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    How to avoid shark attacks

    By David Simpson

    Rodney Fox had been diving for hours when he decided to swim farther offshore into deeper water. It was december 8, 1963, and fox was competing in the south australian spearfishing championships as the defending champion. After he speared a couple of fish some 40-to-50-feet Underwater, Fox saw a dusky morwong, a fish that would earn him high points in the competition.“I was about to pull the trigger when this huge crash knocked me aside and I was pulled through the water,” recalled Mr. Fox, now in his 70s and living in Glenelg, a suburb of Adelaide in South Australia. “I had this flash of a big black train hitting me.” The spear gun was torn from his hands as the great white shark clamped down on Fox’s chest and darted downward.

    After gouging its eyes, Fox fell from the shark’s mouth. Instinctively, he tried to push away and climb to the surface. However, the shark chomped down on his arm, but he was able to rip it free. Running out of air, he pushed up and kicked his feet until he reached the surface. And then he looked down…

    Close call

    “I remember seeing it through the pink bloody water coming towards me,” Fox said. “A miracle happened there; the shark, instead of going for me, went straight for the float I was towing behind me, and it swallowed the float and the fish, and then it went down and dragged me with it. I was spinning, spinning, spinning. I was just about out of air. I tried to find the catch and I couldn’t find it and then a miracle happened: The line snapped.” Fox made it to the surface and was rescued. The shark broke every rib in Fox’s left side, ripped open a lung, exposed vital organs, and severed four of his tendons in his arm.

    Why sharks attack

    Ralph Collier, the president of the nonprofit foundation Shark Research Committee, doesn’t believe that most attacks on humans are the result of the shark mistaking the subject for a regular meal. “The majority of white shark attacks are quite gentle considering what they are capable of. It’s because they’re investigating. They’re testing,” said Collier. “If they wanted to eat us, they would.” In addition, some attacks indicate displacement behavior, when a shark is trying to get something perceived as threatening to leave an area. This could be an area where they’re feeding or where a female shark had decided to give birth, Collier said. Collier, who noted sharks have good vision and can see color, cited incidents when sharks bump kayaks or people, rather than killing them, or bite people in a manner that isn’t necessarily deadly. “We have to stop and think, ‘What does the shark know about its environment?’ It knows all the things that naturally occur there,” he said. “When something unnatural is around, it attracts their curiosity.”

    Shark in the wild

    Collier recommends humans must use common sense around sharks, like any … Read the rest

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      Caving and Spelunking tips : How to survive in a cave

      By David Simpson

      Code blue! You need to bug out. You head for the hills. You find a cave—can you stay in it? In the event of an emergency, it’s quite possible that a cave can offer a prepper a temporary place to stay and wait out the situation. To find out more about using caves as a refuge, we contacted Roger Brucker, cave explorer and author of the books “The Caves Beyond” and “The Longest Cave.” Read on to find out what he has to say about this valuable source of shelter.

      The importance of stability

      Safety is a No. 1 priority if you want to take refuge in a cave. It’s imperative that you’re able to recognize whether a cave is safe to enter. People often think that mines can be caved; however, mines pose a serious safety hazard due to instability. “The reason mines are unstable is because they have been dynamited and blasted through tunnels, and as a result, the shockwaves tend to crack the rocks around them,” says Brucker. 

      Caves, on the other hand, are generally created by moving water. When the water leaves the cave, anything unstable leaves the cave with it in the form of breakdown. This leaves the cave as typically being extremely stable, Brucker says. “You may find that erosion has caused surface issues around the entrances,” he adds. “We often say ‘entrances are being created and closed all the time through erosion,’ but if it’s open, then you can typically assume the cave is sound.” Getting out and caving can go a long way in helping you should you find yourself in a bug- out situation that requires you to find shelter; you’ll know the ropes already!

      Lions and tigers and bears

      If your first vision of a cave involves a four-legged squatter who doesn’t want you to go inside, you may believe in fairy tales. “The fact that caves are often home to furry creatures is a myth,” Brucker says. “I suppose, in some climates, there may be caves in which bears hibernate, but that’s only in an area with bears. I have never encountered something furry upon entering a cave in all my years of cave exploration,” he adds But just because a cave is bear-free doesn’t mean it’s ready to be inhabited as-is. “When it comes to naptime, sleeping in a cave is deemed safe, but keep in mind that you should bring along a sleeping bag for comfort and warmth,” Brucker says. “In addition, make sure you have potable water, which won’t typically be available in a cave.”

