• How to Treat a Snake Bite

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    How to Avoid and Treat Snake Bites

    Would you know what to do if you were bitten by a snake?

    According to the CDC, about 8,000 snake bites (venomous and non-venomous) happen in the United States each year. Even a bite from a so-called "harmless" snake can cause infection or allergic reaction in some people. However, with the correct treatment or antivenin (an antitoxin that rids the human body of animal or insect venom), severe illness and/or death can be prevented.

    Here are tips for avoiding, recognizing, and treating both venomous and non-venomous snake bites when professional medical attention is delayed or completely out of reach.

    Avoiding snake bites

    According to the snake experts from Utah’s Reptile Rescue Service, most snake bites happen because a person tries to harass or kill a snake. Occasionally, hikers or joggers are bitten because snakes can hide very well on open trails and are hard to see in dense grass.

    The best way to avoid a snake bite is to be aware of your surroundings. When you’re outdoors, make sure you’re wearing closed-toed shoes and are careful of where you put your feet before you sit down on the ground, rocks, or logs. Always tap rocks with a long stick and listen for a rattle before sitting down. Snakes like to hide in rock retaining walls. If you hear a rattle, try not to panic or jump. Locate the source before you move, and warn others who are with you.

    Try to avoid snakes at all cost—even if they’re dead. According to Utah’s Reptile Rescue Service, most people don’t realize that once you kill a snake it’s still alive and can strike for 24 hours. So if you see a “dead” snake in the road and you bend over to take a look at it, there’s a possibility you could still get bitten — which has happened in many cases.

    Recognizing Venomous Snake Bites

    If you are bitten by a snake, but aren’t sure if the snake is poisonous watch out for these common symptoms of venomous snake bites.

    However, keep in mind that each person may experience symptoms differently, and some people may not even display symptoms for a long period of time. In addition, different snakes have different types of venom, so the symptoms may differ according to the type of venom circulating through the person’s body.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Bloody wound discharge

    • Fang (puncture) marks in the skin and swelling at the site of the bite

    • Severe localized pain

    • Discoloration, such as redness and bruising

    • Enlarged lymph nodes in the area affected

    • Diarrhea

    • Burning

    • Convulsions

    • Fainting

    • Dizziness

    • Weakness

    • Blurred vision

    • Excessive sweating

    • Fever

    • Increased thirst

    • Loss of muscle coordination

    • Nausea and vomiting

    • Numbness and tingling, especially in the mouth

    • Rapid pulse

    • Altered mental state

    • Shock

    • Paralysis

    • Difficulty breathing


    Treating Snake Bites

    For maximum safety, treat all snake bites as venomous. Get to the emergency room as quickly as possible, especially if you’re unsure of the type of snake responsible for the bite.

    Treatment for venomous bites

    If you are bitten by a venomous snake, try to remember as many details about the snake as possible so you can describe it to emergency personnel. Remember these tips for identifying poisonous snakes so you know what to look for. If possible, without putting yourself or someone else in danger, take a picture. Call 9-1-1 immediately or get the person to an emergency room as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence.

    While waiting for medical help:

    • Move the person beyond striking distance of the snake.
    • Have the person lie down with the wound below the heart.
    • Keep the person still to prevent venom from spreading.
    • Remove restrictive clothing, rings, and jewelry; the bite can cause swelling.
    • Cover the wound with a loose, sterile dressing if possible.
    • Get to a hospital as quickly as possible.


    Treatment for non-venomous bites

    If you are 100% sure the snake that bit you is non-venomous, treat it like a puncture wound. If possible get a good look at the snake or take a picture for later verification.

    • Do not try to pick up or trap the snake.
    • If the wound is bleeding, apply firm direct pressure with sterile gauze/clean cloth until it stops.
    • Rinse the wound under clean water for several minutes, and then wash the area with mild soap and water.
    • Remove restrictive clothing, rings, and jewelry; the bite can cause swelling.
    • Apply a triple antibiotic cream and cover with a bandage or other dressing.
    • Keep the wound clean and dry.

    Even if you know the snake bite is non-venomous, you should still seek treatment from medical professionals.


    If you ever have to deal with a snake bite, DO NOT:

    • Try to pick up the snake or try to trap it.
    • Cut a bite wound.
    • Attempt to suck out venom (the only exception would be if you have a kit for removing venom and you’re too far away from medical treatment).
    • Apply tourniquet, ice or water.
    • Give the person alcohol or caffeinated drinks.

    Have you ever encountered a snake? What other tips would you give to avoid snake bites?




    Rick Nielsen became an EMT in 1996, and currently works as an Advanced EMT. He spent several years as an EMT/Firefighter and CERT instructor in Pleasant Grove, UT. He is also a First Aid and BLS (Basic Life Support) instructor. He’s worked at Timpanogos hospital for 16 years, spending several years working in the Emergency Room. He currently works in the ICU as a Telemetry Technician. He loves sharing his experience and knowledge of first aid and emergency preparedness with others. 




