Monday, November 29, 2010

Survival: Navigation


The earth's relationship to the sun can help you to determine direction on earth. The sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, but not exactly due east or due west. There is also some seasonal variation. In the northern hemisphere, the sun will be due south when at its highest point in the sky, or when an object casts no appreciable shadow. In the southern hemisphere, this same noonday sun will mark due north. In the northern hemisphere, shadows will move clockwise. Shadows will move counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. With practice, you can use shadows to determine both direction and time of day. The shadow methods used for direction finding are the shadow-tip and watch methods.
Shadow-Tip Methods

In the first shadow-tip method, find a straight stick 1 meter long, and a level spot free of brush on which the stick will cast a definite shadow. This method is simple and accurate and consists of four steps:

Step 1. Place the stick or branch into the ground at a level spot where it will cast a distinctive shadow. Mark the shadow's tip with a stone, twig, or other means. This first shadow mark is always west--everywhere on earth.
Step 2. Wait 10 to 15 minutes until the shadow tip moves a few centimeters. Mark the shadow tip's new position in the same way as the first.
Step 3. Draw a straight line through the two marks to obtain an approximate east-west line.
Step 4. Stand with the first mark (west) to your left and the second mark to your right--you are now facing north. This fact is true everywhere on earth.

An alternate method is more accurate but requires more time. Set up your shadow stick and mark the first shadow in the morning. Use a piece of string to draw a clean arc through this mark and around the stick. At midday, the shadow will shrink and disappear. In the afternoon, it will lengthen again and at the point where it touches the arc, make a second mark. Draw a line through the two marks to get an accurate east-west line.

The Watch Method

You can also determine direction using a common or analog watch--one that has hands. The direction will be accurate if you are using true local time, without any changes for daylight savings time. Remember, the further you are from the equator, the more accurate this method will be. If you only have a digital watch, you can overcome this obstacle. Quickly draw a watch on a circle of paper with the correct time on it and use it to determine your direction at that time.

In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the hour hand at the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o'clock mark to get the north-south line (Figure 18-2). If there is any doubt as to which end of the line is north, remember that the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and is due south at noon. The sun is in the east before noon and in the west after noon.

In the southern hemisphere, point the watch's 12 o'clock mark toward the sun and a midpoint halfway between 12 and the hour hand will give you the north-south line.


Because the moon has no light of its own, we can only see it when it reflects the sun's light. As it orbits the earth on its 28-day circuit, the shape of the reflected light varies according to its position. We say there is a new moon or no moon when it is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun. Then, as it moves away from the earth's shadow, it begins to reflect light from its right side and waxes to become a full moon before waning, or losing shape, to appear as a sliver on the left side. You can use this information to identify direction.

If the moon rises before the sun has set, the illuminated side will be the west. If the moon rises after midnight, the illuminated side will be the east. This obvious discovery provides us with a rough east-west reference during the night.


Your location in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere determines which constellation you use to determine your north or south direction.
The Northern Sky

The main constellations to learn are the Ursa Major, also known as the Big Dipper or the Plow, and Cassiopeia (Figure 18-3). Neither of these constellations ever sets. They are always visible on a clear night. Use them to locate Polaris, also known as the polestar or the North Star. The North Star forms part of the Little Dipper handle and can be confused with the Big Dipper. Prevent confusion by using both the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia together. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia are always directly opposite each. other and rotate counterclockwise around Polaris, with Polaris in the center. The Big Dipper is a seven star constellation in the shape of a dipper. The two stars forming the outer lip of this dipper are the "pointer stars" because they point to the North Star. Mentally draw a line from the outer bottom star to the outer top star of the Big Dipper's bucket. Extend this line about five times the distance between the pointer stars. You will find the North Star along this line.

Cassiopeia has five stars that form a shape like a "W" on its side. The North Star is straight out from Cassiopeia's center star.

After locating the North Star, locate the North Pole or true north by drawing an imaginary line directly to the earth.
The Southern Sky

Because there is no star bright enough to be easily recognized near the south celestial pole, a constellation known as the Southern Cross is used as a signpost to the South (Figure 18-4). The Southern Cross or Crux has five stars. Its four brightest stars form a cross that tilts to one side. The two stars that make up the cross's long axis are the pointer stars. To determine south, imagine a distance five times the distance between These stars and the point where this imaginary line ends is in the general direction of south. Look down to the horizon from this imaginary point and select a landmark to steer by. In a static survival situation, you can fix this location in daylight if you drive stakes in the ground at night to point the way.


You can construct improvised compasses using a piece of ferrous metal that can be needle shaped or a flat double-edged razor blade and a piece of nonmetallic string or long hair from which to suspend it. You can magnetize or polarize the metal by slowly stroking it in one direction on a piece of silk or carefully through your hair using deliberate strokes. You can also polarize metal by stroking it repeatedly at one end with a magnet. Always rub in one direction only. If you have a battery and some electric wire, you can polarize the metal electrically. The wire should be insulated. If not insulated, wrap the metal object in a single, thin strip of paper to prevent contact. The battery must be a minimum of 2 volts. Form a coil with the electric wire and touch its ends to the battery's terminals. Repeatedly insert one end of the metal object in and out of the coil. The needle will become an electromagnet. When suspended from a piece of nonmetallic string, or floated on a small piece of wood in water, it wil l align itself with a north-south line.

