Archive for the ‘General’ Category

“Cotton Kills” … Truth or Exaggeration?

"Cotton Kills" ... Truth or Exaggeration?

In any of the survival courses that I teach, very seldom do I make absolute statements to a client like “Definitely don’t do this,” or “Always do that.”  After all, if a client finds herself  in an emergency situation, it’s likely unique enough on some level that absolutes are not helpful, perhaps even detrimental.  And when it comes to buying clothing and gear, every client has his own guidelines based on various criteria including their particular outdoor activity and interests, perceived needs and wants, and size of pocketbook.  Instead, I generally try to offer recommendations, within a general range of possibilities and points to consider, supplemented with an explanation for context. Except in two cases.  One of them being … Don’t wear cotton. By this I mean, never, or at least be extremely reluctant to, wear cotton clothing during your outdoors adventures. This “absolute” is given with the best of recommendations as there is a very […]

Read more

More About the Chris McCandless Story

More About the Chris McCandless Story

Amazingly, at least in my mind, it has been 22 years since Christopher McCandless slowly starved to death, all alone in an abandoned school bus, in the Alaskan wilderness.  Many of you may have read about his story in the Jon Krakauer book, Into the Wild, or saw the movie of the same title.  Amazingly, he still remains to this day the subject of active, even fervent, discussions amongst those in the outdoors community. There is just something about McCandless’ story that touches something so visceral in so many.  The debate generally falls into two main camps.  The first tends to argue that his death was almost inevitable due to his selfish personality and reckless lack of preparedness.  The second tends to praise him for his free spirit and trust in the bounty of Nature, and views his death as an unfortunate accident.  For what it’s worth, my opinion tends to reflect those of the […]

Read more

Bees, Hornets & Allergies … What Do I Do?

Bees, Hornets & Allergies ... What Do I Do?

Bees, yellow jackets, hornets and other insects that bite or sting have been in the back of my mind all Summer.  So as the season wanes, I thought that I would finally share with you a few thoughts and pieces of information that you might find helpful when you are out on your next outdoor adventure.  This way, you will be better prepared to keep yourself, and others, safe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been thinking of them because I am particularly fearful of insects, I’m not.  In fact, I am fascinated by bees and love to closely watch them flit from one wildflower in my backyard to another.  In turn, considering the huge number of folks who play outside, few are actually stung, and even fewer suffer any life-threatening effects.  However, I must admit that even that one isolated sting or bite can suddenly have a huge impact on your […]

Read more

Lightning & Water Safety

Lightning & Water Safety

The Summer is a particularly wonderful time to head out on to the water in a kayak or canoe, but it brings up a safety issue that confuses many … What do I do if I hear thunder, or, worse, see lighting? To start, get off of the water at the first sound of thunder or lightning.  Even if the storm looks to be far away, lightening can still be a real life threat.  After all, by the simple nature of your activity, you are most likely going to be the highest point around and as the National Weather Service reports the “vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths” that occur on boats involve small ones “with NO cabin.”  Also, while I’ve read studies that indicate that most lightning strikes occur within a 3-5 mile range, I’ve also read others that indicate that it is not unusual for lightning  to travel 10-20 miles […]

Read more

First Aid Skill: PRICE

First Aid Skill: PRICE

In any kind of wilderness medical training course, whether it is geared towards the lay provider or the professional one, I have often found that students are most interested in, and most focused on, learning how to treat dramatic injuries.  So topics that include broken extremities, wild animal attacks, tension pneumothorax, dysentery, and cholera, amongst a long list of others, tend to get the most attention and session time.  Not that I am inadvertently casting stones … Heck, my favorite lesson lately was about the field-expedient amputation and disarticulation.  But the simple fact of the matter is that in a wilderness setting, it is the “boring” injuries and illnesses that are the most common.  For this reasons, then, most of my time and effort is spent continuing to learn about and refresh my skills concerning the basics. Since research consistently shows that in the out of doors sprains and strains are […]

