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Purchase 1000 foot roles of 550 cord, that can divided into smaller sections for group member use. Based on the purchase options below, there is significant cost savings when you cut the larger length into smaller sections. Everyone should carry at least 100 feet of 550 cord in their bug out bags, range bags and vehicles for any situation where high strength cord is needed. Some basic uses include: string for terrain model kits, hanging ponchos for shelter, shoe laces and other simple tasks where high strength material is needed. The inner strings of the cord can be used for fishing lines and for snares.
Pictured is a great memory aid from FM 3-21.75 The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills that outlines key survival principles that can help guide your actions in any situation. Everyone should Learn what each letter of the acronym "SURVIVAL" represents and practice applying these guidelines when conducting training. Keep a copy of this memory aid in all of your preparedness kits. The following has been modified for all situations.
SURVIVAL Memory Aid:
S - Size up the Situation (Surroundings, Physical Condition, Equipment).
In a survival situation, conceal yourself from the enemy. Security is key. "Size up" the area (situation, surroundings, physical condition, and equipment). Determine if the enemy is attacking, defending, or withdrawing. Make your survival plan, considering your basic physical needs—water, food, and shelter.
Surroundings--Figure out what is going on around you and find the rhythm or pattern of your environment. It includes animal and bird noises, and movements and insect sounds. It may also include enemy traffic and civilian movements.
Physical Condition--The pressure of the situation you were in (or the trauma of being in a survival situation) may have caused you to overlook wounds you received. Check your wounds and give yourself first aid. Take care to prevent further bodily harm. For instance, in any climate, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. If you are in a cold or wet climate, put on additional clothing to prevent hypothermia.
Equipment--Perhaps during the first few moments of a survival situation, you lost or damaged some of your equipment. Check to see what equipment you have and its condition.
U - Use All Your Senses: Undue Haste Makes Waste.
Evaluate the situation. Note sounds and smells. Note temperature changes. Stay observant and act carefully. An unplanned action can result in your capture or death. Avoid moving just to do something. Consider all aspects of your situation before you do anything. Also, if you act in haste, you might forget or lose some of your equipment. You might also get disoriented and not know which way to go. Plan your moves. Stay ready to move out quickly, but without endangering yourself, if the enemy is near.
R - Remember Where You Are.
Find out who in your group has a map or compass. Find yourself on a map and continually reorient yourself on your location and destination. Ensure others do the same. Rely on yourself to keep track of your route. This will help you make intelligent decisions in a survival or evasion situation. Always try to determine, as a minimum, how your location relates to--
• Enemy forces and controlled
• Friendly forces and controlled areas.
• Local water sources (especially important in the desert).
• Areas that will provide good cover and concealment.
V - Vanquish Fear and Panic.
Fear and panic are your greatest enemies. Uncontrolled, they destroy the ability to make intelligent decisions, or they cause you to react to feelings and imagination rather than the situation. They will drain your energy, and lead to other negative emotions. Control them by remaining self-confident and using what you learned in your survival training.
I - Improvise.
Most individuals are unused to making do. This can hold you back in a survival situation. Learn to improvise. Take a tool designed for a specific purpose and see how many other uses you can find for it. Learn to use natural objects around you for different needs, for example, use a rock for a hammer. When your survival kit inevitably wears out, you must use your imagination. In fact, when you can improvise suitable tools, do so, and save your survival kit items for times when you have no such options.
V - Value Living.
When faced with the stresses, inconveniences, and discomforts of a survival situation, everyone must maintain a high value on living. The experience and knowledge you have gained through life and individual training will have a bearing on your will to live. Perseverance, a refusal to give in to problems and obstacles that face you, will give you the mental and physical strength to endure.
A - Act like the Natives.
Locals (indigenous people and animals) have already adapted to an environment that is strange to you.
• Observe daily routines of local people. Where do they get food and water? When and where do they eat? What time do they go to bed and get up? The answers to these questions can help you avoid capture.
• Watch animals, who also need food, water, and shelter, to help you find the same.
