Tag : survival

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Situational Awareness: What it is and 6 Tips to Enhance it.

By Ghost:

Are you aware of what's going on around you?

Are you aware of what’s going on around you?

Situational awareness is a key component to successful preparation and survival.  In whatever environment you may find yourself, be it the wilds of the world or any concrete jungle, being aware of what is going on around you is a key component is risk management and decision making.  For instance, if you are on a hiking trip, paying attention to weather patterns, if properly observed, should enable you to decide to set up camp prior to a weather front coming in, or being caught in a deluge.  Alternately, by being unaware of danger signals on the streets of a city, you may find yourself in a position to be attacked whereas if you had picked-up on the subtle signs around you, you stand a better chance of taking steps to avoid a dangerous situation.

An example of situational awareness versus state of mind.

An example of situational awareness versus state of mind.

The environment around you produces a vast amount of stimuli which most people ignore as “background noise”.  Sounds, weather, temperature, motion, colour, patterns – all produce data for us to interpret.  A great deal of this is ignored as our brains rarely fixate on things that are “routine”.  Until they are not.  Fear.  The body’s natural radar for trouble, will begin to effect changes on your physiology if you are attuned enough into your environment to perceive the subtle changes.  Two fantastic references to this are Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” and Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s “On Combat”both available through our site (just click on the link above and search under “books”).

Survival strategies are transferrable across environments.  Urban or rural.  Around your home or overseas.  Taking a vigilant and keen interest in the goings-on around you will give you an edge in dangerous situation by providing you with valuable information with which to make choices for action (or inaction) which will hopefully keep you alive or unharmed.

Situational awareness is a way of being.  When driving, you should constantly be checking your side and rear-view mirrors to be aware of the vehicles around you, plan lane changes due to signs, adjusting your driving appropriately for the road conditions, and anticipating other driver’s actions to ensure you avoid collisions.  Most of the time, this is done on a semi-sub-conscious level.  If you have been driving a while, you won’t be talking to yourself about looking at your mirrors, much like a brand-new driver who is still nervous and tense about the whole thing.  From another angle, however, do you pay attention to strange vehicles that follow you around?  Do you know what to do if you notice this?  I suggest drive to a police station and see if they follow you there.  Whatever you do, don’t go home.  Drive around and make last-minute turns to see if they follow.  If they do, you can be reasonably certain you’re being followed.  Head to the police station or call 911 on your cell phone and ask for police assistance.

Is this car following you, or just going the same way?

Is this car following you, or just going the same way?

The same applies when you leave your home, be it in the city or in the outdoors.  In the outdoors, do you catch the silence on the path?  Why did the birds stop chirping?  Are there branches snapping off the trail?  What’s that smell?  Is the sky changing?  Am I looking at the path for potential hazards or obstacles as well at the trail ahead?

Fast-changing weather can catch you unawares if you're not paying attention.

Fast-changing weather can catch you unawares if you’re not paying attention.

In the city the same thought process should run in the background.  This is a dark part of the street…is there anyone in that dark doorway?  I’ve seen that car a few times today…coincidence?  That guy has been behind me for a while now…is he following me?  (In a parking lot alone at night…) Are those guys really fixing a flat tire? Are you suddenly alone in a parking garage or alley…with only one strange looking person walking towards you?

Being alone isn't always a good thing.  Is there anyone else there with you?

Being alone isn’t always a good thing. Is there anyone else there with you?

Now, I’m not trying to create or spread paranoia.  Most of the time those questions will only highlight innocuous situations.  BUT, for the 1% for the time where real danger may be involved, having that foreknowledge of danger will hopefully give you the opportunity to counter a threat.  Most successful attacks are due to surprise.  Most attackers are looking for a “soft target”, someone who they believe will not put up much of a fight and can be easily overpowered and surprised.  Making suspect people aware that you see them and are cognizant of their presence (and if you exude an aura of confrontation) you will I once attended training on anti-kidnapping escape.  We covered case studies of how people are kidnapped for human trafficking purposes in less than 20 seconds.  The precision that these men showed was frightening.  If they want to get you in their vehicle and you don’t see the set-up early, you’re done.  Period.  No matter how tough or strong you are, you’re getting into that van or car and going for a ride.  Then the question becomes how do you escape, but that is something to discuss at a later time.


At the end of the day, being aware of your surroundings and environment is a critical piece of the survival toolkit.  If you practice it often and across all situations in which you find yourself you will get much better at it until it becomes a reflex which goes on in the background.


6 Tips to Enhance Your Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness is the capability to read people and situations and expect the eruption of violence before it actually happens. It is highly recommended that everyone should always look for and take the time to notice safety-related aspects of what is happening around them. Situational Awareness is certainly very important to survival and results in our near future.