    Posted In: First Aid and Sanitation, Insight, Skills, Uncategorized

  • The Bouquet You Can Eat: Foraging for Flowers

    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    Have you ever seen a package of flowers in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and wondered why on earth they were mixed in with the food?

    Well, aside from making a meal look more aesthetically appealing, flowers can be yet another way to gather food from your garden. Or for those with an adventurous streak, flowers can be a special prize while foraging for wild food, either for fun or as a necessity during an emergency.

    In this article, we’ll give you some basic tips on foraging for edible flowers. To learn more about foraging in general, visit the Insight article Survival 101: Foraging for Edible Plants.


    6 Dos and Don’ts of Flower Foraging

    Before your first flower foraging expedition, you should obtain reliable resources to be your guide and provide accurate images of edible flowers in your area. Try Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants or a regional field guide specific to your area.

    Having a field guide can go a long way in helping you know which flowers are safe to eat, and which you should leave alone.

    Along with doing your own research, here are some specific dos and don’ts when it comes to foraging and eating the pretty companions to wild greenery:

    1.Do: Only eat flowers you are100% certain are edible; it’s not worth the risk

    2. Do: Perform the Universal Edibility Test if you’re not sure a flower is edible. This test requires you to separate the parts of a plant, test it on your skin, cook if possible, and hold it on your tongue, waiting for adverse reactions. Always look for plants growing in abundance. If a plant is growing in large abundance, it's more likely to not be poisonous.

    3.Do: Avoid flowers that may have been treated with pesticides, or that grow on the side of the road, come from nurseries (unless guaranteed organic) or are near any other contaminated areas.

    4.Do: Watch out for bees, hives, and other animals

    5.Don’t: Eat the flowers before removing the pistils and stamens (the middle portion of the flower, along with any parts sticking out of the center, as pictured below). These are the central ovule and pollen producing parts of the flower that can make the taste bitter or undesirable.

    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    The Stamen and Pistils of a flower


    It’s ok to eat the stems, petals, and leaves of most flowers, but consult a guidebook for how to properly cook and eat each part of the flower.

    6.Don’t: Eat flowers if you have severe allergies.


    6 Edible Flowers you should know when foraging

    Here are some common edible flowers to memorize if you’re ever in an emergency that requires you to eat edible plants:

    1) Dandelions: This one is obvious, but begs to be included because the yellow flowers are easily recognizable. Most people have them in abundance, and treat them like pests when they creep up on the lawn, but the leaves, roots and flowers are edible, and you can use the unopened buds to make Appalachian Style Fried Dandelions, on

    The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    2) Japanese Honeysuckle: Honeysuckles in general can be tricky, since there are many species of honeysuckle, and some are poisonous. Some have edible and poisonous parts on the same plant, so in this case it is very important to know your stuff. The Japanese Honeysuckle stores a sweet nectar in its base that can be accessed after proper identification of the distinct white and yellow flowers. For a tutorial on extracting the nectar, follow this link:


    The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    3) Fireweed: This plant also has many edible parts, but the flowers, stems, and leaves are best in the spring when they are fresh. They can be found in woods, along hills, and beside fresh water or oceans in cold climates. An interesting fact about fireweed is that it grows in areas that have been burned. The seeds are not destroyed in the fire, but can germinate after the fact.


    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers


    4) Garlic grass: The alliums have many great, wild varieties, and most carry that lovely garlic smell. For garlic grass specifically the thin stems give way to light, purplish blossoms, resembling the bloom of a chive flower in shape. Much like the grocery store variety, they can be used on many savory items you wish to spice up, such as a salad or meat dish. They are a great wild replacement for chives or scallions.

    5) Red Clover: round, purple, tube-like flower petals can be eaten raw or steeped for tea. Pull the petals off and sprinkle them over a salad, or try this Mixed Berry Pie recipe and serve with a sprinkling of clover to top it off.

     The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers


    6) Trillium: The Trillium is a single-flowered branch plant that has three white petals that turn pink as the plant ages. You can find Trillium around stream banks or also on the forest floor in open or deep woods.

     The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Flowers

    If you want to cultivate your own edible flowers in your garden there are many choices you could plant to explore the culinary possibilities. These options include, but are not limited to

    • Squash and zucchini flowers
    • Pansies
    • Lavender
    • The flowers of many herbs, such as chives
    • Flowering thyme and basil
    • Violets
    • Roses
    • Water Lillies


    Each flower has its own benefits and rules for planting and harvesting, so be sure to be as careful and knowledgeable in your own garden as you would be in the wild.


    Happy hunting!

    - Lesley








    The Sense of Survival by Alan J. South

    Posted In: Insight, Skills, Uncategorized

  • 17 Tips for Successful Foil Dinners

    17 Tips for Successful Foil Dinners

    There’s something fun about opening a piping-hot foil dinner! No matter what way you cook it—in your oven, on a grill, over hot coals, or buried in the ashes of a campfire—foil dinners are quick and delicious way to make your favorite meals.