• Remember that animals may react to you, revealing your presence to the enemy.
• In friendly areas, gain rapport with locals by showing interest in their customs. Studying them helps you learn to respect them, allows you to make valuable friends, and, most importantly, helps you adapt to their environment. All of these will increase your chance of survival.
L - Live by your Wits, but for Now Learn Basic Skills.
Having basic survival and evasion skills will help you live through a survival situation. Without these skills, you chance of survival is slight.
• Learn these skills now. Know the environment you are going into and practice basic skills geared to the environment. Equipping yourself for the environment beforehand will help determine whether you survive. For instance, if you are going to a desert, know how to get--and purify--water.
• Practice basic survival skills during all training programs and exercises. Survival training reduces fear of the unknown, gives you self-confidence, and teaches you to live by your wits.
Pictured are three roles of USGI Trip/Snare Wire that I recently purchased. This wire is idea for bug out bags and can be used for a wide range of survival applications. The olive drab wire blends well in to foliage/woods unlike most bailing wire which is shiny. The wire also comes on a sturdy wooden spool that can be used over and over again. Each wire spool consists of two 40 foot sections of olive drab wire and two 40 foot sections of yellow wire. This wire set measures 1.25"x2.75" making it small enough to easily fit in your pocket. All hunters, hikers and soldiers should include this item in their packs. The wire roles can be purchased on Amazon.com or Ebay.
Flare guns are an idea signaling device leaders use to communicate key mission events such as a support elements requirement to shift fire when an assault element begins its maneuver on to the objective (OBJ) or to signal when a breach is complete. Aerial signaling is a basic communication method best used when elements are dispersed and limited visibility or smoke obscures line of site from one element to another. During mission planning leaders must always plan redundant signaling methods just in case one method of communication fails such as two-way radios. Aerial signals are often used as an alternate signaling system due to its flexible nature and ease of use. Group standard operating procedures (SOPs) should address the meaning of different flare colors to ensure all members know their meaning. As a basic rule red flares designate distress, casualties or emergency situation. Pictured is a 12 gauge flare launcher with four red aerial signals from a boat emergency kit. White, blue and green 12 gauge flares can be purchased for aerial signaling. White flares are common at boating stores due to their use for practice signaling. The pictured flare gun was purchased at Walmart for $39. As a reminder caution must always be taken when using flares due to their incendiary nature and ability to cause fires.
If you like shooting but want to keep the noise signature down use subsonic ammunition. Subsonic rounds are bullets that travel less than the speed of sound
which is 1126 feet per second (FPS) or 343 meters per second. Any bullet rated
less than the speed of sound results in the bullet not making the normal crack-bang noise that occurs when the bullet travels past the 1226 fps speed. The pictured Remington .22 Long Rifle (LR) Subsonic rounds are rated at 1050 fps at muzzle and 951 fps at 100 yards resulting in a much lower sonic signature vs. a high velocity .22LR which breaks the speed of sound. The pictured CCI .22 Short CB Subsonic rounds are even quieter due to their velocity of 701 fps. The use of bolt action rifles further reduce the noise of subsonic ammunition. I recently purchased the pictured Remington .22LR Subsonic ammunition for $3.77 per 50 rounds at Walmart, and purchased the CCI .22 Short for $9.99 per 100 rounds at a local sporting goods store. Subsonic ammunition is also a great way to introduce new shooters to the sport due to the lower noise signature. Also when hunting with subsonic ammunition you do not scare other game in area.
I recently added snares to my bug out bag. The ability to use snare traps is a basic survival skill that is easy to master. Just like air rifles the nice thing with a snare is it allows you to catch game discreetly without a rifle shot to draw attention to yourself. The snare pictured was purchased as part of a 12 snare package for $16 from Dakota Line. If you don't want to purchase a manufactured snare, use a 3-4 foot section of bailing wire to make an improvised snare. All you need to do is make a small loop at each end of the wire, twist the loops to ensure the knot is tight. One loop is used to anchor the snare and the other loop is used to allow the snare to slide on the wire to tighten on the animal. To finish the snare, slide one end/loop through the other end's small loop to make a large loop. Once you find a suitable spot set the snare by staking one end to the ground, and then position a 4-6 inch loop over the trail or run that the animal is expected to follow. When placing snares look for animal trails or runs that lead to water or a den/hole and shows recent use or signs of activity such as droppings. Finally, conceal your presence by rubbing vegetation or mud on the snare to prevent the animal from smelling you.
