for the elements. If it’s cold out, avoid cotton clothing because wet cotton doesn’t dry well and therefore won’t keep you warm, Townes said.

“A down jacket is a great insulating layer, but down is not very insulating when it gets wet,” Townes explained. “If you then cover your down jacket with some sort of thin waterproof jacket, you’ve now got a waterproof, insulated layer … Layering is important because then you have choices.”

Remember, even if you’re going to the desert, you should still bring a warm jacket. Temperatures can drop drastically at night, and in many mountain areas, weather conditions can vary dramatically throughout the day.

Worst-case scenarios

The Forest Service says that you should know that “panic is your greatest enemy” if you get lost.

“Your best chance of survival is to think rationally and calmly,” Townes said.

“Think, ‘What are my options? What are the things I need to worry about in terms of threats? Like the weather, is it getting dark? Is it late? Am I going to try to get out tonight or am I here for the night and I need to work on this in the morning? And therefore, I need to figure out where I’m going to spend the night.'”

The Forest Service recommends following its “STOP” protocol: Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. First, stay put while mentally retracing your steps to recall how you arrived there. Ask yourself what landmarks you should see, and don’t move until you have a specific reason to do so. Use your compass to determine the directions.

Come up with a few potential plans based on what you observe, compare them, and then follow the one that has your confidence.

However, the Forest Service says that if it’s dark outside or you’re injured (or exhausted), you should stay put for the night. If you’re on a trail, stay on it — especially if it has signs or markers.

Townes said that following a drainage or stream downhill could lead to civilization, but it could also be dangerous if you have to travel through thick brush or steep terrain.

If there’s something you can climb on to see above the tree line, that can also help you locate civilization and choose which direction you should go in.

Survive the ordeal

At this point, your focus is staying alive until rescue. Townes said that staying hydrated is more important than staying fed since dehydration can be much more dangerous.

Every time you see water, top off your bottle even if you think it’s unnecessary. You can’t be sure when you’ll see another water source.

Running water, such as a stream or river, is usually cleaner than stagnant bodies of water, Townes said.

“If you do have to use stagnant water like the lake, people theorize that getting it from close to the middle is better than the edge.”

If you run out of food, any berries or proteins you find — such as fish or insects — are usually edible, Townes said. He didn’t recommend eating wild mushrooms since their toxicity can be a gamble.

There are optimal times to rest and eat or expend energy, according to the Forest Service. If you’re starting to feel tired, stop and rest for at least 30 minutes before you reach exhaustion. You’ll need to rest for at least half an hour after eating, too, since it’d be taxing to digest food and hike simultaneously.

Also, address small problems as soon as you notice them. “If you ignore your body and keep pushing, the pain or illness will only get worse and make recovery more difficult,” the Forest Service says.

If you’re stranded during a warm season, avoid hiking between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Instead, sit in a shady spot until the weather cools. Keep a comfortable pace when you hike.

When you need shelter, look for structures such as cabins, lean-tos, or rock formations. Only choose a cave if remaining unsheltered would be life-threatening, Townes said.

Don’t go into a cave far enough to get trapped, and watch for bats or large animals since those can pose a risk for disease or other harm.

Face the elements and wildlife

Townes advised that you should only make a fire in certain circumstances and with extreme caution.

“Always know the (local) rules about campfires and try to never violate those rules, because we’ve seen in the last several years these horrible fires on both coasts,” Townes said.

Build your fire so it’s blocked from wind that would transport embers, maybe surrounding it with rocks or other objects that aren’t flammable, he recommended.

Injuries are where your first aid kit comes in handy. According to Townes, any drinkable water is probably fine for flushing your wound if you don’t have a disinfectant. You can treat sprains or breaks with the aluminum splint you hopefully packed or an improvised aid made from branches.

If you researched the site ahead of time, that could help you to fend off any agitated animals. Staying calm and refraining from intimidating them is usually your best bet for most large animals.

Return to safety, and don’t give up hope

Though getting lost in the unforgiving wilderness can seem dire, stories from survivors help us realize that all hope is not lost.

