When It Hits the Fan/Personal Strategies and Know-how

Going adventuring edit

The simplest and well proven strategy to get oneself out of trouble, is to announce to people that depend on you (coworkers, your boss, family, landlord, etc) where you are going and for how long. In the event that something happens, there will be a chance that someone will start questioning what happened to you as soon as the delay is detected, since they will not only have a vested interest on your wellbeing and safe return, but also in remembering the details of what you told them.

Leaving behind copy of any plans made for the trip and a list of people that will be participating in the event and their contacts will also increase the chances of a successful rescue. Even if one gets into trouble outside of where one had planed to be, there will be some benefit in the knowledge where any rescue efforts will first be deployed, this may help or not, but will permit to make better choices regarding the situation.


Keep in mind that the weather can change suddenly though. Just because it is warm when you begin your outing does not mean it will be warm the whole time. If there is a chance that the weather will turn cold, take along some cold weather gear as well. Check an almanac to see how cold it can get during the time you are planning to be out.

As we have covered planning what to pack and predicting what will need is a basic to ensure that you will be able to not only enjoy your projected outing but offers a greater chance of success in the face of the unpredictable.

Clothing edit

Warm Weather Clothing
Here is a list of clothing appropriate for a warm-weather outing, with extras included just in case the weather turns nasty, which you should never underestimate the chance of happening, anytime!

  • Thick socks
  • Shorts
  • Polypropylene long-johns/woolen trousers, NEVER JEANS, remember cotton kills
  • Polypropylene long sleeve top
  • Light Shirt (short sleeve)
  • Wind Stopper
  • Hat with a wide brim
  • Woolen hat, just in case
  • Sturdy boots
  • Rain Jacket, just in case
  • Sunscreen (not technically clothing but essential)

Cold Weather Clothing
Remember to dress in layers. This will allow you to control your temperature better. When dressing in layers put lightest layers closest to you. This will make them easier to remove without losing a lot of heat.

In cold weather, you do not want to sweat, because that will soak your clothing and chill you. If you find yourself working up a sweat, remove a layer of clothing, or open a zipper.

Rely on wool or polypropylene rather than on cotton as these stay warm even when wet. There is a popular saying among experienced outdoorsmen that "Cotton kills." This is because when cotton gets wet, it steals the body's heat which can lead to hypothermia and death. Your outer layer should be wind-proof, as this greatly increases the warmth of your clothing. This includes:

  • Thermal Underwear
  • Light shirts
  • Heavy Shirts
  • Wool Sweater
  • Wind Breaker
  • Fleece Pants
  • Nylon Pants or snow pants
  • Overcoat
  • Wool Socks
  • Boots
  • Warm Hat

For comfortable sleeping and for modesty on overnight trips, bring pajamas or a sweat suit. In many places where it is warm during the day it gets cold at night, so be prepared.

Miscellaneous Gear edit

Foil Blanket An emergency foil blanket (also known as a Space blanket, Mylar blanket, first aid blanket, thermal blanket or weather blanket) is a blanket used in emergencies to reduce heat losses in a person's body caused by thermal radiation, water evaporation and convection. This is a very low-cost, light-weight and compact addition to your kit. It has so many uses besides exposure prevention, in the rain it could be used to repel water or used for clean water collection. Also makes for a big signaling device.

Navigation skills edit

Survival situations are resolved by finding one's way to safety. This requires some navigation or movement:

Celestial navigation edit

using the sun and the night sky

Reading a map edit

particularly a topographic map together with a compass

Using a GPS receiver edit

Magnetic compass considerations edit

Making a crude compass edit

Path Selection edit


Deciding how to go form point A to B is extremely important. It is part of the planing process of movement, most of the time we do not even realize this simple process but at times that significant effort and resources will be consumed on the task planning how to proceed should be the second step after deciding for a destination. Path selection is a decision making process by which one alternative is selected over another. Several procedures for making decisions have been outlined in effort to minimize inefficiencies or redundancies. These are idealized (or normative) processes, and describe how decisions might be made in an ideal world, and how they are described in official documents. Real-world processes are not as orderly.


Planning starts by selecting or deciding for a specific destination choice (this selection may in itself depend on many factors) fallowed by mode and route choices. The route selected my constrain or be depended on the modes of locomotion available.

It can be hard to decide if a path selection starts by establishing a destination, since all other components at some point have the same strength on the decision process. But undoubtedly if one is not required to go somewhere that there is no need to move, except if one is forced to move and then the destination may even be irrelevant. It all depends on the specificity of the situation that motivates the choice of a path.

In long trips, making a trip distribution (or intermediary destination choice or zonal interchange analysis). This step matches several origins and destinations to develop a “trip table” a matrix that displays the number of trips going from each origin to each destination. Priorities and resources available as well as costs (even effort) must be taken in account. This is basically turning any complex voyage in a sequence of smaller steps as to reach the final objective.

