Just wanted to post a quick shout out and thank you to Albany Towing Services! I drove up to Albany, NY to see some family and fellow boy scouts last weekend. Unfortunately, my car broke down on I-87 as I was passing exit 5. I pulled off to the side of the road, called Albany Towing Services, and someone was at my location in about 10 minutes. It was super fast. I had them tow my car to a shop on Route 155 in Latham to get reparied. I was very impressed with the speed of service and the employee was very kind. Thanks again forgetting to me quickly; it was very helpful and got me home faster. I recommend using these guys if you have car trouble or need a tow in the area.
Going into the great outdoors, or into the wilderness, can be an amazing and rewarding adventure. But along the way, you may also encounter some unpleasant and unpredictable situations, such as getting lost, getting injured, getting exposed to strong elements, and more. To survive these kinds of situations, there are three things you must do before heading out: preparation, preparation, and more preparation. Coming prepared may just as well save your life in the wild. And so, we have listed everything you need to prepare for before you go on to your great adventure.
First Things First
At least a couple of weeks before your outdoor trip, learn everything there is to learn about the location where you may be hunting, hiking, or camping. Research about the terrain, the probable weather, the local flora and fauna, the nearest water source from the site, and even the route you are going to take to get there and other possible routes. Memorize it by heart and use this information to prepare the things which you may be needing. For example, if the temperature is going to be below freezing, then you must bring extra jackets and gears.
Also, make sure to leave important information about where you are going with someone you trust. Send them your itinerary and indicate the duration of your trip. In case you are not yet back on the supposed arrival date, perhaps they may start contacting the authorities to check up on you.
Condition your Body
If the activity requires strenuous effort, then your best bet is to condition your body through exercise at least a month prior. It will come as a great shock to your body if you have mostly been a couch potato and then suddenly you are climbing up a very steep hill. Without conditioning your body, you get easily tired due to lack of strength and energy and you may put yourself to risk with severe physical injuries.
Prep Your Mind
Prepping your mind is just as important as conditioning your body. Once an emergency situation happens, our brains sets off to a fight-or-flight mode. This sudden surge of adrenaline may cause anxiety and extreme fear. Do not panic whatever happens. Learn to keep calm and keep your cool during stress-inducing situations. Pause and take a breath. Once you regain your focus, make a quick mental inventory of your resources and prioritize what needs to be done: building a fire to keep warm, locating water sources, building your shelter, etc.
Pack the Essentials
Here are the essentials that you must have with you in the wilderness:
- Enough food and water; also bring water purifier tablets so you can gather and drink water from anywhere in case a clean water source is nowhere close
- Shelter and insulation that can protect you from the harsh elements and provide heat, if necessary
- Fire/Light, or tools for making fire (e.g. matches, lighter, or flint and fire-steel) and tools that provide illumination, such as a high-powered flashlight with extra batteries
- First Aid Kit, which must contain: gauze, adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, aspirin, thermometer, tweezers, scissors, and necessary medications
- Navigation tools such as a compass (although you must also know how to use this), maps, or GPS tracker
- Multi-purpose tools or a swiss knife, duct tape, para-cords, and wire saw *tip: have these tools in bright color so you can easily locate it if it falls into the ground covered in leaves or stones
- Miscellany, which includes a whistle (or even a flare gun), bug spray, and hygiene wipes and sanitizers
Remember these Survival Tips
- Keep in mind the ‘Rule of Threes’: you can survive three hours without maintaining your core body temperature, three days without water, and three weeks without food.
- To start a fire, you need these three elements: fuel, oxygen, and a spark or heat.
- Build your shelter on a flat, solid, and dry ground. Avoid places where an animal may inhabit.
- To keep extra warm, layer your clothes, insulate your head, and empty your bladder – your body uses up heat just to store urine.
- As a makeshift compass, put a stick into the ground and mark the shadow’s movement. The sun moves from east to west, which you can use as good indicator of the direction.
- If you lost your group and is left alone, stay where you are or close where you are so they can easily track where you are. Also wear bright-colored clothes so you stand out among the greens and the browns of the forest.
- Swarms of bees and lots of birds are good signs that you may be near a water source.
- Do not travel through the wilderness in the dark. Find a good spot and make camp if you can. Most animals living in the wild are nocturnal creatures and if they attack, you are very vulnerable for not being able to see well in the dark.
