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Can you stay alive outdoors by assessing risks? The summer outdoor season sees an increase in reports about disappearances and accidents. A recent report from California discusses the disappearance of an experienced hiker at a campsite in the Bristlecone Pine Forest. She was later found alive after four days. The report reveals that she had to flee her location due to a threatening person. Another story relates the discovery of the body of a missing person on the Snake River in Wyoming. He was working at a KOA campsite. Outdoor activities can be great experiences. However, outdoor activities also have inherent risks. You should develop a risk assessment and reduction plan before you go on a wilderness adventure. The following principles can help you build your risk mitigation plan.

1. Assess the level of wilderness experience and field skills of yourself and others

It is terrific to have a desire to spend time outdoors. There is an increasing number of people heading to the wilderness to hunt, hike, camp, or fish. The growing popularity of survival-related reality television programs and the rising interest in survival and preparedness are motivating people to get outdoors. However, the reality of being in the wilderness is different from how it is portrayed in the mass media. There is a danger of overconfidence in one’s abilities.

It is prudent to be realistic in assessing the level of wilderness experience and field skills of yourself and those in your group. The less wilderness experience and skills that one has should be an indicator that they are a high risk to themselves and others. Therefore, it is imperative to take a partner with you into the outdoors. Your partner should be more experienced and have more field skills than you to compliment your weaknesses. As a matter of safety, you should never go into the wilderness by yourself regardless of how skilled and experienced you are with the outdoors.

2. Know the level of health and physical fitness of yourself and others.

It is vital to know your level of health and physical fitness. Health and physical fitness play an important role in determining the kinds of activity and locations that one visits. For example, people with high blood pressure might have limitations as to the types of trails that they can trek on a backpacking adventure.

3. Understand the natural or man-made dangers of the area of activity

One of the common characteristics of negative experiences in the outdoors is a lack of awareness of the risks. More specifically, there seems to be a lack of knowledge of the natural and man-made dangers in the area of activity. One type of natural hazard involves predatory animals, such as mountain lions or bears. Other inherent threats are those relating to the terrain such as cliffs, bodies of water, areas of deadfall, or unstable ground. Man-made dangers are those pertaining to human activity. These can comprise logging areas, areas of construction, or even previous criminal activity.

4. Analyze the local weather and weather anomalies of the area of activity

Weather is a contributor to outdoor risks. There are reports of sudden fog, rain, or dropping of temperatures even in the summer months in some locations. It must be remembered that some local weather patterns cannot be found in a national or local forecast. The people who live near the area of your outdoor activity can provide useful information on local weather activity such as afternoon thundershowers. Analyzing the local weather traits will help make decisions about what to put in your backpack, such as rain gear or a light fleece jacket.

5. Identify the level of access to emergency help in the area of activity

Sometimes people, who go outdoors, do not take into account the availability of emergency help. It is essential to have a good understanding of what kind of emergency help is available. Additionally, it is crucial to know how to access emergency help in your planned area of activity. The importance of knowing how to contact emergency help is a critical part of your outdoor planning.

For example, one of the areas near me does not have a large number of park rangers. They tell you when you come into the park that most emergency help will be by airlift. They do not have the personnel or transportation available to come to your aid if you call for help. Thus, an expensive life flight to a local hospital awaits, should you dial for help. That kind of information influences your activity and what you have in your gear.  Some wilderness areas have no cell phone access. How will you get help in an emergency?

It is recommended that you develop a first-responder contact card. This card should have contact information for park rangers, first responders, and area hospitals. You should include emergency radio channels on the card if you are carrying a handheld ham radio two-way transceiver with you.

Final Thoughts

Risk reduction is an important skill to develop and exercise for those who love the outdoors. Your risk reduction plan has its limitations. However, without one, you may find your activity being less than enjoyable. Once you have identified the risks for your planned wilderness adventure, then develop and implement measures to reduce that risk. One of the best techniques to consider for risk reduction measures is the PACE plan. Additionally, your risk reduction plan should take into account the kind of activity (Mission), local and area dangers (Enemy), time of day, month or day (Time), the people involved (Troops), location (Terrain), and accesses to emergency help (Civilian Considerations). Once you have your risk mitigation plan complete, give a copy to whomever, you will be making your communication checks while you are outdoors.

How to build an emergency fishing kit is important to outdoor survival. The spring and summer fishing season is in full swing. Many people are heading outdoors to enjoy camping, fishing, or hiking. A personal emergency kit is a critical item to have with you while outdoors. However, most advice about individual emergency kits gives little insight into a fishing kit. Trapping small game seems to be more prominent in personal survival kits than fishing.

In this article, I will discuss how I made my emergency fishing kit. The emergency kit that I have developed for myself is one that works for me and is by no means the apex of all emergency fishing kits. It is functional and practical based on my needs. The kit is small so that it will fit in my pocket emergency survival kit. Moreover, it is tailored for the kinds of fish that are available in the areas that hike and backpack here in the southwest. You can take these principles and build your kit that is tailored to your outdoor context.

1. Container

The container that I use to put the contents of my emergency fishing kit is a jewelry Ziploc bag that is 3 inches by 2 inches. These can be purchased at places like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s Arts and Crafts. If you wish to make your emergency fishing kit more comprehensive, then the Plano fishing accessory box or a surplus U.S. Army M258 Individual Decon Kit Container are great options to consider.

As you think about the kind of container for your emergency fishing kit, there a couple of criteria to ponder when making this decision. First, is your fishing kit going to be part of a more significant loadout, such as being in a separate pouch in your backpack? Second, do you want your fishing kit to be part of your emergency kit? For me, I already carry a fishing kit in my backpack. I wanted a fishing kit small enough to fit in my emergency kit as part of my back up option.

2. Fishhooks

The fishhooks that I use are three #4 Snell hooks by Eagle Claw®. I secure the hooks with transparent scotch tape. The line is then wrapped around itself into a small enough loop that it fits in the bag. My reasoning for using these hooks is because, in a field environment, my fingertips tend to get chapped pretty good. These hooks are more comfortable to employ with the use of a barrel swivel with a safety snap than trying to make a fisherman’s knot with sore fingertips. The key is getting the rod prepped before my fingers start to get chapped. Thus, in an emergency scenario, an essential task would be to secure a wood branch suitable for a fishing pole and get it set up as quickly as possible. In case, a pole cannot be obtained, then setting up a trotline is a second option.

One optional consideration for hooks are the jig head hooks. These are special weighted hooks designed to be used in conjunction with soft bait lures such as worms or grubs. However, it is best not to get too fancy with your emergency fishing kit. If you choose to set up your kit to include lures, I would recommend only putting one or two jig head hooks of ¼ oz with a couple of grubs.

3. Fishing Line

A good fishing line is a key to an effective fishing kit. I use 100 feet of the 65-pound test, braided line by Power Pro®. It must be remembered that survival fishing is different than sport fishing. Braided fishing line is the best for survival purposes because of its durability and the multitude of uses this kind of line gives a person in the field. My fishing line is wrapped around a plastic floss sewing bobbin. A lighter test line is an option, but this is what I use in my kit.