Oregon resident Harry Burleigh thought he was headed out on a quick hike last May until he spontaneously decided to venture off on a trail before returning home. It turned out to be the start of the 17 days he had to survive in the wilderness while his wife, authorities, and volunteers searched for him.

Rescuers found Burleigh after spotting makeshift shelters. He was in minor pain but stable. He told a local news outlet how he fashioned a headcover out of his underwear and fishing gear and used a plastic magnifying glass to start a fire.

Alaska resident Tyson Steele lost his cabin, dog, and belongings to a fire in December 2019, leaving him stranded alone in the bitter cold. Rescuers found Steele three weeks later after helicopter troopers noticed his waves and large “SOS” sign carved out of snow. He ate canned rations and peanut butter and slept in a snow cave and shelter he built around his wood stove.

Sajean Geer spread her late husband’s ashes in Washington’s Olympic National Park in July 2017, then, disoriented by emotion, couldn’t find her car or any roads. Geer had made a makeshift shelter out of logs and moss, surviving on currant fruits, pine needles, ants, and stream water. Searchers found her after six days.

With some practical know-how and a clear head, it’s possible to make it out of a nightmarish scenario.


You get lost in the wilderness. Do you know how to survive?

March 10, 2022

BEWARE: Don’t Fall For These Bogus Survival Tips

In a now-viral post, a Reddit user asked the question, “What is a survival myth that is completely wrong and could get you killed?”

People gave some solid examples of survival techniques we’ve all heard before — but aren’t really true. Don’t fall for these bogus survival tips!

MYTH #1: Ration your water

“That you should ration water if you’re in a survival situation. No. Drink what you have until it’s gone. Use that time with good hydration levels to take stock of your situation and make good choices. Decision-making and physical ability drop off very quickly when you are dehydrated. The first decisions you make after realizing you are in a survival situation are critical and pay long dividends.”

MYTH #2: Almost drowned? No problem

“That you can just be on your way after almost drowning. If you rescue someone from a near drowning, they still need to go to the hospital. The lungs are coated with a slippery, mucus-like substance called ‘surfactant.’ It keeps them from collapsing and sticking to themselves. If they ingested a lot of water into the lungs, chances are they have washed away the surfactant. Their lungs could collapse at any moment, and their ability to intake oxygen is reduced. Get the survivor on oxygen.”

MYTH #3: Bears can’t run down hills

“That bears can’t run down hills. They can. They’ll get you too.”

MYTH #4: You can safely jump into water from high surfaces

“That you can jump off high surfaces into water safely. You will break your bones.”

MYTH #5: Wait for the car to fill up with water if you drive into a lake, etc.

“That you should wait for the car to fill up with water if you drive into a lake. No. Just open the window and get out ASAP. If you wait, you could be 200 feet down or flipped over on the bottom. The power will still work for a short time. It only takes a few seconds.”

MYTH #6: Zigzag to escape an alligator

“That you should zigzag to escape an alligator. Alligators can turn, but they can/will only run in short bursts. Just run as fast as you can.”

MYTH #7: You don’t need a survival kit if you’re going on a short trip

“That you don’t need survival tools if you’re going somewhere for a short amount of time. You should carry basic survival tools whenever you go out hiking, hunting, camping, etc. Things like a magnesium fire starter with flint and steel, a LifeStraw water filter, or water purification tablets don’t weigh much or take up much space. They can be a lifesaver. People get lost on short trips or get injured, leaving them stuck in the wilderness. It doesn’t take a massive forest or jungle to get lost.”

MYTH #8: Hide under a bridge if you’re driving during a tornado warning

“If you’re driving during a tornado warning, don’t get out of your car and climb up the side of an overpass to hide under a bridge. This myth became famous after a video of a man and his daughter hiding under an overpass went viral. But the one they chose had some unusual construction that offered them protection in a way most don’t. Wind speed increases the higher you get from the ground, and the narrow passages can create a wind tunnel effect, taking the flying debris picked up by the tornado and sending it straight through you at 200 mph or more.”

