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#188400 - 01/07/15 12:22 AM EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY:
Minx Offline
member

Registered: 11/22/14
Posts: 23
What do you do to prepare for emergencies on the trail?

Where safety is concerned for wilderness adventure we always think of things we should take like a first aid kit, enough water, a little extra food, foot care like mole skin, fire starter, compass and a signaling device or something. Then there's those anal ones, like me, who might add things to the list like an emergency blanket, knife, 20 or 30 feet of cord and some duct tape, etc. These are all worth more than their weight in gold should you find yourself in need of them. The hard truth is, however, that more often than not we run into bad situations exactly when we are least prepared. A unexpected fail on a short hike leaves us helpless away from camp without our gear or something. Whatever.
So the fact remains and warrants continued consideration...
The skills to 'make do' will get you through adverse situations exponentially better than any piece of equipment you carry. Preparing yourself is simply THE most important thing you can do to mitigate dangers and what ifs. Of course, pack those things but...
Basic first aid and wilderness first aid, physical fitness and navigation are all things every adventurer should know and practice. Books and online sources are great and you should study but, book sense only gets you so far. At some point you need to practice and it is best to practice with somebody that knows what they're doing.  Your local recreation shop and the red cross are good places to start looking for classes.
Then...
Why not take it to the next level?
Skills only get good with practice. Why not practice when you are actually out in the wilderness? Put what you learn to the test when you are out in the elements.  I realize this sounds like "prepper" stuff but there is a reason first responders do drills in their down time.

THINGS TO PRACTICE on your next backpacking adventure:
 - MAKE FIRE There is nothing like a fire to lift your spirits and make sheltering  better. It is also a defense,  signal, warmth, light, water purifier, etc. Try making fires in different ways. No matches or lighter. After using your sparking rod in a bundle, try a bow-driill, hand drill or magnifying glass. If you have to do it in bad conditions you'll be glad you worked through the details in good ones.
 - BUILD A SHELTER. What materials are in your vecinity to use? What kind of shelter would be easiest and most effective?  How long does it take? How can you make a shelter with limited resources or gear? i.e., all found natural items or just a trash bag and piece of string. (kids particularly love this one. A fort!)
 - BOIL WATER. Without a pot.  What can you use in nature or maybe out of your pack? Could you build a solar still? How much water can you get from one?
 - REPLACE TOILET PAPER with things in the wild. What works best?
 - BUILD A SIGNALING MARKER. SPECIAL NOTE: DO NOT LEAVE IT UP. How would you get a rescue team to find you? What would be the best signal for your location and conditions? For safety and to make sure you do not waste the precious resources and time of our amazing first responders, do not finish a signal and be sure to take down and clear any signal you make.
 - FIND EDIBLE PLANTS. What plants in your area are safe and nutritious? How do you prepare them?

Just a few basic skills you will be thankful to have practiced if you ever get into a bad spot. Rubbing 2 sticks together is extremely difficult and 10 times more frustrating when you are tired, cold, dehydrated and hungry.
This can also be a very fun way to spend some time in the wild and rewarding when you accomplish the task. Kids get so much out of it as well.

ADD YOUR EMERGENCY/SURVIVAL TASK TO PRACTICE IN THE COMMENT SECTION  BELOW.
I am curious to know what others do or if anybody else thinks about this crap (and will admit it) or if I'm just nuts.

Now go play outside. (After adding your suggestion.)

Packman
Tread lightly.
www.raisedbyraccoons.blogspot.com #backpacking #survivalskills #firstaid #goplayoutside

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#188407 - 01/07/15 10:54 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 640
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
I definitely admire people with those types of skills. It seems like a fun hobby, if that's what you're into. However, some of us don't want to have to earn a PHD in wilderness survival just to enjoy the outdoors. I'm fully aware when I go on a hike that I'm taking a calculated risk, as we all should be, but that's our choice. Of course, I'm not saying to be stupid about it. At the very least, you should have gear and supplies appropriate to the situation, but most of the time, I'd rather hike than frustrate myself trying to make fire with wet wood and a stone knife.

Something else to consider is that, often, practicing wilderness survival skills goes against LNT. If you're building primitive shelters on your own property, that's fine. Just be respectful of everyone else who may want to enjoy the area you're in.

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#188408 - 01/07/15 11:11 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: 4evrplan]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1724
Loc: Napa, CA
While many of those skills are fun to learn, the most important survival skills iare to learn how to stay safe, stay found, and get out. Most of the skills on your list become pretty darn redundant at that point.

I think too many people endorse the idea of the outdoors as survival training. It's recreation. Get out there, have fun, and stay safe. You don't need to know how to catch a fish with your bare hands, skin a bear, or make a fire in the blizzard to have a spectacularly good time in the wilderness.
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#188409 - 01/07/15 11:49 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: balzaccom]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
The important things are having the gear to stay warm, dry, and hydrated if stuck out over a night or two (those "Ten" Essentials), sense enough to stay put until found if lost, basic wilderness first aid skills, knowledge that hydration is more important than what might be in the water. Also leaving your itinerary with a trusted person. I personally no longer go out even on day hikes without my Personal Locator Beacon. I've never had to use it and hopefully never will, but the 5 ounces beat the alternative of waiting several days to be reported missing. They also keep my family off my case, a psychological weight saving! Why is it that when children grow up they want to reverse the parent/child role?

I agree with balzaccom that most of those skills described by the OP are not necessary. Some of them may be illegal (such as cutting green wood for shelter, or building fires in situations where wood is scarce (high altitude) or the fire danger is extreme. In the right situations, of course, they are fun, but mostly not essential to survival for those who routinely follow the precautions I've outlined above.


Edited by OregonMouse (01/07/15 11:51 AM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#188413 - 01/07/15 02:20 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2852
Loc: Portland, OR
My take on this has not changed in decades.

Aside from fire building, the skills you listed have very little application to an experienced and prepared backpacker. If I am backpacking, I already have the gear, clothes and food I need to survive in the wilderness. I don't need to build a makeshift shelter if I have a tent. I don't need to boil water without a pot, because I brought a pot.

Knowing edible plants is a good general skill, but it wouldn't apply until I run out of the food I brought with me, and if I take the correct precautions before I leave the trailhead, I will almost certainly be located before I starve. At best, wild plants provide very few calories, but they can provide a psychological boost.