4. Leader Line

One consideration to think about adding into your kit is a leader line to complement your fishing line and hooks. A nine to twelve-inch steel leader line is an average length for most fishing needs. However, for my kit, I use the 8-inch micro-leader from Eagle Claw® with a 12-pound test rating in my fishing kit.

5. Sinkers

Sinkers in your emergency fishing kit give it the ability to set up different rigs based on your level of fishing aptitude. The weights to have in your emergency kit are the split shot sinkers. I have these in my kit because they are easily placed on the fishing line by just pinching them closed. There are no fancy knots to tie as with more heavier sinkers such as a swivel sinker. Split shot sinkers do not take up much space in my container. Therefore, I put three to four split shot sinkers in my emergency fishing kit.

6. Barrel Swivels w/Safety Snap

A barrel swivel with a safety snap is a versatile item in your fishing kit. It will allow you to conserve your fishing line by letting you replace hooks without restringing your pole. They will also allow you to set up different rigs without cutting up your line.

7. Lures

Lures are an interesting topic of discussion when it comes to personal emergency fishing kits. There are two basic categories of lures: soft lures and hard lures. The soft lures work best for small fishing kits like mine, such as the 2-inch grubs by Berkeley® or the Storm® WildEye™ Swim Shad. However, some of the hard lures are small enough to be a great option to consider, such as the Rapala® 1-inch minnow.
The question of using fly lures for fly fishing comes up for an emergency fishing kit. Fly fishing is a special type of angling technique. If you are experienced with fly fishing and regularly catch fish with this technique, then it would not hurt to include a couple of fly lures in your kit. However, for those not proficient in fly fishing, it is recommended that you do not include fly lures in your kit.

8. Bobber

Some premade emergency kits include floats or bobbers. However, having a float or bobber is not essential to getting the most out of your survival fishing kit. If you want to build a kit with a float or bobber, then the small, ¾ inch snap on ball floats would be sufficient. However, if your fishing rig requires a float, some options to consider would be a cork stopper for bottles. Bottle corks come in various sizes and can be purchased for a few dollars at a craft or hobby store. Furthermore, if you need a float for your rig, you can fashion one from any piece of wood found in the field.

Final Thoughts

The summer months in the outdoors brings its unique set of survival concerns. Those living in areas where freshwater fishing is plentiful understand the value of angling for food. Backpackers and hikers also enjoy a good time fishing while on the trail. An emergency fishing kit is a must for the outdoors. A person that becomes lost or separated from their gear will have a survival edge with a small fishing kit in their emergency kit. Thus, as you reflect on the suggestions above, keep in mind your needs and level of experience. Therefore, experiment and tailor your kit to your needs.

Excellent ways to effectively manage your cordage are easily available. The effectively management of cordage is an ongoing problem for most people. Cordage can become tangled and knotted even with the best of intentions of not allowing to happen. The problem exists regardless if you have sewing string or climbing rope. I have experienced the frustration of attempting to keep my cordage neatly wound and secured only for it become a mess after several uses. However, in this article I will discuss some tips and tricks that will help you effectively manage your cordage.

Sewing String to Parachute Cord Management

 

1. Stainless Steel Sewing Bobbins

Stainless steel sewing bobbins are a wonderful way to store your sewing string, braided fishing line, or Kevlar™ line in your emergency kit. Sewing bobbins also come in plastic. Plastic bobbins are not recommended because they are not durable in a field environment. Plastic also has the quality of drying out and becoming brittle in hot dry climates. Thus, the stainless steel sewing bobbins are the best way to effectively manage the cordage in your emergency kit like twine, strings, or fishing line.

Advantages

The primary advantage of a stainless steel sewing bobbin is that it gives a compact and durable way to manage your small diameter cordage like braided fishing line. Stainless steel is the best material for field use because of its corrosion resistance. Another advantage of using this type of bobbin is easy of storage in smaller containers like Altoid® tins or small pouches for your personal emergency kit.

Disadvantages

The most glaring disadvantage of using the stainless steel bobbin is the limited amount of cordage that can be stored on them. Thus, the stainless steel bobbin an ideal option for effectively managing your cordage such as braided fishing line, jute twine, or sewing thread.

2. Plastic Floss Bobbins

Plastic floss sewing bobbins are thin plastic squares that on which small amounts of sewing sting are stored. Most people have seen the paper bobbins that come in the complementary sewing kits given by some hotels. The plastic bobbins work well for small personal emergency kits. I use these to wrap my braided fishing line in my emergency fishing kit. I also have wrapped my 25 feet of Kevlar™ cord on these bobbins. The use of the plastic floss bobbins works well for storing in my EDC personal emergency kit in my ALokSak® bag.

Advantages

The primary advantage of using the plastic floss bobbin is compact storage. As stated above, plastic is not the best material for the field. However, for storage in small containers or pouches, these are an effective way to manage your string-type cordage.

Disadvantages

The obvious disadvantage of the plastic floss bobbin is its limited capacity to hold cordage. Another disadvantage of the plastic floss bobbin is that it will crack or break easy if handled in a harsh manner. Yet, despite their disadvantages, the plastic floss bobbin is a great alternative of effectively managing your cordage.

3. Spool Tool™

The managing of your parachute cordage can be an especially aggravating effort. The TricornE™ company in San Diego, California has an innovative device for storing up to 100 feet of parachute cord. It is called the Spool Tool™. This is a hard plastic device that features a holder for a Bic® Mini lighter and a cord cutter. I use one of these to store my paracord in my backpack. These are great for people who have not mastered the art of coiling and tying off paracord for storage.

Advantages

The main advantage of the Spool Tool™ is the ease of storing up to 100 feet of paracord. Another advantage of this device is that it has a cutting device and fire making capability. These features make the Spool Tool™ a versatile item to consider for your pack loadout.

Disadvantages

A disadvantage of the Spool Tool™ is that it can be bulky with 100 feet of paracord. Therefore, 75 feet of paracord works best with this item. A second disadvantage of the Spool Tool™ is that replacing the razor cord cutting blade can be tricky in the field. The two small screws that hold the blade cover and blade in place can be lost if one is not careful.

4. Atwood Tactical Rope Dispenser

One of the more innovative products to come along for storing parachute cord is the Tactical Rope Dispenser by the Atwood Rope Manufacturing Company in Ohio. This is a practical item to consider when storing your paracord. As with the Spool Tool™, the Tactical Rope Dispenser is another great way to effectively manage your cordage.

Advantages

The Tactical Rope Dispenser is advantageous for its ease of storing and dispensing parachute cord. The TRD features a built-in cord cutter, similar to the Spool Tool™. Moreover, it also comes with a belt clip and small notches for holding the loose end of the cord. It is also easy to refill the spool with more parachute cord.