You can construct a more elaborate improvised compass using a sewing needle or thin metallic object, a nonmetallic container (for example, a plastic dip container), its lid with the center cut out and waterproofed, and the silver tip from a pen. To construct this compass, take an ordinary sewing needle and break in half. One half will form your direction pointer and the other will act as the pivot point. Push the portion used as the pivot point through the bottom center of your container; this portion should be flush on the bottom and not interfere with the lid. Attach the center of the other portion (the pointer) of the needle on the pen's silver tip using glue, tree sap, or melted plastic. Magnetize one end of the pointer and rest it on the pivot point.


The old saying about using moss on a tree to indicate north is not accurate because moss grows completely around some trees. Actually, growth is more lush on the side of the tree facing the south in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa in the Southern Hemisphere. If there are several felled trees around for comparison, look at the stumps. Growth is more vigorous on the side toward the equator and the tree growth rings will be more widely spaced. On the other hand, the tree growth rings will be closer together on the side toward the poles.

Wind direction may be helpful in some instances where there are prevailing directions and you know what they are.

Recognizing the differences between vegetation and moisture patterns on north- and south-facing slopes can aid in determining direction. In the northern hemisphere, north-facing slopes receive less sun than south-facing slopes and are therefore cooler and damper. In the summer, north-facing slopes retain patches of snow. In the winter, the trees and open areas on south-facing slopes are the first to lose their snow, and ground snowpack is shallower. OTHER MEANS OF DETERMINING DIRECTION

The old saying about using moss on a tree to indicate north is not accurate because moss grows completely around some trees. Actually, growth is more lush on the side of the tree facing the south in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa in the Southern Hemisphere. If there are several felled trees around for comparison, look at the stumps. Growth is more vigorous on the side toward the equator and the tree growth rings will be more widely spaced. On the other hand, the tree growth rings will be closer together on the side toward the poles.

Wind direction may be helpful in some instances where there are prevailing directions and you know what they are.

Recognizing the differences between vegetation and moisture patterns on north- and south-facing slopes can aid in determining direction. In the northern hemisphere, north-facing slopes receive less sun than south-facing slopes and are therefore cooler and damper. In the summer, north-facing slopes retain patches of snow. In the winter, the trees and open areas on south-facing slopes are the first to lose their snow, and ground snowpack is shallower.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Medical: Psychology of Survival: Natural Reactions

It is not surprising that the average person will have some psychological reactions in a survival situation. We will now examine some of the major internal reactions you and anyone with you might experience with the survival stressors addressed in the earlier paragraphs. Let's begin.


Fear is our emotional response to dangerous circumstances that we believe have the potential to cause death, injury, or illness. This harm is not just limited to physical damage; the threat to one's emotional and mental well-being can generate fear as well. For a person trying to survive, fear can have a positive function if it encourages them to be cautious in situations where recklessness could result in injury. Unfortunately, fear can also immobilize a person. It can cause him to become so frightened that he fails to perform activities essential for survival. Most people will have some degree of fear when placed in unfamiliar surroundings under adverse conditions. There is no shame in this, they must learn to recognize their fear and start to deal with it.


Associated with fear is anxiety. Because it is natural for us to be afraid, it is also natural for us to experience anxiety. Anxiety can be an uneasy, apprehensive feeling we get when faced with dangerous situations (physical, mental, and emotional). When used in a healthy way, anxiety urges us to act to end, or at least master, the dangers that threaten our existence. If we were never anxious, there would be little motivation to make changes in our lives. The person in a survival setting reduces their anxiety by performing those tasks that will ensure their coming through the ordeal alive. As one reduces their anxiety, they are also bringing under control the source of that anxiety--fear. In this form, anxiety is good; however, anxiety can also have a devastating impact. Anxiety can overwhelm a person to the point where they become easily confused and has difficulty thinking. Once this happens, it becomes more and more difficult to make good judgments and sound decisions.

Anger and Frustration

Frustration arises when a person is continually thwarted in his attempts to reach a goal. The goal of survival is to stay alive until you can reach help or until help can reach you. To achieve this goal, the individual must complete some tasks with minimal resources. It is inevitable, in trying to do these tasks, that something will go wrong; that something will happen beyond the their control; and that with one's life at stake, every mistake is magnified in terms of its importance. Thus, sooner or later, people will have to cope with frustration when a few of their plans run into trouble. One outgrowth of this frustration is anger. There are many events in a survival situation that can frustrate or anger a person. Getting lost, damaged or forgotten equipment, the weather, inhospitable terrain, enemy patrols, and physical limitations are just a few sources of frustration and anger. Frustration and anger encourage impulsive reactions, irrational behavior, poorly thought-out decisions, and, in some instances, an "I quit" attitude (people sometimes avoid doing something they can't master).


