Since my last post wasn’t really about the outdoorsy stuff, I thought I’d try and write a post that gives readers some useful information. Throughout my life I’ve spent a great deal of time having various adventures in the wilderness – and there’s definitely been at least a couple of times where I was in a potentially unsafe or hazardous situation. These situations could definitely have been avoided if I would have had the experience that I have now, but I guess that’s the reason people say ‘You live and you learn’. So, to help my readers out a bit, particularly the younger ones who think they’re invincible, here are a couple of useful tips that may end up saving your life or help you get out of a dangerous/unsafe situation when you’re having adventures of your own.
- I was never a boy scout - I generally consider the whole program to be too watered down and bureaucratic for my taste. My own father thought the same thing (that’s probably where I get it from), and we were totally fine having our adventures on our own – we never felt the need to be part of a large group of people to go camping or hiking. But the boy scouts do get one thing right – their motto is absolutely spot on and if there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that any time you go on an adventure of any sort, you must always ‘Be Prepared’. This means preparing the right gear, but it also means you need to prepare yourself with the right knowledge. Look at a map so you know which direction you’ll be going (and which direction you’ll need to go to get back to civilization). If you’re going to a location that’s a bit more off the beaten track, always do research before hand to make sure its safe, and also find out what the most likely sources danger might be.
- Unless you’re a very experienced outdoorsman, you’ll always want to travel with at least one other person – when I was young, obviously I would go out with my father, and these days my most common companion is my wife – she is also an outdoors enthusiast (and that’s one of the reasons we ended up together). If you’re got 10 years of experience and you know all the standard survival stuff (how to start a fire, how to signal for help, how to navigate without equipment, some basic first aid stuff, etc) then you can probably go on trips by yourself reasonably safely, but for those of you who lack experience, try not to go it solo at the beginning.
- Learn how to start a fire – you never know what kind of situation you might end up in, and knowing how to keep warm, stay fed, stay hydrated, and stay safe – all these are crucial skills, and knowing how to start a fire is helpful to all of them. Obviously a fire can help you stay warm, but you can also potentially cook food and boil water (which doesn’t always make it safe to drink, but often helps). Also, a fire is a great tool to keep wild animals away – obviously, wild animals rarely attack humans in the first place, but having a fire acts almost like a force field – animals are naturally afraid of heat and fire and you’ll be in a much better position to take rest if you have a solid fire going. To read about how to start a fire in the wilderness without supplies, click here. Obviously as part of your basic gear, you should always have a lighter as well as some matches.
Well, off the top of my head those are just three of the things that I would highly recommend everybody take to heart. Obviously I didn’t go into great depth, but those three tips are definitely solid things to keep in mind anytime you’re planning an outdoors excursion, particularly if it is a long one.
Also, just a note on boy scouts – while I was never a scout and my kid probably won’t be either (unless he really wants to), I’m not saying that their program is bad. It just wasn’t the way my own father wanted to pass survival skills on to me, and it’s not the way I want to do it for my son. If you’re a parent who doesn’t know that much about being in the wilderness, enrolling your kid in boy scouts or an equivalent program is a pretty great way for kids to learn this stuff – and as a parent, if you participate as well, you’l probably end up learning a lot as well.