Where hikers most often get into life-and-death situations without adequate gear, clothes and food is while day hiking. That is why I always bring enough with me on a day hike to survive an unscheduled night out. I always pay attention to the forecast for that night and the next day when I plan what to take with me. I do this even for a casual day hike on a popular trail, because survival should not be left to chance. If I am with another person, I make them do the same. The same precautions should always be taken before leaving the trailhead, to let others know where you went and when you expect to return.

Making the right sort of preparations and taking the right precautions from the very start is FAR superior to the types of survival skills you listed. They are much easier to learn and to use, and they will tend to do far less damage to the wilderness.

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#188419 - 01/07/15 09:00 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I'm with Aimless. Most of the hiker rescue stories from around SoCal involve people who go out with little or no gear, no extra clothes, no light, no map or gps and little food or water. I've done that on a local loop trail, but if I'm in unfamiliar territory, I'd rather have enough with me for at least one night, including a small pot and stove, especially in winter. In Yosemite, I took enough for overnight when I did day hikes away from my camp with snow on the ground.

Adventure is just bad planning - Roald Amundsen
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#188433 - 01/08/15 01:36 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: TomD]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Have watched enough Bear Grylls and Les Stroud to be familiar with sheltering under fir boughs and wringing water from elephant dung and using a camel carcass for a tent, but confess a certain lack of kinesthetic knowledge and practice. But my hiking buddy's son knows how to use a fire drill, so we take him along quite regularly now.

Now that I carry InReach I have an SOS signal should I ever really get in the soup. And in the meantime I can certainly practice my shelter-fashioning/fire-building/water retrieving skills. I think the larger issue is dealing with the wholly unexpected, which in the US West seems mostly to revolve around people motoring to places they can't escape. The stories are endless and to be honest, I take my InReach driving now, as well as my rescue tool when I'm traveling the Delta (in case I end up in the drink).

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#188458 - 01/10/15 05:35 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Rick_D]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2745
Loc: California
Although I am not a fan of "survival" shows (they are SO phony!) I am in basic agreement with the post. When an emergency situation arises, you need:

1) appropriate equipment
2) skills to use that equipment and improvise
3) an emergency plan

I think everyone agrees to #1.

Skills only can be learned with practice. LOTS of practice if you want to be proficient under very stressful conditions. Building a fire is one thing; being able to do it with wet wood and frozen fingers is another. Skills include mental skills - old fashioned toughness, focus and not to panic. And knowledge. And judgment. The ability to know when building a fire will add to your safety, and when it will do the opposite (getting soaked finding wood to build a fire, when you would be better off hanging low in the tent until the worst of the rain stops).

Most backpackers are not aware of #3. Emergency planning is really important and needs to be well though out BEFORE you even go into the wilderness. An emergency is a case when "democracy" does not work so well - a leader needs to be take charge. One example - a group of four goes backpacking. One guy "goes missing" from camp at 8PM less than an hour from dark. What is your plan? How do you assure the safety of the other three? Or do the other three run into the woods helter, skelter trying to find the missing? Or, what if you group gets separated on the trail. What is the plan?

Thankfully, backpacking is pretty safe, so most people never even encounter these situations. But I do agree practice of skills is GOOD.

When I taught for NOLS, we made everyone spend a night out with only their day pack gear. This small exercise had a big impact. Do this once and you will not forget your 10 essentials! Another way to get experience is to do things in controlled environments. Fast at home for three days to see what it is really like to go without food. At home, walk one hour in cold downpour, to see how quickly you get wet and totally chilled. And, there are lots of lower elevation Forest Service lands with plenty of firewood. Wait for a rain storm, then go out and try to build a fire.

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#188488 - 01/12/15 01:12 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
Minx Offline
member

Registered: 11/22/14
Posts: 23
Agreed, the best safety is to avoid an emergency situation altogether. All of the statements above are valid and generally a given I would think. I am surprised, however, to find half the comments relying on gear and planning though. This was intended to be a study for when all that fails. Granted a pot and stove is nice, GPS or beacon is grand, hunkering down in a tent is preferred, but, when all those things fail? When the truly remote emergency situation comes up?
I often backpack in remote wilderness which is vast in the Southwest. Of course every precaution is taken and planned well. I feel skills only augment my "kit" and lend an advantage to me and others I may come across in a bad way. Having been in a desperate situation in the wilderness when I was very young, I appreciate the knowledge.

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#188491 - 01/12/15 01:58 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 838
Loc: Torrance, CA
The problem with many of these skills is that they take a lot of time... often that time would be better spent getting out. Even in very remote wildernesses you are rarely more than a day or two hike from civilization. It takes a month to die from starvation. Giardia takes weeks to develop. Keeping moving keeps you warm. Lighting a fire when you are cold and wet and don't have matches or a lighter is a real challenge. That is when you need a fire and you won't have the time or energy to make one. Spend that time getting out.

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#188493 - 01/12/15 02:06 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2852
Loc: Portland, OR
If you hike in the Southwest I am surprised you did not mention making a solar still for collecting water as a primary skill. Seems to me that water is about x10000 more crucial to survival than identifying a replacement for toilet paper. Although I grant you that cactus spines or salt bush twigs would make dreadful tp. grin

generally a given I would think

We have several active members who are involved with SAR and I think they would say these are far from a given, and the bulk of their (ahem) clients fail to do proper planning or take the recommended precautions. Even those who are described by loved ones as "experienced hikers" often fail at following the basics of safety, because when you've taken hundreds of hikes without a problem, you tend to slack off and think that exempts you from having to do the simple things every blessed time you hike.

One difficulty in emphasizing the sorts of survival skills you mentioned in your original post is that most hikers will never (and I mean never) take your advice to spend a good chunk of their recreational time pretending they are lost and practicing skills they never expect to use. So, your well-meant advice and freely offered knowledge will come to nothing. Whereas, drilling it into them over and over that they need to leave an itinerary and stick to it may actually result in their doing it more often than not.

I would not tell you to stop trying to offer that advanced knowledge to those willing to take it, but I would hope that you always start out by reminding people of the most basic, most useful, and most important precautions. Because these save more lives than any other thing you could tell them to do.

