Thursday, 31 January 2019

Keeping Warm Outdoors In Winter

As I type this my hands are freezing cold after walking my daughter to school, it is about -6°c and because we were in a bit of a rush I didn't put my gloves on, I know, rooky mistake.. At the moment my hands are so cold, I am finding it difficult to even hit the keys on my computer.
I can't help thinking that it is just as well that all I am doing is trying to write a blog post and not something important like light a fire, repair a shelter or something where I need to be able to have full control over what ever is in my hand.

Imagine if I was trying to feather a stick or clean an animal, and I couldn't hold my knife properly because my hands were so cold.
I am taking this moment as a lesson learned as to why it is important to keep your hands warm when you are out and about in the winter months, even doing the simplest of things can become almost impossible if you cant even hold the tool or hit the right key, but it's not just your hands, what if you start to shiver?

Shivering is a natural action that your body does when you get too cold, it is designed to raise your body temperature through movement. The problems start when your shivering becomes so strong that you can no longer control it, even simple things like holding a cup of tea becomes a huge challenge, and if holding a cup of tea steady is challenging you have no chance of being able to do a task which requires more concentration and a steady hand.

Layering your clothes is key to avoiding the above problems, thermal underwear and woollen jumpers are a must, wool is an excellent insulator as it traps body heat and helps stop the cold getting through to you. When I go out in the cold I usually wear at least two tee-shirts, a woollen jumper (I love thick chunky jumpers, and would wear them all year round given the chance) a fleece hoody, a body warmer and a waterproof outer coat.

You should also consider thick woollen socks as a minimum, preferably two pair, and two pair of gloves, the first pair would be thin thermal gloves with fingers and an outer pair of mittens. Mittens are ideal because they trap the warmth between your fingers. If you can get a pair of mittens where the mitt part can be removed or folded back you will be able to do any jobs where your individual fingers need to be free, without taking your mitts off, as in the "shooter mitts".
Of course a hat and scarf should also be worn to keep your head, neck and if needed your face out of the cold. Your outer coat and trousers should be waterproof so you can stay dry, remember that if any of your cloths get wet, even with sweat you should get changed into dry cloths as soon as you can, wet cloths will make you feel colder and can freeze on you if you are out in the dead of winter and you do not want that to happen.

Note: If you are planning to go out in the cold and wet DO NOT wear denim, I dont care how good they look or how comfortable they are, just dont! Denim will hold on to water, it takes for ever to dry naturally and if you are in sub zero conditions it will freeze while youre wearing it, not only that but the weight of your nice trendy trousers will almost double in weight.

Finally, if you are out and about dont sit down and do not stop until you are in a warmer area, the heat generated by your movement is what is being trapped in all those layers youre wearing, that is what is keeping you all toasty warm, if you stop for even a minute or two you will feel the cold start to seep into you. Once you are indoors or by an established fire only then can you start to remove those layers and stop.

If you are planning on camping out overnight remember to remove those layers before you get into your sleeping bag, yes it will be cold but once you are in your bag you will soon start to warm up. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning, climb out of your nice warm bag and feel the cold hit you, only to find that you have no layers to put on because you went to bed in them and your spare cloths are wet.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Finding Water in an Urban Setting

Finding water when your out in the wilderness can be hard at times, but it is doable, unless you are in the middle of an arid zone or in a drought situation. Worst case scenario you could tap a Birch tree to get some water.

Things can be a whole lot different if you are caught in a SHTF situation and you are in the middle of a city or even a run down derelict area, with no streams or puddles you would be hard pushed to find a decent water source, but don't loose faith. There are still a few places where, if luck is on your side you can still get a plentiful supply of water. Yes, you will need to filter it and yes, you should sterilise it and make sure that you boil it, making sure that the water has a good rolling boil for at least one minute or 3 minutes if you are more than 2 km above sea level, but then, this is always a best practice anyway, even if you have set up camp next to a crystal clear flowing stream.

There are at least two places that I can think of which should be able to give you water, even in a derelict house with no running water.

Before we start lets bear in mind the Rule of 3`s, “You Can Only Live 3 days Without Water”, in some situations you may need to take what ever water you can get hold of, regardless. Also bearing in mind that I will be assuming that you will  take every precaution to make the water safe before drinking it as we all know that becoming sick from drinking polluted water, especially if you are already suffering the effects of dehydration, will only make matters worse.

The first is a toilet cistern, in older houses where the toilet was installed .before 1991 the average cistern could hole up to 9 litres of water, that's three days drinking water, toilets installed after 1991 hold on average 7.5 litres of water. Of course if you come across a toilet which has a water saving device fitted you should take around 1 litre off the total.

The next place to find water is in the radiators. Unless the building you are in had some kind of ducted heating system you should be able to find a radiator. All you need to do is unscrew the valve at the bottom with a radiator key and the radiator will empty under the force of gravity. It is noted that most places would advise not to drink water from a radiator or house heating systems due to rust and other chemical contaminants and yes the chances are pretty good that the water that comes out will be black and dirty but again, once it has been sterilised, boiled and filtered through charcoal it will still be drinkable.

Other places to consider are park or town square fountains, house and office boilers (which I know comes under heating systems), actual toilet bowls, rain catchers, fog catchers, depending on the time of year you could also tie rags round your feet and walk through long grass to harvest dew.