Trip distribution's zonal interchange analysis yields a set of origin destination tables which tells where the trips will be made, mode choice analysis allows the modeler to determine what mode of transport will be used. Mode choice analysis follows destination choice and may affect route choice.

Route assignment, route choice, or traffic assignment concerns the selection of routes (alternative called paths) between origins and destinations in transportation networks. To determine facility needs and costs and benefits, we need to know the number of travelers on each route and link of the network (a route is simply a chain of links between an origin and destination).

The Fundamentals of Transportation wikibook is a good work to examine in detail the complexity and analysis behind planning transportation.

It is interesting to note that path selection as a decision process is not only used for moving from point A to B physically but is the perfect illustration not only of a normal decision process, but even as we saw in how to divide a complex problem in smaller more manageable items. Keep this is mind when thinking about any type cf decision, solution.

Dealing with extreme temperatures edit

Cold edit

Extreme cold snaps are hazardous to humans and their livestock. In a 2003 Mongolian cold snap, almost 30,000 livestock animals perished due to excessive snow and cold. When the temperature drops, caloric intake must increase to maintain body heat or for shivering [1]. Cold, especially in combination with other inclement weather is especially deadly [2].


To do:
Avoid wind, water and direct contact with heat sapping surfaces (rock, ice). Oil/Grease as a barrier for cold.

Heat edit

A heat wave is a disaster characterized by heat which is considered extreme and unusual in the area in which it occurs. Heat waves are rare and require specific combinations of weather events to take place, and may include temperature inversions, katabatic winds, or other phenomena. The worst heat wave in recent history was the European Heat Wave of 2003.


To do:
Restrict the use of using unknown oils/grease for protection, importance of hydration, avoid drinking alcohol and physical exertion, seek shade, create sun shelters, consideration about the sun.

Fire edit

Fire is probably humans' first technology. It is a cornerstone on our evolution as a species and how we manage to adapt to many distinct environments. It permits not only to warm ourselves, light the dark, serve as a weapon or communication device, but to make food more digestible, to clear fields, to break stone and work metals. Nothing has so much importance to mankind that this simple chemical reaction.

Light, Signaling and Security edit

Fire is also an easy to create source of light, in a dark environment and at night where it also permits safer movements. The light and smoke can serve also as a signaling device. It is very rare for small contained fires to occur naturally, so fire can also be an indication of human presence.

One can also use fire as a weapon or a dissuader for wild life, most wild animals will have an instinctual fear of fire. This fear is mostly due to learned experiences and is mostly based on smell, the negation of cover, the novelty and heat may also be a factor.

Natural occurrence edit

A fire is also a natural disaster that may destroy ecosystems like grasslands, forests causing great loss of life, property, livestock and wildlife. Bush and forest fires are generally started by lightning, but also by human negligence or arson.

Arson edit

Arson is the premeditated intent of setting a fire with intent to cause damage. The definition of arson was originally limited to setting fire to buildings, but was later expanded to include other objects, such as bridges, vehicles, and private property. Arson is the greatest cause of fires in data repositories. (See [3])

Campfire edit

A campfire is a fire lit at a campsite, usually in a fire ring. Campfires are a popular feature of camping, particularly among organized campers such as Scouts or Guides. Without proper precautions they are also potentially dangerous. A certain degree of skill is needed to properly build a campfire, to keep it going, and to see that it is properly extinguished.

A campfire have serves three primary objectives.

  • Heat - For warmth and preparation of food and tool preparation.
  • Security - Fire is a weapon and a dissuader, especially against wildlife. Most animals fear fire.
  • Light source - Visibility and signalling. Light and smoke are extremely good for calling attention and mark a presence.

The dangers edit

A campfire may burn out of control in two basic ways: on the ground or in the trees. Dead leaves or pine needles on the ground may ignite from direct contact with burning wood, or from thermal radiation. Alternatively, airborne embers (or their smaller kin, sparks) may ignite dead material in overhanging branches. This latter threat is less likely, but a fire in a branch will be virtually impossible to put out without firefighting equipment, and may spread more quickly than a ground fire.

Embers may simply fall off of logs and be carried away by the air, or they may be ejected at high speed by exploding pockets of sap. With these dangers in mind, some places prohibit all open fires, particularly during times of the year that are prone to wildfires.

Campfires are prohibited in many public camping areas. Public areas with large tracts of woodland usually have signs indicating the level of fire danger, which usually depends on recent rain and the amount of deadfalls or dry debris; when the danger is highest, all open fires are prohibited. Even in safer times, it is common to require registration and permits to build a campfire. Such areas are often kept under observation by rangers, who will dispatch someone to investigate any unidentified plume of smoke.

Finding a site, and other safety measures edit

Ideally, every fire should be lit in a fire ring. If a fire ring is not available, a temporary fire site may be constructed. One way is to cover the ground with sand, or other soil mostly free of flammable organic material, to a depth of a few centimeters. The area of sand should be large enough to safely contain the fire and any pieces of burning wood that may fall out of it. Sand piles should be scattered after the fire has been put out. If the topsoil is moist, it may suffice to simply clear it of any dead plant matter.