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#188512 - 01/12/15 06:36 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3570
Loc: Texas
All fun and useful skills. Thanks for posting.
Survival and enduring is regional. From the Texas angle I'd add....
1. Find water. You can't boil it if you don't have it and I'd put it way up on that list. Solar stills are nice but really slow. Learn what plants carry water, topography likely to have water sources or moisture below the surface, if not flowing/standing water. Learn to filter it with what you have, assuming no fire or containers.
2. Ditch toilet paper from the get go. I don't hike/camp with it. Learn what 2/3rds of the rest of the world does, who have never seen TP.
3. Learn the day and nighttime sky.
4. learn signaling, mirrors, smoke fires, signs, some morse code.
5. learn to trap and fish with minimal equipment, including no equipment at all.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#188517 - 01/12/15 08:09 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1724
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By Minx
Agreed, the best safety is to avoid an emergency situation altogether. All of the statements above are valid and generally a given I would think. I am surprised, however, to find half the comments relying on gear and planning though. This was intended to be a study for when all that fails. Granted a pot and stove is nice, GPS or beacon is grand, hunkering down in a tent is preferred, but, when all those things fail? When the truly remote emergency situation comes up?


I'd suggest that your planning was pretty poor if all of those things fail. Can you give us an example of how that might happen?
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#188536 - 01/13/15 01:22 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: BZH]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2745
Loc: California
Simply bailing out as quickly as possible is not always the safest thing to do. And the keeping moving keeps you warm theory breaks down when soaked, wind is 60 mph, and the temperature is dropping and you are on a 12,000 foot pass. There are many places in the Wind Rivers where I have been pinned down for a few days because there is NO way out that does not involve high passes, without trails, some requiring crossing glaciers, and none safe in a lightning storm, heavy rain or snow. My fire-building skills have served me well over the years. The trick is knowing when to build a fire and when to hunker down in the tent. I have used many fires to dry my clothes after the storm. Maybe this did not exactly "save" me but it sure made the next few days less on the edge. Practicing survival skills will add to your "knowledge and skill" kit. I do not see how doing this has any down side. Not enough time? Well make time. And I find this kind of practice actually fun.

And I really believe beginners need to be put into tough situations, within a controlled environment, to actually experience what it would be like in a real survival situation. I do not think most beginning backpackers know how quickly they get drenched in a real heavy rain and how quickly you get chilled. I got caught in a surprise severe storm (storm quickly coming in on the other side of the mountain so I did not see it until on top) on the top of a 11,000 foot high pass in the Sierra. Although it was only a half hour hike to get off the pass, I got soaked and became so chilled that as soon as I got to timber, I got out the stove and cooked soup. It took that external warmth got avoid hypothermia. Had I continued to walk, I do not know what would have happened. You need to recognize when things are getting bad (and you need to have experienced this before to gain this judgment), and know what needs to be done, and have had enough practice to do it under stressful conditions. And, you do not wait until you are exhausted and soaked to build a fire- you stop before that point.

Practice builds confidence; confidence reduces panic; less panic allows you to make better decisions.

And I agree that proper planning and avoiding emergency situations is the first line of defense. Backpack enough miles, enough years, and I bet you will eventually find yourself in an emergency situation that will be helped by survival skills.




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#188543 - 01/13/15 04:15 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: wandering_daisy]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 838
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
Simply bailing out as quickly as possible is not always the safest thing to do. And the keeping moving keeps you warm theory breaks down when soaked, wind is 60 mph, and the temperature is dropping and you are on a 12,000 foot pass. ...


I do agree with most everything you said. Perhaps I wasn't very eloquent or perhaps I was wrong, but I was referring to making a fire without a lighter or matches. In that scenario it is rarely worthwhile spending the necessary time to make a fire. Particularly if you and everything around you is wet. You are probably better off on other pursuits. If you are hypothermic and have nothing but a string in your pocket. I don't think using that string to make a fire should be your number one priority.

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#188544 - 01/13/15 05:16 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: BZH]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Shelter, whether carried or created, would be the top priority in most situations I'd typically encounter. Medical emergencies, of course, are a whole other kettle of fish.
_________________________
--Rick

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#188545 - 01/13/15 05:57 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: BZH]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2852
Loc: Portland, OR
If you are already hypothermic and have nothing but a string in your pocket, I would think that your survival is hanging by a thread and you are probably SOL. eek

That is, unless your non-hypothermic hiking partner can build you a fire or warm you up somehow ASAP. Because a hypothermic person is in no condition to act quickly and decisively, even if they have far better resources at hand than one piece of string.

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#188546 - 01/13/15 07:28 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 838
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By aimless
If you are already hypothermic and have nothing but a string in your pocket, I would think that your survival is hanging by a thread and you are probably SOL. eek

That is, unless your non-hypothermic hiking partner can build you a fire or warm you up somehow ASAP. Because a hypothermic person is in no condition to act quickly and decisively, even if they have far better resources at hand than one piece of string.


I agree.

Building a fire with a bow drill is not an easy task in the best scenario (manufactured equipment and plenty of dried tinder). I've never seen anyone build a fire with an improvised bow drill in any reasonable amount of time. I've never seen anyone do it period when its cold and wet outside. It is a fun exercise to help you appreciate modern society and maybe a useful skill for a post-apocalyptic society, but I would not consider it a reasonable survival skill.

The OP did mention using a sparkler for the no matches, no lighter fire building technique. The problem I have with that, is that I could have three more lighters for the weight of a sparkler. Any failed equipment scenario where I have a sparkler I can think of, I would be better off with extra lighters/matches. Lighting a fire with a sparkler is a real challenge. The OP also mentions a magnifying glass. If I am cold and wet, is the sun out? I think I would rather bring an additional lighter with me than a magnifying glass.

Building a fire WITH a match or lighter in a challenging environment is a skill I think people should practice. It is something I failed at after a heavy rainstorm while backpacking outside Phoenix. Alas, it can be challenging to find yourself in that situation with proper planning.

