Different readers

Difference in Readerships:

I guess this article is interesting to many people, as it was carried in a "popular" magazine and linked today at InstaPundit, a very popular blog. Obviously, lots of folks are captivated by recent stories about people who died of exposure this winter, and are fantasizing about what they would do in such circumstances.

Well, nothing wrong with that. Fantasy can be a useful way to prepare your mind for challenges.

I expect my readership, however, will mostly enjoy the article by mocking it.

Fire Starter: Connect fine-grade steel wool to the positive and negative terminals of a 9-volt battery to create a glowing fire starter. (A pair of 6-volt, AA batteries held in a series will do.)
Right! I'll just get out that fine-grade steel wool that I always keep handy, and then... let's see, I know there must be a 9-volt battery here...

(Oh, sure, make fun. But aren't they just urging you to be prepared? If that's what they wanted to do, why not say, "Carry some @$#%@# matches"?)

Water Jug: Got a condom aging in your wallet? [No.] In a pinch, it can carry a gallon of water. [How did you figure that out, I wonder?] (Unlubricated tastes best.) [I don't even want to know how you figured that out.] To make it easier to carry, sling the improvised water bag in a bandana.
The bandana is the best idea I've heard yet. I've never been on the tech-heavy side of survival. As I said on the subject of First Aid Kits, one of these and one of these is all you need. You can do everything from rigging a tourniquet to a sling, stop bleeding, bandage a wound, whatever you have to do.

By the same token, wilderness survival is easy. Don't complicate matters.

1) Know your environment. If you know where to find water, what sort of makeshift shelters are appropriate, and how to navigate the kind of land where you live -- you're going to be all right barring injuries.

2) Learn first aid, to maximize your chance of dealing with injuries.

3) If you have to travel in cold weather, keep some extra clothes (including boots) in your car or truck, enough for the coldest weather you're apt to encounter. It really doesn't take much to be warm enough to survive. Keep your head, feet, hands and groin well insulated, and the rest of you out of the wind.

4) Always carry a book of matches, a good knife, and a bandana or silk "wild rag," preferably the latter. Always wear a good hat. It's not a bad idea to keep a heavy caliber handgun in your glove box or on your person, as appropriate with local law. That's all the equipment you need to survive in North America.

That's it. You don't need to be McGyver. Just be a cowboy. You'll be fine.

UPDATE: The wife, who used to teach cold-weather survival for the Girl Scouts, suggests some sort of disinfectant as a third "must-have," to go with the wild rag and the bowie knife. In truth, I do keep rubbing alcohol in the truck for just that reason -- it just isn't something I carry on hikes or horseback rides, though it would be wise.

The 'cowboy' variant of this would be grain alcohol. However, I suspect a supply of that might be detrimental in a survival situation...

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