It would be a rare person indeed who would not get sad, at least momentarily, when faced with the privations of survival. As this sadness deepens, we label the feeling "depression." Depression is closely linked with frustration and anger. The frustrated person becomes more and more angry as he fails to reach his goals. If the anger does not help the person to succeed, then the frustration level goes even higher. A destructive cycle between anger and frustration continues until the person becomes worn down-physically, emotionally, and mentally. When a person reaches this point, he starts to give up, and his focus shifts from "What can I do" to "There is nothing I can do." Depression is an expression of this hopeless, helpless feeling. There is nothing wrong with being sad as you temporarily think about your loved ones and remember what life is like back in "civilization" or "the world." Such thoughts, in fact, can give you the desire to try harder and live one more day. On the other hand, if you allow yours elf to sink into a depressed state, then it can sap all your energy and, more important, your will to survive. It is imperative that each person resist succumbing to depression.

Loneliness and Boredom

People are social animals. This means we, as human beings, enjoy the company of others. Very few people want to be alone all the time! As you are aware, there is a distinct chance of isolation in a survival setting. This is not bad. Loneliness and boredom can bring to the surface qualities you thought only others had. The extent of your imagination and creativity may surprise you. When required to do so, you may discover some hidden talents and abilities. Most of all, you may tap into a reservoir of inner strength and fortitude you never knew you had. Conversely, loneliness and boredom can be another source of depression. As a person surviving alone, or with others, you must find ways to keep your mind productively occupied. Additionally, you must develop a degree of self-sufficiency. You must have faith in your capability to "go it alone."


The circumstances leading to your being in a survival setting are sometimes dramatic and tragic. It may be the result of an accident or military mission where there was a loss of life. Perhaps you were the only, or one of a few, survivors. While naturally relieved to be alive, you simultaneously may be mourning the deaths of others who were less fortunate. It is not uncommon for survivors to feel guilty about being spared from death while others were not. This feeling, when used in a positive way, has encouraged people to try harder to survive with the belief they were allowed to live for some greater purpose in life. Sometimes, survivors tried to stay alive so that they could carry on the work of those killed. Whatever reason you give yourself, do not let guilt feelings prevent you from living. The living who abandon their chance to survive accomplish nothing. Such an act would be the greatest tragedy.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Food: Burdock

Arctium minus & spp.

Description: These large biennial herbs stand 1 - 2.5 m tall and have broad alternate leaves with several flower heads. The leaves are ovate to oblong, even cordate and up to 50 cm long. The flowers are tubular, pink or purplish. The seeds are borne in prickly burrs.

Habitat & Distribution: The plant was introduced from Europe and now grows in waste lands throughout North America.

Edible parts & Uses: The young shoots and leaves are cooked as a green. The inner pith of the stems can be eaten raw. The roots are eaten both boiled and roasted and are often used as a coffee substitute.

An infusion of the roots is used to stimulating bile flow and has a mild laxative effect. The tea or a tincture of the roots has been used for stomach complaints and for a prolapsed uterus. A decoction of the roots is used for gout and rheumatism, to wash sores and traditionally as an antidote after eating poisonous food, especially mushrooms. The powdered seeds have been used as a diuretic. The leaves can be used as a poultice for poison ivy, poison oak, to soothe skin irritations, for impetigo, syphilis, gonorrhea and sunburn.

The seeds are an excellent diuretic. A tincture of the seed has been used as a folk remedy for joint inflammation.

NOTE: Burdock should not be given to children with pediatric complaints. There is no supporting evidence that it will benefit them.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Animals: Know What's Out There: Black Bear


* found across Canada, including the north
* found in western United States
* lives in wooded areas and mountains


* smallest bear in North America
* male can be 2 metres ( 6 ft. ) in length ; 1 metre ( 3 ft. ) to the shoulders
* not all are black, some are dark brown or rusty brown
* brown patch on the nose, stubby tail, sharp claws


* able to climb trees, wraps front legs around the trunk
bear in a tree
* eats campers' food, goes into trash cans
* sleeps during the winter, might come out on warm days


* looks for a den under a fallen tree, in a hollow log, in a cave.
* may also dig a small hole in a hillside
* females line the den with grass and leaves
* eats alot in the fall to fatten up
* not a true hibernator
* very hungry when it comes out of the den in spring


* was once hunted for sport
* now protected in some areas of Canada and the US
* illegally killed for their bladders, paws, other body parts
* has few enemies, animals are afraid to attack the bear
* strong, has powerful paws and sharp teeth
* can move fast for a short distance and can swim


* two or three cubs born every two years
* born in January or February
* newborns are naked and blind, 15 to 20 cm. long
* spend the winter in the den drinking mother's milk
* by May their coats have grown
* spend second winter with mother in the den
* cubs whine (sounds like a baby crying)


* spend most of their time looking for food
* eat plants - twigs, buds, leaves, nuts, roots, fruit, berries, plant shoots
* also eat ants, honey, fish
* use sharp claws to tear bark from trees and to rip open rotten logs to look
for insects and grubs
* climb trees for birds' eggs and to get to beehives
* sometimes eat small mammals
* catch fish with paws or teeth
* stand up on hind legs to smell


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Survival: Cold Weather Survival

It is more difficult for you to satisfy your basic water, food, and shelter needs in a cold environment than in a warm environment. Even if you have the basic requirements, you must also have adequate protective clothing and the will to survive. The will to survive is as important as the basic needs. There have been incidents when trained and well-equipped individuals have not survived cold weather situations because they lacked the will to live. Conversely, this will has sustained individuals less well-trained and equipped.

