Tag Archive: fire stater

Fire Reflector Made of Stones

In this video you will see the process of making a fire reflector out of flat stones. Fire reflectors are crucial to keeping your fire long-lasting and hot. A reflector will reduce wind, which will expend the burning wood faster; preserving resources will help to ensure your survival in an emergency. Thin, flat stones may break due to heat, but this problem can be circumvented by placing the thin, flat stones just slightly farther from the fire. Thicker is always better, if indeed you can find thicker stones.



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Via: survivalist

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How to Baton Firewood

Mother Nature often doesn’t like to play nice. While we’d hope that if we had to spend the night in the woods, it would be nothing but clear skies and perhaps just a bit cool, the reality is you are just as likely to be sitting in the middle of a steady rain with not a dry twig in sight for the evening fire. But, as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way.

If you have a sturdy knife, you can find dry wood, even in a downpour. I do have to stress, though, that the knife must be of good quality. A cheap “Made in China” knock off probably won’t stand up to this sort of abuse. Most folding knives aren’t going to have the blade length necessary, either. Ideally, your blade should be four to five inches in length or longer. Batoning firewood is an age-old technique for splitting wood in the field. The objective is to split thick branches so as to expose the dry wood inside.

To baton properly, as well as safely, you need your knife and a solid surface, such as a flat rock or a tree stump. You can do this on packed earth as well, but I’ve found having a harder surface makes the job much easier.

The branches you select to baton or split need to be thinner than the length of your knife blade. For example, if your blade is five inches long, search for limbs that are about three inches thick. As for branch length, look for branches up to about three feet or so. While I’ve successfully batoned branches upwards of five feet long, shorter lengths make things easier to handle. If need be, you can always break or chop long branches into shorter pieces.

Concentrate your search on dead wood that is off the ground, either low branches still attached to trees or branches that have fallen but are resting on rocks or logs. The reason for this is branches lying directly on the ground will have absorbed more moisture and are less likely to be dry inside.

You will also need one branch to act as a hammer of sorts. A solid piece of wood around eighteen inches in length and a couple of inches thick will do the trick nicely.

Position the branch vertically on your rock or tree stump. Place the blade of your knife across the top of the branch, with the blade edge facing into the wood, making a T shape.

The blade should extend beyond the side of the branch by a couple of inches at least. Next, pick up your “hammer” stick and gently tap the spine of your knife blade, driving the edge into the wood. As it digs deeper, strike the blade more firmly and toward the tip of the blade.

Continue driving the blade through the branch until it splits completely or until you’ve reached a point where you can easily pull the pieces apart by hand. The wood inside should be dry and ready to burn.

Batoning is an excellent addition to the wilderness survival skills toolbox.


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Via:   thesurvivalmom

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Top 5 wilderness survival skills you need for urban survival

So how valuable are the wilderness survival skills in an urban disaster environment? Very. Here are some you need to know.

A friend had set up a bugout bag for his my daughter. She started college near Los Angeles, and he was always paranoid about the potential for a major earthquake in that area.

Among critical skills for urban survival is the ability to use a map and compass.

Then, in an instant, he went from being a paranoid dad to visionary, as a 6.0 earthquake was registered in Napa, CA. Extensive damage and he expected to run into some of the aftershocks later.

Great segue into this question from a reader: “What wilderness survival skills will work in an urban emergency situation.”

Well, a survival mindset is necessary for surviving anything. Studies have shown that 80 percent of people in any emergency won’t know what to do, and will need someone to lead them. Another 10 percent will do the wrong thing. And the ones who survive, the remaining 10 to 15 percent will survive because they relied on previous training.

So lets’ say an earthquake (or fill in your particular disaster) has occurred. You have to evacuate a building, and end up in a parking lot with a lot of other people. The weather is nasty, and the temperature is dropping.  There is no help in the foreseeable future. What skills do you need?

Here are five wilderness survival skills that could help you survive this urban emergency.

Shelter:  The first decision might be to get out of the elements. Do you know how to tie effective knots? Can you make a shelter out of the available materials?


It could be the best place to find shelter materials is in the nearby dumpster. Look for anything that can insulate you from the elements: plastic sheeting, newspapers, cardboard etc.