Fire rings, however, do not fully protect material on the ground from catching fire. Flying embers are still a threat, and the fire ring may become hot enough to ignite material in contact with it.

No fire should be lit close to trees, tents or other fire hazards. This includes overhanging branches; some carry dead, dry material that can ignite from a single airborne ember. In addition, a fire may harm any roots under it, even if they are protected by a thin layer of soil. Conifers run a greater risk of root damage, because they lack taproots and their roots run close to the surface.

Fires also should not be lit on bare rocks. The ash will leave a black stain that cannot be easily removed, but the fire's heat can lead to more dramatic consequences. It will cause the outer layer of the rock to expand, possibly causing it to crack. It may also boil pockets of water contained in the rock.

An additional safety measure is to have sand and water on hand to smother and douse the fire if it does get out of the fire pit. It is wise to gather these materials before they are actually needed.

Types of fuel edit

There are, by conventional classification, three types of material involved in building a fire without manufactured fuels.

  1. Tinder is anything that can be lit with a match. The best natural tinder is dead, dry pine needles or grass; a more comprehensive list is given in the article on tinder. A quantity of tinder sufficient to fill one's cupped hands to the top is the bare minimum needed.
  2. Kindling is an arbitrary classification including anything bigger than tinder but smaller than fuelwood. In fact, there are gradations of kindling, from sticks thinner than a finger to those as thick as a wrist. A quantity of kindling sufficient to fill a hat may be enough, but more is better.
  3. Fuelwood ranges from small logs two or three inches across to larger logs that can burn for hours. It is typically impossible to gather without a hatchet or other cutting tool, so fuelwood must usually be brought from home or purchased at a nearby store.

The gathering of fuel in natural areas is often restricted. Cutting of living trees is almost always forbidden - but neither is it very useful, because sap-filled wood does not burn well. Squaw wood (dead parts of standing trees) may also be prohibited. Wood lying on the ground is usually permitted.

Different Builds for fire edit

Having found a suitable site and gathered materials, the fire-builder has a variety of designs to choose from. A good design is very important in the early stages of a fire. Most of them make no mention of fuel-wood - in most designs, fuel-wood is never placed on a fire until the kindling is burning strongly.

  • The tipi fire-build is perhaps the best, but it is takes some patience to construct. First, the tinder is piled up in a compact heap. The smaller kindling is arranged around it, like the poles of a tipi. For added strength, it may be possible to lash some of the sticks together. A tripod lashing is quite difficult to execute with small sticks, so a clove hitch should suffice. (Synthetic rope should be avoided, since it produces pollutants when it burns.) Then the larger kindling is arranged above the smaller kindling, taking care not to collapse the tipi. A separate tipi as a shell around the first one may work better.
  • A lean-to fire-build starts with the same pile of tinder as the tipi fire-build. Then, a long, thick piece of kindling is driven into the ground at an angle, so that it overhangs the tinder pile. The smaller pieces of kindling are leaned against the big stick so that the tinder is enclosed between them.
  • A log cabin fire-build likewise begins with a tinder pile. The kindling is then stacked around it, as in the construction of a log cabin. The first two kindling sticks are laid parallel to each other, on opposite sides of the tinder pile. The second pair is laid on top of the first, at right angles to it, and also on opposite sides of the tinder. More kindling is added in the same manner. The smallest kindling is placed over the top of the assembly. Of all the fire-builds, the log cabin is the least vulnerable to premature collapse, but it is also inefficient, because it makes the worst use of convection to ignite progressively larger pieces of fuel.
  • A variation on the log cabin starts with two pieces of fuelwood with a pile of tinder between them, and small kindling laid over the tops of the logs, above the tinder. The tinder is lit, and the kindling is allowed to catch fire. When it is burning briskly, it is broken and pushed down into the consumed tinder, and the larger kindling is placed over the top of the logs. When that is burning well, it is also pushed down. Eventually, a pile of kindling should be burning between two pieces of fuelwood. The logs will eventually catch fire from it.
  • Another variation is called the funeral pyre method because it is used for building funeral pyres. Its main difference from the standard log cabin is that it starts with thin pieces and moves up to thick pieces. If built on a large scale, this type of fire-build collapses in a controlled manner without restricting the air flow.
  • The traditional Finnish rakovalkea (literally "slit bonfire") is constructed by placing one long piece of fuelwood atop another, parallel and bolstering them in place with four sturdy posts driven into the ground. (Traditionally, whole unsplit tree trunks are used for the fuelwood.) Kindling and tinder are placed between the logs in sufficient quantity (while avoiding the very ends) to raise the upper log and allow ventilation. The tinder is always lit at the center so the bolstering posts do not burn prematurely. The rakovalkea has two excellent features. First, it burns slowly but steadily when lit; it does not require ardous maintenance, but burns for a very long time. A well constructed rakovalkea of two thick logs of two meters in length can warm two lean-to shelters for a whole sleeping shift. The construction means that the logs themselves act as wind-cover! Thus, exposure to smoke is unlikely for the sleepers; nevertheless someone should always watch in case of an emergency. Second, it can be easily scaled to larger sizes (for a feast) limited only by the length of available tree trunks.