    If you’re new to foil packet cooking, here are a few basic tips and recipes for foil dinner success.


    Prepping Your Dinner

    • Use heavy duty foil. Stronger foil prevents rips and leaks. It also protects your meals from getting ashes in them. If you only have regular foil, double or triple wrap your meal.
    • Seal foil packets with foil folds. I know our first inclination is to crunch the sides of the packet closed, but doing this sometimes causes the juices to come out. Always fold the excess foil to make sure everything stays put. The Art of Manliness gives a step-by-step tutorial on two different kinds of foil folds to use—the flat pack and the tent pack.  Check out how to fold these packs at the
    • Make sure your foil is large enough for your meal. Most individual dinners need a piece of heavy-duty foil about 12 x 18 inches.
    • Get cooking spray. Always spray the foil to prevent sticking.
    • Put meat on the bottom of the packet. Meats take the longest to cook. If you’re using pre-cooked meat, like many freeze-dried meat, it doesn’t need to be at the bottom of the packet.
    • Use thin meat. Pound or slice meats to make them thinner for easier cooking. Bite-sized pieces work best because they’re easier to eat straight out of the packet (no knife required!).
    • Cut hard vegetables into thin slices. Cut potatoes and carrots into thin slices; they’ll take as long as the meat to cook. Other vegetables can be cut into chunks. If you’re using reconstituted freeze-dried or dehydrated potato or carrot dices, you don’t have to worry—they’re already small and will cook quickly.
    • To season or not to season, that is the question. Some people say to use more seasoning than usual in a foil dinner, especially if you’re cooking on a campfire. But remember, freeze-dried meats can have high sodium content. Keep this in mind as you add seasonings to your packet.


    Cooking Packets on a Grill or Campfire

    • Cook on the fire’s coals. Don’t cook on the fire itself. Always cook packets on a two-inch-thick bed of coals.
    • Always cook on mature coals. When camping, cook on or near the white coals rather than red ones. You can also bury your dinner in the hot ashes at the edge of the fire, or cover the packet with coals if it has a lot of food in it.
    • Start with your packet meat-side down. Turn it at least twice during the cooking process—using tongs, of course! Test the meat and potatoes. Re-wrap and cook longer, if needed. If you’re using freeze-dried meat, it’s already cooked, so you only need to “cook” it long enough to heat it up and blend the flavors.
    • Cooking Rice and Pastas. Rice and pasta should be pre-cooked before adding to foil dinners, with the exception of some dinners that include instant rice with sufficient soup, sauce, or gravy to cook in.
    • Always add moisture to the packet. You can also add a couple tablespoons of sauce—Worcestershire, Soy, barbecue, salsa, etc.—melted butter, milk, salad dressing, or water. If cooking meat, always include high-moisture veggies like tomatoes or onions to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
    • Cooking Potatoes. Toss them in a little oil to reduce sticking. Season well.
    • Adding Cheese. After cooking, add cheese when you open the package. If you add it during cooking, it will stick to the foil and burn.
    • Add Cabbage to prevent burning. If you're worried about your food burning, you can put a leaf of cabbage on the bottom of your meal and another leaf to cover the top of your meal in the foil. If your dinner gets over cooked, the cabbage will burn, but your meal won’t.
    • Open your packet carefully. When you finish cooking or if you’re adding cheese, open your packet slowly and carefully to avoid steam burns.

    Customer Tips: On our Facebook page, John Yohon Lewis and Tambrae K. Leach Adams suggest using cream of mushroom or chicken soup and ice cubes to add moisture to your packet so nothing dries out while cooking.



    Foil cooking is not an exact science, so use the following recipes as jumping-off points, and let your taste buds be your guide! All the recipes below can be cooked with fresh or freeze-dried ingredients. Click on each picture to see the full recipe.


    Meatloaf Foil Special

    Meatloaf Foil Special

    Foil Beef Stew

    Foil Beef Stew

    Santa Fe Chicken Foil Dinner

    Santa Fe Chicken Foil Dinner

    Foil Packet Blueberry Breakfast Bake

    Foil Packet Blueberry Breakfast Bake

    Customer Foil Recipe Tips: Here are some recipes ideas from customers on our Facebook page.

    • Gracie Liblin We like wrap potatoes in foil and cook over the camp fire. They turn out good that way.
    • JR Young Having given this some thought, I think I am going to cut chicken breast into strips, add onion, garlic, bell pepper, cumin, cilantro and lime juice. I have no idea how it will turn out, as I have never tried doing this as a foil bake. I'll let you know.
    • Cherise Isbell  JR--When it's done: top it with shredded cheddar/mozzarella and salsa!!!!!!!
    • Jeannine Duffey Neubecker Use corned beef or ham cut up with potatoes, onion, cabbage and butter and pepper. I've done this substituting carrots for cabbage too.

    What’s your idea of the perfect Foil Dinner?

    -Sharon and Angela



    Posted In: Emergency Cooking, Insight, Uncategorized

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