Check out the trash can – if it has a 55-gallon liner, you can make a quick shelter out of it.


Water: Any water you might find should be suspect, unless it is bottled or otherwise sealed from contamination.

Fire: You should know how to build a campfire using whatever flammable materials that might be available. Many of the people in the parking lot might need a place to get warm, and light as it gets dark will be really appreciated. Also, boiling water is usually the quickest way to purify it. Make sure to get any containers from the dumpster – you may need them later.


Obviously, if you smell gas or the situation seems dangerous, don’t play with fire!

Navigation: If you have to leave the area because staying would be dangerous, do you know where to go, and which way to take to get there? Can you read a city street map and use a compass? During a storm, or in the darkness, you may not be able to determine directions. Be able to orient a map and know how to read it.

First aid: Everybody should take a basic first aid class. You don’t have to reach EMT expertise, but a rudimentary knowledge is important. After any sort of disaster, somebody will be hurt, and you may be the only one available  to help. This is not the time to look around frantically and wonder what to do.

Obviously, there are a lot of other skills that you should know or learn. If you practice and prepare for an earthquake, for example, that means you’re pretty well set for other disasters.  You can’t prepare for every eventuality, but you can come close!


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Via: survivalcommonsense

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Instafire: Start fires instantly with no hassle


This weekend I had the opportunity to test out Instafire for review.  It’s claimed to burn at nearly 1,000 degrees and to easily be lit in the ice, snow, rain and even burn wet wood.  Unfortunately it is the middle of spring and there is no ice or wet wood at our place.  So for demonstration purposes I grabbed a bowl of ice from the freezer to simulate ice and snow, and I soaked some firewood in a bucket of water to simulate wet wood.  Here are the results:

1.  I used a bowl of ice from the house to simulate how instafire can even be lit on snow or ice

Ice to simulate snow and ice

2.  I soaked some firewood in a bucket of water to simulate how it can even burn wet wood

Soaked wood in a bucket to simulate wet wood

3. Simply pour some into a pile

Poor Instafire into a small pile

4. Light instafire with a match or lighter.

Light instafire with a match or lighter

5. Stack firewood around the flame close enough for the flame to burn it but not so close to smother the flame

stack firewood close to the flame

6. Wet wood will take some time as instafire gets hot and drys out the wood

wood starts to get hot as it drys out.

7. After a few minutes the wood is very hot and dried out from instafire, now you’ve got a nice little fire going

Wood is now burning

  • Instafire lights wet wood (burns nearly 1,000 degrees)
  • Burns on snow, water, or ice
  • Nonvolatile – no flareups
  • Long burn time 10-15 minutes
  • Waterproof pouch
  • No harmful chemicals
  • Safe to store near food
  • Leftover ash is a natural fertilizer

I will be sure to bring some Instafire next time I go camping.  You can get instafire here


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Via: americanpreppersnetwork

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Altoids Tin Alcohol Stove

Altoids are curiously strong mints and the tins they come in are curiously useful.  Of course, there are innumerable variations out there for survival kits that fit into an Altoids tin.  Those kits are fun projects, especially if you’re a fan of putting together puzzles.  This Altoids alcohol stove project is a bit simpler than trying to Jenga-fit a bunch of odds and ends into a small kit.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Altoids tin
  • Metal window screen
  • Scissors or tin snips
  • Perlite
  • Denatured alcohol (the higher the grade, the better)

Getting Started

Rinse out the empty Altoids tin and dry it with a towel.  This isn’t absolutely necessary but starting with a clean slate, so to speak, is never a bad idea.

Pull out a handful of perlite from the bag and pick through it, finding the larger chunks and dropping them into the tin.  Fill the tin with perlite all the way to the top.

Adding the Screen

Lay a corner of the screen over the open tin and use a marker to draw an outline that is the same size as the tin.  Use scissors or tin snips to cut this rectangle out.  You’ll note the tin has rounded corners so trim the screen the same shape.

Next, fit the window screen over the top of the perlite and tuck the sides and corners into the tin.  I’ve found using a butter knife works well for this purpose.  The window screen serves to keep the perlite in place as you carry the tin around.