Being in a state of fearful or paranoid is not what situational awareness is all about. Rather it is a relaxed state of alertness that you can include into your character. This doesn’t mean that a person should spend his life hectically, and all the time looking for mysterious people. The level of awareness should be appropriate to the present circumstances.

These are some helpful tips to boost your situational awareness to consider and apply to forestall a survival quandary:
1. Recognize Elements around You
The first step in achieving Situational Awareness would be to grow to be conscious in the crucial elements within your setting. Start out by noticing the threats that surround you. Then expand your awareness to other non-threatening components.  This might sound overwhelming, but tend not to be concerned. These are abilities you currently use on a daily basis. The very first step is created to assist you expand and enhance your perception of what is taking place close to you.

Paying attention to what's going on.  Details, if not needed, are easily discarded, but if important can be remembered.

Paying attention to what’s going on. Details, if not needed, are easily discarded, but if important can be remembered.

2. Evaluate and Recognize Circumstances

This includes understanding a number of elements by the processes of pattern recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. Use this data to decide how it’ll affect your drives or in this case your eventual survival. This can help you develop a comprehensive picture of one’s immediate surroundings plus a better understanding of Situational Awareness.

How often do you stand close to the edge or allow people behind you as the train approaches.  With your back against the wall or being away from others, you're less likely to be surprised or pushed off the platform.

How often do you stand close to the edge or allow people behind you as the train approaches. With your back against the wall or being away from others, you’re less likely to be surprised or pushed off the platform.

3. Study to Predict Occasions
The most effective aspect of Situational Awareness involves the ability to project the long term actions of elements around you. Soon after you might have been ready to identify components within your atmosphere and may comprehend the circumstance, it is actually time to take your Situational Awareness a single step further.
For instance, predicting climate patterns, understanding animal warning indicators and staying ready to fend off attacks are all essential skills in an emergency survival scenario.

4. Be Watchful of Time
Time is an important issue in understanding Situational Awareness. The pace of your setting is continuously being altered by the actions of individuals, activity characteristics, and outside elements. When unplanned events start to arise, be sure to make the vital alterations for your schedule and objectives to help you survive.

5. Stay clear of Complacency
Assuming anything is underneath will influence your vigilance. Always challenge yourself and those close to you to be ready for contingencies.

Complacency.  Simply foolish.

Complacency. Simply foolish.

6. Communicate a Course of Action
Successful communication may be principally the most critical issue in reaching and sustaining situational awareness. When in an emergency difficulty together with your household or companions, be sure to speak up and verbalize any meant action. Fully understand that the level of situational awareness accomplished is connected to the level and excellent of communication with other people around you.  If you’re alone, don’t be a soft target.  Get to a place where you have a better chance of escape, make noise, shout, confront, or run.  Don’t let inaction be your downfall.


If these tips don’t help, then for the sake of all that is holy, GET OFF YOUR PHONE AND PAY ATTENTION!  Behind the wheel, walking down the street, even riding a bike, I see people on their phones OBLIVIOUS to the world around them.  Put down the phone.  Look around.  Pay attention.  It’s your safety on the line, not mine.

Are you aware of your environment?  No?  PUT DOWN THE PHONE!

Are you aware of your environment? No? PUT DOWN THE PHONE!

Being aware of what exactly is going on all of the time is enormously tough for anyone particular person, especially during a high tension survival situation.

The best way to win a fight is to not get into one in the first place.  That’s what one of my old martial arts instructors used to tell me.  It’s good common sense when you’re not looking for trouble.  Use the same philosophy by being aware.  It’s easier and safer to avoid a potentially dangerous situation than fighting your way out of one.

I trust this will give you a good handle on this topic while opening the door to a new way of thinking which may one day save your life.

For now, be smart, be aware, be safe, be well, be bold, be fearless.


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What is Emergency Preparedness?

Impending Disaster - Are you Prepared for it and it's aftermath?

Impending Disaster – Are you Prepared for it and it’s aftermath?

What is Emergency Preparedness?

By: Ghost



Emergency preparedness is one way of saving yourself from complications and difficulties that may arise from natural and man-made disasters that can be life-threatening when they occur.

Most people lose their lives during emergency situations involving some natural disasters and other such emergencies because they never paid attention to emergency preparedness. Preparing yourself for likely emergency will help keep you alive before help and medical aid arrives.

Some emergency situations that can occur without warning and call for urgent attention include flooding, earthquake, tsunamis, landslides, bomb attacks, building collapse, etc. The natural disasters kill many in their wake out of exhaustion, lack of food, drinking water and immediate medical attention.