      The Takeaway

      In a clutch, a cave can provide safety and a temporary dwelling. Just remember to choose carefully and take appropriate supplies, and you should be able to wait out a disaster in relative safety.

      Safety First

      • If all of your lights fail, sit down and wait on the spot for help to come.
      • Avoid jumping. Cave floors are seldom level, and a short jump may result in an
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        How to purify water in the wild

        By David Simpson

        WATER, THE ELIXIR OF LIFE.
        It makes up about 60% of our body, and we can’t go for more than three days without it before we start having problems. Unfortunately, it is often an afterthought as we prepare ourselves to operate in a challenging situation. Fortunately, it isn’t that difficult to make sure you have adequate water in whatever situation you face; you just need to educate and prepare yourself. To put it simply, you need to know how to find it, clean it, purify it and store it. Follow along as we look at these actions in different scenarios.

        Purify!

        Use chemical drops or tablets that use iodine or chlorine; these take around 30 minutes to produce clear water in mild temperatures. Purifying filters pass the water through a ceramic, fiber, or carbon filter that removes chemical and bacterial contaminants. These filters can be gravity-fed (the water drains from one bag down through the filter into a clean water bag) or they can be pump-fed (you use a hand pump to move the water from source through the filter and into the clean water bag). This method provides drinkable water as soon as it passes through the filter rather than having to wait as with the chemical treatment.

        Ultraviolet light pens can also kill the bacteria and viruses that might be found in the water. If you’re on the move, you can use devices like the SteriPEN. If you’re staying in a single location you can use the SODIS technique. The UV treatment works well for clear water but not as well if the water is opaque; in addition, it takes time to work just as the chemical treatment does. The SODIS (www.sodis.ch) method of water purification, short for Solar Disinfecting, uses sunlight to kill the bacteria and viruses in water. You put water in a clear, colorless, glass or PET-type plastic bottle, fill it ¾ of the way up, shake it to add some oxygen to the water, then lay it flat and leave it out in direct sunlight for at least six hours from morning to evening, but preferably the whole day. If it is overcast, two days is recommended.

        Bugging in

        Pick any of the natural disasters that Americans have had to face during the past year and imagine that you are stuck at home, can’t get out to get supplies at the grocery store, and power and water are out in your neighborhood. You know that three days’ worth of resources won’t be enough because it takes FEMA at least that long to even get onsite. Where are you going to find a gallon a day for four people for 14 days, or 56 gallons of water? Well, you’d be surprised.

        You can find water in your water heater, in the pipes in the house, in the water tank of each toilet, in the ice cubes in the freezer and in cans of fruit and vegetables. If water pressure is down, open the tap … Read the rest

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          How to make a bow drill fire

          By David Simpson

          Imagine being off the grid with no fire. If you can’t make a flame, you’re pretty much dead in the water. Many believe that building a friction fire is an unbearably difficult task, if not an impossible feat. Those who have tried to make fire this way usually tell me how they worked to the point of exhaustion and at best, only made smoke—and not the red-hot, glowing ember that they so desperately wanted. This common complaint doesn’t really surprise me.

          If the best survival manuals offer only a few pages of vague instructions on the complicated ways of fire by friction, why would I expect anything else? Friction fire is an art form that demands careful coaching from someone who knows how to do it, and also what not to do during the process.

          When you use a bow and drill, for example, there are dozens of little errors that most people make. If you make even one or two of these mistakes, your fire-making attempt won’t be productive and you’ll fail yet again. I do love to hear that people have tried and tried again to build fire from “rubbing two sticks together,” because tenacity is a big part of the survival mentality. But what I would really like to see is that people are armed with the right information from the get-go, and then that they follow up with their full measure of determination and drive.

          Friction fire basics

          For those who have not experienced the amazing process of friction fire, a quick explanation is in order. A friction fire begins with two pieces of dead, dry, non-rotten, non-pitchy wood that you rub, drill, saw or plow together with generous speed and pressure.