Note: rather than buying a roll of window screen just for this little project, you can either use an old screen you don’t need anymore or you can buy a window screen repair kit.  That kit will come with a few small “patches” of screen that you can put together for this project.

Using the Altoids Alcohol Stove

That’s all there is to it!  When you are ready to use the stove, add three tablespoons or so of alcohol to the perlite, then lay a lit match on the screen to light.  This will burn for about ten minutes or so, long enough to bring a quart of water to a boil.

If you carry your little stove in a bug out bag, you can keep the fuel in a well-sealed plastic container. Keep that and the Altoids tin inside a Ziploc bag, in case the container leaks.

You can’t place your cooking pot or pan directly on the stove as that will smother the flame.  Instead, place a small brick on each side of the stove and lay your pot on the bricks.

If you need to lower the heat level a bit, place a square of aluminum foil over part of the screen.  You can also douse the flame completely the same way or by flipping the Altoids tin lid over the flame but it is safer to just let it burn out and cool down before storing.


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Via: thesurvivalmom

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Know your fires & choose the right extinguisher: INSTANT SURVIVAL TIP

Did you know there are 5 categories of fires? Not all of them respond to fire suppressants in the same way.

  • Class A Fires involve ordinary combustible materials, such as paper, wood, rubber, some plastics.
  • Class B Fires are those with flammable liquids as their source. These could be gasoline, kerosene, lighter fluids and oils. In these cases, only the vapors of the liquids burn.
  • Class C Fires are caused by energized electrical equipment. This is a good reason to rid your home of extension cords, one of the most common causes of house fires, and just in case you’re tempted to plug a power strip into another power strip, don’t!
  • Class D Fires are combustible metals, such as aluminum or magnesium. These aren’t the type of fires you would ordinarily encounter.
  • Class K Fires involve large amounts of cooking oils and occur in restaurants and food plants.

When it comes to buying fire extinguishers, fortunately the ones that are commonly available are effective on fires in classes A, B, and C. This extinguisher is an example of one that is a large enough size to be effective on most small house and vehicle fires.

If you have old extinguishers hanging around, why not put them to good use and take the kids and other family members outside and practice actually using them? Over time, the hoses on old extinguishers can become plugged and the powder inside can become compacted. There’s nothing like hands-on training to really imprint a very important piece of information, how to use a fire extinguisher. When faced with flames, few of us will be calm enough to slow down and read the printed instructions.


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Via: thesurvivalmom

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Ten ways to recycle and reuse empty prescription pill bottles


It seems like everybody has some sort of prescription medication. Most of them come in plastic bottles with seal-able caps. Here are some ways to make the best use of this underused resource.

Guess post by Leon Pantenburg

You never give much thought to plastic prescription bottles until someone gets put on medications. Suddenly, you are accumulating several of the small containers each month. Having a “Waste Not, Want Not” Depression-era mentality, I keep them, trusting that someday I will need a prescription bottle and have just the right size. Today, I have – literally – a bushel of different sizes, shapes and cap styles.

If you look around, you can find all sorts of uses for them.

Here are some general tips on using the handy little containers.

  • Check the cap fit first: make sure the container will seal and stay waterproof. If in doubt, test the sealed container in water.
  • Wrap them with several feet of duct tape. You need to carry duct tape anyway, and this is one place where the tape will be handy. You might also wrap a container with a bootlace or piece of paracord.
  • Use labels: You might know what is in the containers, but you may not be the one who needs to use it. On some containers, such as the cotton balls and petroleum jelly, you should post directions on how to use the contents.

Here are 10 different ways to use plastic prescription bottles:

Cotton balls and petroleum jelly make a great firestarter. Carry them in a prescription bottle and take along a quality ferrocerium rod for ignition.

Matches: Even if your matches are waterproof, they should be carried in a waterproof, shock proof container. You may have to trim the ends of some for them to fit in a prescription bottle, but that’s not a big deal. Make sure to put the abrasive strip from the match box in, too, even if they are of the strike-anywhere variety. Some brands of matches won’t work with different strips. And, you may be in a situation – as in falling in a river on a rainy day – where there is no dry place to strike a light. Carry several backup match caches in your gear.