Emergency preparedness should include training and things to do to save lives when disasters strike. Some these things can include first aid treatment to those in grave conditions and other such care.

When disasters occur, it takes some time for bodies like Red Cross, government agencies and paramedics to arrive the scene in order to provide help for the trapped and injured. Certain foods are integral parts of emergency preparedness. There are emergency preparedness kits that can help keep people alive with good nutrition and hydration till help comes.


A Bare Minimum to have on-hand.

A Bare Minimum to have on-hand.


Emergency preparedness goes a long way to educate us and put us in the best position to help people around us when they cannot help themselves during emergencies. Emergency preparedness deals with both man-made and natural disasters and ways they can be prevented, managed and handled when they occur.

The whole aim of emergency preparedness is to reduce the overall impact of these disasters at all levels. In emergency preparedness, all hands should be on deck to achieve the common aim-a partnership among all levels of government such as federal, state, and local levels. Non-governmental organizations and communities equally have important roles to play when it comes to emergency preparedness.

Emergency Preparedness is important because without prior planning, warning and training, you are at a disadvantage to successfully deal with an adverse situation.


How many people knew this was coming, yet did nothing to prepare?

How many people knew this was coming, yet did nothing to prepare?


Additionally, Emergency Preparedness is not only about acquiring stocks of supplies and equipment to weather a storm.  Fundamentally, it is a state of mind.  In the military, it is called “war-gaming”.  Thinking about what can go wrong so that thought or effort can be directed at the issue to mitigate potential risks and hazards and thus lessen the impact of a disaster.  It is not about paranoia and retreating to the mountains when something happens, but rather a way of life towards self-reliance and self-sufficiency.  Relying on yourself rather than established institutions which cannot hope to deal with anything large-scale.

Keep in mind, emergencies are not always natural in origin.  Man-made disasters and emergencies are also common.  Bombings, hijackings, terrorist attacks, arson (wildfires or buildings), assaults and kidnappings.  These are all emergencies that occur and, with proper preparations can be loss likely to succeed in their intent.


How ready are you to deal with this?  Is your area at high risk?

How ready are you to deal with this? Is your area at high risk?


Ultimately, Emergency Preparedness is a state of mind.  Make a plan, build a kit, follow your plan and be ready.  Keep informed, and be alert.  Stay aware of your surroundings and the goings-on in the world and never take for granted that nothing can go wrong.

Remember, Murphy is always around someplace.

Be safe, be well, be aware, be prepared and be free from fear.


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7 Common Types of Firestarters

By: Ghost

One of the cornerstones of a survival plan is the ability to make fire at will. Fire has played a vital role in Humanity’s survival over the ages. Fire has given us warmth, warded off predators, cooked our food, signalled over great distances, been instrumental in the fashioning of tools and weapons, purified our water, been used as a weapon of war and ultimately been a mysterious force of power. However you look at it, fire is power. If you possess the ability to reliably make fire in any situation your chances of survival increase dramatically.  From a preparedness perspective, you should always have a lighter and some waterproof matches in your vehicle along with a candle.  It can keep you alive if you ever have to spend a night in your car.  If you’re out on the trail, always carry at least two methods to make fire – I recommend a lighter and a ferro rod & striker (my personal favourites).

To make fire, you need to understand it’s basic principles. Fire needs three elements to form:

  1. Heat

  2. Oxygen and;

  3. Fuel

Fire Triangle

Fire Triangle

If any of the above are absent, any efforts to start a fire will fail. Over the centuries, the goal of someone starting a fire would usually be to create a spark or ember within a tinder bundle and coax it to flame. In more modern times, advances in metallurgy, chemistry and manufacturing, matches and lighters (as well as modern versions of ancient technologies) have given us the abilities to produce flame on-demand. These days, natural gas and propane are at our fingertips to heat our homes and water, create mood from gas fireplaces, produce flames on our barbecues and roast turkeys in our ovens. But if you take that away, how can you replace it?

To this end, I’d like to go over some of the ways you can make fire. Some are better than others, but all have their pros and cons. Let’s take a look:


1. Bow Drill:

This is essentially “rubbing two sticks together” and getting the fire from friction. If knowledgeable and practiced, you can get a fire going anywhere you can find wood.  To build a bow drill, you need to fashion the following components:  a board, spindle, handle, the string and, the bow itself.   I will expand on this in a later post on fire-making.

Pros: Knowledge weighs nothing. You can do this almost anywhere if you know what you’re doing.
Cons: Doesn’t work well if wet. Different woods are easier/harder. Without cordage, high-skill level required to make the bow.