Disadvantages

One of the disadvantages of the Tactical Rope Dispenser is that it has a limited storage capacity of 50 feet. 50 feet of paracord is sufficient for most backpackers and hikers. However, those who spend more time outdoors usually need up to 100 feet of cord. Another disadvantage of this product is that refilling the spool can be difficult in the field. Thus, it is best to purchase two Tactical Rope Dispensers. One for regular use and one for a back up in case you run out of cord in the field.

Climbing Rope Management

The next level of cordage to consider managing is climbing rope. It is sometimes called assault line or repelling rope. Some experts in the field of emergency preparedness recommend keeping 50 to 100 feet of climbing rope. However, employing climbing and repelling techniques in an emergency should only be accomplished by those experienced in those skill sets. However, methods to effectively manage rope-type cordage is a consideration for some. Therefore, the following tips are given to help with managing climbing rope.

1. The Alpine Coil

The alpine coil is one of the more common techniques for managing climbing rope. This technique also can be used with parachute cord. The technique is a simple coiling and then wrapping for security as illustrated in the picture. The alpine coil also can result in the rope looking like a figure eight with a wrapped middle. There are many sources on the internet and on YouTube® that demonstrate how to employ this technique.

Advantage

The alpine coil has the advantage of being simple. There are no complicated knotting sequences to remember with its use. As a result, the alpine coil allows for ease of storage on the outside of one’s backpack by securing it with a carabiner. Thus, this technique should be used by those just learning rope management.

Disadvantage

The disadvantage with the alpine coil is that it does not totally resolve the tangling concern after the wrap is loosed. A climbing rope can tend to kink and coil on itself when it is being stretched out for employment, which results in tangling. Therefore, care should be taken when unraveling the rope to prevent tangling.

2. The Butterfly Coil

The butterfly coil is a rope management technique a little more complicated than the alpine coil. However, this technique works best with longer lengths of rope, usually over 100 feet. The butterfly coil allows the rope to be carried on the outside of a pack or on someone’s back as illustrated in the picture. A rope coiled and wrapped in this manner will look like there is a loop securing the rope at the top. As with the alpine coil, one can find this technique being demonstrated on YouTube®. This rope management technique is for those more experienced climbers who use this method regularly for rope management.

Advantages

A major advantage of the butterfly technique is that it does resolve the tangling concern. As the rope is being coiled it employs an s-style back-and-forth fold. This helps the rope to be easily employed with out tangling after the securing wrap is loosed.

Disadvantage

The biggest disadvantage of the butterfly coil method is that it requires some practice to get a rope correctly secured in this manner. The initial moves of the coil are simple. However, when the rope is going to be secured by the butterfly knot, there are some more hand movements necessary to complete the technique. Therefore, this management method should only be used by those after they have practiced it enough to be proficient with it.

Final Thoughts

This article has been a little more lengthy than normal. Yet, it is hoped that it has been informative. The topic of cordage management is one that will continue to occupy discussions around the outdoor and prepping world. The importance of storing cordage and keeping it from getting tangled is a concern for all who love the outdoors. Thus, it is my desire that this article will motivate further thought on this topic.

Have you ever heard about how to create a tactical land navigation kit? Land navigation is critical to emergency wilderness survival. The U. S. Army has a vested interest in the vital skill of moving on the battlefield. Navigation over familiar and unfamiliar terrain in all types of weather conditions during daylight or evening hours makes our military a formidable force. An essential element of this task is training individual soldiers, Commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, and Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) to be proficient at land navigation with a map, compass, and map protractor. Our sergeants prohibit the use of GPS devices during individual training on land navigation.

One of the techniques that I picked up in my military career was to have a personal land navigation kit in your rucksack as part of your packing list. It was during my time at Fort Benning, Georgia, that this technique first came to my awareness. Leaders are to be ready at all times to plot accurate map coordinates, mark accurate azimuths, and calculate and covert map and compass azimuths at all times. Of course, some did that better than others, as the old puns demonstrate regarding “butter bars” and land navigation. I still have my land navigation kit. It continues to have the original items that I used over the years. In this article, I will discuss how you can create your own Land Navigation Kit.

The Pouch

 

Spec-Ops Brand® Pack Rat Drop-In Organizer

 

The starting point for creating your land navigation kit is to purchase a tactical administrative pouch. The one that I use is the Spec-Ops Brand® Pack Rat Drop-In Organizer pouch. It has been around for a while and is now only offered in two colors: Black and Multicam®. The one that I used was initially in olive drab, and then I changed it out for the ACU digital camouflage version. This pouch is a little bulky for the average outdoorsman. However, it holds all of the items that I will identify for the packing list.

Description: 10” high, 7.25” wide x 3” thick. Total Capacity: 217.5 cubic inches.

The Packing List

 

1. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Markers, Super Fine Point

 

 

The Staedtler company makes the most excellent tools and equipment for draftsman, architects, and engineers. These markers are unique for using with laminated topographic maps. The recommendation for using permanent markers is that the ink will not run or bleed when it gets wet. Thus, this makes these markers and valuable tool for marking maps in rainy or wet conditions outdoors.

The super fine tip is excellent for making small marks and notes on a laminated map. For example, if you find a stream that is not on your map, the blue super fine tip marker can be used to mark it. You can also make small notes and labels near key terrain features as you navigate over your chosen route.

2. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Markers, Fine Point

 

These fine point markers from Staedtler are superb for making larger notes or markings on your map. These markers are great for marking roads or trails or other larger items on your map. The eight-count pack has all of the colors usually associated with maps. The fine-point and super fine-point markers are valuable writing instruments for your land navigation kit.

Note: Staedtler also makes an alcohol marker for removing lines and marks made with these pens. Thus, you can purchase this item if you are going to use permanent markers. Additionally, some people like to use hand sanitizer to remove lines, markings, or notes from their laminated maps.

3. Staedtler® Lumocolor® Permanent Marker 350 Wide Chisel Tip

 

The Staedtler broad-tip makers are great for marking tactical or operational boundary lines on a map. However, there is little application for tactical markings on a civilian map. So why the wide-tip markers? These markers are a great back up in case you need to make notes on objects like rocks if you become lost in the wilderness. The waterproof qualities of these markers allow them to be used as an alternative to the Sharpie® Industrial Permanent Markers.

4. MGRS-UTM Map Protractor

 

Map protractors are a must if you have a topographic map. My kit has typically at least three protractors. My kit has at least three protractors stored in the interior pocket of the pouch. You should always carry extra map protractors. If you are not sure about which ones to purchase, check out my previous article on map protractors.

5. ACCO® Banker’s Clasps

 

Banker’s clasps are used to hold your map to a map board. Some people still use map boards. These are exceptional items to help keep your map or other things in place. An alternative to these clasps is paper binder clips. Paper binder clips have other uses besides holding a map to a map board. However, I used the clasps during my military career, and they were great for my land navigation needs.

6. Westcott® Metal Ball Bearing Compass with Pencil

 

A pencil compass has limited applications outside of military map use. They are useful items for drawing arcs from a known point. The military use for a pencil compass is to identify distances and ranges from a known location, like your patrol base. However, there are a few instances where these would be helpful to land navigation for civilians. The most likely use would be to draw a communications arc for your handheld radio (HHR) from your bivouac site or bugout location on your map. Another use for the pencil compass is to help determine the range for line-of-site (LOS) considerations. Additionally, the golf pencil on the compass can be a backup writing utensil in an emergency.

