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The Wilderness Survival Project: Building and using a wilderness survival kit… [Transcription]
Robert NIELSEN — to wilderness survival Somebody later suggested this would have been a more attended talk had we called it “Engineers Gone Wild”, But it was after the fact. So here we are So what I want to cover today is: I want to cover practical survival for people who aren’t seasoned wilderness people If you’re a seasoned wilderness person, I guarantee you’ll walk away with several things you didn’t know today. The survival kits that exist are in the area of oh here’s: how to make a fishing line, blah blah blah And the reality is that if you’re lost and somebody knows, you’re lost, there are people looking for you And that’s search and rescue. So, actually, what I want to do is I want to present this from a perspective of how do you sustain yourself, And how do you make it easier for us to find you If, in fact, you go someplace and you haven’t told somebody where you’re going and You haven’t told them when you’re going to be back. Some of this may not apply
So the first thing is dressing in the wilderness And we say in search and rescue all the time. Cotton kills And it draws a lot of –. There was one right there — raised eyebrows Like cotton kills. How can that be? Well, what you should wear in the wilderness is 100 %, non-natural, fibers or wool. Cotton is really the worst possible thing you can wear When it gets wet, it stays wet And it holds up moisture right against your skin And certainly in this area. The thing you’ll be fighting the most to sustain yourself is keeping your core temperature up. So if you actually are wearing cotton and it’s gotten wet you’d be better off naked. Don’T recommend that approach, But you’d be better off naked. So, first of all, in our wilderness kits we tend to wear a mixed pant on the bottom.
Its called a BDU stands for battle, dress, uniform, but it’s not camouflage, But it’s half cotton, half polyester! It’S a blend. Its got all this special anti-rip stuff in it And then on the top. We wear completely polyester shirts, Because obviously this is where your core temperature is Core temperature. I should actually define, is really not your core People think this is your core and you got to keep this warm. Its really. This There’s really three organs that you care about. In this context, There are your heart, your lungs and your brain And those three when they start having troubles, everybody starts. Having troubles
So you’ll often see people talk about if your feet are cold put on a better hat, Because this is where you lose most of your heat from So we’ll go into that a little bit more. So what we’d like you to wear in the wilderness looks like this, Because, when we’re trying to find you, we want to know where you are, And this might be the batteries not included But actually we ourselves tend to wear things like this Long sleeves. They don’t have that in long sleeve. Otherwise, I would have shown you that one, But we tend to wear this Because the reality is when you need to stay warm, you need to stay warm, So you need long sleeves Any time we’re doing, search, searches, they’re, always where there’s more poison oak than you Can ever imagine If you want to know how to avoid poison oak, come talk to me later And choosing bright. Colors are really great. It actually brings up an interesting conflict, which is that if you choose colors that happened to be similar to the colors of pollinating flowers, you will attract bees.
So be aware, I don’t know that this color is found in nature, So you may be OK with this, So we do sometimes things called PSAR, which is a funny phrase. It stands for preventative search and rescue, And the idea behind PSAR is a small amount of education can go a long way to having people just not get lost, So I’m going to start with how not to get lost, which sounds really obvious. But there are some things that you don’t realize until you’ve actually experienced it. First of all, things look different when you left on your walk and the sun was just coming up. Things look a lot different when the sun’s going down So the perspective of the sun is going to change the appearance of the terrain. If you’re on a trail – and I think some of you have probably had the experience to be walking along a trail –
And you’ll get to the end or you’ll decide that you were only going to spend three hours and it’s been an hour and a half So you’re going to turn around and go back. You go back and suddenly you realize there’s a fork in the trail And it’s like: where did that? Come from, I didn’t see that fork coming out. Well, those are the kind of things that catch people, Because then they’re really sure they know which of the two forks. It is, And I think you’d be surprised that it’s less than 50 % percent that get the right answer. So the solution is actually a simple one, which is any time you have a terrain change –. So if you’re walking along and then suddenly you’re going uphill and then suddenly you flatten out Or you’re walking along and suddenly you start to dip.
Or you’re walking along and it starts to bank, to the left Or you’re walking along and it starts to bank to the right, Stop turn around and see what it looks like going. The other direction, If you don’t learn anything today, that’s the most important thing. Well, next, to telling people where you’re going and when you’ll be back, It’s surprising how many people actually don’t realize they’re losing because they’re sure they know their way back And then, by the time they realize they’re lost it’s starting to get dark. And then it’s a much more dangerous situation, not only because of a cold but because they’re not equipped to actually deal with the fact that it’s going to be dark and they’re going to be trying to sustain themselves. So it’s often better to figure out that you’re lost and start acting within two hours from sundown Rough way to check for two hours. If you hold a hand at a distance?
And two hands is two hours, A rough way to do it, I suppose, if you’re in Alaska in the summer, that can be a really big hand. Maybe So let me look at my ordering here. Ok, So once lost –, I want to cover signaling And I’m using somebody’s kit here, But I want to cover signaling And I want to cover it from a couple of different perspectives. This wasn’t the one I wanted. I didn’t go shopping just before the talks started. I swear So signaling with a mirror is one of the most effective ways to signal in the daytime And when the sun’s shining Signaling with a mirror can actually get a signal 20 to 30 miles easily. It’S not uncommon at all for people to see a 20 to 30 mile signal. Anybody have any idea what the longest known rescue was initiated with a signal mirror Anyone 105 miles.