          These pieces move against each other in a back-and-forth motion, creating heat in the upper 400-degree-Fahrenheit range and grinding off wood dust from both parts. The dust collects in a hole, notch or crevice, near or underneath the moving parts, which is where the heat is hottest. If this wood dust reaches the ignition temperature for the wood species you have chosen, the dust will react with the oxygen in the air and create a beautiful little reddish orange coal.

          You should place this fragile coal carefully into some dead, dry, fluffy plant tinder and gently blow it into a flame. Of all the diverse traditional fire-building methods around the world, I believe that the bow and drill method is the most likely to work for the broadest range of people, woody materials and weather conditions. So to give you the best chance for success, here’s what you’ll need to build your own bow drill set, along with a few coaching points to lead you down the path to your first successful friction fire.

          Friction components for bow and drill

          You’ll need a drill and a fire board (aka hearth) for your actual friction pieces. These are the two most critical parts of the kit; the other parts are vital as … Read the rest

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            Wild Fruits and Nuts: A must have guide for backcountry traveller

            By David Simpson

            You can’t walk through a field, forest, swamp or even your own backyard without passing by (or stepping on) wild edible plants. Uninhabited areas, and even urban locations, contain nutritious wild food that’s free for the taking—if you know what to look for. The same plant foods that sustained our ancestors are still out there growing as they always have. Learn what those things are, and you’ll gain a back-up food supply that’s available year-round

            What can you do with acorns

            The nuts produced by any oak tree (trees in the genus Quercus) are a plentiful, high-calorie wild food crop around the Northern Hemisphere. Coming in at just over 2,000 calories per pound, acorns are too valuable to ignore, despite their bitter flavor and previous misinformation. Just make sure you can tell the difference between an acorn and a buckeye, because buckeyes (and the very similar-looking horse chestnut) are poisonous. To prepare your acorns, crack them out of their shells and break any large nut pieces into smaller bits. Then soak the acorn chunks in water to remove the bitter and irritating tannic acid.

            Don’t boil acorns, because it locks in some of the bitterness permanently. Just soak the acorns in a few changes of water, for a few hours per soaking. If the water was safe to drink, taste a piece of acorn to see if it’s still bitter. If you don’t like it, dump off the water (which should look brown after a few hours of soaking), add fresh water and soak the acorn pieces again for a few hours.

            Repeat this as needed, depending on the acorn’s bitterness. Once they taste acceptable, let the acorns dry out for a few hours. Then you can run them through a grain grinder, blender or flour mill to make acorn flour. Add this flour to existing recipes, or try making traditional acorn porridge by simmering acorn flour, water and maple syrup.

            Focus On Other Tree Nuts

            The walnut family gives us the highest-calorie wild food available. Black walnut, butternut walnut, pecan and hickory are all in this family, and the shelled-out nut meats of these trees can provide you with a high-fat food that’s almost 200 calories per ounce. Beechnut, hazelnut and even pine nuts can also be eaten, after picking the nut meats from shattered shells, assuming you can beat the squirrels to them.

            Spring Brings Great Salad

            With all the fresh green growth, you’d think spring would provide you with a lot of food, and it does—but it’s all very watery, low-calorie food. Most of the leaves, shoots and other spring vegetables provide only 20- 30 calories per plateful. However, spring makes up for this low-calorie situation by offering us a great variety of tasty wild salads, flowers, shoots, tubers and roots. Among the tastiest spring edibles are dandelion greens and flowers, watercress in a salad, spring beauty bulbs, fresh chick- weed, redbud tree flowers, and sassafras roots, which I use for tea … Read the rest

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              How to treat a wound and make it heal faster

              By David Simpson

              Accidents happen. No matter how prepared you are.
              Rock climbers tie in with ropes and hunters practice field safety with weapons, but later, relaxed and away from the apparent dangers, they can let their guard down and take a fall around camp or slip while using a knife. These kinds of injuries are the most common things you need to anticipate in the back country, and they can occur anytime. Even after major disasters, the majority of wounds are usually simple soft tissue injuries and burns that you can treat on your own—if you know how.