7. Zebra® M-701 Stainless Steel Mechanical Pencil

 

A Zebra mechanical pencil has its best use on a non-laminated paper map. The permanent markers mentioned above will smudge or bleed through a paper map. The mechanical pencil is useful for drawing accurate azimuth lines and plotting grid points. It is also helpful for making marks or notes on the map as you use it.

8. Zebra® F-701 Ballpoint Stainless Steel Retractable Pen

 

The Zebra® pens are the best on the market for general use considerations. As with the mechanical pencil, the ballpoint pen is best for making notes and lines on a paper map. It also can be an emergency writing device should you need one. The other advantage of a ballpoint pen is that the ink is waterproof. A good alternative for the Zebra® is the Skilcraft U.S. Government pen.

9. Sharpie® Accent Pocket-Style Fluorescent Yellow Highlighters

 

The next item in the land navigation kit is a yellow highlighter. The highlighter is a versatile item. It not only highlights important or critical information on your map, but it also glows in the dark when a blue-filtered light shines on the marked item (Tscherne, “A Map Marker Lighter,” Ranger Digest No. VII, Paradise, CA: Loose Cannon, 2017, 117). Incidentally, this technique does work. I tried it by highlighting something on a note card that I had laying around my office and using the blue filter on my L-light flashlight.

Final Comments

A land navigation kit is a great item to consider adding to your loadout. The kit discussed in this article is a little bulky for most outdoorsman. However, I would recommend that you use this article to come up with your own user-friendly land navigation kit. The items in this kit have been used in a multitude of environments and scenarios. They work for their intended purposes and help make the task of map reading and land navigation more efficient. Therefore, enjoy experimenting with your own personalized land navigation kit.

There are 4 tips to consider for decisions about EDC options. My wife and I, recently, were discussing the topic of Everyday Carry (EDC). That conversation became the motivation to write this article. Prepping and survivalist interest is growing. Consequently, there are many people new to the jargon and concepts they are seeing on the internet. Therefore, it is helpful to keep in mind these four tips when considering what to carry for your EDC loadout.

Tip # 1: Assess Your Daily Environment

The first tip about EDC options is to assess your daily environment. The environment in which you will function everyday is the foundation for considering your EDC options. The world that we live in is not homogenous. My particular daily situation does not have the same nuances as someone else’s environment. Some people live and work in the suburbs, like Poway, California. Other people live in rural areas away from daily access to the high energy of a big city. Still, others live and commute within a highly urbanized metroplex, like Los Angles, New York, St. Louis, or Dallas-Fort Worth.

A particularly challenging daily environment to assess is one in which a person commutes long distances between work and home. I remember hearing about a professional athlete in California, who travels almost two hours, one-way, every day between his home and place of work during the season of his chosen sport. Thus, a person like that will have a unique set of EDC considerations. Therefore, it is essential to assess your daily environment.

As you assess your environment, you will want to ask and answer some crucial questions about your situation:

  • What is the level of crime in my area?
  • What is the most common kind of crime in my area?
  • How often will I be away from home?
  • How much and how far will I commute every day?
  • What is the type of transportation that I will use every day; car, bus, subway, train, taxi, carpool, airline?
  • What is the nature of the traffic in my area (easy, hard, frequent traffic jams, etc.)?

If you can answer some of these basic questions, then you may find yourself drifting into a discussion about getting home. Thus, you should be very thorough in assessing your daily environment.

Tip # 2: Assess Your Level of Readiness

The next important EDC tip in your item considerations is to assess your level of readiness. How physically fit are you? Do you have handicaps that require special equipment? Have you included an EDC, prepping, or survival line-item in your yearly budget? How proficient are you in self-defense, handling firearms, or using non-lethal weapons such as pepper spray? The point here is not to imply that you should shore up your weaknesses. Instead, these are influences in determining what items you should be considering for your everyday carry loadout.

For example, if you have never handled a firearm, you have no business carrying one until you get properly trained and licensed to carry it. If you have never had martial arts training with knives and weapons, then you have no business carrying a karambit knife because an internet personality demonstrated using one. Furthermore, how often on a daily basis will you be employing the things you desire to carry? Therefore, assessing your level of readiness should determine what you include in your EDC loadout.

Tip # 3: Assess The Practicality Of Your EDC Item Considerations

A third EDC tip concerns practicality. Now that you have assessed your environment and your readiness, you can now begin to think about what items to consider for your EDC loadout, in essence what are your needs? An important principle to remember is what works for someone else may not work for you. For example, some people carry an EDC backpack. There are many videos on the internet discussing what to pack in an EDC backpack. Remember the keyword in Everyday Carry is everyday. How practical is an EDC backpack to your situation? It might be overkill, especially if you are at your suburban house most of the day.

Furthermore, the practicality of your items will be influenced by your level of familiarity with them. Multitools are a favorite everyday carry item that you find as a recommendation on the internet. Yet, how often will you use something like that everyday? I remember in the military the only people carrying multitools every day were our vehicle mechanics. Why? They are fixers in their hearts. Thus, they discover that they need to carry a multitool. They need to be ready to repair, fix, attach, or detach something, even when they are not under a vehicle. Their experience dictates that they carry a multitool. Therefore, assess the practicality of your items along with your needs or requirements.

Do not put something in your EDC loadout that you will never use or will hardly use on any given day. Everyday carry items are intended for regular or frequent use. By definition, they are not for an emergency survival SHTF scenario. For example, I saw someone on YouTube recommending an ankle-mounted first aid kit as an EDC item. First aid kits or trauma treatment items, such as tourniquets, are, technically, emergency items. It is crucial for those off-duty medical professionals and first responders to carry emergency medical kits as everyday carry items. However, for the general public, emergency medical items should be part of your individual emergency survival kits. Furthermore, your personal emergency survival kit should be part of your EDC loadout.

Tip # 4: Learn The Art Of Modifying Your EDC Items

The fourth EDC tip is learning the art of modifying your EDC items. Many people are carrying a multitude of items on any given day. As you are assessing your daily environment and item needs, remember to be flexible. As you carry your items, you become used to them to the point of not noticing that they are on you. Then, you find yourself having to travel via airline, bus, or train. Suddenly, you are facing a TSA officer screening you, and you forgot to place your multitool or folder in the checked baggage. Now you lost that $180 Benchmade Griptillian folder or $100 Leatherman Center-Drive multitool even after putting them in the bin to go through the x-ray machine. Limit your “oops” moments by learning to modify your EDC loadout for each situation.

A good practice to employ in the art of modification is layering up or down according to the need. In the military, you are trained to modify your clothing as the climate dictates. Layering your clothing is an essential technique for the winter months and in cold weather conditions. This same technique can apply to EDC considerations. You may find yourself not carrying some items on the weekend. They are simply not needed. Similarly, you may find yourself adding items if you go out of town for the weekend with your family.