Lighting the fire edit

A campfire

Once the fire is built, the next step is to light the tinder, using either a match or a lighter. A reasonably skillful fire-builder using reasonably good material will only need one match. The tinder will burn brightly, but be reduced to glowing embers within half a minute. If the kindling does not catch fire, the fire-builder must gather more tinder, determine what went wrong and try to fix it.

One of five problems can prevent a fire from lighting properly: wet wood, wet weather, too little tinder, too much wind, or a lack of oxygen. Rain will, of course, douse a fire, but a combination of wind and fog also has a stifling effect. Metal fire rings generally do a good job of keeping out wind, but some of them are so high as to impede the circulation of oxygen in a small fire. To make matters worse, these tall fire rings also make it very difficult to blow on the fire properly.

Steady, forceful blowing may be in order for a small fire in an enclosed space that has mysteriously slowed down, but blowing may extinguish a fire if it is done abruptly or when it is not needed. Most large fires easily create their own circulation, even in unfavorable conditions, but the variant log-cabin fire-build suffers from a chronic lack of air so long as the initial structure is maintained.

Once the large kindling is burning, all of the kindling should be put on the fire, save for one piece at least a foot long. This piece is useful later to push pieces of fuelwood where they are needed. Once all of the kindling is burning, the fuelwood should be placed on top of it (unless, as in the rakovalkea fire-build, it is already there). For best results, two or more pieces of fuelwood should be leaned against each other, as in the tipi fire-build.

Campfire activities edit

Australian "snags" cooking on a campfire

Campfires have been used for cooking since time immemorial. However, portable stoves have all but replaced campfires in this regard. For cooking information, see cooking on a campfire. Other practical, though not commonly needed, applications for campfires include drying wet clothing, alleviating hypothermia and use as a distress signal.

Most campfires, though, are lit exclusively for recreation. People tend to find something fascinating about flames and glowing coals, so a campfire is usually an agreeable way to pass the time from dusk to bedtime, particularly for those in a pensive mood. Campfires are also good venues for intimate conversation and storytelling; yarns and stories about poltergeists are particularly popular.

Having the control of fire is also a good moral booster, people fell safer by all the benefits that a fire provides.

Without matches edit

There are several ways to light a fire without any matches. All of them work with only the lightest and most flammable tinder, such as paper.

  • On a sunny day, a lens may be used to focus the light onto the tinder. The most suitable lenses are magnifying glasses (included in some compasses), but eyeglasses may also suffice.
  • The "bow and drill" method is also well-known, but it is a lot of work. The bow is similar to that used for archery. To make such a bow, find a thin rope or flexible but sturdy vine, and a sturdy stick about two feet long. Tie the rope to one end of the stick, and make another knot on the other end of the stick, with the rope between the ends not quite taut. The drill is another straight stick, thin but strong, preferably stripped of bark and with a sharpened end. The center of the bowstring (rope) is wrapped around the drill, with the two sticks at right angles to each other. The end of the drill is placed on a piece of bark in the middle of the tinder. The bow is moved rapidly back and forth to rotate the drill and create heat and friction on the bark. This method works best with an assistant feeding the tinder to the hot spot.
  • The crudest method of igniting a fire is to strike two hard objects (at least one of them combustible) together to produce a spark, and ignite tinder from the spark. The substances traditionally used to produce sparks are flint and either steel or pyrite. Replacing the steel with ferrocerium (lighter "flint") produces more sparks with less effort. Rotting wood (punkwood) or charred fuel are sometimes used as tinder when using this method.

Charpaper edit

Charpaper is used in starting a fire with flint and steel. It is traditionally made from cotton that has been processed into charcoal. When a spark comes into contact with charpaper, it makes the charpaper glow, but the charpaper will not ignite. After the charpaper glows, you put it against your tender and blow.

To make charpaper, you need some cotton material. Cut it into approximately 2 inch squares. You then place 5-15 pieces of the cloth into a metal can that can be sealed. You will want to punch a small hole into the top and bottom of the can, in order to allow the gases to escape. You then place the can contain the cloth into a fire. you can have it in open flames or in hot coals, or even in the end stages of the fire. The hotter the fire, the faster the cloth will be transformed. you will want to roll the can in the fire to evenly cook the cloth, and continue to do so until you stop seeing gases coming from the holes in the can. When the gases stop coming out, you want to take the can out of the fire, and place something on the can to block the holes. a rock or piece of wood will do fine. You then want to let the can cool down for at least 5 minutes. This ensures that when you open the can, the char paper doesn't get consumed from the sudden introduction of oxygen. Once the can has cooled, remove the lid, and remove the pieces of charcloth. You want to make sure that they are completely blackened, if any of the original color from the cloth is still evident, you will want to cook that cloth again. This is because the cloth has not been completely burnt, and will ignite instead of holding a spark. The flame resulting from such an ignition is very fast, and would be difficult to utilize in building a fire.