Cotton balls and petroleum jelly firestarter: My all-time favorite, go-to firestarter is cotton balls infused with petroleum jelly. (Don’t waste your time with dryer lint.) The treated cotton balls can be lighted with anything, but I prefer a ferocerrium rod. (Check out the video.) Each treated cotton ball will burn for about four to five minutes, which should be plenty of time to get a fire going. I usually tape two bottles together, with matches in one and firestarter in another. Tape a ferro rod to both and you have a firestarting kit to depend on.

Sewing kit: A backpacking sewing kit doesn’t have to be elaborate. You need some needles, sturdy thread (I’ve been sewing on buttons with monofilament fishing line forever) and maybe a button or two. Look at the clothing you will be wearing, and think about what could tear or rip, and what you might need to fix it. Then pack your sewing kit bottle accordingly.

Fishing stuff: I don’t carry fishing gear in my pocket survival kits. Here’s why. But on a day hike, I might grab a lightweight fishing rod before leaving and some flies or lures. The prescription bottles are ideal for packing lures, hooks, weights etc. If you segregate your different types of fishing equipment, you can take what is needed instead of a hulking tackle box with stuff you won’t use.

Sunscreen: Or other specialty lotions, such as chamomile, may be needed.  Sunscreen is one of those lotions you’ll use year-round, and there’s no point in carrying a bulky tube if it isn’t needed.

Pills: Many of us regularly carry prescription medications, and that’s what these bottles were designed for. If you have different meds, separate them in little plastic bags before putting inside the bottle. You can also carry over-the-counter pills for minor aches and pain. As a minimum, I pack aspirin, Imodium and benadryl in addition to prescriptions.

Containers for flashdrives and digital cards: All records can be saved digitally, and you can take credit card numbers, ID info, PDFs of important documents etc and put them on a flash drive for safekeeping. Put the flashdrives or digital cards in a bottle to protect them from moisture, dust or dirt, and getting broken. Wrap the item in some cloth or something to pad it and keep it from rubbing.

Small screws, items needed for quick repairs: John Nerness, my hiking partner for more than 40 years, always carried a collection of aluminum pins, clevises and small repair pieces. The items are not heavy, and are well-chosen to fix a broken backpack and possibly a stove. (John is also an engineer, and always on the lookout to fix things.) During a hike in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, the strap connection on a backpack broke, and he had the repair part. Take along an aluminum pin, some split rings, a couple feet of wire, and any small parts that may break.

Geocache containers: A great field exercise for learning to use your GPS is geocaching. The idea is to put a cache somewhere, post the coordinates on any of a number of geocache websites and let someone else find it. It should be good, clean fun – the motto is “Cache in, trash out.”

Food containers: If you’re backpacking and want to reduce weight, only take along what will be needed.  Check to make sure the lids seal. For insurance, carry any liquids double wrapped in a plastic bag. You can carry cooking oil, syrup, spices or whatever is needed to turn trail food into a gourmet meal.

Look at your gear – chances are you can find something that can be packed more efficiently in a small prescription bottle. In addition to recycling a resource, you’re also making the best, most efficient use of items that might otherwise get thrown away.


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Via: survivalcommonsense

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How to Store Fuel Properly

Fuel is one of the most important things that you can use in an emergency. Whether it powers a car, generator, or stove; you’ll need to make sure that your fuel is ready for when you need it.

Handle all fuels with care. Remember that all of these could light at a moment’s notice.

We’ve collected a few tips on how to properly store different types of fuels, where you should store them, and how long they can store.

Containers for liquid fuel
When storing fuel, or other fire-starting material, you’ll want to make sure to put them in a different colored container. Most of the time, liquid fuels are stored in red containers. At a minimum, containers should be obviously labeled.

Make sure that containers are sturdy, reliable and have a good seal on them. You want to make sure that the fuel won’t leak. You should also consider a container that isn’t clear or translucent.


The American Petroleum Institute recommends that you only store gasoline for up to two years. This recommendation does not include gasoline that has been treated with a stabilizer.

There are many types of stabilizers on the shelf that can get your gasoline to store for a few years longer.

While I’ve used gasoline that has been stored for years on my lawn mower, using “stale” gasoline that has been stored for an long time can have some diverse effects on your motor. The recommendation for 1-2 years of shelf-life would provide optimal gasoline.