Concluding Comments

Everyone carries some kind of an EDC item, such as a wristwatch or wallet. However, as we consider carrying items beyond the obvious, it is essential to be thoughtful, diligent, and practical about what you include in your EDC loadout. There are at least three conventional approaches to EDC philosophy: EDC as items of regular or frequent use, EDC as items for personal defense, or EDC as items for emergency survival. Some advocates blend elements of all of these and call it Everyday Carry. The environment in which you operate and your level of readiness will determine what you carry daily. Remember that there is always room for improvement. So, choose your EDC items wisely and continue to improve your knowledge and experience. As a result, you will modify and enhance the things you carry with you every day

There are three outstanding map protractors to consider for your land navigation needs. Land navigation is an essential part of both emergency survival and enjoying the outdoors. Many people prefer to use GPS devices such as those from Garmin®. Other people prefer to use some kind of GPS and Map application on their smartphone or tablet. However, land navigation with a paper topographic map can be cumbersome without the aid of a map protractor and a compass. Therefore, it is good to know the two basic kinds of map protractors.

Map protractors have some essential functions regardless of their calibrated scale. The three primary functions of protractors for map reading are plotting points on a map, measuring distances and determining azimuths (angles). They are helpful tools for navigating on air, land, or sea. There are different types of protractors for each of these applications. This article will focus on those protractors used with land navigation and topographic maps.

1. Military Map Protractor

 

Description

The most recognizable map protractor is the one that is in use with the U.S. military. They are scaled to the Military Grid Reference System (MGRS). They use the metric system for measuring distance and feature both compass degrees and mils around the edges. These protractors are for use with the military topographic maps. This style of the protractor is available on the civilian market. However, some are scaled for commercial maps, like a UTM map, rather than military maps. Also, you can find military protractors sometimes being sold in military surplus stores.

The significant difference between the genuine military protractors and the civilian copies is labeling. There is a label on the military-issued ones that reads something like this:

GTA 05-02-012, June 2008
DEPARTMENT of the ARMY
GRAPHIC TRAINING AID
Title: COORDINATE SCALE
AND PROTRACTOR

There are military style map protractors available by civilian vendors online. However, they are prohibited by law from putting the above label on them. Why? Because once a company does that, the product becomes the property of the U. S. government. Since they may not be under contract with the Department of the Army to supply these products, they would be in violation of the law if they put the U. S. Army label on them.

Primary Use

Moreover, military protractors and maps are for use in training and operations. Thus, genuine military protractors and military topographic maps have to be updated often. The purpose of these updates is to account for the changes in the magnetic declination of the earth. For example, if you have a genuine military protractor with a date from the 1990s, it may not be as accurate as one with a more current date. For civilian use, this factor is not as critical to land navigation.

2. UTM Map Protractor

 

Description

A commercial version of the military map protractor is the UTM map protractor. UTM stands for Universal Transverse Mercator. UTM is based on the metric grid square system of measuring distance. It has similarities with the MGRS system. These protractors have two basic styles: the military style and the nautical style. The maritime version of this protractor incorporates both topographic map scales and marine navigation tools. The sailing version looks complicated to read. However, it is not that much different than the military MGRS protractor.

Primary Uses

The UTM map protractor is most useful with civilian topographic maps, such as the ones that you can purchase from map stores. In some cases, the UTM protractor can be used with non-topographic maps. However, these protractors may not be compatible with your typical road atlas map book. So be careful about how you use one of these protractors on maps purchased at your local store.

UTM maps and protractors are mostly used for hiking and backpacking. A common way of reading UTM coordinates is “Northing and Easting.” UTM squares are further divided into kilometers similar to the MGRS system. UTM is similar but different from the MGRS system in the way that it is read and annotated on a map.

3. Corner Rulers

 

Description

The third kind of map protractor are the corner ruler protractors. These look similar to the UTM and MGRS military-style protractors. However, some of the features are different. Corner Ruler protractors do not have any compass degree markings around the edges. Next, the grid-square scale is upside down. They are designed to find a coordinate with a known grid quickly. They are not intended to find grid azimuth readings on a map and route plotting.

Primary Use

The Corner Ruler map protractor has a primary use in two applications: aerial photography and adventure racing. Their use for aerial photos is to quickly find a point on the photo within an identified grid square. Adventure racers operate on predetermined routes. Therefore, they do not need a tool that helps them traverse over open terrain by plotting a course. They just need a protractor to help find where they are on a known grid-square.

Some Final Thoughts

Map reading and land navigation are vital skills for those who love the outdoors. It is also an essential skill for emergency survival. I have found that some trail maps that are available at a trailhead or ranger station are little more than sketches. They are not to scale and are not very accurate. If this is your only map in your backpack and you get lost, a map like that might be your worst enemy.

It is vital to have an up-to-date and accurate topographic map of the area you are operating in. Along with that map, you should also have an excellent manual compass and map protractor. The MGRS and UTM protractors are the two most common kinds of protractors available. Some companies sell map protractors with both MGRS and UTM scales. Therefore, shop around and find the protractor that you are most comfortable. Then, use it regularly with your hard-copy topographic map.

Emergency signal planning considerations are essential to experiencing a great time outdoors. They are also crucial for ensuring that you will be discovered in an emergency situation. In a previous article, I discussed the PACE method. Initially, the PACE technique was a planning tool for ensuring communications were available to military leaders. A more frequent use of the PACE method is to help someone determine the most critical assets or capabilities required to keep activity or mission going when everything else has failed. Signaling is part of communication capability.

When we think of signaling, we think someone flagging down a passing car or a search-and-rescue helicopter. However, emergency signal planning is more involved than a simple wave of a handkerchief in a desperate moment. It involves careful and intentional thought. The same is true for the other aspects of survival. Emergency signal planning is more than having access to multiple signaling devices in your backpack or emergency bag. The following planning techniques should help you better address your signaling requirements.

1. Establish A Communication Plan

A communication plan is the starting point for addressing emergency signal requirements. How are you going communicate when out on the trail, hunting in the backcountry, or deep sea fishing several miles offshore? A communication plan should include two things: reporting times and methods. Survival experts advise telling someone when and where you are going. You should also let them know how often you will be contacting them while gone. Another aspect of a good communication plan is developing an emergency plan. For example, what are your friends or family supposed to do if you fail to contact them at the agreed time? This means developing and publishing a communication plan that covers these concerns.

2. Passive and Active Signaling Method

The first consideration of emergency signaling is to address passive and active signaling methods. It is vital to have both a passive and an active method of signaling in an emergency. Military pilots around the world usually have passive and active means to signal for rescue. Active signaling methods are those methods that require physical effort to use, such as a flare gun or signal mirror. Passive signal methods are those that you deploy and leave. Then, they will continue to communicate in your absence, such as an arrow made of rocks, trail marking tape, or a personal locator beacon.

