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Seasonal Reminder: Dress for the weather, not the car.

You can't always avoid the emergency room. But there are simple things to do that can make the best of a bad situation. Click here for tips to deal with trauma (e.g., broken bones, bleeding, etc), chest pain, abdominal pain, respiratory difficulty, and high fever. More info....

Click here for a listing of first-aid essentials for home, car, pack, or trek.

Finding Firewood

´╗┐Firewood is always a challenge, especially during wet or wintery conditions. Click for a tip...

Wildland Safety.

Always be prepared for survival situations.

 Be Safe Out There. Driving to the trailhead, hiking along the trail or bushwhacking and camping in the backcountry need some special techniques and good equipment. Keep your tent, sleeping bag, backpack and other gear in tip top condition.

Wildlife needs your respect, especially if you are part of their food chain. Learn to incorporate preventative techniques in your normal routine and you’ll not need to be apprehensive while in bear or cougar country.

Safe drinking water is one of your main concerns. Water filters and water purifiers provide safe and convenient water wherever you are.

To fully enjoy the great outdoors you must feel safe and secure. Whether you're new to the wildlands or have spent several years trammeling about, learning or reviewing safety tips is always beneficial.

Be aware of hypothermia whenever in cool, moist windy situations.

So pack up your tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear on your pack frame and get out there. 

NOTE: Please click on bolded words for additional safety information< ><-->

Survival Tips

Day users are the subject of most calls by many search and rescue organization. It’s unlikely that you’ll be fully prepared with a tent, sleeping bag, packpack, camp stove and other equipment needed for basic comfort.

Accidents can happen to anyone anytime. Injuries, equipment failure, and weather all cause emergency situations.

THE BASICS. Four universal points to remember:

Take a survival kit. Tailor it to fit your needs, your health and your experience. You may be able to get by with a knife and some matches. Others may need to pack a full load. It’s up to you.

Share your plans. If no one knows where you are, you may as well be lost in the most remote place on earth.

Wait for rescue. Its best to wait where to are to be rescued. Don’t be embarrassed. Your rescuers will appreciate not having to chase you in circles.

Warmth, water and sleep. That is your job description until the rescuers arrive. Keep you body temp at 98.6 at all times. Keep drinking water. Get some sleep. You can’t function if you don’t get adequate rest. You’ll make stupid mistakes and bad decisions.

Things happen.

Survival experts will tell you “One of the fundamental rules of nature is to adapt. If you are put in a survival situation you are guaranteed to have a hard time with it because you’ll be wrestling with your mind.” You can improve the odds. Nature favors the prepared.

Becoming injured or disoriented doesn’t mean you are merely lost in the woods. It is an event that my lead to your death if immediate and corrective action isn’t taken.

Include a journal in your “possibles bag.” Writing letters or notes can keep your mind in a survival state of being.

Don’t overlook sleep. It is a myth that if you fall asleep, you’ll freeze to death. You’ll start making poor choices if you are not rested. Catnaps of 20 minutes can keep you alert to make level-headed decisions. If you are lost or stranded, you’re already in a bad situation and can’t afford to make it worse by making poor choices.

Being positive is probably the most important for dealing with a survival situation. Taking action to improve discomfort, rather than accepting it, is huge.

Wearing cotton underwear or denim jeans is a very poor choice of clothing – even if layered. Cotton fibers collapse when cold and wet. Wool fibers hold their insulating layer and can be called the miracle fiber because its about 80 percent air space. Clothing is the most important piece of equipment for your body preservation. There are many examples of people surviving with nothing but good clothing. If you want to live in a survival situation, dress appropriately.

Proper tools can be a life saver if needed. Anything with a hinge has a high likelihood of failure if needed for more than whittling sticks or peeling an apple. Remember that an axe makes a better knife than a knife makes an axe. Try whacking on a knife to split wood for the life saving fire. You’ll be better off with a hatchet. A good hatchet can serve as a knife.

During fowl weather, survival seems to take place in stages. You’ll need to keep your wits about you, along with smart decisions and level thinking as events occur.

The first thing to do when you realize you are lost is to gather 10 arm-loads of firewood. That will give you time to collect your thoughts, and be important preparation for what lies ahead. Fire will be your friend as you await the rescuers.


More Tips

FIRE. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Practice the craft of fire making to make it possible to emerge from a wild area emergency in good shape, even if all else fails. You should always carry two means of starting a fire. Matches in a waterproof container, and flint and steel are two common and reliable methods.

SHELTER. A tree with a thick covering of boughs can be a most basic shelter. A good fire near the tree (consider where any snow on the tree may fall) can keep you warmer and drier than a hasty shelter made in fading light. Pack a lightweight tarp to use as a windbreaker and you may be all set.

CLOTHING. Layering is the best system. Wool is a natural fiber that provides good insulation even when wet. Modern fabrics claiming to be waterproof and breathable often don’t live up to their billing under hard, sustained use in wild country. The importance of clothing can not be underestimated in survival scenarios.

TOOLS. Using cutting tools in the wilderness is an important skill to have. Most people know little about the proper use and care of an axe, saw or knife. These tools can be a life or death difference during winter.

BINDING. Ropes and cords have a wide diversity of uses in the backcountry. Building shelter, snaring, trapping, fishing, sewing, are only a few of the uses imaginable. Practice tieing a bowline, single and double sheet bend, a truckers hitch, a taut line and a jam knot until you can tie them easily. Refresh your memory occasionally.

SIGNALING. Hardly anyone practices how to signal help under primitive conditions. A mirror or fire is more likely to be reliable than a cell phone in the mountains.

In the words of survival expert David Cronenwett, “If you’re truly in a survival situation, it’s bst to wait to be rescued. It’s not very remantic or ‘Survivor Man,’ but that’s the real deal.”

The previous information is based on an article from the “Missoulian” Thursday December 17, 2009 by Martin J. Kidston of the Helena Independent Record.