Tag Archives: survival kit


In Case of an Earthquake: What You Need to Know and Why

In school, many young students are taught a few basics about an earthquake:

  • There’s a lot of shaking going on from under the ground.
  • It’s caused when two big plates under the layers of the earth suddenly bump into each other.
  • Their jagged edges get stuck on the fractures of the fault line, releasing huge vibrations.

In adult terms, an earthquake occurs through the constant motion of the earth’s surface. This motion produces buildup and releases stress stored in rocks at and near the earth’s surface. Earthquakes are the sudden, rapid shaking of the earth as this energy is let go.

The bizarre thing, is that an earthquake doesn’t usually last more than one minute, but can leave so much destruction behind and loss of life in those mere 60 seconds.

Probably the most frightening aspect is that you never know when one is coming. Scientists have tried in every possible way to predict an earthquake’s arrival, but at this time, the experts have been unsuccessful.

That means, preparation is of utmost importance.

Before An Earthquake

  1. Put together an earthquake survival kit.
    • Experts say you should have enough supplies for three days, should such a disaster strike.
    • Telephones, running water, and other basics will probably not be working.
    • Have a gallon of water per person each day.
    • Pack away food that doesn’t require much but a can opener, or foods that you don’t have to heat up.
    • Have a basic first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
    • Add a solar/hand-crank powered flashlight, weather band radio, & USB device charger that doesn’t require batteries for keeping smart phones up and running.
    • Have blankets, sturdy shoes or boots, clothing, and cash on hand, and a few tools for repairs.
    • Also pack such items in the trunk of the car, should an earthquake hit while you are traveling away from your home.
  2. Learn how to shut off water, gas, and electricity.
  3. Anchor very heavy items to the walls or floors, including furniture, major appliances, and cupboards.
  4. Think about purchasing earthquake insurance. Have this discussion with your agent.
  5. Have a plan on where to meet up with family after an earthquake strikes should you become separated.

During An Earthquake

  1. If you are outoors, stay there and get into an open area. Do not be near power lines or buildings that could topple.
  2. If you are indoors, stay indoors. Drop, cover, and hold on! Stand against an interior wall, or hide under a table. Do not be near glass, windows, mirrors, fireplaces, or tall furniture.
  3. If you are driving, stop the car, parking away from bridges, overpasses, trees, structures, power lines, etc. Stay in the car.
  4. If you are in the mountains, watch out for landslides, which can develop. Do not stand near cliffs or uneasy slopes. Get away from trees and try to look for open space.
  5. If you are at the beach, get to higher ground, because an earthquake can cause a tsunami to develop.

After An Earthquake

  1. When the shaking stops…. Check for injuries and administer first aid to those who need it.
  2. Turn on the radio. Try landlines and smart phones.
  3. Check if there are any downed power lines or fires burning. For small fires, use the fire extinguisher to put them out.
  4. Look at the gas, electric, and water lines for damage. If you find damage, shut down the valves. If you smell gas, turn the valve off and open the windows and door and leave. Report it it to authorities immediately.
  5. Check your home for structural damage. Be very careful around broken glass, big cracks in the floors and debris. Put on your emergency kit boots or sturdy shoes on to walk around in.
    Aftershocks will probably happen. Be alert.

Even if you don’t live in an earthquake risk area, you should be prepared about this unsettling, powerful act of nature, should you travel on vacation or business, and happen to be present when an earthquake strikes.

Statistics show that about 120 destructive earthquakes occur per year. That’s one every 3 days. Incredible, when you think about it. Be prepared!

firecraft: embers, survival  fire

A Fire Starting Primer for the Backcountry

A fire is a critical element in any backcountry survival situation. Should you find yourself in any such circumstance where your safety and survival is dependant on getting a fire going, are you ready and prepared to get the job done? Before heading out for adventures this question has to be addressed. It is always best to be prepared and trained before you find yourself in the bad situation. Take the time to spark up a few practice fires and pack the needed fire supplies before entering the wilderness.

What to Pack, and Where to Pack It

Any wilderness travel should include:

  • a knife or multi-tool,
  • extra food
  • water,
  • extra layers – including a hat and gloves,
  • navigation device such as map and compass or GPS – ideally both,
  • flashlight,
  • space bag,
  • signally device
  • fire starter with a lighter or waterproofed matches.

One thing many wilderness travelers fail to think of is where they pack all this gear. It is too easy to pack it, but then keep it in a dry bag or off the body. It is critical that many of these essentials be kept on the body in the case that if separated from a raft/canoe or method of transport you have the needed supplies. Obviously, any fire starter like Vaseline soaked cotton balls, or magnesium blocks and shavings should be kept in a baggy, then in a pocket.

Start the Fire

Your fire should adhere to the age-old adage of  location, location, location. Anticipate any condition that could occur that would impede the fire’s burn. Examples include:

  • wind tunnel areas in caves,
  • under snow-covered trees, or
  • in exposed areas where heavy rain fall may occur.