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#188552 - 01/13/15 09:28 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: BZH]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I love the REI emergency matches, which light when wet, keep on burning and burning and are impossible to blow out. With those, the horrific Jack London scenario in "To Build a Fire" is just about impossible. I always have some of these and an Esbit tablet (which burns long enough to dry out quite a bit of soggy tinder) in my emergency kit that goes with me on every trip. I see no reason to resort to primitive measures for survival when more efficient technology is available! I save 150-year-old technology for my other hobby, Civil War reenacting.

I also take a dry base layer and sleeping socks to wear inside my sleeping bag. They and the sleeping bag are carried inside a waterproof dry bag at all times, so even if I fall in the drink while fording a stream (yes, it has happened!), I have a warm/dry layer, plus the sleeping bag, to change into once I've set up my tent. If it's an emergency (i.e. the air temp is 10*F instead of 60*F as it was when the dunking actually happened), I can do this really fast, before I get too chilled, if necessary just wrapping up in the tent to keep dry instead of pitching it. Under such circumstances I doubt if I could build a fire before succumbing to hypothermia even at 10*F, much less -40* (thinking Jack London here). I would save the fire-building tools for after I get warmed up and want to start drying out the wet stuff.


Edited by OregonMouse (01/13/15 09:46 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#188555 - 01/14/15 12:00 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: OregonMouse]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2745
Loc: California
Agreed. When I have talked of fire building skills, I meant with matches plus emergency lighter if needed. I too love the REI matches. You can get the same effect cheaper with a regular match and a few of those no-blow-out birthday candles. Another interesting observation - I tried to use my REI matches this summer, and I had evidently kept them too long, because when I struck the match it literally fell apart, crumbled almost like powder. So check them at home and do replace with new ones occasionally.

Once you become hypothermic you are useless. The key is to recognize that you are becoming hypothermic before you deteriorate into true hypothermia.

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#188556 - 01/14/15 05:20 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: BZH]
Minx Offline
member

Registered: 11/22/14
Posts: 23
Originally Posted By BZH
Lighting a fire when you are cold and wet and don't have matches or a lighter is a real challenge.


Especially if you've never practiced it.

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#188557 - 01/14/15 06:23 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
Minx Offline
member

Registered: 11/22/14
Posts: 23
I am sur pr, ised mph . T he Texan, added find raining water to the list and it took a page of other comments to get there. The question of what you would do when all else fails and the idea that gear can be lost or fail seems to have struck a cord with a few on this "gear" site.
Some have chimed in with their harrowing experiences in the Sierras and such to get the talk back to reality. Appreciate the share.
For those with matches from rei and such, I wish you well.
20 to 40 Degrees F, 15 to 30 mph Winds, drizzling and sometimes pouring rain for 2 days, made a fire with a bow drill in 10 minutes after about 30 minutes of collecting materials in Danali. Everything was wet on top. Ya gotta know where to look. 6 million acres of park, nowhere close to walk to "to keep warm" and everybody's matches were soaked on a tourist tour with a guide who wasn't prepared and ran his jeep into a rut. We were 30 miles up a road from the closest station and about 20 out from there on a jeep trail. I was 17. 1980. No cells. It can be done. We should have stayed with the jeep and used the battery and gas but we talked ourselves into walking for 6 hours before things got really bad. No packs. No gear to speak of. No magic rei matches. And the 3 other people and i were alive and warm enough on the 3rd day when rescue came.
You're not ready til you're ready.

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#188561 - 01/14/15 01:10 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
wandering_daisy Offline
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Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2745
Loc: California
The great thing about REI storm matches is that they still light when wet. Nevertheless, I have been in weeks of rain and always had dry matches. I separate matches and store in several locations - one in cook gear, one in first aid kit, one in map packet. Although I have not done it, others have coated their matches with wax, which is essentially making their own storm-proof matches.

And I 100% agree with you - starting a fire in wet conditions has EVERYTHING to do with knowing where to find the dry tinder. And I 100% agree that being able to build a fire efficiently is a key survival skill. (Understood that if you hike in a desert, or on glaciers, of course, there is no wood or tinder). In the "old days" I did well over 100 days backpacking without stoves, with building fires as the only means to cook. But I did not do that solo. Being in a group of competent people (many who actually taught survival courses for the military) added to our margin of safety. Sure is nice to have a couple of other bodies protecting your tiny beginning fire from the wind while you struggle with it. Fire building and tending is a lost skill nowadays.

Not sure if you have read the book called "Who Lives; Who Dies". Very enlightening about what personality types survive when "all else fails". The book really points to the most important emergency skill - the will to live, deep inside you. All the survivors never thought they would NOT survive. They just got down to the task of surviving. And it verified the saying "nice guys do not win". As disturbing as that is, the survivors were a ruthless lot.

I agree the "equipment failure" aspect is overlooked in the UL community. Then again, there is a saying in climbing - speed saves. When you are climbing in an inherently unsafe zone, the faster you can get in and out, the safer you are. In as much as your "survival gear" and clothing matched to the "worst" probable conditions or "all else fails" mode weighs you down, you may actually be creating your own survival situation.

All discussion aside, I see no down-side to becoming proficient at survival skills. Maybe others are criticizing this because of the silly survival shows on TV that are so off the mark on what true survival skills are.

I am old enough to have done plenty of outdoor activity in the days when there was no SPOT to push a button to be rescued. You either got yourself out of survival situations or died.

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#188566 - 01/14/15 03:22 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: wandering_daisy]
aimless Offline
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All discussion aside, I see no down-side to becoming proficient at survival skills.

In a very broad way, I agree. But the same sentiment could be applied to learning Latin, how to sew your own clothes, how to play the violin, or a thousand other skills that might possibly prove useful someday or give one pleasure or satisfaction.

But it is also true that learning these skills does have a non-negligible cost, in both time and effort. If learning these skills is your hobby, or part of your job, then the calculation of return on investment in these skills is much different than if you are trying to place your efforts where they will do you the most good for the least cost.

In my opinion knowing how to build an emergency fire is the only one of the skills mentioned in this thread that is critical in enough situations and where physically practicing it is of utmost importance, as opposed to merely practicing it mentally, that I would urge others to go out and spend time learning it and keeping their skills fresh. That priority has been emphasized by almost every other post in this thread, too.

Most of the other 'survival skills' that get listed by survival hobbyists are of practical interest to special operations units of the armed forces, but for ordinary outdoors recreationists it is sufficient to keep a cool head and have a clear idea of how to prioritize their needs in an emergency situation. The Gonzales book mentioned upthread is a good one for understanding what is required.