Read more

First Aid Skill – How to remove a Ring

First Aid Skill - How to remove a Ring

Although removing a ring from a swollen finger may not appear like a relevant survival or first aid skill, it can actually be quite important.  After all, if even one of your hands starts to become increasingly useless due to swelling and pain, then the odds of you being able to protect yourself, or others, in a wilderness survival situation diminishes steadily.  So, while various removal techniques may not be glamorous enough to be featured on one of the popularly scripted “survival” shows, you may want to still consider listening up. The main issue is that there exists the real possibility of lasting damage to, or complete loss of, the finger due to the blockage of the blood flow to it.  This could occur due to some trauma where the finger, hand, arm, or even some other part of the body is injured, such that swelling is a common physical […]

Read more

9-1-1 can Easily Track my Cell Phone, Right?

9-1-1 can Easily Track my Cell Phone, Right?

You are out on a hike with a friend when you finally must concede that you are lost.  Of course, you have been trying these last few hours to find the right trail, but the sun is beginning to set and it is starting to get cold.  The prospect, then, of being forced to spend the night in the dark woods has you now more scared than you might otherwise have thought.  But, wait, there is a ray of hope!  You have a cell phone.  You’ll just dial 9-1-1 and those EMS dispatchers will have a rescue team sent to your exact location in a jiffy.  Right? The reality is … Maybe. A recent series of studies conducted by Find Me 911 indicates that EMS dispatchers can only trace a mobile telephone’s location only around 33% to 50% of the time. I don’t know about you, but I find the prospect […]

Read more

Drink Your Urine?

Drink Your Urine?

One of the most common questions that I am asked during one of my wilderness first aid or wilderness survival courses, or during a lecture, is the the following:  “Is it okay during a survival situation to drink one’s urine?” This definitely is a good question for several reasons, most of all, since it is being asked within the context of helping to stave off dehydration, the idea appears to make sense.  After all, as one may reason, if one is dehydrated, one needs water, so one shouldn’t waste it, even if it is one’s own bodily waste product.  More to the point, however, so many people ask the question because they have seen it discussed and done so many times on so-called reality television programs.  This wouldn’t be so bad except that there are people who, during a wilderness emergency, actually have resorted to drinking their urine. So, what […]

Read more

Into The Wild – Is the Mystery Solved?

Into The Wild - Is the Mystery Solved?

It seems that stories about the struggle to survive and overcome great odds in the unforgiving wilderness rarely endure.  Sure, an account may effect big headlines in the newspapers, and people may actively chatter about it amongst themselves with particular emphasis on the gory details, but even this quickly fades and people just as quickly forget.  While many know the basic facts about the Donner Party, few seem to know the real details, much of it inspiring, and fewer still seem to know anything about the U.S.S. Indianapolis.  This is a shame … For them, and for us. However, the story about the death of Christopher McCandless, who in 1992 slowly starved in an isolated bus near Denali National Park long endures.  Many of us, of course, read the accounts that Jon Krakauer wrote, first in Outside in 1993, and later in his 1996 book, Into the Wild.  And, certainly, the […]

Read more

Movie Suggestion – “All is Lost”

Movie Suggestion - "All is Lost"

I am usually very reluctant to make the effort to see, or to recommend to others, a movie that is “survival” themed.  That’s because most are usually junk in that they are based more on entirely contrived drama than actual fact or reality.  However, I just watched the trailer for a movie that is to be released in October that I might just have to see. All is Lost is an American film about a man who becomes lost alone at sea after his sail boat sinks soon after being struck by an adrift commercial shipping container.  The film appears to be unique in that there is very little dialogue and the only cast member is actor, Robert Redford.  There isn’t even a soccer ball named Wilson! Anyway, check out the official trailer below. If anyone is interested in seeing it too, just let me know … I’ll even buy the […]

Read more