I recently received a letter that was written by a smoke jumper who is describing conditions of life in an area of Washington State where a disastrous wildfire has turned life upside-down. There are vital lessons to be learned from this information, and I urge everyone to take stock of where you stand in your preparation to survive a disaster. Here’s the letter:
We have had many inquires as to how things are going here in the Methow Valley of Washington State in reference to the fires, so I am writing a quick letter to all.
For the last couple of weeks it has been very hot. About 100 degrees every day. Nearly two weeks ago we had an intense lighting storm and multiple fires were started, mostly on public lands. A few days later, VERY strong winds arrived and ultimately all the fires became three large ones, and eventually one large one. The largest in the history of the State of Washington. The fires burned about 200 homes, many outbuildings, vehicles, cattle, horses, etc., and destroyed the electrical distribution system. The fire burned down the valley for a distance of nearly 70 miles, all the way into the Columbia River Valley east of us. We found ourselves without power, telephones, cell phones, or internet service. All the stores and gas stations were closed except for Hanks in Twisp, about 13 miles down the road. It is a large store and the owner had installed back up power years ago. Continue reading
When it’s time to build a fire, the most important component is the tinder. Without it, the attempt to build a fire will fail.
The job of tinder is to catch a spark and turn it into a flame that is vigorous and long-lasting enough to ignite the kindling. Along that same line, the job of kindling is to catch fire and burn hot and long enough to ignite the fuel wood. The process works up from very fine flammable material, to wood that is a little heavier (maybe the thickness of a pencil), and from there to wood that is the size of your wrist or even larger.
But it’s the tinder that gets the whole process started, assuming you have a method of igniting the kindling. That can be accomplished by many techniques such as with a spark from a “flint and steel” kit, or from an electrical source such as a battery, or a hot coal created by friction, or the heat of the sun focussed through a “burning glass,” or a small flame from matches or a lighter. Continue reading
A disaster is looming!
Maybe it’s a wildfire that threatens your region, a hurricane, an earthquake, tsunami, pandemic, flood, or perhaps a chemical/biological/nuclear attack. Whatever it is, it’s got you thinking seriously about evacuation to a safer area.
But before you decide to evacuate, there are five critical questions that you need to ask yourself. And unless you can come up with the right answers, now’s the time to start getting more prepared.
You’ll notice that each major question contains sub-questions that are directly related. If you use these questions as prompts, they can help you make your disaster preparedness plans ahead of time, including the issue of potential evacuation. Continue reading
Although lightning can strike at any time of year, even during a snowstorm, summer is the season when it poses the greatest danger for people.
That’s because this is the time of year when we’re outside hiking, fishing, boating, playing golf and placing ourselves in an environment where lightning can be a problem.
Dr. Mercola (www.mercola.com) presented an excellent article about lightning strike on his website, and gave permission to share it.
From 2003 to 2012, nearly 350 people died from being struck by lightning in the US. Many more are struck by lightning and survive, as only about 10 percent of lighting-strike victims are killed (though many do suffer from serious long-term effects).
Contrary to popular belief, what you do during a lightning strike can make all the difference in the outcome, helping you to survive and potentially suffer only minor injuries.
You might think this will never happen to you, but when you consider that the Earth is struck by more than 100 lightning bolts every second, it doesn’t sound so far-fetched, does it? If you live in the US, you have a 1 in 3,000 chance of being struck by lightning in your lifetime. Knowing what to do if it happens can save your life.
There is a correlation between survival in the wilderness and survival in civilization.
If you were camping in grizzly bear country, it wouldn’t be wise to encourage the bears to come into your camp looking for their next meal.
How would that happen?
The rule in camp is that you don’t leave food and garbage lying around in the open, because that will attract predators such as bears.
So, to keep from doing that, all food and garbage needs to be stored in bear-proof containers, or strung up on bear wires high above the ground where the bears can’t get to it. But in any case, you keep the containers or bear wires a good distance away from your camp, so even if the bears find those things at least they won’t be in your camp.
So that’s how it goes in the wilderness. But what’s the correlation between this and survival in the city? Continue reading
Recently, there was a devastating landslide in Washington State that wiped out an entire community.
So far, the search and rescue teams have discovered 41 victims who died. There are still members of the community who are missing. Even though a month has passed since the landslide, the search and recovery effort continues. And it will continue for a long time to come.
When something like this happens, lots of people want to jump in and help in some way. That’s understandable, and it’s admirable that so many folks want to volunteer to lend a hand to relieve the suffering of people who have gone through a disaster.
But timing is everything. Continue reading
It’s that time of year when people start abandoning their couch and TV and heading outside in search of adventure.
It doesn’t matter whether your brand of adventure is hiking or camping or fishing or mountain biking or river kayaking.
No matter what you like to do when you leave civilization behind and head into the backcountry, you should stop and think — “What if something forces me to stay longer than planned? What do I need to survive?” This is a key concept, because you never know when you will unexpectedly end up in an emergency situation that turns into a survival incident.
It’s so easy for that to happen. All it takes is a simple injury, like a twisted ankle, on some remote trail. Or getting turned around and not knowing the way back to camp. Or a sudden storm that strands you a long way from your shelter. Continue reading
Giardia and Cryptosporidium are waterborne organisms that make the water unsafe to drink.
Some people think that giardia and cryptosporidium are only found in rivers and lakes in the wilderness. But the bad news is that the worst outbreaks of these water contaminants in the U.S. happen right in our city water supplies. Continue reading
You never know when you’re going to find yourself in a sticky situation, so it’s a good idea to always have some basic emergency equipment close at hand.
There have been many incidents in which people became stranded with their vehicles, so I’ve put together a Top Ten list of things you should carry in your car. These are in no particular order — I recommend you have all of them.
- Cell phone and charger — Your ability to call for help is what will get you out of your situation faster than anything else. Make sure to carry a cell phone charger that can keep the phone powered up through the vehicle’s battery. You don’t want your cell phone battery to die just when you need to call for help. Continue reading
The toxic Fly Agaric mushroom
This is the season when wild mushrooms start to poke up out of the ground, and that prompts many people to go hunting for wild edible mushrooms.
I enjoy hunting wild edibles, including mushrooms. That might sound like fun, but there’s some significant danger involved in eating wild mushrooms. When I say significant danger, I mean illness or death by poisoning. If you happen to eat a poisonous mushroom, the risk is high because it doesn’t take very much of a bite for the toxins to take effect. Continue reading