DIY Solar Tracking System Inspired by NASA

I just love DIY ideas like this, don’t you? After all, I wrote an entire book about DIY survival projects, so it only stands to reason that I would, lol.

In any case, the neat thing about this solar tracker is that it doesn’t need any GPS signal or computers to work but, instead, simply “follows” the movement of the sun using small light sensors throughout the day!

Apparently, he got the original idea from this video which includes more details about the build, if interested…

How to Find and Dig a Shallow Well From Start to Finish

I’ve never tried to dig a well myself nor have I ever tried dowsing rods, but this guy apparently swears by them. The first several minutes of the video is him finding the best place to dig, while the rest is him digging the well and installing the piping and pump. It’s a pretty neat process to watch straight through…

Survival Water From Your Hot Water Heater

Image credit: https://www.askaprepper.com/survival-water-from-your-hot-water-heater/

In the video I posted the other day about 7 steps for emergency water preparation, I don’t recall it saying anything about how to get water out of the water heater. The following post covers that crucial knowledge in detail…

Probably the first thing any of us will notice in a post-disaster scenario is the lack of electrical power. The second thing we will most likely notice is that there isn’t any water. We’ll go to the sink, expecting the water to come out of the faucet, like it always does, and nothing will happen. For many, that will be the moment they wake up and realize that the brown stuff really has hit the rotary air movement device.

Water is one of our top survival priorities, beaten out only by the ability to maintain our core body temperature. Yet it is often overlooked in our day-to-day lives. We are so accustomed to having water at our fingertips, that most people don’t have any idea where to get water, other than bottled water, in the case of an emergency which shuts down the city water.

Yet most of us have a number of water supplies readily available, within walking distance of our homes. We also have clean water in our homes, ready for our use. All we have to do is find a way to access it…

Read the full article here

7 Common Trees Ranked for Survival Purposes

Image Credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/tree-dawn-nature-bucovina-romania-338211/

The following article is an interesting (and unexpected) comparison of several common trees and attempts to rank them in order of best to worst for survival purposes focusing on several key areas, including nutritional benefits, medicinal value, firewood quality, and more.

The article compares oak trees, apple and maple trees, white pines, and a few others. Which one do YOU think will be the winner? The answer may surprise you…

Many trees provide nutritional value, medicinal qualities, and a good source of firewood. But which tree is the best?

It’s a tough question. Many trees provide value on many levels, and the importance of those qualities can be subjective. For example, a tree might bear a fruit you enjoy, but is it a fruit with lots of calories to help sustain you in a survival scenario?

Here are some questions to consider.
-Are you knowledgeable enough to maximize the nutritional value of a tree?
-Do you have the skills to distill the medicinal qualities of a tree?
-Do you depend on firewood to heat your home?

Let’s assume you want all three of those things–nutrition, medicine, and heat–and assign grades to various trees to see if one emerges above the others. We’ll then explore in detail the value of that “one” tree.

Continue reading article here

48 FREE Survival PDF Downloads

The Urban Prepper really went overboard on this one because he’s compiled all of the survival PDF files he’s created over the years and is giving them away for free!

He’s included files covering a wide range of topics, including several versions of an Altoid’s tin survival kit, bug out bag kits, EDC, vehicle preparedness, the survival cheat sheet I linked to a few weeks back, and plenty more. It’s really a wonderful resource he’s offering us today.

In order to get it for yourself, you need to go directly to the YouTube video and click on the link in the description that says: “ALL PDF’s, 1 ZIP…” which is followed by the actual ZIP file link. (FYI, I would link directly to the ZIP file, but it’s not mine to directly give away.)

After the file downloads you’re going to need to extract the contents (here’s how if you need guidance) or you can use something like 7-Zip which is free and a program I’ve used in the past, though, there are certainly other options and it’s probably not necessary if you have a relatively recent version of Windows or Mac.

Note: This extraction process is best done on your computer and not on a tablet or smartphone. Regardless, the extraction process really isn’t that complicated, but it can be frustrating if you’re not very familiar with computers.

Anyway, here’s the video about the PDF downloads below; just be sure to go directly to the video description to get the PDF link, enjoy…

Bug Out Survival “Cheat Sheet” PDF Download

Looking for an all-in-one “cheat sheet” that you could laminate and include in your bug out bag? Well, the Urban Prepper recently put together a handy guide that he’s giving away to anyone! Topics covered include food, water, shelter, first aid, fire, comms / navigation, and more. I would encourage you to go directly to the video description to download the PDF guide. You’ll need to print the cheat sheet on legal paper, though, to get it all to fit front and back…

Beware: 5 Dangers You May Encounter in the Woods (and what to do about it)

Image Credit

Who doesn’t love a good trip into the wild? Whether you’re hiking, kayaking down a river, camping for the night, or doing some other manner of outdoor activity, it can be therapeutic to unwind in the great outdoors. Many of us crave that escape from society to spend time out in the quiet, desolate expanse of the world. There are no loud noises and bad smells… well, for the most part. There’s no dealing with light pollution, so you can get a great look at the stars. The air is clean and fresh.

Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe. Although the human race has collectively spent millennia outdoors, it’s no secret that many have lost their lives due to poor planning and mistakes. Problems like running out of food or water, or dealing with extreme temperature changes — read hypothermia — can lead to severe bodily harm if not death.

If you’re not careful, the wilderness is not a forgiving place, and it’s relatively easy to make a mistake that can put you in danger. Make a wrong turn during a hike, and you could end up lost for days or running low on supplies. Forget to pack the supplies for a fire, and you could be forced to endure a long, cold night. It’s even worse dealing with a cold night if you’ve slipped and fallen in some water. Forget to dispose of your food scraps properly, and a bear could wander into your camp.

We could drone on for days about how many potential dangers you face out there in the wide open expanse of the wild. However, it makes more sense to discuss the most common dangers — things you may very well come face to face if you spent enough time out in the woods.

1. Snakes, Bears and Wolves — Oh My!

Although it certainly feels like it when there are few humans around, you’re never alone in the woods. There’s always a chance you might come across an animal. There are plenty of small ones like porcupines, skunks and possums out there, but there are some big ones that can be dangerous too.

Bears are incredibly dangerous. If you don’t bury your trash, leave half-consumed foods laying out and do not follow proper hygiene you might have one stumble into your camp. The same is true of wolves and coyotes, especially at dusk and late at night.

If you come across a large animal, don’t panic. Do your best to keep your distance, try not to attract their attention, and always keep them in sight.

Depending on where you’re hiking or visiting, snakes may also be a concern. Some, including rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths and water moccasins, are poisonous. Always check your sleeping bag before climbing in, even if it’s inside a tent or sealed area.

If you are bitten, stung or attacked and you think the creature might be poisonous — usually, you’ll see some discoloration at the wound — it’s important to get to a hospital as soon as possible. While waiting for help to arrive, follow proper poison protocols. Clean and cover the wound, but don’t flush it with water. Remove all tight clothing and jewelry before you begin to swell, and keep the wound at or below where your heart is if possible. Don’t cut the wound, try to suck out the venom, apply a tourniquet or apply ice to the area. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, as they can speed up your body’s absorption of the venom.

2. Plants, Berries and Mushrooms

Berries often look downright delicious at first glance, adorned in vivid red and purple hues. But some are incredibly dangerous if eaten. The same is true of mushrooms and a variety of other plants you might come across.

Unless you’re expressly trained in spotting these types of foods, you should avoid them altogether. Foraging can be dangerous if you are inexperienced.

It’s entirely possible something you eat won’t hurt you in the short term, but mess with the wrong poison, psychotropic or chemical, and you could find yourself debilitated in the middle of nowhere with no help and no motor skills to seek it.

Oh, and let’s not talk about how foraged foods can sometimes contain parasites. That’s nightmare fuel for sure.

3. Insects Can Be More Than a Nuisance

Bugs can be annoying, but there’s a lot more out in the wilderness than just bugs that are a nuisance. Even some common insects can pose a risk. Mosquitoes, for instance, can carry deadly diseases like malaria, West Nile Virus and Zika.

Other potentially danger insects include spiders — some of which are poisonous — ants, fleas, ticks, hornets, bees and wasps. If you’re allergic to any of these insects, which you may not be aware of before you come into contact with them, those dangers increase tenfold.

It’s hard to believe but bugs can be and are one of the most dangerous things you’ll experience in the great outdoors, and they also happen to be incredibly common. That’s why it’s vital you take the necessary precautions regardless of where you’re traveling or visiting.

Insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin can help considerably, but you must remember to reapply it regularly throughout your trip. You can also apply creams, essential oils and several forms of mint to deter insects more naturally. Before climbing into your sleeping bag check it and your body for insects — ticks are easy to miss. If you do find a tick burrowed in your skin, remove it immediately. If you get insect bites, clean and protect them as soon as possible. If a poisonous insect bites you, you need to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Smoke also helps deter insects. Some outdoors enthusiasts will light a cigar or use smoke-creating plants and materials to scare off the bugs. These are sometimes useful strategies, but they also come with significant risks. Both of these methods have the potential for creating a wildfire and causing severe damage to the surrounding forest. It’s probably best to stick with the tried and true methods for deterring insects — liquid or cream based repellents.

4. Dangerous Weather and Temperatures

One of the most common mistakes that people make when visiting the wild is that they do not properly prepare for the local temperatures and weather. In certain places, for instance, the temperature can drop dangerously low after dark, despite being comfortable enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt during the day.

It’s always essential that you pack the appropriate clothing and protective gear, even if you’re not expecting inclement weather. Hypothermia can set on quickly, even after something like a cold rain. It doesn’t have to be the winter, and there doesn’t have to be any snow present. Having your body exposed to the wet and cold can have serious repercussions.

The opposite is true, as well. In areas where extreme heat is present, or where there’s constant exposure to the sun, it’s important you stay hydrated and properly rested. Take a few moments here and there to sit down in the shade, and be sure to continue drinking water — not sugary drinks, alcohol or other beverages. Drink at least one liter of water an hour, more if you’re sweating profusely. You should also cover your head and face and wear sunscreen if you’re going to be in the direct sunlight for an extended period. These practices will go a long way toward keeping your body cool and comfortable in the hot climates.