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#188571 - 01/14/15 05:07 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
4evrplan Offline
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Aimless, thank you for saying so eloquently what I couldn't quite articulate.

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#188578 - 01/14/15 11:20 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
wandering_daisy Offline
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Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2745
Loc: California
aimless, I think you are defining "survival skills" too narrowly. I consider all of the below survival skills that need to be practiced:

fire building - actual building, efficient fuel gathering, where to build it, when it is helpful to build it and when not

locating natural shelters

off-trail orienting, with and without a compass

recognizing the stages of hypothermia

mental tricks to calm down and stay rational

reading the terrain to locate streams

reading the weather

You can read about all these skills (all good and also necessary), but there is nothing like actually experiencing. I have a lot less fear if I find myself in a situation that I have encountered previously.



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#188580 - 01/15/15 01:32 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: wandering_daisy]
aimless Offline
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I think we've covered fire building already and we are all pretty much unanimous about it. You need to practice it or you'll fail when it really counts.

Much of what you are advocating as survival skills I agree would have application in wilderness survival situations, but all or nearly all are natural extensions of backpacking and hiking skills that develop normally as one spends time outdoors. One doesn't need to expressly change anything one normally does in order to practice reading the weather, or reading terrain. These skills develop in the ordinary course of backpacking.

However, I suppose the only way to 'practice' recognizing the stages of hypothermia would be to either start to become hypothermic on purpose, or convince your hiking partner to do so. This skill needs to be part of your mental equipment, but practicing it 'ahead of time' makes no sense.

I would note that the items on your list are not like the items on Minx's list in the original post, such as learning to boil water without a pot, practicing building shelters from brush, building signal markers or gathering edible plants.

So, I agree with your definitions of survival skills, wd, but I was addressing the definition that was implicit in Minx's posts. Your list makes good sense to me.

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#188582 - 01/15/15 11:36 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
dylansdad77 Offline
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Registered: 03/12/14
Posts: 158
Loc: New Jersey
So lots of good information and dialogue in this thread - however, I'd like to hijack the topic slightly. I have been interested in taking some of these touted wilderness survival schools to hone my emergency skills. I found one that is run by a retired special forces operative (alleged) in the Hudson Valley in NY state.

I was wondering if anyone has attended any classes like this. What did you find beneficial? Any particular class you would recommend?
_________________________
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#188583 - 01/15/15 12:05 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3884
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By aimless
Much of what you are advocating as survival skills I agree would have application in wilderness survival situations, but all or nearly all are natural extensions of backpacking and hiking skills that develop normally as one spends time outdoors.


I dunno. A lot of backpackers never get off the trail, and the reason they don't is they're afraid they'll get lost, or afraid they'll get hurt and won't get found. That's a pretty weak link in their skill set, and so are the others W_D points out.

Quote:
locating natural shelters

off-trail orienting, with and without a compass

recognizing the stages of hypothermia

mental tricks to calm down and stay rational

reading the terrain to locate streams

reading the weather


There are times when the shortest and quickest way out is to bushwhack. There are a lot of situations where time can be a factor and that's an important skill set to already have when it is. Learning how to navigate without a map and compass goes hand in hand with that, as does reading the terrain.

I've only felt the panic of being lost twice. It's pretty powerful and it overtook me for about a minute both times. I realized I had to calm down, and so I started assessing my situation. Both times I ended up doing exactly what W_D says, I read the terrain and figured out where I needed to go. It's really pretty easy if you think about it. After both of those incidents I started thinking about it. After the second time I started practicing it.

I practiced reading terrain a lot. I studied topo maps and learned to locate myself on them off trail with a high degree of accuracy without a compass, and I learned the lay of the land by memory from studying maps before I ever went there, and I learned to pay attention to it when I didn't know much about it at all and use that to guide me back.

Now I'm comfortable with it and it's changed how I backpack. Trails are no longer a necessity, they're a convenience at most, and an annoyance at worst, but I seldom spend any time on them. The biggest difference is I used to limit myself on how far off trail I'd go. I don't have to do that anymore. I realized it doesn't really matter.

All that said, I have seen the panic in those with me who're starting to think we're lost, and I've learned how to deal with that, and how to help prevent it, but it has proved W_D's points to me. If you're going to backpack you should practice those skills. I think they should be a part of your trip rather you're on or off trail.

As far as hypothermia goes, I think it's wise to at least know the symptoms and be aware when you're at risk. There have been a lot of times when I've hunkered down somewhere that's shielded me from wind and rain so I wouldn't go hypothermic.

None of that may be necessary for a weekend trip with your buddies on a known trail in a small park, but if you really want to backpack into the wilderness it is.
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#188591 - 01/15/15 01:16 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: wandering_daisy]
OregonMouse Offline
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Posts: 6389
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W_D, the items you list as "survival skills" are skills that should be learned by every hiker. I learned them in childhood and they're still with me. A few (such as my formerly highly skilled sense of direction) have deteriorated a bit over the years, so I'm careful to compensate. The skills you list are far, far more important than esoteric "skills" such as lighting fires with bow drills!

One reason I recommend a number of car-camping sessions to beginners is so they at least start developing these skills before they get out on the trail. It's much easier to cope with beginning hypothermia when you can bail out to a car with a nice warm heater!

The most important skill of all is the one you listed third from last!
Quote:
mental tricks to calm down and stay rational


Edited by OregonMouse (01/15/15 01:29 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#188605 - 01/16/15 12:13 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
wandering_daisy Offline
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Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2745
Loc: California
I thought all Minx's original post simply was "here is a list of survival skills I practice if "all else fails", what do other's do?" He just wanted a survey of others methods. My lists are my methods, as well as other stuff I said. It is understood that avoiding survival situations in the first place and leaving an travel plan with someone is great. And in most cases "all else" DOES NOT fail. You may not agree with his list of skills but he did give an example where his fire building skill worked. And just because most backpackers nowadays are not willing to take the time to even think about what a survival skill would be, let alone practice them, does not negate the value.

Anyway, I would like to thank Minx for bringing up the topic. I think we have had a good discussion.