You must not only have enough clothing to protect you from the cold, you must also know how to maximize the warmth you get from it. For example, always keep your head covered. You can lose 40 to 45 percent of body heat from an unprotected head and even more from the unprotected neck, wrist, and ankles. These areas of the body are good radiators of heat and have very little insulating fat. The brain is very susceptible to cold and can stand the least amount of cooling. Because there is much blood circulation in the head, most of which is on the surface, you can lose heat quickly if you do not cover your head.

There are four basic principles to follow to keep warm. An easy way to remember these basic principles is to use the word COLD--

C - Keep clothing clean.
O - Avoid overheating.
L - Wear clothes in layers.
D - Keep clothing dry.

C -

Keep clothing clean. This principle is always important for sanitation and comfort. In winter, it is also important from the standpoint of warmth. Clothes matted with dirt and grease lose much of their insulation value. Heat can escape more easily from the body through the clothing's crushed or filled up air pockets.

O -

Avoid overheating. When you get too hot, you sweat and your clothing absorbs the moisture. This affects your warmth in two ways: dampness decreases the insulation quality of clothing, and as sweat evaporates, your body cools. Adjust your clothing so that you do not sweat. Do this by partially opening your parka or jacket, by removing an inner layer of clothing, by removing heavy outer mittens, or by throwing back your parka hood or changing to lighter headgear. The head and hands act as efficient heat dissipaters when overheated.

L -

Wear your clothing in layers. Make sure your clothing fits properly. Wearing tight clothing and footgear restricts blood circulation and invites cold injury. It also decreases the volume of air trapped between the layers, reducing its insulating value. Several layers of lightweight clothing are better than one equally thick layer of clothing, because the layers have dead-air space between them. The dead-air space provides extra insulation. Also, layers of clothing allow you to take off or add clothing layers to prevent excessive sweating or to increase warmth. However, the first layer should be a skin tight wicking layer of polypropylene or other synthetic that will draw moisture away from the body, keeping it dry.

D -

Keep clothing dry. In cold temperatures, your inner layers of clothing can become wet from sweat and your outer layer, if not water repellent, can become wet from snow and frost melted by body heat. Wear water repellent outer clothing, if available. It will shed most of the water collected from melting snow and frost. Before entering a heated shelter, brush off the snow and frost. Despite the precautions you take, there will be times when you cannot keep from getting wet. At such times, drying your clothing may become a major problem. You can place damp socks or mittens, unfolded, near your body so that your body heat can dry them. In a campsite, hang damp clothing inside the shelter near the top, using drying lines or improvised racks. You may even be able to dry each item by holding it before an open fire. Dry leather items slowly. If no other means are available for drying your boots, put them between your sleeping bag shell and liner. Your body heat will help to dry the leather.

A heavy, down-lined sleeping bag is a valuable piece of survival gear in cold weather. Ensure the down remains dry. If wet, it loses a lot of its insulation value. If you do not have a sleeping bag, you can make one out of a tarp and natural dry material, such as leaves, pine needles, or moss. Place the dry material between two layers.

Other important survival items are a knife; matches in a waterproof container, preferably one with a flint attached; a durable compass; map; watch; waterproof ground cloth and cover; flashlight; emergency foods; food gathering gear; and signaling items.

Remember, a cold weather environment can be very harsh. Give a good deal of thought to selecting the right equipment for survival in the cold. If unsure of an item you have never used, test it in an "overnight backyard" environment before venturing further. Once you have selected items that are essential for your survival, do not lose them after you enter a cold weather environment.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Medical: Psychology of Survival: Knowing the Stresses

It takes much more than the knowledge and skills to build shelters, get food, make fires, and travel without the aid of standard navigational devices to live successfully through a survival situation. Some people with little or no survival training have managed to survive life-threatening circumstances. Some people with survival training have not used their skills and died. A key ingredient in any survival situation is the mental attitude of the individual(s) involved. Having survival skills is important; having the will to survive is essential. Without a desk to survive, acquired skills serve little purpose and invaluable knowledge goes to waste.

There is a psychology to survival. A person in a survival environment faces many stresses that ultimately impact on their mind. These stresses can produce thoughts and emotions that, if poorly understood, can transform a confident, person into an indecisive, ineffective individual with questionable ability to survive. Thus, everyone must be aware of and be able to recognize those stresses commonly associated with survival. Additionally, it is imperative that individuals be aware of their reactions to the wide variety of stresses associated with survival.

Before we can understand our psychological reactions in a survival setting, it is helpful to first know a little bit about stress.