The most effective emergency signals employ both an active and passive means of communication. The idea is that the more ways that you have to make contact with someone through visual, hearing, and smelling, you increase your chances of being found in an emergency. The survival and emergency planning literature implies that you use these methods by the items that they list for an emergency kit. However, they do not always make it obvious that this is the reason that they recommend and flashlight and a notepad.

3. Day and Night Signaling Method

Another signaling method to consider integrating into your emergency plan is day and night signaling methods. These considerations are often overlooked in signal planning. We think that we will only be rescued just before lunchtime. However, many rescues can occur in the evening hours. Thus, it is to your advantage to address both day and night time emergency signaling methods. An example of a daytime signaling technique is a signal mirror. A signal mirror is only useful when the sun is up. An example of a nighttime signaling method is a personal emergency strobe light, engaging the strobe feature on your headlamp, or twirling a chem-light on some 550 parachute cord. Therefore, remember to integrate some kind of day and night signaling method into your next outdoor activity.

4. Near and Far Signaling Method

The next method to consider including in your emergency signaling plan is a near and far method. The near and far signaling method is most often used in tactical environments when stealth needs to be maintained. However, it is still an option to consider integrating into your signal plan. An example of a far-signaling method would be a horn blast from your vehicle, the report from discharging your firearm, or employing an aerial flare. The point of this method is to make your whereabouts known as far away from your position as possible so a rescue team can get to you more quickly. A signal fire is also a type of far signaling technique.

A near-signaling method is a little more complicated. The most common near signal method is your voice. Yelling out to those approaching your position will tip them to your exact location, especially at night. However, some near signal methods incorporate infrared light and night vision equipment. A more field expedient method for a near-signal method is hitting on a tree trunk with a stick. Some other near-signal techniques involve hand-held radios and the squelch function on the transmitter button of the microphone.

5. Voice and SMS Communication Methods

Finally, the next method to consider in your emergency signaling plan is voice and SMS communications. The most common item that employs both voice and SMS texting is your smartphone. However, some communication devices only use voice or SMS texting. The PACE method is a great tool to determine what you should carry to your outdoor activity. An example of a communication device that uses only voice communications is a handheld radio, ham radio, or citizen’s band (CB) radio. These come in various sizes and qualities. An example of a purely SMS communication device would be a Garmin inReach or SPOT device. The advantages of the SMS devices are that they can send an emergency signal with your geolocation data via satellite to first responders. Therefore, as you develop your emergency signal plan do not overlook voice and SMS emergency communication devices.

In Summary

Comprehensive emergency signal planning starts with a thorough communication plan. These five areas of consideration for emergency signaling will significantly enhance your outdoor communication efforts. The PACE technique will help you build redundancy into your plan. Thus, combining these five considerations with the PACE planning tool will give you an excellent emergency communication plan that may save your life or the lives of others around you. It is an excellent time of the year to enjoy the outdoors. Avoid becoming a statistic by developing and implementing an emergency signal and communication plan. Be safe, be prepared, and enjoy the outdoors.

Is your emergency survival planning on PACE? The spring outdoor season is upon us. The springtime is a great time to spend outdoors. The plans for your next outdoor experience are almost complete. Many survival experts agree that building redundancy in your gear and planning is essential to ensuring getting through an emergency. A simple method for building those layers is one that is from the military. The process for preparing and organizing your activities and gear is the PACE technique.

Assessing Your PACE

PACE is an acronym for Primary (P), Alternate (A), Contingency (C), and Emergency (E). These are layers of redundancy to ensure essential capabilities are available at all times under any circumstances. The PACE technique applies to the different methods of survival: primitive, bushcraft, military, or blended. However, several questions must be answered before applying this method. First, you need to answer the five W’s of your outdoor activity: who, what, where, when, why, along with how.

Assess Experience and Knowledge

Next, you need to assess your level of experience and knowledge: beginner, intermediate, or expert. Additionally, you should also evaluate the level of experience of others. This should be done especially if you are accompanying or leading a group. You should know yourself and those in your group. Furthermore, each member of the group needs to be aware of the level of experience of the other members of the group. Also, you and each member of your group should know what everyone else is carrying for gear. Thus, it is wise to share each other’s packing list.

Assess Critical Capabilities

Third, assess your critical capabilities supporting the activity: first aid, navigation, communication, security? The definition of critical capabilities are those assets that you or your group possess that if lost would jeopardize the survival of yourself or others. Consequently, that means having a good understanding of yourself and your gear and those of the others in your group. If you are in a group, one technique would be to share each other’s packing lists.

Assess Local Terrain and Weather

Fourth, you need to determine the type of terrain and local weather characteristics. It is crucial to survival planning to know where you are going, what time of the year you are going, and what are the patterns of weather where you are going. Others have found themselves in emergency survival situations due to unexpected weather events, such as flash floods. Consequently, they were underprepared for the scenario. Thus, take the time to really understand the historical, current, and projected weather of the location for your outdoor activity. For example, many people have reported their surprise at how cold the desert can get at night in the spring.

Assess Emergency Assistance Availability

Finally, you should understand the availability and access to emergency assistance near the planned activity site. One of the quickest ways to resolve an emergency survival situation is having a basic knowledge of the support available at your location and how to access it. There was a recent story of a teenage boy who ran almost six miles to a park ranger station to get help for his injured father. The young man could not do that if he did not know how to get to that ranger station. The key to survival planning is gaining situational awareness to better PACE yourself.

PACE Your Critical Capabilities

 

1. P: Primary

For the purposes of this article, the capability that will model the PACE method is communication. However, the PACE method applies to any asset or ability that you assess as critical to the success of your outdoor adventures, such as making a fire, rendering first aid, building a shelter, food procurement, or water processing. Therefore, for this hypothetical outdoor scenario, forms of communication are a critical capability that cannot be lost or activities will cease or lives will be jeopardized.

An example of a primary means of communication is a smartphone. Smartphones are becoming more sophisticated every year. They come with a variety of domestic and foreign plans, as well as applications. Many smartphones can function as satellite communication devices in an emergency where there is no commercial wireless coverage. The implied tasks for keeping a smartphone running in the outdoors is to maintain wireless coverage and to charge the battery. Thus, an essential capability for smartphone use in the field is the ability to keep charging the battery with a solar powered charger.

2. A: Alternate

An alternate form of communication in the field is a hand-held radio (HHR). A hand-held radio is also known as a walkie-talkie. HHR devices come in many forms. These radios can transmit and receive voice communication over a limited distance. However, for communicating with an HHR over an extended range, the ability to relay signals through a repeating tower come into play. As with the smartphone, keeping the battery charged on an HHR in the field is also essential.

3. C: Contingency

The definition of contingency is a provision for an unforeseen event or circumstance. Thus, for survival planning a contingency communication asset may be a Garmin® inReach Mini or a SPOT™ Gen 3 device. These devices are for sending out emergency text messages through a satellite service with geo-location information to help first responders find you. These items are almost a last resort communication device if the smartphone or HHR radio goes down or is lost during an emergency survival situation.