If you want to make some, you can use an altoids can, an old t-shirt, and a campfire.

Fire transportation edit

At times it may be unpractical to spend the efforts of restarting a fire from scratch. If fire is already available there are various methods of transporting fire, this will depend on materials available and time between the restarting the process.


To do:
Mention some materials that permit to carry coals, and considerations on building a fire torch.

Extinguishing fire edit

Leaving a fire unattended is dangerous! Any number of accidents might occur in the absence of people, leading to property damage, personal injury or possibly a wildfire. Ash is a very good insulator, so embers left overnight will only lose a fraction of their heat.

Large amounts of water are indispensable for extinguishing a fire. To properly cool a fire, water should be poured on all the embers, including places that are not glowing red. The water will boil violently and carry ash in the air with it, dirtying anything nearby but not posing a safety hazard. The water should be poured until the hissing noises stop. Then the ashes should be stirred with a stick to make sure that the water has penetrated all the layers; if the hissing continues, more water should be added. A fire is fully extinguished if the ashes are cool to the touch.

If water is scarce, sand may be used. The sand will deprive the fire of oxygen quite well, but it is much less effective than water at absorbing heat. Once the fire has been covered thoroughly with sand, all water that can be spared should be poured on it, and the sand stirred into the ash.

Finally, in lightly-used wilderness areas, it is best to replace anything that was moved while preparing the fire site, and scatter anything that was gathered, so that it looks as natural as possible.

Artisanal stoves edit


To do:
Fire and functions should have been covered. Simple Camp Stove from a Tin Can/ {{Youtube}}

Water edit

Flood edit

A flood is a natural disaster caused by too much rain or water in a location, and could be caused by many different sets of conditions. Floods can be caused by prolonged rainfall from a storm, including thunderstorms, rapid melting of large amounts of snow, or rivers which swell from excess precipitation upstream and cause widespread damage to areas downstream, or less frequently the bursting of man-made dams. A river which floods particularly often is the Huang He in China, and a particularly damaging flood was the Great Flood of 1993.

Flash flood edit

Drowning edit

Drowning is caused by suffocation when a liquid causes interruption of the body's absorption of oxygen from the air leading to asphyxia. The primary cause of death is hypoxia and acidosis leading to cardiac arrest.

Children have drowned in buckets and toilets

Drowning is one of the major causes of death for children under 14 years old. Children have drowned in wading pools and even bath tubs. There is also a correlation of the rate of drowning in populations around the world and their access to water, the climate and the national swimming culture. For example, typically the United Kingdom suffers 450 drownings per annum or 1 per 150,000. Of population whereas the United States suffers 6,500 drownings or around 1 per 50,000 of population.

So the risk or drowning seems related to the situation and awareness of the danger allied to the capacity correctly ascertain one's capacity to extrude oneself from the danger of drowning.

Prevention edit

The reduction of drowning through education has become a significant element of school curricula and is integrated into most water sports training. The elements incorporated into this training vary according to the particular context.

Most current training emphasizes the need to:

  • Learn to swim
  • Learn and practice water rescue.
  • Know personal strengths and limitations in the water.
  • Stay within one's depth unless a strong swimmer.
  • Keep a watch out for others.
  • Swim with company, finding a buddy, children to swim with a responsible adult.
  • Ensure that children have competent supervision in or near water.
  • Swim in areas supervised by lifeguards in preference to areas without.
  • Be cautious and very conservative when swimming at night.
  • Ensure that boats are reliable, properly loaded and that functional emergency equipment is onboard.
  • Wear a properly fitting lifejacket while enjoying water sports such as sailing, surfing or canoeing.
  • Pay attention to the weather, tides and water conditions, especially currents. Currents always look weaker from the outside!
  • Have a fence around swimming pools.
  • Consider cold-acclimatisation training for swimming in very cold water, by joining a winter swimming club.

Most current training emphasizes the need to avoid:

  • Swimming while drunk or on drugs.
  • Using hyperventilate to extend a breath-hold dive, see deep and shallow water blackout
  • Relying on swimming aids as they may fail.
  • Playing games that will put your life, or others', at risk.
  • Pretending to be a drowning victim, unless ALL bystanders are informed that this is an exercise.
  • Diving into water where the bottom cannot clearly be seen or depth determined.
  • Walking on ice unless it is known absolutely that the ice is thick enough over the entire route.
  • Handling electrical devices in or near the water.
  • Exceeding personal limits.
  • Swimming in cold water unless first, fully cold-acclimatised and experienced winter swimmer.