Stress is not a disease that you cure and eliminate. Instead, it is a condition we all experience. Stress can be described as our reaction to pressure. It is the name given to the experience we have as we physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually respond to life's tensions.
Need for Stress

We need stress because it has many positive benefits. Stress provides us with challenges; it gives us chances to learn about our values and strengths. Stress can show our ability to handle pressure without breaking; it tests our adaptability and flexibility; it can stimulate us to do our best. Because we usually do not consider unimportant events stressful, stress can also be an excellent indicator of the significance we attach to an event--in other words, it highlights what is important to us.

We need to have some stress in our lives, but too much of anything can be bad. The goal is to have stress, but not an excess of it. Too much stress can take its toll on people and organizations. Too much stress leads to distress. Distress causes an uncomfortable tension that we try to escape and, preferably, avoid. Listed below are a few of the common signs of distress you may find when faced with too much stress:

  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Angry outbursts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low energy level
  • Constant worrying
  • Propensity for mistakes

  • Thoughts about death or suicide
  • Trouble getting along with others
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Hiding from responsibilities
  • Carelessness

  • As you can see, stress can be constructive or destructive. It can encourage or discourage, move us along or stop us dead in our tracks, and make life meaningful or seemingly meaningless. Stress can inspire you to operate successfully and perform at your maximum efficiency in a survival situation. It can also cause you to panic and forget all your training. Key to your survival is your ability to manage the inevitable stresses you will encounter. The survivor is the person who works with their stresses instead of letting the stresses work on them.

    Survival Stressors

    Any event can lead to stress and, as everyone has experienced, events don't always come one at a time. Often, stressful events occur simultaneously. These events are not stress, but they produce it and are called "stressors." Stressors are the obvious cause while stress is the response. Once the body recognizes the presence of a stressor, it then begins to act to protect itself.

    In response to a stressor, the body prepares either to "fight or flee." This preparation involves an internal SOS sent throughout the body. As the body responds to this SOS, several actions take place. The body releases stored fuels (sugar and fats) to provide quick energy; breathing rate increases to supply more oxygen to the blood; muscle tension increases to prepare for action; blood clotting mechanisms are activated to reduce bleeding from cuts; senses become more acute (hearing becomes more sensitive, eyes become big, smell becomes sharper) so that you are more aware of your surrounding and heart rate and blood pressure rise to provide more blood to the muscles. This protective posture lets a person cope with potential dangers; however, a person cannot maintain such a level of alertness indefinitely.

    Stressors are not courteous; one stressor does not leave because another one arrives. Stressors add up. The cumulative effect of minor stressors can be a major distress if they all happen too close together. As the body's resistance to stress wears down and the sources of stress continue (or increase), eventually a state of exhaustion arrives. At this point, the ability to resist stress or use it in a positive way gives out and signs of distress appear. Anticipating stressors and developing strategies to cope with them are two ingredients in the effective management of stress. Let's take a look at a few of the stressors.

    Injury, Illness, or Death

    Injury, illness, and death are real possibilities a survivor has to face. Perhaps nothing is more stressful than being alone in an unfamiliar environment where you could die from hostile action, an accident, or from eating something lethal. Illness and injury can also add to stress by limiting your ability to maneuver, get food and drink, find shelter, and defend yourself. Even if illness and injury don't lead to death, they add to stress through the pain and discomfort they generate. It is only by controlling the stress associated with the vulnerability to injury, illness, and death that an individual can have the courage to take the risks associated with survival tasks.

    Uncertainly and Lack of Control

    Some people have trouble operating in settings where everything is not clear-cut. The only guarantee in a survival situation is that nothing is guaranteed. It can be extremely stressful operating on limited information in a setting where you have limited control of your surroundings. This uncertainty and lack of control also add to the stress of being ill, injured, or killed.


    Even under the most ideal circumstances, nature is quite formidable. In survival, a person will have to contend with the stressors of weather, terrain, and the variety of creatures inhabiting an area. Heat, cold, rain, winds, mountains, swamps, deserts, insects, dangerous reptiles, and other animals are just a few of the challenges awaiting the individual working to survive. Depending on how one handles the stress of their environment, their surroundings can be either a source of food and protection or can be a cause of extreme discomfort leading to injury, illness, or death.

    Hunger and Thirst

    Without food and water a person will weaken and eventually die. Thus, getting and preserving food and water takes on increasing importance as the length of time in a survival setting increases. Foraging can be a big source of stress.


    Forcing yourself to continue surviving is not easy as you grow more tired. It is possible to become so fatigued that the act of just staying awake is stressful in itself.


    There are some advantages to facing adversity with others. Being in contact with others also provides a greater sense of security and a feeling someone is available to help if problems occur. A significant stressor in survival situations is that often a person or group has to rely solely on its own resources.

    The object is not to avoid stress, but rather to manage the stressors of survival and make them work for you.

    Source and Source 2

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010

    Food: Arrowhead

    Maranta and Sagittaria species

    Description: The arrowhead is an aquatic plant with arrow-shaped leaves and potatolike tubers in the mud.

    Habitat and Distribution: Arrowhead is found worldwide in temperate zones and the tropics. It is found in moist to wet habitats.