              Cleaning the wound

              If you suffer an injury that creates a wound in your skin, the most important thing to do is clean it, ideally by irrigating it with a continuous jet of clean, drinkable water. Irrigation removes debris more effectively and with less risk of additional contamination or tissue damage than the next best option, which is washing or swabbing with soap and water. If you want to be as well-equipped as a wilderness paramedic, carry an irrigation syringe and a few inches of catheter tubing in your first aid kit, because this is the best method of wound cleaning, says wilderness medicine instructor and paramedic chris davis. Attach the tubing to the nozzle of the syringe to spray a constant stream of pressurized water onto the wound.

              If, however, you must make do with improvised supplies, a plastic bag filled with water that has a small hole poked in it will work as well. You can squirt the stream of clean water through the hole and directly on to your wound. Avoid the temptation to clean with antiseptics like alcohol or iodine, because along with germs, these solutions kill healthy cells that would otherwise be utilized in the healing process.

              How to treat burn wounds

              Wounds caused by burns are best treated by first cooling the area as quickly as possible to stop additional damage. First-degree (red and painful) and second-degree (blistered) burns can be treated like wounds described in the main story: wash and cover them. In the case of second-degree burns, try to leave blisters intact, but if they break, you’ll simply treat them as wounds. And despite what your grandmother told you, butter and oil are not good burn remedies, and can actually be harmful, so just stick with the antibiotic ointment and a bandage. Third-degree burns (charred skin) require medical intervention. Keep them clean and moist and keep the victim well hydrated until help arrives.

              Dressing the wound

              After irrigating and cleansing your wound, you should treat it with a good triple antibiotic ointment (which should be a staple in your first aid kit) and cover it with a dressing. The main purpose of the dressing is to keep the wound clean and free from additional damage. Use an adhesive bandage for small wounds and gauze pads held in place with adhesive tape for larger ones.

              If you have trouble getting the bandages to … Read the rest

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                How to make soap at home for beginners

                By David Simpson

                As ugly as homemade soap.
                We’ve all heard the phrase, but today’s home-made beauty products are anything but homely. In fact, making your own personal care products allows you to have better control over the ingredients that come in contact with your your skin every day… and allows you to be more self-sufficient when a disaster shuts down your local stores.


                Before you begin

                Cold-process soap allows you to use lye to convert oils and other fatty acids into the salt that we know as soap. Lye is a caustic base, meaning that it has a very high pH, and it can lead to chemical burns if not handled correctly. Wearing protective gear like gloves and an apron, and working in a well-ventilated area when mixing the ingredients can help you sidestep most of the dangers of working with lye. You also want to be sure that all of the equipment you use for soap making are not used for food or liquids that will be ingested. Soap making is a precise process, so all of your ingredients need to be accurately measured.

                Most recipes are based on weight, not volume, so invest in a nice digital kitchen scale. The amount of lye required in each recipe varies depending on both the oils you’re using and the size of the batch. There are a number of lye calculators available on the Internet, but Juliebeth Mezzy, owner of Julie’s Stuff Natural Beauty Products, recommends Majestic Mountain Sage’s Lye Calculator (https://www.thesage.com/calcs/LyeCalc.html), which enables users to select the type and amount of oils they are using to determine how much lye is required for the saponification process.

                Preparation phase

                Once you have calculated and measured all of the ingredients, the first step is to add the lye to the water—carefully. You want to use a heat-resistant tool to stir the mixture and ensure that the lye crystals have been properly dissolved. This process generates a great deal of heat, despite starting with room-temperature ingredients, and can reach upward of 300 degrees. “It’s very important to let the lye/water mixture cool to about 100 degrees before you combine it with your oils, so use a thermometer to monitor the temperature,” advises Mezzy. “And be patient.” While the lye mixture is cooling, it’s a good time to increase the temperature of the oils you plan to use, whether vegetable- or animal-based, to get them into liquid form.

                Many oils such as coconut oil and shea butter are solid at room temperature, so use a double-boiler to heat them gently until just melted, much like working with chocolate. Before mixing the cooled lye and the oils, take the temperature of both solutions. They should both be around 100 degrees. If either has cooled below that, you can increase the temperature by placing the bottom of the pot into a sink of hot water. Likewise, if either remains too warm, you can lower the pot’s base into a sink of cold water.

                Time to

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