Drowning risk situations edit

A sign with 83 tally marks warns hikers on the trail to Hanakapiai Beach, Hawaii.

Most drownings occur in water, freshwater (rivers and lakes, pools, etc) or in seawater, drownings in other fluids are rare and are often industrial accidents.

Common conditions that may lead to drowning include but are not limited to:

  • Water conditions exceed the swimmer's ability; - turbulent or fast water, water out of depth, falling through ice, rip currents, undertows, currents, waves and eddies.
  • Entrapment; - physically unable to get out of the situation because of a lack of an escape route, snagging or by being hampered by clothing or equipment.
  • Impaired judgment and physical incapacitation arising from the use of drugs, principally alcohol.
  • Incapacitation arising from the conditions; - cold (hypothermia), shock, injury or exhaustion.
  • Incapacitation arising from acute illness while swimming; - heart attack, seizure or stroke.
  • Forcible submersion by another person; - murder or misguided children's play.
  • Blackout underwater after rapid breathing to extend a breath-hold dive; - shallow water blackout.
  • Blackout on ascent from a deep breath-hold dive due to latent hypoxia; - deep water blackout.

People have drowned in as little as 30mm of water lying face down, in one case in a wheel rut. Children have drowned in baths, buckets and toilets; inebriates or those under the influence of drugs have died in puddles. For a more detailed list of causes see swimming.

Rescue and treatment edit

(July 22, 2008) Seaman Apprentice Damien Bell uses his uniform as a flotation device during a training exercise in the combat training ...

Many pools and designated bathing areas either have lifeguards, a pool safety camera system for local or remote monitoring, or computer aided drowning detection. However, bystanders play an important role in drowning detection and either intervention or the notification of authorities by phone or alarm. No person should attempt a rescue that is beyond his or her ability or level of training.

If a drowning occurs or a swimmer becomes missing, bystanders should immediately call for help. The lifeguard should be called if present. If not, emergency medical services and paramedics should be contacted as soon as possible.

The first step in rescuing a drowning victim is to ensure your own safety. Then bring the victim's mouth and nose above the water surface. For further treatment it is advisable to remove the victim from the water. Conscious victims may panic and thus hinder rescue efforts. Often, a victim will cling to the rescuer and try to pull himself out of the water, submerging the rescuer in the process. To avoid this, it is recommended that the rescuer approach the panicking victim with a buoyant object, or from behind, twisting the victim's arm on the back to restrict movement. If the victim pushes the rescuer under water, the rescuer should dive downwards to escape the victim.

Actively drowning victims do not usually call out for help simply because they lack the air to do so. It is necessary to breathe to yell. Human physiology does not allow the body to waste any air when starving for it. They rarely raise their hands out of the water. They use the surface of the water to push themselves up in an attempt to get their mouths out of the water. Lifting arms out of the water always pushes the head down. Head low in the water, occasionally bobbing up and down is another common sign of active drowning.

There can be splashing involved during drowning, usually a butterfly like stroke where the hands barely clear the waters surface, and sometimes victims can look like they are climbing an invisible ladder in the water.

Extenuating factors such as increased levels of stress, secondary injuries, and environmental factors can increase the likelihood of distress and/or drowning in persons who end up overboard. It is important that you recognize the behaviors associated with aquatic distress and drowning, so you can make informed decisions during emergencies.

Signs or behaviors associated with drowning or near-drowning:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back to float
  • Uncontrollable movement of arms and legs, rarely out of the water.

After successfully approaching the victim, negatively buoyant objects such as a weight belt are removed. The priority is then to transport the victim to the water's edge in preparation for removal from the water. The victim is turned on his or her back. A secure grip is used to tow panicking victims from behind, with both rescuer and victim laying on their back, and the rescuer swimming a breaststroke kick. A cooperative victim may be towed in a similar fashion held at the armpits, and the victim may assist with a breaststroke kick. An unconscious victim may be pulled in a similar fashion held at the chin and cheeks, ensuring that the mouth and nose is well above the water.

There is also the option of pushing a cooperative victim lying on his or her back with the rescuer swimming on his or her belly and pushing the feet of the victim, or both victim and rescuer lying on the belly, with the victim hanging from the shoulders of the rescuers. This has the advantage that the rescuer can use both arms and legs to swim breaststroke, but if the victim pushes his or her head above the water, the rescuer may get pushed down. This method is often used to retrieve tired swimmers. If the victim wears lifejacket, buoyancy compensator, or other flotation device that stabilizes his or her position with the face up, only one hand of the rescuer is needed to pull the victim, and the other hand may provide forward movement or may help in rescue breathing while swimming, using for example a snorkel.

Special care has to be taken for victims with suspected spinal injuries, and a back board (spinal board) may be needed for the rescue. In water, CPR is ineffective, and the goal should be to bring the victim to a stable ground quickly and then to start CPR.