Those are somewhat ideal circumstances, Probably a coast guard Coast guard makes them especially large and glass flat, et cetera, et cetera. Nothing in nature is flat, So if something’s, reflecting it’s man made And people know that So before you can learn how to signal with a mirror. First of all, you have to figure out who you’re signal to, And that may be aircraft That may be hikers. That may just be that you’re signalling to an area that you believe to be inhabited Either. There’S power lines that you can see in the distance that are there or whatever, Because you may in fact not be mobile, You may have hurt yourself and you need to signal So the first thing is figuring out who you want to signal. The second thing is: if you’re going to signal effectively, you need to know if you’re right, eyed or left eyed, Right, eyed or left eyed. The longer version of that is right, eye dominant or left eye dominant. So I bet most of you don’t know if you’re a hunter and you’re firing a weapon, you probably know intuitively whether you’re right, eyed or left eyed
Because if you’re right handed and left eyed you’re going to be a terrible shot using traditional position, So the way you can tell is to put your hands together and make an opening hold. It up pick an object at somewhere in the distance whatever and if you think, you’re right, i.e. if you’re right handed close your left eye And if the object does not jump out of the way, then the eye – that’s still open, is your dominant eye. If you switch, you’ll suddenly realize that when you’re looking just through your non-dominant eye, the thing just jumps completely out of the way Everybody get. That Makes sense. You got it or are you ambidextrous AUDIENCE, [, INAUDIBLE, ], ROBERT NIELSEN? Ok, If you’re right handed you’re generally right, eyed
If you’re left handed you’re generally left eyed, If you’re, actually one of the crossover positions, — excuse me, — you’ll, see hunters who are right handed and left eyed. If they look this way, they’re, actually not looking with their dominant eye and they’re not going to hit anything, So they actually have to lean across the barrel and look down with their other eye. So if you ever see somebody doing that, you’ll know that they’re, a — there’s, probably a term for that. I don’t know what it is. So if we had a simulated sun here,
No No chance So here’s the deal, I’m right handed and right eyed. So I’m going to put this — AUDIENCE. You want a flashlight somewhere ROBERT NIELSEN Nah. It’S OK! I think people will get the drift, So I’m right handed and right eyed. So I’m going to put the mirror right up next to my eye, close as I can And I’m going to make what you would think of as a rear sight. Ok, And what I’m going to do is I’m going to close my non-dominant eye.
I’M going to find the thing that I want to signal And, as I align the sun, I will actually see the flash across my fingers, And this is how you aim And though it starts out little here, it ends up being pretty large over there. So this mechanism is quite successful And one of the things you want to do once you get it going. Are you wanting to do patterns of three is actually the international distress symbol. Three of anything is the international distress symbol. I’M going to segue that into –. This is a little bit of a tangent. Anybody know: S.O.S stands for AUDIENCE, Save our ships AUDIENCE Nothing AUDIENCE Nothing! Robert NIELSEN, Nothing So S.O.S.! They wanted to basically come up with a signal that was three threes Right And with Morse code there’re dashes and dots. So then they said. Ok, we want these three threes to be in the smallest space possible. So that means three dots, three dashes because they’re longer and three dots And the idea there is that anybody who really doesn’t know anything about Morse code is going to recognize that pattern.
And somebody later said: well, actually, if you divide that into three pieces, the first one would be an S, the second one’s a no and the third one is an S., But it’s actually not done with spaces. So, if you’re into Morse code, you won’t actually ever hear that space between them S.O.S was some kind of reverse engineered acronym that came up. So this is actually a really really good way to communicate to somebody where you are in the daytime.
In the night time — – and this was something I learned not too long ago from actually one of our special forces friends, So I love this one: Let’s grab a different one. These are chemical light sticks. Chemical light sticks are really wonderful for this application. This says it expired: 5, of’95. Ok, So I’m going to prove to you that it hasn’t expired And I don’t know why they have such aggressive expiration dates on it, But if you’re frugally-minded they dump these things when they get closer to the expiration date.
And, as you can see, 12 years later, it still works. This will be really embarrassing if it doesn’t work AUDIENCE [, INAUDIBLE, ], ROBERT NIELSEN, So I am going to steal something here. It’s almost a problem. Having too many toys in front of you, You can’t decide which one you want to show OK. By the way how many of you have trouble with your cordage that it gets tangled. This is the way to go. I don’t know what this is called. Its probably knitting by some people’s standards. The first thing I do whenever I get cordage is immediately weave it up like that And it never gets tangled. Ok AUDIENCE [, INAUDIBLE], ROBERT NIELSEN. Whats that AUDIENCE, It’s a daisy chain, ROBERT NIELSEN, Is that what that’s called? I never really knew what it was called.
