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  • The Bear Necessities: Resources for Surviving a Bear Attack

    The Bear Necessities: Resources for Surviving a Bear Attack

    Were you as surprised as I was when you came across the recent story of a bear attacking a woman in Florida? We get a little used to that sort of story out west, but I don’t generally think of the suburbs of Orlando as prime bear country. Shows how little I know about my own country’s ecology, clearly.

    My own ignorance aside, experts are noticing an uptrend in bear/human clashes in parts of Florida, where new housing developments are encroaching on longstanding black bear habitats. National Geographic addresses the issue usefully—and gives an idea or two on how to avoid a similar encounter—in the recent article, “Why Are Black Bear Attacks Up in Florida?”

    So, if bears can invade even Disney World, I suppose this is a good time to brush up on our bear survival skills. And it turns out that what most of us know about bear encounters is woefully inaccurate. For example, I grew up hearing that when a bear attacks, you should play dead. Did you know that playing dead has no affect at all on black bears, and is only effective on browns or grizzlies in certain specific situations? That’s knowledge you don’t want to acquire firsthand!

    Shortly after the recent mauling, ABC News published an article, “How to Survive a Bear Attack,” full of expert advice from park rangers and biologists. This article is a good starting place for learning about bear attacks. It gives an overview of different kinds of bears and their tendencies; good avoidance practices; and what to do in different bear encounter scenarios.

    An even more thorough resource is the website bearsmart.com, maintained by the Get Bear Smart Society, whose object is to minimize conflict between bears and humans. This site tells you what to do if you encounter a bear in the backcountry or in urban setting. Tabs like “Becoming Bear Smart” and “Bear Management” cover topics from “understanding bear behavior” to “safety in polar bear country” (because you never know!). The “Bear Smart at Home” is particularly relevant, in light of recent events, and offers smart tips on discouraging bears from coming on to your property or safely deterring animals who might wander through.

    Spring is optimal wildlife sighting time in my neck of the woods, when hibernators wake up and tasty new shoots and buds tempt creatures into the open. Know your bear safety and enjoy the wildlife from a safe distance!


  • Man Survives Snowy California Wilderness...& All he Wants is a Burger

    Missing Runner Survives Snowy California Wilderness and all he wants is a Burger!

    As darkness fell and temperatures dropped, Bob Root snuggled deeper into the shrubbery atop a cliff in the California wilderness. For two days in early April, he struggled to survive in the snow, searching for the trail he’d lost track of during a morning run.

    Root had set out early Sunday morning with fellow members of the ShadowChase Running Club, wearing only a light shirt, shorts, and running shoes. However, he soon found himself lost after running ahead to catch up with another group.

    Fox News reported that Root was able to survive on energy supplements and the small amount of water he carried with him. When the cold caused unbearable shaking, Root resorted to compressing and releasing his muscles, and sticking his fingers in his armpits to stay warm.

    When searchers finally found him, there was only one thing Root wanted after this ordeal—an In-N-Out burger.

    Heidi Ryan, a member of the ShadowChase Running Club believes, “Root’s training helped him survive. ‘He has great endurance and that obviously helped him,’”

    To read the rest of the story, check out Fox News’ article, “Authorities say runner who survived in snowy California wilderness craved an In-N-Out burger.”

    You never know when you’ll find yourself in an emergency. Whether you run off-trail, must evacuate your home in the middle of the night, or face some other crisis, it’s important to develop your own survival skills now so you can survive and stay calm in an emergency.

    Root’s training taught his body how to endure, which enabled him to outlast this emergency. Keeping your body fit is a skill that requires time, patience, and hard work, but which in the long run can help you survive in an emergency and have a better quality of life every day.

    Often times survival skills can even come in handy when you aren’t in an emergency. Activities such as campouts, backpacking trips, boating excursions, ski and snowboard outings, and other outdoor adventures are good examples of times when it may pay off to have first aid training, know how to keep yourself warm, or how to stay hydrated—just to name a few.


    Check out some of our Insight articles to develop your own survival skills:


    Have you ever found yourself in a situation like this? What did you do? What survival skills do you think would be helpful during an emergency?


    Photo Courtesy of Fox News

  • 5 Ways to Start a Fire with Water

    5 Ways to Start a Fire with Water

    A crucial skill to have in practically any emergency situation is knowing how to build a fire. Whether you get lost overnight on a ski trip or your car runs out of gas as you pack up to leave your campsite, knowing how to build a fire and stay warm could save your life.

    So what’s the best way to build a fire? “Building” a fire typically comes in three stages: gather the materials, lay the fire, and then start it. Check out our Insight Article to learn “How to Build a Fire” using these three stages.

    However, in an emergency situation, there’s one other item that could actually help you start a fire that many overlook—water. It’s true. Grant Thompson, from thekingofrandom.com, shows five ways you can start a fire using water. Check it out:

    There you have it: five ways water can start a fire. Four of Thompson’s five fire starting methods show you how to use water as a magnifying glass to spark a fire, letting the power of the sun do all the work (or at least a lot of it!). But e But B ven if there’s cloud cover, you aren’t out of luck. With just a few supplies you can still ignite a fire in seconds.

    If you plan to use water to help you start a fire in an emergency, make sure to add the following supplies to your emergency gear so you are completely prepared.

    Method 5:

    • A light bulb. Make sure your bulb has been rinsed and cleaned according to Thompson’s directions. Cushion the bulb with fabric, grocery sacks, or other forms of padding to keep it from breaking and place it in a small container before you put it in your emergency supplies.
    • A balloon to cap off the end of the light bulb after you’ve filled it with water

    Method 4

    • Plastic wrap
    • A bowl

    Method 3

    • Plastic wrap
    • A picture frame

    *For this method, make sure you have a way to securely attach the plastic wrap to the frame and to heat water.

    Method 2

    • A juice bottle (that looks like a bubble) filled with water

    Method 1

    • Toilet paper
    • Toilet paper roll
    • Small chunks of sodium
    • Jar lid


    Caution! Playing with fires is dangerous so make sure to have proper safety gear (a fire extinguisher, goggles, and leather gloves) with you when practicing these new ways to start a fire. Also, make sure to light fires in a cleared area away from flammable objects or dry grass.

    These are some fun, unique methods you can use to start a fire, but don’t forget about the traditional methods as well. Adding items such as the Sparkie, the P-25 Strike Master or FiredUp! firestarters to your emergency supplies are reliable ways to get a roaring fire and warmth fast. (Or, taking a hint from Thompson, how about a magnifying glass?)





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