    Edible Parts: The rootstock is a rich source of high quality starch. Boil the rootstock and eat it as a vegetable.


    Arrowroot (Maranta arundinaceae), powder, a/k/a Indian Arrowroot, Maranta Indica, Maranta ramosissima, Maranta Starch, Araruta or Bermuda Arrowroot. Produced from the fecula or starch of the rhizome. Arrowroot is the edible starch of several tropical plant roots. The root is peeled and grated into water, and the fine-textured starch is extracted. It can be useful as a thickener in healthcare diets where blandness and digestibility are of particular importance. It looks and feels like cornstarch and is very white. Arrowroot is used as a thickening agent for sauces, fruit pie fillings and glazes, and puddings and has no flavor. Arrowroot mixtures thicken at a lower temperature than mixtures made with flour or cornstarch. Mix Arrowroot with cool liquids before adding hot liquids, then cook until mixture thickens. Remove immediately to prevent mixture from thinning. Two teaspoons of Arrowroot can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. One teaspoon of Arrowroot can be substituted for 1 tablespoon of flour. Arrowroot makes clear, shimmering fruit gels and prevents ice crystals from forming in homemade ice cream. Arrowroot is used in toiletries primarily for making body powder and baby powder, along with other ingredients.

    Food: This root can be eaten either raw or cooked. A tea can be made from the roots. A poultice, made from the leaves, has been helpful in stopping lactation and a poultice made from the roots helps heal wounds.

    Aromatherapy & Health Uses: A poultice made from the leaves to stop lactation,and a poultice made from the root to heal wounds.

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Animals: Know What's Out There: The Cougar

    The cougar is also known as the mountain lion, puma and panther. It is one of only three wild cats native to Canada. The other two are the bobcat and the Canada lynx. The cougar is larger than the other two and has a much longer tail.

    - western Canada (sw Alberta, interior BC, BC coast,on Vancouver Island
    - endangered in eastern Canada, a few sightings in other provinces.(CWF)
    - western US (and Florida), Mexico, Central & South America

    - mountains, forests, grasslands, swamps, semi-deserts
    - finds shelter in caves, rocks, bushes and thick undergrowth

    - depends on where it lives
    - adult males may be more than 2.4 m (8 ft.) from nose to tip of tail
    - adult males weigh between 58 and 68 kgs (130 and 150 lbs.)
    - weight of males in Alberta and British Columbia : 67 - 100 kg (150 - 220 lbs)
    - adult females are smaller, may be up to 2.2 m long (7.2 ft.)
    - weight of females 40 - 50kg (90 - 110 lbs)
    - cougars in N.America are larger than those of Central and South America

    - coat is plain, no markings
    - coat colour depends on where it lives
    - from sandy-brown to reddish-brown, or greyish to dark brown in colour
    - darker on the back, light beige on the throat, chest, stomach and inner legs
    - kittens have spots which disappear before they are a year old

    other features:
    - small head, dark markings around muzzle (nose)
    - short rounded ears, backs of ears are black
    - muscular legs, hind legs are longer
    - long tail, dark at the tip (used for balance)

    - prefers to hunt in evening and at dawn
    - will roam and hunt at any time
    - carnivore (meat eater)
    - hunts mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose calves
    - also eats birds and smaller mammals
    (porcupine, beaver, coyote, fox, hare, rabbit, raccoon, ground squirrel)
    - known to kill farm animals (poultry, sheep, goats, calves, pigs, horses)
    - hunts over a wide area (called territory)
    - stalks prey, then leaps and knocks animal to the ground
    - bites the animal's throat or neck
    - covers up large kills and returns later to finish eating
    - runs fast over short distances, but tires quickly

    - in rare cases, has been known to attack people
    - tries to avoid people
    - has many sounds, including purrs, screams, hisses, and growls
    - alarm or signal is a shrill whistle

    - good climber, makes huge leaps
    - good swimmer, but swims only when necessary
    - excellent sight and hearing
    - long, sharp teeth for holding on to prey and cutting meat
    - sharp claws for hunting (catching prey), fighting and climbing
    - female usually gives birth every second year (late winter to early summer)
    - young are called kittens or cubs
    - litters average 2 to 4 (may have as many as six)
    - born in a cave, den in rocks, hollow log, under an overturned tree, in thick brush.
    - weigh about 200 to 450 grams at birth (7 ounces to 1 pound)
    - light brown coat with dark brown spots and a ringed tail
    - eyes are closed at birth, open in ten days
    - blue eyes when born, change to yellow
    - begin walking in two weeks
    - live on mother's milk for up to three months
    - can eat some meat at six weeks of age
    - first mother brings them food, then teaches them to hunt
    - stay with mother for the first winter, sometimes for two years

    - man hunts cougars with guns, poison, snares, traps, hunting dogs
    - farmers and ranchers shoot the cougar to protect livestock

    - some native peoples in North and South America revere (honour) the cougar
    - lifespan in the wild is up to 18 years
    - endangered in eastern Canada and eastern US, only a few left in Florida
    - hunting is regulated in Canada, western US and Mexico
    - numbers in Canada 4,000 ; B.C. 3500 (most are on Vancouver Island)

    Bounties (rewards) were offered for killing cougars when the settlers began arriving, because the animals attacked livestock and even people. Cougars disappeared in the east. When bounties were removed, cougars managed to survive in the west.