If the approach to a stable ground includes the edge of a pool without steps or the edge of a boat, special techniques have been developed for moving the victim over the obstacle. For pools, the rescuer stands outside, holds the victim by his or her hands, with the victim's back to the edge. The rescuer then dips the victim into the water quickly to achieve an upward speed of the body, aiding with the lifting of the body over the edge. Lifting a victim over the side of a boat may require more than one person. Special techniques are also used by the coast guard and military for helicopter rescues.

After reaching dry ground, all victims should be referred to medical assistance, especially if unconscious or if even small amounts of water have entered the lungs. An unconscious victim may need artificial respiration or CPR.

The Heimlich maneuver is not recommended; the technique may have relevance in situations where airways are obstructed by solids but not fluids. Performing the maneuver on drowning victims not only delays ventilation but may induce vomiting, which if aspirated will place the patient in a far worse situation. Moreover, the use of the Heimlich maneuver in any choking situation, involving solids or fluids, has become controversial and is generally no longer taught. For more information on this debate refer to the article Henry Heimlich.

100% oxygen is highly recommended, including intubation if necessary. Treatment for hypothermia may also be necessary. Water in the stomach need not be removed, except in the case of pediatric drownings as a gastric distension can limit movement of the lungs. Other injuries should also be treated (see first aid). Victims that are alert, awake, and intact have nearly a 100% survival rate.

Drowning victims should be treated even if they have been submerged for a long time. The rule "no patient should be pronounced dead until warm and dead" applies. Children in particular have a good chance of survival in water up to 3 minutes, or 10 minutes in cold water (10 to 15 °C or 50 to 60 °F). Submersion in cold water can slow the metabolism drastically. There are rare but documented cases of survivable submersion for extreme lengths of time. In one case a child named Michelle Funk survived drowning after being submerged in cold water for 70 minutes. In another, an 18 year old man survived 38 minutes under water. This is known as cold water drowning.

Water Purification

Water Desalination

Long-Term Water Storage


To do:
Home Made Soap, Trap small animals, Dressing small mammals, Dressing fowl, Evaporation refrigerator, Build a radio, Signal triangulation (smoke, radio)

Avalanches, mudslides and landslides edit


An avalanche is a slippage of built-up snow down an incline, possibly mixed with ice, rock, soil or plant life in what is called a debris avalanche. Avalanches are categorized as either a slab or powder avalanche. Avalanches are a major danger in the mountains during the winter as a large one can run for miles, and can create massive destruction of the lower forest and anything else in its path. For example, in Montroc, France, in 1999 300,000 cubic meters of snow slid on a 30 degree slope, achieving a speed of 100 km/h. It killed 12 people in their chalets under 100,000 tons of snow, 5 meters deep. The Mayor of Chamonix was charged with manslaughter. (See http://www.pistehors.com/articles/avalanche/montroc.htm).


To do:
Possibly mine and add link to Avalanche survival strategies for different parts of a flowing avalanchePDF


A mudslide is a slippage of mud because of poor drainage of rainfall through soil. An underlying cause is often deforestation or lack of vegetation. Some mudslides are massive and can decimate large areas. On January 10, 2005 at 1:20pm in La Conchita, a massive mudslide buried four blocks of the town in over 30 feet of earth. Ten people were killed by the slide and 14 were injured. Of the 166 homes in the community, fifteen were destroyed and 16 more were tagged by the county as uninhabitable.


A landslide is a disaster closely related to an avalanche, but instead of occurring with snow, it occurs involving actual elements of the ground, including rocks, trees, parts of houses, and anything else which may happen to be swept up. Landslides can be caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or general instability in the surrounding land. Mudslides, or mud flows, are a special case of landslides, in which heavy rainfall causes loose soil on steep terrain to collapse and slide downwards (see also Lahar); these occur with some regularity in parts of California after periods of heavy rain.

Sink hole edit

A localized depression in the surface topography, usually caused by the collapse of a subterranean structure, such as a cave. Although rare, large sinkholes that develop suddenly in populated areas can lead to the collapse of buildings and other structures.

Civil disorder edit

Civil disorder is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe one or more forms of disturbance. Examples of disastrous civil disorder include, but are not necessarily limited to: riots; sabotage; and other forms of crime. Although civil disorder does not necessarily escalate to a disaster in all cases the event may escalate into general chaos.

Power outage edit

A power outage is not immediately a disaster, however, an extended power outage can strain a community and cause sufficient hardship to cause deaths in a community. A power outage may also jeopardize company's ability to stay solvent by preventing normal business activities. For this reason, business continuity planning normally addresses the possibility of an outage on the organizations core functions. A power outage at the same time as another disaster may exacerbate the severity of the incident by hampering disaster response teams.

Radiation Contamination edit

Related article: Chernobyl accident
Related article: Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

When nuclear weapons are detonated or nuclear containment systems are otherwise compromised, airborne radioactive particles (fallout) can scatter and irradiate large areas. Ionizing radiation is hazardous to living things, and in such a case much of the affected area could be unsafe for human habitation. The former Soviet republic of Belarus was part of a scenario like this in 1986 after a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered a meltdown.

