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Archive for October, 2016

How to Start a Fire with a Dead Lighter

How to Start a Fire with a Dead Lighter


If you have a lighter that has run out of fuel, but still has flint and spark left, you can use it to start a fire using by following a few basic steps.  Knowing about this simple and straightforward method may help you to avoid having to resort to more extreme and labor-intensive options.  You can also avoid using limited supplies of matches or other fire-starting items that you may have on hand. 

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Getting Started

The first step is to dig out a pit that will be big enough to hold the fire you’re trying to build.  It doesn’t need to be deep, but it needs to be able to shield the tinder and kindling from the wind in order to ignite effectively.  Set the dirt aside so you can use it to put out the fire when you’re finished.  Another great way to make your fire more efficient is to line the pit with rocks.  Use smooth, round ones for the edges on top and flat pieces for the bottom.  The rocks will absorb and radiate heat long after the fire has been extinguished.  You may also end up using less fuel to generate good, quality heat as well.

The trick with this fire is to start small and build it up as the tinder and kindling start to burn.  Take some small pieces of kindling and place them in a triangular pattern that will rest inside the pit.  Add some tinder around the kindling, and keep repeating as you create multiple layers of material.  However, you want to keep the center open, with the exception of a little bit of tinder.  Use the spaces between the rocks on top to anchor some of the kindling. 

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Starting the Fire

All you need is a loose wad of a few pieces of tissue, paper towels or cloth along with an aerosol canister that contains something that is flammable.  This could be hairspray, insect repellent or a cleaning product, it doesn’t matter.  The trick to using this method is to use flammable material.  Spray the material until it is evenly-coated, but try not to saturate it unless necessary.  This will help you to conserve the fluid while also preventing drenching, which can be a hazard while trying to start the fire. 

Next, place the material in the center of the pit so that it presses against the kindling on the bottom and sides.  All you need to do now is light the lighter so that the sparks from the flint will ignite the material.  Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, depending on wind conditions, the type of chemical being used as well as the quality of the sparks from the lighter.  Be prepared to go through some trial and error until you figure out the best way to light the material.  However, it should become second nature after doing it a couple of times, and you’ll be surprised at the effectiveness of this method.

While you can hold the material in your hands while lighting, which would logically make it easier to ignite, the risk factor also increases.  The chemicals can get on your fingers and accidentally ignite.  The chemicals can leak onto your shirt or jacket and also ignite.  You can also get burned if the material gets enveloped with fire faster than expected.  There’s also the risk that you can get burned while trying to place the material into the fire pit.  Finally, the material can burn out before it’s placed inside as well.

Consequently, it’s important to use extra caution if you do need to hold the material in order to get it started.  If you do, sit or crouch as close to the fire pit as possible, and you can drip it right inside once it ignites.  One final warning:  Never directly ignite the spray as it comes out from the canister.  Doing so will not ignite the kindling, tinder or fire-starting material.  A flash burn will occur instead, and this has the potential to cause serious injury. 

Additionally, there is also a minor risk of flames traveling back into the canister and causing it to explode.  Always spray and soak the material first before igniting.  However, you can safely spray some of the tinder and kindling as a way to help the fire spread from the ignition material. 

All you need now is to feed the fire with increasingly-larger branches until you get it to the size that you want, building a tepee as you go.  You can also keep the fire small and closer to the ground by feeding it smaller pieces as well.  This is a great way to build a hot, shallow fire that can produce the right conditions for grilling or cooking items on the rocks. 

Practice using this method, and remember to add some aerosol or flammable liquid to your survival kit and bug out bag.  You may be able to start dozens of fires after your lighter runs out of gas, and you can incorporate the same principles outlined here into different types of fires as well.  Try it for yourself, and see how this simple trick can be very useful out in the field. 