- Organize your bag well; keep you emergency essentials accessible to save yourself time from digging around.
After being part of the boy scouts for years and having been a hunter my entire life, I can certainly provide some advice on staying safe and avoiding accidents in the woods.
The first tip is to watch the weather. If the weather is terrible, don’t be a hero. Wait for it to improve before you trudge out into the wilderness. Heavy rain, blizzards, and high winds are all a recipe for disaster because they lead to wet clothes, falling branches and trees, and an inability to clearly see where you are. So, in essence, we’re avoiding getting lost, getting hypothermia, and dying.
The second piece of advice is to dress appropriately. Sure, you might want to go with shorts because it’s easier to move and it’s hot out, but it’s also an easy way to get sunburned. And what about boots? Don’t wear cotton socks and sneakers. If those get damaged or wet (which they will), you’re out of luck. Get some hiking boots. If you’re looking for the crucial items to bring, it’s this: a knife, compass, matches, and a whistle. If you have the money for it, buy a SAT phone or rent one; they may be a little pricey, but I’d say that your life is worth it. No only is the technology something that can help you find your way out, but if you get hurt, people can find their way to you while you wait for help.
The third piece of advice is to take your time. Accidents happen when people are rushing to get somewhere. Go slow and take your time as you progress through your hike. If it starts getting into the late afternoon, don’t keep pushing until dusk – setup camp instead (if you’re staying there).
The fourth piece of advice is to know your level. If you’ve never been to the area or haven’t done anything as challenging as what you’re about to face, do your research and/or find more experienced people to go with you.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has a rank know as Eagle Scout, which the highest rank a person in the Boy Scout program can earn. Of the millions of boys that go through the Boy Scouting program, only 4% ever achieve Eagle Scout status, primarily because of its rigorous requirements.
The primary Eagle Scout requirements are earning a minimum of 13 merit badges, maintaining membership for at least half a year, demonstrating strong leadership among the team, and leading a service (“Eagle”) project that betters the community. All tasks must be fulfilled before the age of 18 to be eligible for the Eagle Scout review process.
The 1st merit badge is camping. This assures that the man can venture out into the woods with his fellow teammates and survive. It’s as simple as that. They must find a way to survive for a couple days in the woods without assistance from troop leadership. The boy scouts search for a good location to set up camp based on their experience and survival skills. They may set up a lean-to, they may put a sleeping bag on the ground, or they may build a fort. Whatever the case, shelter is an essential item to have. Next, they have to sustain themselves with some sort of food. The minimal food they packed will run out, so they may be required to hunt or fish for their meals. Commonly, the boy scouts will go fishing together to catch the evening’s meal. Upon returning to the camping area, they use their wilderness skills to start a fire and cook the fish or any other animal they killed for meat.
Another primary issue a boy scout may face is sleep deprivation. It’s not always easy to sleep in the middle of the woods on the ground. Animals make noises and it’s just uncomfortable at times to lay down because you usually end up lying on a root or get attacked by bugs and insects. Boy scouts may also face inclement weather conditions. Often, the weather is not favorable. The boys deal with rain, sleet, and high winds, as they try to figure out how to stay warm in these rigorous conditions. Additionally, wild animals can cause trouble if they’re lurking around in the woods nearby. There have been stories of boy scouts fighting off bears and other wild animals that got too close. Luckily, outnumbering these animals is usually enough to make them run away.
After the camping merit badge, there are at least 3 that involve citizenship. These merit badges are heavily interactive, requiring the boy scouts to learn the material and figure out who to contact for different circumstances. As an example, for the community service badge, boy scouts must attend a local municipal meeting, take notes, participate, select one of the issues discussed and explain to the troop leader which opinion you agree with and why (with supporting facts). Next, he must choose an issue that’s important to the community based on the meeting and determine what branch of the government is responsible for it. Then, the boy scout needs to contact the government branch, set up a time to interview the representative in charge, and ask how young people can help assist the cause. Beyond that, boy scouts must also work with charitable organizations in the community and create a presentation on the unique elements of the community, issues it’s facing, and what can be done, for the public to view. This is hard work, but teaches a plethora of different skills from project management to organization and more.
Other easier merit badges include cooking, first aid, and physical fitness. Cooking requires practice, but can easily be achieved with a quality cookbook handy. First aid has a class that the boy scout must attend. And, physical fitness requires knowledge of the importance of physical fitness and how the nutrition you put in your body affects your health.