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#188609 - 01/16/15 10:05 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: wandering_daisy]
DTape Online   content
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 656
Loc: Upstate NY
Bill mentions an important aspect of many/most/all emergency situations, the mental piece. He mentioned how the situationcan quickly over take the person. This is very real and even a persin with all the tools, knowledge, experience, and skill can fall victim to the situation if one allows their mental state to make bad decisions and panic.

I, too, have been in some harrowing situations in which the adrenaline starts pumping. The sitting and calming one must do is hard, especially when alone. The worse the situation, the harder it will likely be as well.

Like other skills, it is good to practice centering oneself for those situations. Difficult to simulate when one isnt really lost, or knows it is a drill.

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#188613 - 01/16/15 02:30 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: DTape]
aimless Offline
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Posts: 2852
Loc: Portland, OR
A visceral fear response is difficult to control, in that it is largely based on the release of adrenaline and similar internal hormones into the bloodstream. Once they've been set loose, they can't quickly be neutralized.

About the only way I know to improve one's chances of avoiding a surge of fear in an emergency is to imagine oneself in such a situation, in as much detail as possible. You may not be able to duplicate all the conditions of a real emergency in advance, for example you wouldn't set a grease fire in your kitchen to learn how to put one out. But mental practice in dealing with a dangerous event does help to make it seem more familiar and manageable, even if you've never actually experienced it before.

As Minx and WD would probably point out, and rightly so, putting your whole self into the effort of imagination, by physically going through all of the steps you'd take during the actual event, is the most complete and most effective way to prepare oneself mentally, even if it is not always the most practical way. To extend my previous example, most of us will never actually confront a 'test' fire and discharge a fire extinguisher as a form of practice, so that we could see the flames, smell the smoke and feel the discharge at firsthand, but if we did, we'd be better prepared than those who only pointed the nozzle at a non-existent fire and imagined pulling the trigger.

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#188618 - 01/16/15 05:22 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
4evrplan Offline
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Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 640
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By aimless
About the only way I know to improve one's chances of avoiding a surge of fear in an emergency is to imagine oneself in such a situation, in as much detail as possible. You may not be able to duplicate all the conditions of a real emergency in advance, for example you wouldn't set a grease fire in your kitchen to learn how to put one out. But mental practice in dealing with a dangerous event does help to make it seem more familiar and manageable, even if you've never actually experienced it before.

This may be slightly off topic, but I thought it was really interesting. Some researchers believe this is why we have nightmares - to prepare us for difficult situations in real life.

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#188619 - 01/16/15 05:32 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: 4evrplan]
Rick_D Offline
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Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Originally Posted By 4evrplan

This may be slightly off topic, but I thought it was really interesting. Some researchers believe this is why we have nightmares - to prepare us for difficult situations in real life.

In that case I am prepared to appear at my statistics final late and buck naked, for all of eternity. blush

Cheers,
_________________________
--Rick

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#188622 - 01/16/15 06:12 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Offline
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Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Here are some ideas:

First of all, you should think of/imagine panic situations enough that you condition your first response to be STOP and STAY. (Yes, I know that sounds like a dog obedience class!) That also works if the situation is a wild animal; as I've mentioned a number of times on this forum, to a predator, if it runs, it's dinner!

Sitting down and brewing a cup of tea at the first sign of panic is an excellent idea. I once read an acronym for this, but I've forgotten it (so much for mnemonics!). Even on a dayhike, having an alcohol stove, enough fuel for a couple of boils, a small pot or metal cup and a couple of herbal tea bags make a delightful break even if there are no problems. (Thanks to phat for this idea!). In a panic situation, by the time you've gone through the motions of making and then drinking the tea, you should have calmed down considerably. You've also added to your hydration, which is always good, since dehydration can decrease your mental capacity.

One that was drummed into me in childhood was, "You're not lost, it's your car/camp/house that is lost."

Practicing these responses periodically is important!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#188634 - 01/17/15 03:18 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Rick_D]
dylansdad77 Offline
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Registered: 03/12/14
Posts: 158
Loc: New Jersey
Remind me to never take a statistics class...
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#188636 - 01/17/15 04:22 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: dylansdad77]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3884
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By dylansdad77
Remind me to never take a statistics class...


I'd be flattered to be in RickD's dreams, but I don't think I'd do anything at all to improve his nightmares laugh
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"You want to go where?"



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#188637 - 01/17/15 04:25 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Rick_D]
billstephenson Offline
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Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3884
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By Rick_D
Originally Posted By 4evrplan

This may be slightly off topic, but I thought it was really interesting. Some researchers believe this is why we have nightmares - to prepare us for difficult situations in real life.

In that case I am prepared to appear at my statistics final late and buck naked, for all of eternity. blush