A trotline is a key piece of fishing equipment that should be carried in all bug out bags. In an emergency situation the thing I like most about trotlines are that once baited they can be discreetly placed across the width of a stream/river and left unattended. You can make one yourself or buy a 100 foot trotline for under $10 from any fishing supply store. A trotline consists of a heavy piece of main line with a number of hook lines, or branch lines, at intervals along the main line that are spaced far enough apart where they cannot tangle each other. 550 cord is a good resource for a trotline. The outer porion of the 550 cord can be used as the mainline, and the 550 cord guts can be used as the bait lines. Setting the trotline consists of anchoring one end to one side of the stream and then anchoring the trotline to the other side of the stream baiting the hooks as you go. Anchor the trotline to the base of a tree or to a heavy rock. The pictured trotline came with swivels attached to the main line so you can easily attach the hook lines which are pictured below the mainline. In a nonemergency situation trotlines should be used with caution as they are illegal in many states.
When purchasing canned foods take a hard look at the caloric, protein and fat content of the item. Higher caloric foods provide the energy needed during times of high physical activity. If on a camping trip you are better off eating a can of pasta vs. a can of soup or vegetables. Most pasta and chili products offer over 500 calories per can, far exceeding most other canned good products. Some individuals buy canned foods based on cost alone and do not look at the nutritional value of the food. If you are purchasing food for storage stick to canned goods that are high in calories, protein and fat. For the cost there is no better product then cans of Chili or Pasta. The items pictures both have over 500 calories, 20g protein and 14g fat. For a 15oz serving that sure beats a can of peas with 250 calories, 14g protein and 2g fat. The sale price of canned pasta or chili is $1, otherwise the cost is closer to $2 when not on sale. When camping kids really appreciate ravioli and other pasta products.
FEMA recommends storing one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation (see FEMA's http://www.ready.gov/ for additional information). If possible most believe you should store two gallons per person per day, one gallon for drinking and one gallon for sanitation. Storage of such water quantities are fine when you are static, but how do you meet your water needs when you are backpacking for extended periods of time? The best solution is to boil your water or use Potable Aqua iodine tablets as a way to kill bacteria in questionable water. Iodine tablets work great, I've earned my confidence in them by drinking plenty of iodine treated water from the streams in north Georgia. As a reminder, if you plan to boil your water ensure you have a open metal container suitable for withstanding the heat of boiling water. **Never boil water in a sealed container, the pressure can cause the container to burst resulting in severe burns.
Another way to filter water is a high quality water filtration system. When purchasing water filtration systems ensure that they filter both sediment and remove microorganisms. Always compare the performance of the system vs. the cost of the system. The 13,000 gallon capacity and aluminum construction of Katadyn's Pocket Filter (see picture) for around $300 is a far better investment than a plastic system that costs $85 with a capacity of 300 gallons. Purchase water filtration systems based on your budget, but always strive to purchase a better system when funds become available. To extend the life of your system use coffee filters as pre-filters to remove large sediment prior to water entering the primary filter. Securing a coffee filter to end of the water filter's intake nozzle with a rubber band significantly extends the life of your water filtration system.
Initial Blog posts contain information focused on providing ways to deal with the "Rule of 3s" see bottom of post. During a week long power outage in our area last summer it was shocking how many rural people did not have the means to take care of themselves. I always thought it was the urban population that reacted poorly to crisis. Self-reliant individuals must practice survival skills that will benefit yourself and your family. A simple skill to practice is how you would vacate your house during a fire. As outlined below, air is key to your survival. In any extreme situation you cannot survive for more than: 3 minutes without air; 3 hours without shelter; 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.