MYTH #9: Stuck on a deserted island? Try to leave

“That you should try to leave a remote location when lost. Do not try to leave a deserted island if you are stuck — you will almost certainly die before someone spots you.”

MYTH #10: Catch the snake that bit you

“That you should catch the snake that bit you. In Australia, at least, you do not need to anymore. The antivenin is universal.”

MYTH #11: Drink water from a cactus

“That you can drink water from cactus. It’s not potable, and likely to trigger vomiting/diarrhea, and you will get more dehydrated.”

MYTH #12: Follow birds to find water

“That you should follow birds to find water. They could be flying anywhere.”

MYTH #13: Punch an attacking shark in the nose

“That you should punch a shark in the nose. Have you seen a shark nose? It’s slippery and angles down into three rows of teeth! Go for the eyes if you need to, but mostly, avoid acting like a wounded seal!”

MYTH #14: Tie a rope around your waist to save you from a high fall

“That you can tie a rope around your waist and expect it to save you from a fall. Sure, it might prevent you from hitting the ground, but you can still damage your internal organs and break your back doing this. Safety harnesses go around your hips and legs, not your waist.”

MYTH #15: Alcohol “warms” you up

“That alcohol ‘warms’ you up. You feel warm because it’s dilating your blood vessels in your face and extremities, but that causes you to lose more heat to the environment, and therefore will make you die of hypothermia quicker, if anything.”


People Are Sharing BS Survival Myths That Could Actually Get You Killed, And I’m Thankful I Read These

March 9, 2022

What To Do In Case of a Nuclear Explosion: Tips from the US Armed Forces Survival Manual

Amid the Ukraine-Russia conflict, many Americans are concerned about the possibility of a nuclear weapon going off.

A popular TikTok account, Novice Prepper (NP), put together a handy guide on surviving a nuclear explosion.

Novice Prepper presented tips from the U.S. Armed Forces Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Survival Manual in a recent viral video.

NP says that there is practically zero chance of survival if you’re within the actual blast radius. A nuclear explosion would completely incinerate everything within the blast radius, so your best bet is to “bend over and kiss your [butt] goodbye.”

The blast radius in Hiroshima was about 1.5 miles, and modern bombs can reach a radius of 3 to 8 miles.

If you’re roughly 50 to 100 miles away from the blast, you’ll want to make a family plan of action ahead of time.

Get underground and stay there

Ideally, you’d want to grab your loved ones and hunker down in the corner of a basement. Most basements are encased in cinder blocks, concrete, and earth, which greatly decrease the spread of nuclear radiation and fallout.

You can also cover up your windows with sandbags, dirt, wood insulation, or anything that would help stop radiation from seeping into your home.

If you get exposed to radiation and fallout, take off your clothes, take a shower, and put on some fresh clothes. If you react quickly enough, you can avoid up to 95% of the contamination that could very seriously affect your skin and hair.

Now that you’re safely underground, stay there for as long as your food and water supplies can allow. 

It is said that nuclear fallout decreases significantly over time—by a factor of 10 every 7 hours, meaning that 48 to 72 hours should be enough for levels to drop to non-lethal levels. However, this 7-10 rule is considered a rule of thumb based on observed data and may be inaccurate.

But wait – what if I don’t have a basement?

NP emphasizes that “nothing is going to be as good as cinder blocks and earth,” but provides advice for people who don’t have basements.

“You’re going to want to cover all of the windows and doors in your house” with things like “blankets, plastic tarps, pillows, whatever you can find.”

“Make sure you have a lot of duct tape, nails, hammers,” he says. After you cover up all the doors and windows, find a room in the center of your house.

“If you don’t have a room, maybe there’s a closet. If there’s no closet, maybe build a little fort. Make sure you’re on the main level of your home, not the top floor.

Basement or not, you’ll need supplies

“Make sure you have canned food, water, and maybe a bucket to use the bathroom. You might be in there for a while,” NP says, reiterating the 10 to seven rule. 

“The longer you stay in a safe place, the better.”


Guy Gives 8 Tips On What To Do In Case Of A Nuclear Explosion, Provided In The US Armed Forces Survival Manual

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