4. E: Emergency

An emergency communications capability is an asset that is for when all of the previous devices malfunction, get broken, lose power, or become lost. An example of an emergency communication capability might be a signal fire, signal flares, signal mirror, air horn, or a signal panel (VS-17). Therefore, an emergency signal capability could be any method that you can employ to communicate to others your location or whereabouts.

Some Final Thoughts

The PACE method is a valuable method to help you think through maintaining essential capabilities while outdoors. There is no right or wrong solution to determining your critical capabilities. Each outdoor activity is different. Therefore, the needs will be different. For example, a day-long fishing trip to a nearby location will be different than a hunting trip to Alaska. The same is true for preparing for emergency disasters. The survival needs for my area and family will be different than for those living in the upper Midwest. Thus, the PACE method helps you to think through the preparedness process and to resource your needs.

The three shelter categories are: hasty, semi-permanent, and permanent. Shelter is one of the core essentials of survival. Thus, it makes sense to have a working knowledge of the categories of shelter. A person can die from environmental exposure in as little as three hours without shelter. Of course, this rule is dependent on environmental and health factors. Furthermore, it is helpful to remember that there are many types of shelters within each category. Therefore, it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss all of the styles of shelter construction.

Shelter Category # 1: Hasty or Temporary Shelters

The most common type of wilderness or emergency shelter is known as the hasty shelter or temporary shelter. This shelter category has a quick construction. They also give temporary relief from environmental conditions. Debris shelters, wickiups, lean-tos, or one-person tents are examples of this shelter category. The best hasty shelters make good use of available natural resources. Sometimes, they combine both natural and manufactured materials such as leaves, branches, trash bags, and trekking poles. In the military, hasty shelters are nick-named, hootches, and feature the use of the military-issue rain poncho.

Advantages

The main advantage of this shelter category is the relative ease of construction. They can be constructed within a few minutes to a couple of hours depending on what you are trying to build. Hasty shelters that are made well are effective in keeping precipitation off of you and your gear. They also deflect wind from off of your body.

Another advantage of hasty shelters is they are efficient in helping maintain the core temperature of your body. Great shelters, regardless of natural or man-made, will help you stay warm or cool as well as keep you dry. However, the critical point here is knowing how to build a hasty shelter correctly out of natural materials.

Disadvantages

There are some disadvantages with this shelter category. One problem with hasty shelters is that they have limitations in their ability to protect you from exposure to environmental factors. Wind, rain, heat, and cold can still get to you through a hasty shelter, although not as much as if you were exposed. Moreover, hasty shelters require some skill and experience in building them correctly in various environments. For example, one famous survival television personality failed miserably to make an igloo shelter in the artic with limited knowledge and no experience in building them. Building shelters from natural materials can be problematic for those with little experience. In a survival situation, the inability to put up an adequate shelter with natural resources under adverse conditions could be disastrous.

Factors Influencing Use

There are some underlying factors to consider when deciding upon the kind of hasty shelter to construct. These factors are time, terrain, and available natural resources. For example, military personnel trained in sophisticated survival, escape, and evasion techniques, are moving most of the time. Therefore, they will not construct very elaborate shelters in the field. They will build a shelter to get them through the night and move on the next day. By contrast, someone on a multiday hike may decide to put up a Snugpak® Ionosphere™ tent in which to spend the night, rather than build a debris hut.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that some terrain does not provide enough natural resources to build an adequate shelter for this shelter category. Therefore, it is good to carry a reliable manufactured single-person tent into the field as a backup if possible. Marmot, Kelty, MSR, and Nemo are companies that offer pack-friendly tents.

Shelter Category # 2: Semi-Permanent Shelters

The next shelter category is semi-permanent. As the name implies, these shelters are more permanent than hasty shelters. The classic example of semi-permanent shelters would be the native-American Tee-pee. Other examples in this shelter category are the Bedouin family tent, or a large military tent, like the U.S. Army DRASH tents. The Tentipi Safir 5 Light Tent is another example of a semi-permanent shelter. However, bamboo, sod homes, or grass hut dwellings could be included in the semi-permanent shelter category. Additionally, log cabins can be semi-permanent or permanent depending on their construction. Therefore, a semi-permanent shelter is one that has no permanent anchor to the ground by attachment to a foundation.

Advantages

One Advantage of semi-permanent shelters is they offer better protection from the elements of the weather. They also give better protection against the large predatory animals, such as bears, wolves, or cougars. Another advantage of semi-permanent shelters is that they are transportable if necessary. The mobility of semi-permanent shelters is not as easy as a single-person tent. Nevertheless, they are mobile. The sustainment of the Native-American tribes came by following the vast buffalo herds. Consequently, their family shelters had to move with them.

Disadvantages

A significant disadvantage of this shelter category is that they are susceptible to destruction by high winds. High winds can topple these kinds of shelter because of not having a permanent anchor to the ground. Another disadvantage is that they require more effort to move than a hasty shelter. In the middle east, the Bedouin tribes have to move large carpets and blankets that are their tent covers. Breaking down an enclave of semi-permanent shelters and moving them takes much energy to accomplish.

Factors Influencing Use

A few factors to consider about building a semi-permanent shelter. First, what is the purpose of the shelter? If you are continually trekking over terrain, constructing a semi-permanent shelter is not the best use of time or resources. However, if you are looking to stake a claim and set up a homestead, then a semi-permanent shelter is wise. Another factor to consider is location. Is there enough area and natural resources to build a semi-permanent shelter? If the place cannot sustain you with adequate food, water, and arable soil, then your semi-permanent shelter may have to be moved.

Shelter Category # 3: Permanent Shelters

Permanent shelters are the final category of consideration. A person building a permanent shelter signals an intent to stay in one place for a long time. Permanent shelters can sit on a foundation of rock, brick, or concrete. The dwelling is anchored to the foundation in such a manner that the building does not move, even in high winds. Permanent shelters take a considerable amount of time to construct, especially with the use of masonry.

Furthermore, it takes a higher level of skill and knowledge to build a permanent shelter. An example of a permanent shelter would be a suburban family residential home. However, caves could be a kind of permanent housing, even though a person does not build a cave, he only occupies it.

Advantages

A significant advantage of a permanent shelter is that it is considerably more resistant to environmental factors, such as wind, rain, or cold. Permanent shelters also give better protection against predators. Another advantage of permanent shelters is that they offer a one-building solution to shelter a family. Additionally, they provide some social, emotional, and psychological stability to people due to the permanence that they bring.

Disadvantages

One disadvantage of a permanent shelter is that it is in immobile in all practicality. Permanent shelters require a tremendous amount of time and resources to construct. Typically, survival reasons cause people to abandon their permanent shelters. The Anasazi peoples of the southwest United States abandoned their permanent shelters (see pic). Moreover, the recent flooding from hurricanes and the wildfires in California give a stark reality to leaving permanent shelters for the sake of safety or survival.