There are probably lots of other places and ways to get water which I haven't mentioned, the thing is to think outside the box and to put the ideas that a person just does not drink from the toilet bowl or cistern out of your mind. Water is water is life and in times of need, this should be your mind set.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Plans For 2019

It's coming to the end of the 3rd week of January already and I'm wondering how many of us are still going strong with our New Year Resolutions, or have they kind of fallen by the way side a little bit?

I didn't make any resolutions this year, I haven't for a few years now, I think that to call something a "resolution" can set you up for a fail from the start. Instead I set some goals, things I want to achieve this year.

Getting my sergeant stripes and becoming a cadet instructor is way up there but, after a meeting with the company commander and the other instructors of A coy ACF I plan to be trained as an expedition instructor helping to teach army cadets wilderness survival and bushcrafting skills, I would honestly love to do this.

First things first though, I need to get past an interview with the company 2IC and finish my instructors training before I start on my Ex-ped training, as far as I am aware I should finish my instructors training by October this year.

Not My Detachment.

In the mean time I plan to work on my fitness, I need to build up my stamina and strength so that I can walk for longer while carrying everything I need for, say a week in the wilderness. I have no plans on joining a gym, instead I want to work on my fitness the old fashioned way by putting on a backpack and getting out there and just doing it. No fancy running trainers, just a pair of ild 1980`s army issue jungle boots, my thinking is.. I almost always wear boots so if something were to happen where I had to run, I am not going to be able to just pop my trainers on and start running, so being used to running in boots seems to be a no brainer.

I also plan to work on my bushcrafting and wilderness survival skills, including tree identification, wild foods, shelter construction and much more. I also want to become a dead shot with my slingshot, not for hunting. I still go by the rules that if I dont need to eat it as a matter of survival I will not kill it, so targets it is.

A couple of years ago my lifestyle and the things I did was impacted by my health, I am determined not to let that happen this year, I want to spend as much time as I can out doors practising my survival skills, saying that, at the moment everything is kind of stalled because of family things which are going on, which are stopping me from doing much of what I want to do. These things do happen..

Finally, I plan to turn part of my garden into a veg patch and start growing basic veggies, potatoes, carrots and the like.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Why I want to learn how to pick locks

Not that long ago in a galaxy far, far away I made a tweet where I said that there are three ways to acquire things that you either want or need, I have expanded on what I meant in the tweet below.
Legally: You save your money and buy the item by legal means
Illegally: You just take what you want, get it by any means.
Make it: You look at what you want/need and try to make it
Untitled 1
As you can see in the above picture I ended the tweet by saying that I was planning on making myself a half decent lock picking set. I do have my reasons for wanting to learn how to pick locks and you will be happy to hear that my reasons are 100% legal and above board, the way I am looking at this skill is the same as my goal at becoming a dead shot with a slingshot, just because I can take out a small animal with a slingshot does not mean that I am going to, in fact I hope that I never have to. The same thought applies to being able to pick locks, just because I can does not mean that I am going to.
It was the above comment that prompted me to write this post. Sometimes 260 characters is not enough to fully explain your intentions.
As some of you will know, I am training to become an adult instructor in the Army cadet force, this year I will be attending weekend camps and exercises as a PI (Probationary Instructor), some of these camps will have upwards of 200 plus cadets attending and you can almost guarantee that on more than one of these camps at least one cadet is going to lock there locker key inside there locker, and as luck will have it, they either didn't bring a spare key or, the spare key is still attached to the other one.
Yeah, in life only three things are certain, death, taxes and that one cadet who locks there keys in their locker. This is why I want to learn how to pick locks, if I can open the lock without breaking it then we can get the keys and the above mentioned cadet can continue to safely lock their gear away for the rest of the camp.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Where Have I Been?

I guess I should start by thanking CrazyRocky for tweeting me yesterday to ask why I havnt been making any updates of late, if he hadn't have messaged me I would probably not be writing this.

So, where have I been? In short, at home.. At the moment my wife and I have a lot going on in one way or another, these things are taking a lot of our time, and that is all I am willing to say at the moment, except to say that as well as the above my laptop decided that it wanted to stop doing anything, and I mean "anything", if I had more than one thing running it would lock up and stay like that.
It has taken me the better part of 5 days to get it working again, at one point I even installed Ubuntu on it so that I could at least have an operating system that worked. Unfortunately the only video editor that was willing to run on it kept crashing.

I only had 2 choices...
Wait until January and see if I could find a new computer in the sales or..
Do everything in my power to get Windows working on it again.

It has taken nearly double figures in attempts to get Windows installed and finally, finally, today I succeeded. Right up until the very last minute, I was hoping, praying that it would work, I didnt dare assume that everything was OK after spending days seeing an error message pop up at the very last minute, but this time, it worked.

So, plans. As you no doubt have noticed, it is the holiday season, the season of spend too much and eat, drink even more, yes its Excessmas.

I do plan to write more blog posts, record videos and podcasts over the holidays but I dont plan to start to publish or upload them regularly until the new year, its only 11 days away so its not too bad.

I still have a lot of work to do here at home as well as on my sites so bear with me and enjoy your holidays.