How to Escape if You Fall Through Broken Ice

How to Escape if You Fall Through Broken Ice


There are different schools of thought with respect to how to get out of the water as quickly as possible after falling through ice.  Depending on the temperature of the water, prevailing weather conditions and what you are wearing, you may have less time to react than you may think.  Unfortunately, there are no right or wrong answers, and the method you choose will be specific to the situation.  Let’s take a look at a few suggestions that can give you a deeper pool of options to consider if you ever find yourself in this type of emergency.

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Don’t Panic

One thing that all experts agree on is that the first thing to do is to remain calm.  Panicking not only clouds judgment, but it also has serious physiological impacts on the body during to exposure to cold water.  The first thing that our body will do is lock up and channel as much blood to the torso as possible.  This also causes us to start hyperventilating and increases our heart rate.  This robs us of our energy, and causes heat to escape our bodies every time we exhale.  It also causes our extremities to shut down prematurely which can impact our ability to escape long before hypothermia sets in.

It’s important to work through this “shock effect”, focus on controlling your breathing and focus on getting out instead of how cold you feel at the moment.  It really is all about mind over matter in this situation, and it is the most important step towards getting out alive.  Always remember that panic is the leading cause of either freezing to death or drowning. 

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What About Clothing?

It is common to hear that shedding clothing in a water emergency will reduce dead weight and make it easier to float or tread water.  However, it may be better to keep the warm clothing on in a cold water emergency.  You can position your body so that the clothing will trap air and assist in flotation.  This can help to keep your core warm as you calculate your next steps. 

However, you also need to use your good judgment in terms of what items to keep on and what ones to get rid of.  You may need to shed your backpack, some gear, your outer jacket or boots if they are holding you down.  The important thing to remember is that you will need warm weather clothing once you escape, and you want to find a balance between getting rid of in order to maneuver yourself out of the water and what you will need to wear later.  Think this through, and shed things in stages whenever possible.

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Getting Out

The next step is to orient yourself and try to assess where you fell through and what direction you were facing when the ice broke.  You want to try and maneuver yourself so that you go back to the spot where you entered the water.  Chances are that the ice at the edge of the break will be strong enough to support your weight.  You will also end up getting out of the water in the same place you fell in, which means that you can backtrack to safety. 

Next, take a deep breath and lunge toward the edge with your arms extended so that you can give yourself some leverage as you try to pull yourself out.  Inhaling will make you more buoyant and can help you to lift your upper body out of the water and hopefully slide on top of the edge, just like a seal or walrus.  Kick feverishly, use your arms to pull yourself further from the edge and start wiggling your torso to help you squirm up as well.

A different variation involves getting your hands and arms up to the shoulders on the ice and digging in with your fingers.  At the same time, position your body so that you are parallel to the edge instead of pointing outward.  Scissor kick your legs and feet repeatedly to give you some buoyancy as you try to lift and roll yourself up on the ice.  This approach is thought to distribute your weight more evenly while putting more of your surface area in close proximity to the ice.  The idea is that you can use more of your lower body to help get you out of the water instead of relying on your arms and torso. 

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Dry out and Warm Up

In both cases, once you’re out of the water, roll a few times to get some snow on your clothing and put some distance between you and the edge.  The snow will help to insulate you and soak up some of the water on your clothing.  Get to shelter as quickly as possible and remove your clothing.  Wrap yourself in dry material and get near a heat source.  Once you’ve warmed up and calmed down, you can turn your attention to drying out your clothing.

Consider taking an ice pick, screwdriver or corkscrew with you whenever you venture out onto the ice.  Having something to dig into the ice with can make all of the difference in the world in terms of giving you leverage to pull yourself out.  Another thing to consider is practicing if it is safe and practical to do so.  As uncomfortable as the idea sounds, some practice could put you at a distinct advantage if you ever fall through the ice in a real-world situation. 

These are just two of many techniques that can be used to escape after falling through ice.  Take some time to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself as well as how to get out of danger as quickly as possible.  Remember that there are no right answers, and the more options that you have at your disposal, along with experience, can significantly increase your chances of getting out unscathed.