Factors Influencing Use

A consideration of some important factors should influence decisions about building a permanent shelter. The first factor is deciding if living in a particular location is going to be permanent. Arable land, water, game, and other natural resources will dictate if an area is going to sustain a long-term settlement. Another factor is your personal experience and knowledge in building a permanent shelter. You may need to solicit help with making such a shelter. Is there assistance available?

Final Thoughts

Shelter is one of the core essentials of survival. Every human being needs shelter to enable long-term survival. Our human experience integrates the three categories of shelters to survive in this world. Thus, it is essential to know these categories to help make decisions about what kind of shelter to construct. An outdoor emergency in the wilderness will not facilitate a semi-permanent or permanent shelter. A person’s main task under those circumstances is to make it out alive. Thus, becoming adept at constructing hasty shelters from natural resources is one of those crucial tasks to master before going for a long trek outdoors.

You can assess a survival situation in 3 easy steps. This assessment is based on the military understanding of estimating a situation. The definition of the phrase, estimate of the situation, is, “A process of reasoning by which a commander considers all the circumstances affecting the military situation and arrives at a decision as to a course of action to be taken to accomplish the mission.” (Joint Publication 3-0). Thus, a working definition of assessing a survival situation is a process of reasoning by which a person considers all the circumstances affecting survival and arrives at a decision and course of action that will enable survival through emergency or life-threatening conditions.

1. Analyze Your Current Circumstances

The critical step to gaining an accurate assessment of your situation is to analyze your current circumstances. This means that you need to get a proper evaluation of yourself, your environment, your resources, and your equipment. Your ability to accurately grasp these critical areas will set the conditions for the other steps of gaining situational awareness. So let’s look at these areas briefly.

Assessing Yourself

Health

The most critical subtask within this step is to analyze yourself. In an emergency survival situation, your age, health or level of physical fitness is vital to making it through the adversity. If you are injured and immobile, you will not go very far. You must assess, at that point, what is the level of injury or immobility? Then, you must determine if you have the means or capability to remedy the injury or the immobility. Thus, those who have an accurate understanding of themselves and their abilities will make decisions within those limitations.

Physical Fitness

As well, if your physical fitness is weak, you may find yourself reaching an obstacle of terrain that will stop your continued movement towards rescue. An excellent example of this kind of limitation is in the movie, The Grey. A survivor falls to their death while attempting to cross a ravine because they did not have the strength to hold on to a strap strung across the expanse. An ex-Army Ranger from Vietnam gave testimony that those who survived the jungle warfare of Vietnam were those who had the best physical fitness. He went on to say that those that were out of shape were the first to die in combat.

Abilities

Moreover, analyzing your health needs, experience, and skills also are critical factors in preparing for emergency situations. A simple adage in military leadership manuals is to know yourself and seek self-improvement. Employing this principle means assessing yourself at all times in light of survival or preparing for emergencies. It is as simple as asking what needs to be done, can I do it, and do I have the resources to do it?

Assess Your Environment and Its Resources

Next, assessing your environment is the second subtask. It is more than just determining what kind of environment you are in. It also has a good understanding of the types of dangers and resources within that environment. For example, if you are lost in a desert, do you understand the environmental threats and available natural resources? Accurately assessing your environment means fully answering the question, “where am I”? A suitable method for understanding your environment is the following checklist:

  • Type of environment?
  • Seasonal weather conditions?
  • Environmental threats?
  • Natural resources available?

 

Assess Your Available Resources

Third, assessing your available resources is the next subtask. This subtask is different than evaluating environmental resources. It is assessing the resources that you are carrying into the environment. In essence, it is evaluating what you have on your person or in your pack to address the essential areas of survival. Those critical areas being food, fire, water, shelter, first-aid, land navigation, communications, and security. You are assessing things such as how much water or food you have left in your backpack now that you are in an emergency situation.

Assess Your Equipment

A final subtask in this step is assessing your equipment. What equipment do you have and is it still functional? The functionality of your equipment determines how much you are going to have to rely on your survival skills and the natural resources of your environment. You must determine if your pack is ripped up or shoulder straps severed. You must evaluate the condition of your pack frame if it is external. Do you have adequate outerwear for the environment? Does your Garmin GPS or baseplate compass function? Is my fixed-blade knife dull or broken? Are the batteries dead in my headlamp? Did I forget to bring my multitool? These are the kinds of questions to answer when assessing your equipment. Therefore, after evaluating your current circumstances, it is time to make a tentative plan.

2. Make A Tentative Plan

It is essential to begin to make a tentative or rough plan after analyzing your circumstances. As the name implies, your survival plan is a rough idea based on the information you have from assessing your situation. The best way to plan is to do it as soon as possible in the survival situation. You are at your best health and fitness to make a plan at this point, if not injured or sick. Your mind is not yet clouded by hunger, lack of water, exhaustion, or exposure. Therefore, put down on paper a working idea of how you plan to effect self-recovery from your emergency situation.

Develop a Primary Plan

The first part of planning is to develop a primary plan. The primary an is the one that you are most likely going to conduct if everything goes well. The primary plan answers the five “W”s: who, what, where, when, why. It also covers “how” you are going to conduct your plan. Although you may not be able to answer every point, it is best to work through them anyway.

Develop an Alternate Plan

Developing an alternate survival plan is crucial. Soldiers call this your “When Everything Goes To Hell” plan. There are no guarantees in life. It is especially true in the outdoors. You cannot account for every possibility or circumstance. Therefore, having an alternate plan to complement the primary one is prudent. A good example of making an alternate survival plan is in the movie BAT-21, based on the book BAT-21 by William C. Anderson. Furthermore, your alternate plan also should answer the five “W”s as well as how you will conduct it.

Assess Your Plans

After making a primary and alternate plan, it is essential to assess the viability of your plans. It is helpful to do this step because you may find that you need to make adjustments. The information that you have and can glean from continually assessing your situation bears influence on your planning. For example, you plan to walk at night to avoid the heat of the summer days. However, you modify your plan because of the weather changes. Instead of walking at night, now, your movements will be during the day, at least temporarily. Thus, it is important to continually assess your plans and make adjustments as new information or circumstances arise.

3. Conduct Your Plan

Finally, the third step in estimating your situation is conducting your survival plan. An essential aspect of conducting your survival plan is to be flexible. Your plan is a guide not a lock-step answer to your emergency scenario. The longer that you are in the emergency survival situation, you will make more adjustments to your plan as you go. Observing the survival stories of others reveals that critical decisions have to be made at some point. For example, you may have to start a brush fire to attract the attention of search and rescue teams.

Some Final Thoughts

Situational awareness is an essential aspect of emergency survival in any environment. The three steps are easy to remember: analyze your circumstances, make a plan, conduct your plan. It is helpful to train your mind to think through the subtasks as a kind of checklist. People in an emergency survival situation are under a significant amount of mental and emotional stress, even if they do not panic. It becomes difficult to devote a lot of time to thinking analytically and solve problems in a survival situation. It is recommended that you begin to think through these steps as a practice as a matter of habit before your next outdoor adventure. The more these steps become second nature to you, the less you have to intentionally think through them step-by-step when in a high-stress emergency situation.

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