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  • resoh10

Don’t kid yourself, the key to survival is knowledge and preparation. Don’t be caught untrained and uninformed when something happens that puts you in a life or death situation. Evaluate your circumstance in terms of immediate and probable threats, whether you need to be rescued or need to remain concealed, what are your dangers of exposure to weather conditions, what resources are available, and how long you will be on your own. Remember, practice makes perfect. Just watching a video will not fully prepare you for a real life threatening event. So, practice what you learn in different weather conditions and in different terrain when possible.

You may think you know the priorities of survival, but so many people are easily confused with TV drama shows and misinformation, that they forget what matters: STAY ALIVE!

Your first priority is WATER. Without it, depending on your environment, you become dehydrated within hours. After about a day, your ability to reason and make good decisions fails. Two to three days without water and severe dehydration leads to confusion, heat stroke, and death.

Potable water: Unfortunately, our farming practices and general pollution has led to most streams, lakes and ponds having water that is unfit to drink. Even in a clear mountain stream, animal fecal matter will produce bacteria and other micro-organisms that can be harmful. Unpurified water can contain bacteria, viruses, and micro-organisms such as Giardia or cryptosporidium that cause intestinal problems including diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting. Even if you think the water is clear and good, you should always boil it or treat it with a chemical such as chlorine dioxide, potassium permanganate or taharmayim. Another option is to filter it through a 0.1 Micron filter. A popular myth is you must boil water for 5 to 10 minutes in order for it to be safe to drink. This is false information, you merely need to bring it to about 185 degrees Fahrenheit for it to be safe. It usually takes about 10 minutes to bring one liter to a boil, but you should add about a minute for each 1,000 feet you are above sea-level. So, just bringing it to a boil ensures you have safely killed all the pathogens which it contained. Boiling is the safest method for purification.

Your second priority is FIRE. Without fire, you are at risk of hypothermia in cold climates but it is also necessary to boil water, to cook, ward off dangerous animals and even help to repel mosquitoes. Starting a fire is one of the most important survival skills to learn. Most backpackers carry a magnesium fire starter, Ferro cerium rod or flint and steel, but if you have ever tried to start a fire in wet conditions with one of these devices, you know that it is almost impossible. Dry tender is the key, even if you master the art of striking the starter material. Don’t even consider that you will be able to use a primitive method to start a fire. You will only end up being cold with bloody blistered hands. I suggest you pack a zip-lock plastic bag filled with cotton balls and a bic lighter. Cotton balls are easily ignited. If you coat them in petroleum jelly, they will even burn in the rain.

Your third priority is SHELTER. There are lots of techniques to build an adequate shelter. Again, depending on your surrounding environment, it is often a labor intensive but necessary task to quickly complete. Study and practice building a dry shelter with just materials around your location.

Your fourth priority is FOOD. A person can live three weeks or longer without food. Food can be found by setting snares, fishing, or foraging. Depending on your surrounding environment all or none of these may be possible. To maintain your stamina and keep your energy level high enough to either build a semi-permanent camp or to try to hike out for help, you will need at least 1200 calories per day. If you have very little water, you should not eat as it takes water to help digest your food. Without water you will not survive. Learn techniques for fishing, building traps and snares, and what edible plants are located in different regions of the country.

Everything else is about comfort and good common sense. Clothing will play an important part in your ordeal. In cold weather conditions it is best to layer with a wicking type fabric against your body and rain resistant outerwear. An extra pair of dry wool socks, a pair of leather gloves, a pair of wool glove liners and a wool stocking cap might also come in handy. Wool will retain your body heat even if wet. A good waterproof poncho can serve as a temporary shelter, a hammock, or a ground cloth.

In desert conditions it is best to have loose black outerwear that can cover most of your body including arms, legs, and head. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but regard the attire of the nomads of the middle east and northern Africa. While white material will reflect the sun, it also reflects your body heat back towards you. Loose fitting cloths allow air to flow around your body, keeping it much cooler. Long sleeves, long trousers, and a wide brimmed hat will protect you from the sun.

In a swampy terrain, it is wise to wear long sleeved, loose fitting shirts, long trousers that are synthetic material which will not soak up water, and good water proof boots. The long sleeved shirt and trousers will help control bug bites. Winter vs Summer dress is up to you, just remember it is easier to take clothes off that to put them on, especially if you don’t have them with you.

Your camp should be constructed on high ground, out of the wind, and in as dry a location as possible. Always consider your specific circumstances, terrain, and weather conditions before expending valuable energy on your shelter. Never sleep directly on the ground. Your body heat will draw moisture from the ground and you will wake up damp and cold, even with a fire.


Stay tuned, more to come!

  • resoh10

One thing I have said repeatedly is, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I’m not sure who said that originally, but during my lifetime I have found it to be true, whether personal or job related. It certainly applies to Survival planning. So much has been written on emergency preparedness and natural disaster planning, I think it is worthwhile to discuss some basic truths about planning your bugout.

First and foremost to consider is, how long will it be before things return to normal after an event? Your life expectancy could be tied directly to how long you have planned to bugout. If, you have only planned for a 72 hour event and the recovery is twice or three times that period, what do you do when you have exhausted your supply of water and food? If you have only planned to survive for 72 hours, then that is your life expectancy should your estimate be wrong. I like to refer to this as the “critical error”.

Use the critical error method of thinking to develop contingency plans or, “what if” scenarios.

· What if when a hurricane or earthquake hits my town, it takes a month to restore power, water, emergency services, medical services, and transportation?

· What if it takes longer than expected?

· What if there is no water source?

· What if I exhaust my food supply?

· What if looters attack my house?

· What if my house is severely damaged, what do I do for shelter?

· How do I cook food, if the power has failed?

· What if I need medical attention?

· What if the devastation is so bad that I have to leave the area for safety and there is no transportation, public or personal?

The list can be extensive and complicated, but if you haven’t put some thought into it, you are destined to be one of the victims of the crisis.

The time to plan is NOW!

Next, I will address some keys to wilderness survival. Stay tuned.