Diesel Fuel

Surprisingly, diesel doesn’t have a very long shelf-life. It can only last for 6-12 months.

The problem with storing diesel is that it begins to oxidize as soon as it leaves the refinery. Sediments begin to form that would clog the motor. This reaction can be slowed by keeping the fuel cooler and by adding stabilizers. The condensation from the gasoline can also form algae.

Some people who store diesel for a long time (the Navy, gas companies) use methods to stabilize their supply. These methods can be pretty expensive though.

We recommend that you store only a maximum of two-month’ worth of diesel at a time and empty the canisters into your car or generator when you rotate. (Thanks to Oblio13’s blog for the insight.)


Kerosene is one of the easiest fuels to store, and is more versatile than most people think. It does not evaporate as readily as gasoline and will remain stable in storage with no special treatment.

Kerosene has a shelf-life of about three months in a plastic container. Storing kerosene for longer than that can result in bacteria and mold forming in the container.

When you store the kerosene, be sure to label the container properly. You want to make sure that it doesn’t mix with gasoline or another type of fuel. You should store your kerosene in a different color container than gas to ensure that they are not mistakenly mixed.

Be sure to store the kerosene outdoors but protected from direct sunlight. Prolonged sunlight can degrade the kerosene.


Butane isn’t as popular of a fuel as gasoline or kerosene but many people use the fuel for lighters or other small fire starters. Many backpacking kits use butane fuel.

Butane comes in pressurized containers and the canisters are required, by law, to have instructions on the label regarding storage and usage of the product. Following the instructions will ensure that you keep your butane supply safe.

Proper storage is the first element in butane safety. Keep it in a safe place at home that is out of any children’s reach. Many containers can withstand even high temperatures. Even if you live in a climate that is rather warm, your butane should still store well … find a dry and cool place, out of the direct sunlight and away from any other sources of extreme heat.

Additionally, also make sure that the tip of the butane container is not damaged or clogged. If the tip is damaged or is clogged through use, remove the clog or throw away the container and buy a new one. (Read the Ebay article.)


You’ll obviously want to store your propane in a well-ventilated area outdoors. Make sure that your propane tank is stored upright – probably on a concrete slab.

Don’t store the propane tank next to anything flammable. Also ensure that it is stored in an area where a large amount of water will not fall on the tank – for example, next to a gutter or in the open under the rainfall.

Never store the propane in a house or garage. Click here to read Propane 101’s article about proper propane safety.


Charcoal is a great option for cooking fuel. They might get your hands a little bit messier but that’s not always a bad thing. The good thing is that you can store this dry fuel inside your home! However, never cook with charcoal indoors!

You can store charcoal in a dry location – like a bin or metal canister. You can also make a waterproof container by placing the charcoal in a bucket and use a gamma lid to seal the top. This should keep the briquets by not letting moisture into the bucket!

According to the Fireplace Supplier Register, coal can be stored in damp places without harming it. It can also be retained in areas that have little or no protection from the rain and snow. If you choose, so you don’t have to handle wet coal, you can cover it outside with tarps to keep it dry.

Store bagged coal inside the bags until you’re ready to use it. It will be easier to store it and carry it to the stove. Coal either comes by the bag or by the truckload (if you order several tons). Loose coal is easier to contain if it’s stored in wooden bins, but it’s not necessary. (Reference to the eHow article.)

Avoid the temptation to keep a lot of firewood in your home. You can obviously carry in a few logs indoors at a time, but the best location to store firewood is outdoors. It’s recommended that you keep your firewood at least 30 feet away from your house – not leaning against the house, next to the door. Ideally, wood should be kept off the ground too.

You can make a simple firewood holder out of two-by-fours in order to stack the wood properly. Be sure to stack the larger pieces of wood on the bottom of the pile. This will help the pile from leaning or falling over.Here is an article on how to build a firewood caddy.

You’ll want to use a cover to protect the wood from getting wet. You can purchase a specific log rack cover or a simple tarp will do. Make sure that the cover is secured so it doesn’t blow away in the wind.

You may notice that there are some bugs in your firewood. Do not spray your wood with insecticide! This can seep into the wood and fume in your house when you burn the log. Instead, the best thing to do is dry out the wood as quickly as possible. This will encourage most of the bugs to leave the wood.

