The sixth capacity that I introduce in my eBook is that you must have the capacity to start fires for cooking, boiling water, warmth, etc. In it I state that:
You must “start fires for cooking, boiling water, warmth, etc. Fire has been critical to human survival for millennia. In a grid-down scenario, you may find yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do, including starting a fire in your backyard to cook food or boil water. So, do you know how to do it easily, safely? In the rain, wind, or snow? You can find dozens of fire-starting videos here as well as several “how-to” resources here that can help you with this.”
Questions to Ask Yourself
While there are other, easier, methods to cook food and keep warm (propane is a good start) you just can’t ignore the usefulness of a trusty fire. My first question is a simple one: when’s the last time that you tried to start a campfire, or have you EVER tried?
The thing is, it’s not that easy to start a fire even when you know what you’re doing. As I’ve stated in previous posts, I never was a Boy Scout. And, while we do occasionally go (car) camping and start fires in the backyard, it takes me a while to get one going. Sadly, that includes the use of starter logs and an assortment of matches.
Heck, I don’t even want to contemplate trying to start a fire that I needed to rely upon in the rain or snow. I could be in real trouble then. Even worse is that my wife has NO idea how to do it if, for some reason, I could not. While I willfully concede that she is head-and-shoulders more intuitive than I, the ability to start a fire easily requires a lot of experience. So, the second question is: do you and others know how to start a fire? This is something I need to work on.
Of course, there are a ton of fire-starting devices available as well as an assortment of “tricks” to get a fire going (such as the use of accelerants) but I like to be safe and prefer not to use them. However, in situation where we really NEEDED a fire, all bets are off. Regardless, my third question would be: do you understand how to keep a fire properly contained? The last thing you want in a disaster situation is an out-of-control fire.
Other Concerns and Uses for Fire
There are a few other concerns regarding a campfire, including your ability to harvest enough wood to continue your fire for as long as needed as well as the ability to properly maintain a fire so that it can be used to cook food (such as in a dutch oven). Getting it started is one thing, maintaining a fire and using it is another.
Remember the reasons for fire as stated above: cooking, boiling water, and warmth, which are the main ones. You could include others such as lighting, sanitation/sterilizing, signaling, shaping/hardening tools, repelling insects, food preservation (e.g., smoking meats), and more. Even the ash from a campfire can be useful for cleaning. The psychological benefits should not be ignored either.
Understand that there are plenty of reasons to utilize fire as a resource in a post-disaster situation. While my first reaction would be to use the technology that I have on-hand, I also realize the critical role fire can–and will–play in dealing with a disaster.
Last, while I know I reference campfires in this post, there are plenty of other ways to utilize fire to your advantage such as an assortment of make-shift stove videos I reference here. Take full advantage of other people’s knowledge and the supplies you have on hand. There are also any number of camping wood stoves that might prove useful too.
As with most things, however, proper fire-making requires practice and a bit of patience too. Oh, and A LOT of matches.