I was talking with friends this past weekend about survival. (yes, this a common occurrence; yes, I do have friends; and yes, I talk about preparedness a lot) The subject came up during talk about how a local duck hunter had drowned and another one had died of exposure after making it to shore. We all do so much each day that could potentially lead to death if any one little thing goes wrong. Either recreational pursuits or everyday routine. Driving our car to town for grocery shopping and we end over an embankment for whatever reason, swerving to avoid a deer or rock, etc… The brush closes back over your car and no one knows you are there. You survive a boat capsizing and make it to shore – in January, freezing, shivering, and with a long walk that you aren’t ready for. What started off routine quickly goes downhill.
In our minds eye we are the ultimate Boy Scout, John Colter, or Jedidiah Smith rolled up into one modern day package; sure, but of course we can build a shelter, quickly get a blazing warming fire going, recover and hike out for help, etc… But can we? And then there are those of us who refuse to think that something unfortunate can happen to us.
It’s difficult enough to strike a spark, or even find a wind break, much less doing this without light, with cold wooden fingers, shivering so hard you cannot keep a match lit, if you had one. Now try to do it for the first time in your life at 2 in the morning, with freezing rain, while going hypothermic….
Why is it human nature to deny the inner voice accusations that you are not ready? (and you aren’t by the way) Sure we do not like to think that today is the day that I don’t come home, or that a loved one doesn’t come back from the store. It is an unpleasant thought, yet it is simple to try and be ready. And yet we do not take any time to prepare or train to ensure that you are ready to AND have the skills to, get back home. Simply going outside and doing a little practice fire building, with a few different methods can a make a huge difference between dying, living, and having some comfort…or signaling that you are here. But so many of us cannot be bothered to take even 5 mins to improve our life, or survivability.
I do not leave my bedroom without fire starting materials. I can build a fire quickly, efficiently, and with several different methods – in just about any conditions. I carry basic shelter material on my person. I carry a basic pack of helpful items for when I am outside everywhere I go. Most of this is a holdover from 3+ decades as a Search and Rescue Professional carrying a pager and radio for instant responses. In any event, most people think I am the most ready person they know, and I think I have been lucky, because I see myself as having a lot to do yet. Skills and knowledge are not fool proof, Murphy waits in the wings for all of us.
Please, for this new year, get your family and yourself prepared, and get out there! Practice and make sure you and yours know how to do the basic skills!