There are a variety of matches out there. Avoid placing cheap matchbooks in your kits and emergency supplies. They can absorb moisture a lot easier.

Instead, focus on matches that are waterproof and have longer stems. This will allow you to light things from a safe distance and make sure that your matches are safe from moisture.

If you don’t have waterproof matches, you can place your matches in a waterproof container. Make sure that the container is a thick plastic and isn’t stored in direct sunlight.


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Via: survivalring

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Carbon monoxide, a cold weather threat

To keep warm air in and cold air out in winter months, most of us strive to keep every door and window tightly closed. While that may help reduce heating bills, it may also increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Each year we see emergency room visits and tragic deaths from carbon monoxide that can be prevented with greater awareness and actions to avoid these manageable risks,” said Stephen May, MD, medical director for the TDH Emergency Preparedness Program.

“While carbon monoxide poisoning is a year-round threat, it’s more common in cold weather when people are seeking ways to keep warm by using space heaters inside.”

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that causes more than 400 deaths and 20,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. each year. It is found in combustion fumes produced by small gasoline engines, stoves, generators, lanterns and gas ranges or by burning charcoal or wood in a fireplace. Carbon monoxide from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces and people and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing the gas.

The first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion and they are often mistaken for common winter illnesses such as severe colds and flu. Over time, exposure to carbon monoxide can cause brain damage and death.

The best way to protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning is to install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. These work very much like smoke detectors, giving a loud beep or other signal when carbon monoxide is detected. The inexpensive devices are available at most hardware stores.


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Via: survivalring

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It’s been incredibly frigid in parts of the U.S. and Canada this year, and it’s time to discuss winter car survival. Many deaths from exposure are avoidable if some simple precautions are taken.

In other articles we’ve discussed hypothermia, frostbite, falling through the ice, and all sorts of cold weather issues, but these same problems can occur right in the driver’s seat of the family car. It’s important to have an idea of how to stay healthy if you are stranded in your vehicle during a blizzard.


The first question you should ask before you get in the car in cold weather is “Is this trip necessary?”. If you don’t have to leave the house in a snowstorm, don’t. Period. If you do, drive as if your life depended on it, because it does. Don’t speed, tailgate, weave from lane to lane, and don’t go on cruise control so you can use your cell phone. Make turns slowly and deliberately, and be careful to avoid quick stops and starts.

Keep an eye on weather forecasts before you head out; conditions can change rapidly if a cold snap is on the way.


Despite your best efforts, you’re stuck on the road in a blizzard. Help may be on the way, but what if it isn’t?  The first thing to do is to stay calm and, for Pete’s sake, don’t leave the car.  It’s warmer there than outside and, at least, you’re protected from the wind.  Having adequate shelter is one of the keys to survival in the wilderness or on a snow-covered highway.

Wet snow can block up your exhaust system and cause carbon monoxide gas to enter the passenger compartment. You’ll need fresh air, but don’t crack a window on the side where the wind is coming from.  If you’re in a group, huddle together as best you can to create a warm pocket in the car. Rub your hands, put them in your armpits, or otherwise keep moving to make your muscles produce heat.

Maybe you can dig yourself out, but beware of overexertion in extreme cold. You’ll sweat, and wet clothes are a main cause of hypothermia: A condition where your body core loses heat to the point that you could succumb to exposure.  If you have flares, use them to let others know you need help.


There are a certain number of items that you should always have in your car, especially in cold weather. These are meant to keep you safe if the unthinkable happens and you’re stranded without hope of rescue anytime soon. This is what the well-dressed winter survival car kit contains:

  • Wool Blankets
  • Spare sets of dry clothes, including socks, hats, and mittens
  • Instant heat packs
  • A first aid kit
  • A light source and batteries
  • Water and energy snacks
  • Matches or a lighter in case you need to manufacture heat:
  • A small camping shovel (often foldable)
  • Flares

Of course, your cell phone will be useful to communicate with family if possible. I’m sure you can think of other items that would be useful in this situation. Put together a survival kit for your car that meets your needs and keeps you out of trouble.


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Via: doomandbloom

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