Furthermore, be mindful about your surroundings at all times. For instance, when setting up camp try to avoid placing your tent in low-lying areas or near water. It’s possible during a storm that the water will rise, and if you’re sleeping inside, that could prove deadly. Try to find camp areas that are on relatively high ground and ensure you have ample space to build a fire and remain dry.

If you do fall in the water or get wet, be sure to dry off as soon as possible. You should change your clothes and then sit around a fire or get into a sleeping bag or under a blanket. Worst case scenario, you can huddle next to someone in your party to share body warmth.

5. Watch Out for Fire Hazards

In a thick forest, fire can be absolutely devastating. When a fire spreads, it can happen fast — so fast that you have little time to react. We’ve seen this happen in some of the recent major fires like the one in Tennessee that consumed 100 acres or the ones raging in California right now.

You might not be the source of the fire, so keep that in mind. Also, it’s entirely possible to plan a trip, and visit a location without ever knowing there’s a potential threat. You could set up your camp or hike through an area only to find yourself trapped by a wildfire.

Of course, it’s also important that you follow proper safety measures when building campfires. You don’t want to cause a wildfire, which happens more than you might think.

Always build your fire at a safe distance from flammable objects like your tent or underbrush. If you can find an existing campfire ring or location, it’s best to use that space instead of creating a new one. If none are available. Surround your fire with stones or dig a small pit to keep it contained. Never use accelerants or fuel in the fire, and try to keep papers, liquids and other debris away.

You should also inspect the area thoroughly, checking for overhanging branches, trees and dry foliage. Store any extra wood and other materials you plan to use at a distance from the fire.

As for what you use to light the fire, paper is out. Never use paper as a fuel source. If you do light the fire with a match, be absolutely sure the match is out before disposing of it. Never throw a spent match into the underbrush or nearby foliage. If you have extra water handy then spread it around the edges of the fire to keep the nearby ground moist. This helps contain the flames. You should also use water to douse the fire when you’re all finished.

Never leave a campfire unattended, as a breeze or wind could easily blow embers and debris into the surrounding area and spark a larger flame.

After dousing a fire with water, use a stick or pole to stir the embers and ashes. This helps ensure that any stray coals are not still lit.

Ultimately, if you have a small camping stove or cooking station available, it might be better to use that instead of a conventional fire. But it’s not always possible to have these tools handy, so just be sure to stay safe and attentive.

Have Fun, But Don’t Be Reckless

By now, you’ve surely noticed that many of the dangers discussed are fairly common and would be easy to avoid or prevent so long as you are vigilant and careful. While having fun and enjoying the great outdoors should always be the focus of any trip, that doesn’t mean you should be reckless. Often, the people that are careless when spending time outdoors are the ones that either find themselves hurt and in danger or lose their lives altogether.

In addition, there are also many tips that haven’t been discussed here including packing the right amount of food and water, staying aware of your surroundings so you don’t get lost, choosing the appropriate hiking and camping locations, and wearing clearly visible gear to alert any hunters in the vicinity of your presence.

Be smart and careful when you’re out in the woods so that you can enjoy your trip and get home safe.

[Note: This was a guest post.]

What To Do If Your Oven Catches Fire

Last night I was making two pizzas in the oven like I’d done many times before. When they were done I pulled the oven rack toward me as far as it would go so I could slide the pizzas out easier; I got the first one out no problem, but when I returned to get the second pizza, it was missing. I thought to myself, “Where in the world did the second pizza go!?” Turns out, the second pizza was now sitting atop the oven burner catching on fire and making one heck of a smoke signal!

My guess is the second pizza got stuck to the back of the oven wall and stayed attached as I pulled the oven rack out without me realizing it. Eventually, I fished out the second pizza and still need to clean it out, but that got me to thinking that we ought to remind ourselves what to do should the oven or a pot on the burner ever catch fire…

Oven Fire

Here’s what to do if the oven catches fire:

  1. “Leave the oven door closed!
  2. Turn off the oven and allow the fire to burn out on its own.
  3. If it does not go out on its own, leave the house and call 911.
  4. If it does go out, then open your windows.
  5. Carefully open the oven door (it will be smoky!) and remove the hot pan.
  6. Allow the smoke to clear before determining the cause of the fire and possibly resuming cooking.”

Burner Fire

Here’s what to do if a burner ever catches fire:

Never Use The Oven to Heat Your Home

This article explains why you should never use an oven to heat your home: “Do not use a gas or electric oven or surface units for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. An electric oven was not designed for space heating.”

The article also explains important safety considerations regarding keeping warm during the winter in an unheated house… all of which are good reminders for everyone to read.

Toaster Ovens

I also want to quickly point out that toaster ovens are particularly susceptible to fires for a few reasons, so keep a close eye on them. And if you ever choose to makeshift a candle-powered tea light oven because, why not, then REALLY keep an eye on it, lol!