Primitive Bow Drill

Primitive Bow Drill

Bow Drill in Action

Bow Drill in Action











2. Flint and Steel:

This combination readily produced a spark which could be coaxed into an ember and then a flame within a tinder bundle.  To use this method, you would hold the flint in one hand and, using the striker in the other hand, strike the flint piece while keeping the tinder as close as possible to the flint to catch the spark from the striker.  Keeping the tinder on top of the flint is a good option to reduce the distance of travel for the spark.  Higher-carbon steel strikers work best.

Pros: Has been a mainstay method of firelighting for thousands of years, is light-weight, works in more inclement weather.
Cons: Requires some skill to use, usually requires a prepared tinder to catch the spark.

Flint Flake and Steel Striker.

Flint Flake and Steel Striker.

3. Fire Piston:

A simple and old-ways method to create an ember by compression of air within a cylinder. By ramming a piston with a small amount of tinder in the end cavity the force creates heat and ignites the material. With the ember glowing, it can be carefully but quickly delivered into a waiting tinder bundle to begin a fire.

Pros: Durability and longevity (lasts almost forever), small, light-weight.
Cons: Requires fine tinder and a practiced hand to use.


Fire Piston

Fire Piston


4. Glass or lens:

The power of the sun can be harnessed and focused into a powerful ray of heat and light which can enable you to directly ignite flammable material. With the right angle and focus, you can burn leaves and grasses in your tinder bundle into a jolly flame.  Tip:  If trying to ignite something light in colour, darkening it with some dry earth, charcoal or a dark marker would absorb the light energy more readily.  The magnifying method can be used with eye glasses, a clear plastic bag or a water bottle to achieve a similar effect with practice.  Even a polished pop can base would work to focus the sunlight.

Pros: Very light weight. Is very fast in ideal conditions.
Cons: Requires direct sunlight, much easier in the hotter months.

Magnifying Glass Fire

Magnifying Glass Fire

Magnifying glass fire

Magnifying glass fire












5. Magnesium and Ferrocerium (ferro) rods with steel:

A more modern take on a classic. Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (2000) describes Ferrocerium as “a man-made metallic material which gives off hot sparks at temperatures of 1,600 ºC (3,000º F) when scraped against a rough surface such as rigid steel”. In essence, it does what the old stuff did, but better. When coupled with magnesium shavings in a tinder bundle, this combination is highly reliable in modern survival applications to get a fire started. You just aim the rod in the direction where you want the sparks to go and push the scraper down in that direction, of pull the rod out from the scraper.  Either way, you’ll get a shower of sparks which will hopefully get your tinder smouldering.

Pros: Can be very compact. Works when wet or cold. Very reliable. Lasts for thousands of strikes. Relatively inexpensive. Easy to use.
Cons: Ferro rods come in various qualities. Sub-par manufacturing can create poor performance.


Ferro Rod and Steel Striker

Ferro Rod and Steel Striker


6. Matches (waterproof, strike-anywhere, survival-type):

Matches are just so simple and, if kept dry, an almost sure bet to start a fire in a non-windy area. There are also special “survival” matches which are waterproof and windproof and will flare-burn for 15 seconds no matter the wind or rain.

Pros: Very compact, light-weight and inexpensive. Can usually start a fire with minimal tinder.
Cons: Must be kept dry – unless “survival” type, can be blown out easily.

Strike-Anywhere Matches

Strike-Anywhere Matches

7. Cigarette Lighter (butane or fluid):

This is the tops. The pinnacle of human fire-making achievement. Now we can carry fire in our pockets and can bring forth flame in an instant regardless of wind, cold, or even rain in some cases. A relatively inexpensive option, at the very least, you should have one in you vehicle and survival kits. Maybe even carrying one with you…just in case.

Pros: Inexpensive, reliable, makes flame and sparks. Durable. Lasts a long time.
Cons: Has finite fuel. Some can be affected by water on the striker preventing sparking.

Lighters, Adjustable flame (green) and non-adjustable (red).

Lighters, Adjustable flame (green) and non-adjustable (red).



I hope this gives you an overview of the 7 Common Types of Firestarters. In the next post, I will talk about how to use these fire starters with various tinder options to get your fires going. Regardless of which method you prefer, always carry more than one. Redundancy will always benefit you should a piece of your kit fail. My personal favourites: a Bic lighter and the Light My Fire- Army ferro rod and steel. Simple, easy, effective, reliable. But you be your own judge, test them out and make up your own mind. You should be proficient in as many as you can.

In the meantime, be safe. Plan, practice and survive…without fear.



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