    Cougar attacks are rare. If you encounter a cougar
    - remain calm
    - do not approach, do not run
    - face the animal and back away slowly
    - shout loudly or throw something


    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Survival: Signalling

    Signaling for help

    Like all other survival techniques, signaling for help is a skill you should practice before you actually have to use it. If you ever find yourself lost, signaling for rescue is an option you should consider.

    If you do not carry a two way communication radio, cellular phone or a whistle, you mainly will have to use visual signals. Depending on your situation and the material you have available, you can use either fire and smoke, a signal mirror, flares and flashlights or strobe lights to create your visual distress signals.

    Visual signals

    For best results when signaling for help, select a signal site close to your shelter with good visibility such as a clearing, hilltop or a lakeshore. Will there be a search for you? Put yourself in the searchers place. Will they be searching for you from the air or the ground? A search will probably start from your last known location and sweep over your proposed route.

    SOS signal

    SOS (Save Our Souls) is the best known international distress signal. Everyone should be familiar with SOS. The SOS signal can be transmitted by any method, visual or audio. The code for SOS is 3 short, 3 long and 3 short signals. Pause. Repeat the signal.

    SOS signal

    The SOS signal can, for instance, be constructed as a ground to air signal with rocks and logs, or whatever material you have available. At night you can use a flashlight or a strobe light to send an SOS to, for instance, an aircraft. During the day, you can use a signal mirror. If it is difficult to produce long and short signals, you should know that almost any signal repeated three times will serve as a distress signal. Use your imagination.

    Signaling for help Signal fires

    When signaling for help, the most noticeable signal is your fire. It is easily seen at night. During the day, the smoke from your fire can be seen for many miles. Build three fires in a triangle or in a straight line, with about 100 feet (30 m) between the fires. Three fires are an internationally recognized distress signal.

    Signal mirror

    On a sunny day, a mirror can be a good signaling device. Any shiny object will serve - polish your canteen cup, glasses, your belt buckle or a similar object that will reflect the sun's rays. Check your survival kit, or maybe you have a mirror sighting compass?

    A flash can be seen at a great distance. Sweep the horizon during the day. If a plane approaches, don't direct the beam in the aircraft's cockpit for more than a few seconds as it may blind the pilot. Use the code for SOS.

    Use your signal mirror properly when signaling for help. Determine where your signal is going, use your free hand as a sight line, in order for it to be effective, readjust it as you or the sun move around the sky.

    Learn more wilderness skills

    Don't risk your safety or the safety of people you care about. Make sure your wilderness trip is safe and enjoyable.


    WHEN YOU SET A SIGNAL, DO NOT LEAVE THE AREA. THAT IS WHERE SEARCH AND RESCUE WILL COME TO FIND YOU. If you are forced to move on to avoid risk, make sure you point the way of your travel but when you are finally out of the risk area STOP and re-establish your signal.

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Medical: High Altitude Health Issues

    There are various illnesses associated with high altitude exposure. Moving above the 1500m (4950ft) mark and higher can lead to medical issue onset. At these levels, oxygenation of the blood changes and requires acclimatization so that depending upon the rate of speed one moves upwards, predicts the changes in oxygenation and the onset of illness symptoms. Too great a speed may prevent acclimatization and further ascension is impossible without risk to life.

    Altitude Illnesses include:

    Altitude illness: Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), altitude illness, hypobaropathy, or soroche, is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude. It commonly occurs above 2,400 metres (8,000 feet).

    Extreme Hypoxia: Hypoxia is a pathological condition in which the body as a whole (generalized hypoxia) or a region of the body (tissue hypoxia) is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

    Hypoxemia: An abnormal deficiency in the concentration of oxygen in the blood.

    Hypocapnia: Hypocapnia or hypocapnea also known as hypocarbia, sometimes incorrectly called acapnia, is a state of reduced carbon dioxide in the blood. Hypocapnia usually results from deep or rapid breathing, known as hyperventilation.

    When climbing it is important to recognize the onset of symptoms that indicate something is wrong. Typical symptoms include: fatigue, dizziness, nausea, atypical sleep patterns, headaches

    Other symptoms appear in more severe instances.

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Food: Arnica

    Arnica spp.

    Description: Arnicas are perennial herbs growing from a rootstock 2 - 5 cm long. They have erect stems and stand 15 - 60 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, simple, entire or toothed. The composite flower head is yellow and flowering is from July - August.

    Distribution & Habitat: It can be found in mountainous regions throughout the Rocky Mountains. There are many species with similar properties.

    Preparation & Uses: Arnica is well known as a stimulant. This herb is almost always used in the form of a tincture. It is one of the best painkillers to use for sprains, fractures, and bruising. It is effective as an external liniment and is extremely fast acting.. It should not be used if the skin is broken and the area is bleeding as it is toxic if it enters the bloodstream.