laugh


_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#188641 - 01/17/15 09:34 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
Minx Offline
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Registered: 11/22/14
Posts: 23
Thank you to everybody for adding their comments. After a little bit of a rocky start I think the conversation has wandered into some interesting areas. And maybe that was my fault for not prefacing the inquiry with some basics, ie. planning trip, telling friend, etc. I figured most here would already be doing that and educating others about the need for these (what I think are) basic precautions. My bad.
I especially appreciate the comments about mental preparation/attitude. I go into this a lot with with those new to backpacking I teach. In fact it's the first thing I explain. "FIRST and foremost, you need to be mentally capable and in the right head-space. Your attitude and knowledge will get you through more than any physical abilities or equipment you carry. Get in the mindset of being a backpacker. In a word, you need to be self-reliant. (Ok, that's two words, but they're hyphenated.)
YOU WILL NEED TO BE SELF RELIANT AND SELF SUFFICIENT. It can not be stressed enough. You are going to a remote location and there will be far less, if any, people. You will be on your own. This is a concept that does not resonate with some people. A bit of careful consideration is needed. You will want to be safe and have a good time. To do that and not become a burden to others or the environment you must be able to take care of your own needs and follow some basic principles for everyone’s (and everything’s) well-being."
From my blog www.raisedbyraccoons.blogspot.com
Also,
Aimless brings up some good points. "...but all or nearly all are natural extensions of backpacking and hiking skills that develop normally as one spends time outdoors. One doesn't need to expressly change anything one normally does in order to practice reading the weather, or reading terrain. These skills develop in the ordinary course of backpacking."
I agree but the need to recognize the acquisition/level of these skills is important.
Aimless goes on with, "I would note that the items on your list are not like the items on Minx's list in the original post,..."
And this was exactly the idea of the post. What are the things you do...? Maybe the terms 'Emergency' & 'Survival' were not exactly the all-encompassing terms I should have used.
I tend to subscribe to the theory that, The more I learn, the better. We didn't call it "Bushcraft" when I was a kid but I find a lot of helpful items in the bushcraft bucket as well as the survivalist bucket and UL bucket, etc. Being too zealous about adhering to any one method is, in my mind, dangerous. Jeet Kun Do.
billstephenson writes, "A lot of backpackers never get off the trail, and the reason they don't is they're afraid they'll get lost, or afraid they'll get hurt and won't get found. That's a pretty weak link in their skill set, and so are the others W_D points out." and "None of that may be necessary for a weekend trip with your buddies on a known trail in a small park, but if you really want to backpack into the wilderness it is."
Yes. I agree. Still no cell in many areas of the southwest Wilderness. It is.
Oragonmouse, "Sitting down and brewing a cup of tea at the first sign of panic is an excellent idea."
Right on.
And, Thanks W_D. You're welcome. This was my first real attempt to get something going on a forum. I appreciate everyone's input. It's Interesting.
Lastly,
balzaccom writes, "I'd suggest that your planning was pretty poor if all of those things fail." in response to comments about relying on gear and planning.
I am not exactly sure what to do with this. I did not realize there are those out there that think their gear and planning could NOT fail. !?! Hum...
Imagine, you are 20 miles out on a remote wilderness mountain trail. Camp is high. Views, spectacular. A day hike away from camp with little more than your leatherman takes a turn for the worse when you mis-step and slide 1000 feet down a shale wall into the valley below. You survive the slide with only a twisted ankle and open cuts, bruises and sprains. ALL your gear is 1000 feet up an unclimbable wall if you were in good shape. The walk to where you might be able to ascend to it is 8+ miles down the valley. It's late in the day. The night will be cold. Your pals do not even know you fell.
Finding water, making fire, improvising shelter and taking care of the cuts and ankle become, I think, pretty nice skills to have. Even better with some training and.... I dare say... practice.
Or, as I said in my original post,
maybe I'm nuts.
Cheers

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#188643 - 01/17/15 10:30 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
OregonMouse Offline
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Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6389
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Part of proper planning, to say nothing of exercising a reasonable amount of common sense, would be never going off on a dayhike with only a Leatherman. In your scenario: If, as you should, you have the "Ten" Essentials with you on your day hike, you might not be comfortable, but, if you keep your wits about you, you will survive the night!

_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#188644 - 01/17/15 10:55 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
aimless Offline
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Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2852
Loc: Portland, OR
I did not realize there are those out there that think their gear and planning could NOT fail. !?! Hum...

I don't think that is what he said.

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#188649 - 01/18/15 12:15 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: balzaccom]
Minx Offline
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Registered: 11/22/14
Posts: 23
Originally Posted By balzaccom
Originally Posted By Minx
Agreed, the best safety is to avoid an emergency situation altogether. All of the statements above are valid and generally a given I would think. I am surprised, however, to find half the comments relying on gear and planning though. This was intended to be a study for when all that fails. Granted a pot and stove is nice, GPS or beacon is grand, hunkering down in a tent is preferred, but, when all those things fail? When the truly remote emergency situation comes up?


I'd suggest that your planning was pretty poor if all of those things fail. Can you give us an example of how that might happen?



Maybe I'm missing something. But that's not the point. The point is; being prepared. What YOU do to prepare yourself for when there is no gear. We can not get to the discussion if we can not imagine a situation where we might be separated from our "10 essentials".

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#188653 - 01/18/15 02:20 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
aimless Offline
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We can not get to the discussion if we can not imagine a situation where we might be separated from our "10 essentials".

Gear is not just some stuff you bring with you. Gear comprises the tools available to you to survive. When you are in a city, you are surrounded by essential survival resources, so you can be lax about it. This is not so in the wilderness.

If you watch documentaries about, for example, tribes in the Kalahari or New Guinea, you will notice that the men do not go anywhere without their bows/arrows and a few other essential tools. Those are their equivalent of the "ten essentials". They are never without them. The adults don't take a "day hike" assuming they'll get back to camp ok without their tools. Backpackers and day hikers who understand their situation develop similar habits.

Tools aren't optional in the wilderness. They are your teeth and claws. They are extensions of your self that allow you to live. You should no more go off without them than take off your skin and leave it behind.

But, if you read the thread again, you'll see we actually have gotten to a conversation about survival skills that are not entirely about replacing missing or broken gear, and would apply quite well even when you have the ten essentials with you. There's no reason why it couldn't continue.

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#188661 - 01/19/15 01:28 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
Minx Offline
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Registered: 11/22/14
Posts: 23
Oh, I agree with you about tools. Whole heartedly. And as I mentioned in the original query, I would like to know what people practice with or without tools. I am sure most of us would not be geeking out on a cool gear forum here if we did not think a lot about tools/gear. I educate people every day at the gear shack I work at, about the importance of essentials, even on a day hike. Many, new to hiking, are surprised that some essentials are recommended/needed even for short outings in our city parks which are wide open mountainous areas here in Phoenix, AZ. It seems like every year there is some hiker who gets lost in a park overnight and has had to "survive" the night. I totally appreciate the experience you, aimless and oregonmouse and w_d and all the others share on this forum and in this post. I believe in constant education and learn a lot here. Please do not get me wrong on this. A quick perusal of my blog, “Backpacking Basics”, on my site will reiterate this. I am sure that you and I would meet eye to eye on most philosophies when it comes to this. I am equally sure that we can learn something from each other as well and this is what I seek.
I think skills are among our best tools. I am not convinced where or even if our philosophies take slightly different paths on this. I find no harm in contemplating being separated from my gear. It would not happen. It could not happen. But if it does… ? Is this unimaginable? I am sorry but I laugh a little each time I here somebody say "If you would of had your 'insert ambiguous gear selection here' with you, you could'a survived better." realizing full well that they are right of course.