Crash (plane or other fast moving vehicle) edit


To do:
w:Brace position

Shipwreck edit

A shipwreck is what remains of a ship that has wrecked, either sunk or beached. Whatever the cause, a sunken ship or a wrecked ship is a physical example of the event: this explains why the two concepts are often overlapping in English

  • 1904 General Slocum disaster

Related article: MV Wilhelm Gustloff (~9000 dead)
Related article: RMS Titanic (1,517 dead)
Related article: USS Indianapolis (CA-35) (~800 dead)

Telecommunication outage edit

A telecommunications outage is not immediately a disaster, however, an extended telecommunications outage can strain a company's ability to stay solvent by cutting them off from their clients, vendors and business partners. For this reason, business continuity planning normally addresses the possibility of an outage on the organization's core functions. A telecommunication outage at the same time as another disaster may exacerbate the severity of the incident by hampering disaster response teams.

Food edit

Allergies edit

Poisonous foods edit

Food preservation edit

Food preservation in today's world is mostly a forgotten technology. Most of us have not only lost the capability to produce our own food but even the knowledge on how to preserve it. The household refrigerators (colloquially fridge) were introduced in 1915 , and soon after the practice of using a larder and even creating your own preserves become something of the past. The industrialization and the move from the agrarian culture to the city allied with industrial canning has also contributed to out general loss of knowledge regarding storing food.

When storing food it must be kept in mind that each item reacts to the chemical composition of the environment the other items. It is not only a matter of temperature.

Dehydrated food edit

Curing edit

To do:
Mine w:Curing (food preservation)

Smoking edit

To do:
Mine w:Smoking (cooking)

Refrigeration edit

Canning edit


To do:
Mine wikipedia:Home canning

Famine edit

What was previously a natural disaster, famine at a large scale today is a human created disaster, lack of planning and support to avoid a widespread lack of food in a region. It can be characterized as a lack of access or capacity to produce agriculture foodstuffs, a lack of livestock (by disease, weather or other factors. It is a generalized lack of all foodstuffs required for basic nutrition and survival.

Generalized famine is is a slow process, almost always caused by pre-existing conditions, such as drought, but its effects may be exacerbated by social factors, such as war. Particularly devastating examples include the Ethiopian famine and the Irish Potato Famine.

Cannibalism edit

Cannibalism is the consumption of members (or specific parts) of one's own species. Cannibalism is also practiced by humans, referred as anthropophagy, and is practiced even in the present days in human society, for survival or even by choice.


To do:

Cannibalism of human beings is nearly universally seen as taboo, however there are societies that condone cannibalizing deceased people and cultures that incorporate it into rituals where family members consume the flesh of their departed relatives. The practice of eating dead members of one's own culture, tribe or social group is called Endocannibalism. Cannibalism of healthy individuals is generally frowned upon due to the seemingly universal ethical belief in the sanctity of life, and is considered a punishable offense by most modern societies. Only in extreme cases do most modern societies condone taking the life of another human being.

Placentophagia, eating the placenta, is practiced in some parts of the world.

Exocannibalism is the practice of eating human corpses from people outside one's own community, tribe or social group.

In this book you will learn how cannibalism is practiced, what the potential risks and dangers of practicing cannibalism are, the moral and ethical issues involved in practicing cannibalism, and why people practice cannibalism.

Moral and ethical issues edit

History Mythology Religious practices

The dilemma of cannibalism vs death edit

Legalities edit

Risks and dangers edit


To do:
Endocannibalism, Exocannibalism

Supplies strategies edit

Managing your scarce resources, that are not limited to food or water, is a prioritizing task. What can you spare, what will last longer and what can be replaced, substituted or traded. All this will depend on the emergency situation you find yourself in, and what resources you got or can forage for.

What to eat first edit

If the electricity is gone, or you can't rely on it, your fridge and freezer isn't going to be working. It'll keep the food cold for a day or two though, depending on the outside temperature and how often you open the doors. So, eat this stuff, and any other soon-to-go-off food, like cream cakes or whatever, first. Leave tinned and dried food till as late as possible.

Food and water rationing edit

The requirement for water varies dramatically, depending on temperature, age and workload. 2 Litres per day is usually recommended as the minimum amount, but this can be more in hot weather or with a high workload, and people have been known to survive on a lot less.

Likewise, you can probably survive three or more weeks without food, but after three days you'll feel sick and tired. People's calorific requirements vary, so some people can do a days work fine on 1000 calories or less, but other people will find it impossible to live on less than 2000 calories even if they're not doing anything.

Caching edit

Be careful not to show off your vast stockpiles of food, warm clothing, toilet paper etc. Otherwise people will either begin congregating and asking to share your resources. Or they might come around in the night with guns and sticks and not be so polite in obtaining what they want.