Next, dig a small pit and begin collecting small dry twigs, spruce or pinecones and leaves. Spruce and pinecones are some of the best natural fire starter you can use. If no cones are on the ground, find conifers and scrape off any pitch or gum seeping from the bark. Smear the pitch over small twigs. If you can only find green branches, strip off the bark and cut them in half to expose the inner tissues of the wood.

Stack the twigs into a teepee shape and place the spruce cones or fire starter material into the center. Light the starter and let the flames push upward, lighting the teepee. Be prepared with slightly larger twigs and branches, and place them in the conical teepee shape over the flames. It is important not to add too much to the fire as the flames could get smothered out.

As the fire gains strength, begin adding larger pieces of wood. Let the large pieces burn down so the dug out pit has a consistent pile of glowing coals. These coals emit the maximum amount of heat, necessary for survival.

Keep It Going

The coals provide the heat, and the flames provide the needed signal for any potential aircraft searching for you in a lost/survival situation. During prime search times, gather green conifer boughs and place them onto the fire. These create tremendous amounts of smoke that billows up, providing a good visual indicator of your location.

When you find yourself in any situation like this, keep calm, maintain a positive mental outlook and use your practiced fire starting skills to keep you warm, safe and alive.



Survival Kit Component: Paracord

A paracord, or a parachute cord, is a kind of lightweight nylon that was first used by american paratroopers during World War 2. Out in the field, it was typically used to fasten equipment to a harness, tie knapsacks to roof racks, attach camouflage nets to trees, and as a lanyard for small items.

Early Usage of Paracord

Soon after the war, it was made available for civilians – as military surplus in the beginning, then as a retail product later on. Due to its durability and versatility, it didn’t take long for the paracord to hit the mainstream. Back in the 70s, and even to this day, it was the material of choice for whip making.

Paracord Usage in Recent Years

In the recent years, the paracord has gained widespread popularity for its countless survival uses and also as a fashion statement. In fact, it has become rare to find a hiker or an outdoor activity enthusiast who does not own a paracord bracelet or any other kind of paracord gear.

Since they are so cheap and easy to make, paracord projects have also become popular among handicraft hobbyists – in some cases, as a way to raise funds for a charity or a cause.

Different Types of Paracords

There are 6 types of paracord, namely: I, IA, II, IIA, III, and IV.

Their minimal breaking strengths range from 43 to 340 kilograms. The most commonly used type for bracelets and also in general is Type III, otherwise known as the 550 cord. With 7 to 9 core yarns or a total of 32 yarns, it has the minimum breaking strength of  249 kilograms.

However, not all paracords are made to U.S. military specification, even if the labels say so. A lot of brands that differ from the standard type in terms of construction, strength, and quality have recently come out in the market. Finding an authentic brand can be a little tricky, especially now that China has jumped on to the paracord bandwagon. These brands may not be very reliable in survival situations, so make sure that you pick a good brand when purchasing a paracord.

Personally, I buy paracord from The Bushcraft Store.

Various Uses for Paracord

If you’re wondering about paracord uses, well, there are probably countless. It can be used for virtually anything and everything – in outdoor activities, fishing, first aid, and a bunch of other practical, everyday situations. The paracord can be used for:

  • tying things down on the roof rack of a vehicle
  • mending torn or broken fabric or equipment
  • making a perimeter line
  • hanging objects
  • stringing up  a clothesline
  • replacing broken shoe laces
  • lowering yourself or an object  from a height
  • building a shelter
  • lashing logs together or other materials to build a raft and other things
  • making a fishing line and stringer
  • tying up an animal
  • securing your boat or raft
  • making a snare
  • making a splint or sling in case of a broken limb
  • sewing up a wound
  • making a stretcher

These are just some of the most common uses for paracord; the list goes on and on with your imagination as the only limit.

Aside from its utility functions, paracord can also be made into bracelets, key fobs, lanyards, belts, and dog collars, among a bunch of other things. Among these products, paracord bracelets are perhaps the most popular.

Paracord Bracelets with Side Release Buckles

Aside from looking cool, paracord bracelets can save your life in a survival situation. Once unraveled, the cord used in each bracelet typically range from 3 to 7.5 meters – that’s 3 to 7.5 meters of very useful cord!

Paracord bracelets come in various colors/color combinations and are made using various weaving techniques. A regular bracelet would take a couple of minutes to unravel, but there are also quick deployment types that would only take seconds.

Most are fastened using a simple knot, but for quick deployment in a survival situation, bracelets with a side release buckle or a stainless steel shackle would be more ideal to have. There are side release buckles that are equipped with a whistle, compass, and even a handcuff picker. Stainless steel shackles, on the other hand, are sturdy enough to support 1,180 kilograms of weight, and may also have the extra feature of being adjustable.

If you want an accessory that is both stylish and practical, you can’t go wrong with a paracord bracelet. With its remarkable durability and versatility, it is no surprise that paracord can be found in almost all survival kits nowadays.