    This herb should not be use internally, except under special conditions, because it can cause, among other effects, blistering of the intestinal tract.


    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Survival: Camp Layout

    How to Set Up Camp

    The location and the way you set up your Tent can have a huge impact on your Outdoor Camping experience. It can make the difference between an unpleasant sleep and a comfortable night sleep.

    Spotting a Camp Location

    Finding a good camp site is essential, especially in difficult conditions. Here are some guidelines in finding a good spot and orienting your Tent:

  • Find a spot that is safe and protected. Stay away from mountain and hill tops as those are the places that will offer the least protection from hard winds and lightning. At the same time, do not pitch your camp on the lowest ground in the area. In case of rains, the water will flow to the lowest ground.

  • Find a spot that is surrounded by natural obstacles which will provide shade in hot conditions, wind breakers in windy conditions, and rain stoppers in rainy conditions. Concentrations of trees and rocks are ideal natural barriers.

  • If possible, camp near a stream, river, or other source of water that you can use for your dishes and cleaning up. However, make sure that you are on higher grounds and that there are no chances of flash floods.

    Setting up Camp

  • Tent Area
    In general, you will want to set up your Tent on an even surface of smooth soil or grass that allows you to easily secure your pegs.

    You will want to make sure that your Tent is the highest area in its direct vicinity to keep water from entering your Tent area.

    Set up your Tent firmly and evenly so that it can withstand possible strong winds that may develop overnight. For more information, read our next section on Pitching Tents.

  • Cooking Area
    Unless conditions force you to cook inside you will want to create a special Cooking Area. It should be at least 30 feet from your Tent(s) and is located in a way that the prevailing winds will blow possible ashes and sparks away from the Tent(s) and not towards it.

    As explained in our section on Avoiding Bears, you should keep all your foods in containers and wash all your utensils to prevent attracting bears and other animals. Read our section on Forest Fires for more details on responsible use of fire outdoors.

  • Washing Area
    The washing area is where you will take baths and wash the dishes. Having it near a stream or other water source will save you time and effort. If you are going to use soaps, make sure they are biodegradable and make certain that you wash at least 300 feet away from the nearest water source. Make sure not to leave any trace. Empty soap bottles and other containers are a natural disaster.

  • Toilet Area
    You will want to keep this area at least a few hundred feet away from your Tent and other camping areas and out of sight of your camping mates and other people. Again, make sure you are at least 300 feet away from a possible water source. Find a place with soft soil that allows you to dig a hole at least 10 inches deep where you can bury your 'contributions'. Use fuel to burn any toilet paper that you might be using. Make sure to cover up your toilet area well before breaking up camp and you might want to cover the area with stones or branches to keep other campers from digging your toilet area.

  • Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Medical: Insect and Bee Stings

    Insect & Bee Stings - Prevention & Treatment: While most people are actually more afraid about animal attacks by larger animals, it is actually insects that are to be feared more. Bees, wasps, and hornet stings are more responsible for fatalities than snakes, spiders, and scorpions combined. In this section, we will give guidelines on what to do if you are allergic to Bee Stings, how to avoid Bee Stings, and what to do if you get stung.

    If you are Allergic to Bee Stings

    Some people are hyper sensitive to bee stings. For them, a single sting could already be seriously life-threatening. If you know that you are hypersensitive for bee and perhaps other insect stings, check with your doctor and make sure to bring an emergency insect sting allergy kit. Your doctor will be able to cater to your exact needs. Make sure to check the expiration date of the medications on your kit since most antihistamine medicines need to be replaced after a few years.

    Avoiding Bee & Other Insect Stings

  • Use insect repellent sprays. Most of these sprays use DEET as their active ingredient and they do a great job at repelling mosquitoes. Citronella is less aggressive for the skin but generally does not have the same repelling effect as DEET.
  • Do not wear any sweet smelling fragrances often found in after shaves and perfume. These often attract flies, bees, and other insects.
  • Insect nets are a very fine netting that keeps insects from entering while still letting air through. Insect nets are mostly used for tents but can be found in an alternate form inside the ventilation vents of pants and other clothing.
  • Bees will mostly attack when either trapped or agitated. Close any opening in your clothes that could trap bees between your skin and your clothing. Should you stumble on a beehive, do not be stupid and try to collect honey or disturb it in any other way.

    Treating Bee & Other Insect Stings

  • Bees will often leave their stings in your skin when you get stung. Remove them in a scraping motion with a needle or knife and avoid handling them with your hands as this will probably squeeze more venom into your skin.
  • The irritation and pain from an insect sting can often be neutralized by using an insect sting ointment. So make sure to bring some if you expect to go to insect - infested areas.
  • People who receive multiple bee stings or are either allergic to bee stings can go into anaphylactic shock which could cause swelling, obstructing the airways. Remove the stings and use antihistamine medication immediately. Apply CPR if needed and make sure the airways are cleared.

    These are the basic things you need to know about Insect and Bee Stings. Take note that it is essential to have adequate First Aid knowledge and training if you are engaged in Outdoor Activities such as Hiking so you will know what to do in case you need to administer First Aid.