Aimless, I like your analogy of the tribesman because I see it as the point exactly I am researching. You note that;


Originally Posted By aimless
you will notice that the men do not go anywhere without their bows/arrows and a few other essential tools. Those are their equivalent of the "ten essentials". They are never without them.


I love these shows. So, you would probably also notice in those New Guinea documentaries that each and every tribesman/woman can also ‘Make’ the tools they need for any given situation as well. Using only the resources offered by the environment, tools are fashioned with surprising efficiency because they…. wait for it….. practice! It is part of their everyday existence. They are brought up doing it. Making bows, arrows, shelter, fire... This is what I am trying to touch on here. So +1 on tribesman knowledge.

The fact that our society has somewhat lost touch with the natural abilities of our evolved form in its relentless quest for convenience is a topic we can discuss til the cows come home. One could even argue that our plug-and-play conveniences ARE our natural environmental fashionings these days, I guess. Instead of whittling it out of wood and using vines to lash it, we use our skill to order it from eBay. Not the broad philosophical input I was expecting with this post and I’d rather have that one over a bourbon with ya. I was originally simply pondering the crossover of lightweight backpacking, bushcraft and survival techniques. Mainly because I find that going ‘ultralight’ provides for somewhat less redundancies in systems so this seems to me to go hand-in-hand with having the proper abilities to back up these systems. I seem to carry way too many redundancies or comforts anyway, keeping my baseweight beyond what I desire and I am sure causing New Guinea tribesmen to laugh hysterically at the oddity of it all. (can we change it to The 20 Essentials? LOL)

I hope that all makes sense. This discussion has really gotten cool.
You are all so great to learn from. Thanks.

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#192021 - 09/23/15 02:05 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
Zuuk Offline
member

Registered: 09/22/15
Posts: 70
Loc: NB, Canada
Excellent posts!

I'll just quickly expand a bit on hypothermia, things to remember. It's not a cold weather killer. It's simply your body not being able to produce heat faster than it's losing it. That's why most cases of hypothermia deaths are not in what most people consider cold weather. If you're out there alone, there is only one real symptom that you can recognize before it's too late to help yourself. After that you basically lose your mental ability to do anything productive. The symptom is uncontrollable shivering. When you get cold, your body naturally tries to make heat by shivering. You can consciously stop shivering if you're just really cold, but if you try to stop and can't, then it's time to stop whatever you're doing and get warm. You don't have much time. What comes next is that you're still cold and you stop shivering; that's when your body abandons the "make heat" mode and goes into "conserving heat" mode, trying to keep your body core warm. By this time, you won't be able to help yourself. People have been known to die from hypothermia with hot coffee still in a thermos.

General rule of thumb, once you start to really shiver and be cold, that's the time to stop and get warm. It only takes minutes to go from hard shivering to uncontrollable shivering to stop shivering. If you're not aware of truly how cold you feel, it can sneak up on you fast.

As pointed out earlier, backpackers are probably more prepared with gear than say hunters might be. I mean, shelter from the rain, ability to cook or make a fire, etc. are right in the pack. It's still not an excuse not to be aware though. Only takes a slip in a creek to get wet and the thought of, "I can make it to the next campsite, it's not that far away..." to get into trouble.

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#195096 - 04/25/16 07:19 PM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: aimless]
Jim M Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 236
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I also agree with Aimless. I have helped teach Basic Mountaineering for some time. The "culture" (if that is what you call it) among the instructors, some of who are SAR members, is that you carry the 10 essentials always and learn how to use them. I see lots of day hikers on popular trails in summer with nothing but a water bottle, if that.
It is a free country and they can do what they want, but for me and my friends it would be unacceptable if you are hiking/climbing with us and that just happens to be the way we have been trained and what we do. Besides, part of the reason i day hike is to get in shape for longer hikes. Why not carry a few extra pounds and get used to it?
It has been fun on a few occasions to have a tarp to sit under hand have lunch during an unexpected rain shower. If you live in the Pacific Northwest you lean to take rain gear if you intend to get very far from the car.
_________________________
Jim M

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#195568 - 05/30/16 10:29 AM Re: EMERGENCY SKILLS SURVEY: [Re: Minx]
Reggie Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/16/16
Posts: 14
Loc: Europe
There are a few different themes in this forum! Cool.
I'll start with an initial response to Minx. What do I do/practise when out bush? Navigation first. I have never been much of a trail walker. I learnt using compass and map (what a few have called bushwhacking), and that is always how I have got around. This is due to the nature of my work (wildlife ranger then military). I simply don't use tracks. Of course in high-traffic areas, I stick to the track for conservation reasons. Whenever I can, I do a resection. Why? Constant navigation checks are essential, and these things should be second nature. Learning or trying to remember how to do them when you're tired, hypothermic and your brain is just not working and so on is fated for disaster. It should be a drill.
Shelter building is usually just a part of setting up a night location. I augment the tarp by making use of natural shelter - nooks, crannies, branches etc.
Fire making I practise occasionally. I'll use the striker just to make sure it works. For a giggle I'll use the magnifyer on my compass or my binoculars to incinerate some tinder. I'll build a fire bow when I happen across the materials. I've done it enough so it works every time, with some effort.
Other basic 'survival skills' I practise whenever I get the urge. Solar stills and other water collection methods are a favorite. Solar stills, in my opinion, are the new hiking 'duct tape'. I love them.
I also practise setting snares and traps, where permitted. I don't usually intend to catch things - I've already done it enough to know they work. It's just to keep my hand in.
I'm always aware of the surrounds and terrain because, apart from the navigation fetish, I like animal tracking, botany - I'm basically interested in anything that's alive. So it's a hobby, not a chore.
I keep useful reference material such as ground-air signals, poisonous/edible plant identification - whatever - in a clear plastic sheet notebook in a thigh pocket. Not sure what my American friends call it - I use the term vueetuee (Google it).
Regarding 'survival' bits and pieces, I always carry paracord and duct tape (doubles as first aid kit for big lacerations), nylon (fishing and snares) and a wee selection of hooks and swivels. Do I ever use them? Only in practise, but they're light, and they are there. I don't carry much specifically intended for 'survival' apart from the hooks. Everything else is just part of the hardware store I tend to carry - but that's just me.
As many other commentators have pointed out - attitude is the key thing to get right. I have views on that too! More to follow...

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