I just know how to do it. Audience Works well with extension, cords too ROBERT NIELSEN Yeah. Absolutely So, in fact this case you can do it a single or a double. So the case of a double right, And it’s just wonderful. All I can say is it’s just wonderful And doesn’t take long to do. I don’t actually have to undo the whole thing. I just thought I’d do it. That was fun. So, when signaling during the night, you may want to be seen by aircraft overhead – or you may in fact want to be seen by somebody who is actually at a peer level with you or even potentially below you. This actually is quite bright, And the human eye tends to notice things that are perfect, Perfect circles perfectly straight lines. They don’t exist in nature right. So apparently, the special forces guys really elongate to this thing like to 10 feet or something And [PILOS] can actually see them quite nicely. Some of us like to live dangerously And then what’s really nice is that you can make a signal. They have different hours and they have different brightnesses
So, for signaling they have some that only lasts two hours but are unbelievably bright. They make smaller ones longer ones. These chemical light sticks are your friend And they have a very long shelf life. As you can see, So I will get into hypothermia a little bit or more than a little bit, I’m just going with the prop-oriented things a little bit first here. So that’s just called daisy chain Now I know what that’s called OK. Part of. What prompted me to propose. This talk was the family that got lost The Kim family right And some of the things they did were — In our search and rescue community. You can imagine the kinds of conversations that are happening And one of the things that he did was he left, but he didn’t pick a particular direction.
And he didn’t stick on that direction And he didn’t mark where he had actually been So I thought I was going to be able to buy more of these today. To show off This is called flagging tape. Actually, to tell you the truth, I forget what community uses Arbor’s. Maybe I’m not sure Is that what it is AUDIENCE [INAUDIBLE, ] ROBERT NIELSEN OK., And this is a friendly kind. It biodegrades in the sun after a few days to few weeks, few months, whatever This is really good stuff, But this is kind of chunky size.
You don’t want to have this in your survival kit, So what we do with our friend duct tape is the same thing. We’Ll actually do with this. So what we do with duct tape and duct tape is your friend in your survival kit. This is going to be one of the most important things in your kit, believe it or not. You have a big roll of duct tape which go to Costco And you can’t walk out without more than seven of these. Ok, We wind off onto something small And you only maybe 20 25 feet or something What I did here was. I took some Post-It notes. Thank Google wrapped it around a pencil wound it off –. Is that considered fair use or reasonable? I don’t know, And so it’s literally just a soft cord center
But what’s really nice is it’s very small, So we do the same thing with this. We wind off a few feet of this And the idea is every 100 metres. You tear off something to tie it So that, if somebody’s following, you they’re going to know that you’re going to do it every 100 meters, So you can do that by counting steps. I tend to just count left steps And what is it I’m trying to remember what it is AUDIENCE Five feet: ROBERT NIELSEN, I think — AUDIENCE Five feet per pace: ROBERT NIELSEN Yeah, I’m trying to remember if I was like at 55, I’m trying to remember the Numbers now
Was I 55 or something I forget, But the point is that, sometime when you’re near a football field, just pace out and you’ll know how far that is, And then you just literally tie this stuff off And it doesn’t take much And it’s pretty bright. I really want’em to make it in this color And communicating where you’ve been and communicating where you’re going is really important. So the other thing is, if you’re in a place — – and this is harder in the winter — you want to communicate where you’re going or at least where you think you’re going The directionality So again, nature does not have anything. Thats perfect! So take a row of something logs rocks anything and make a straight line. If you make a straight line, aircraft flying over will see it. People on foot, if they have any altitude at all, will see it Make something. Thats perfect. If you want to get the attention, because you’re actually in trouble, go with something like a triangle, an equilateral triangle,
Thats three of something And it’s a perfect shape, And these things don’t take a lot of effort in many cases. If you can find something to build this out of, you can communicate where you are and what you’re doing. Ok, I’m going to jump around a little bit here, So anybody have any ideas what they do at refugee camps for purifying water Because they have a few thousand. People suddenly show up and they can’t give them all to hand. Purifiers Anybody has any idea AUDIENCE [, INAUDIBLE, ], ROBERT NIELSEN, Pretty close AUDIENCE Bleach. Robert NIELSEN, I think I told you this the other day. Didn’T I And you still got it wrong. They literally stopped to a pool supply store on the way and they buy 50 pound bags. –, not this size.
This is a small one, — of chlorine and 50 pound bags of alum. Now I’ve used chlorine for years and alum is something new. I’Ve never tried this before. Alum is a coagulant. Who was that that told me Thank you. I was like it makes things, stick together and sink to the bottom, So what they do is they basically take some amount water chlorinate. It Then, once they’ve killed off everything they put the alum in That causes things to coagulate settle to the bottom, Ideally you’re. In direct sunlight, You give it a couple of hours for the coagulant to dissipate. You can give it up to a couple of days for the chlorine to dissipate Chlorine if left uncovered will dissipate.
So what you’ve killed off, if you’re willing to wait a little while you won’t have to drink water that smells like or taste like chlorine? Whats nice about this? If you put one of these in your kit? –? Oh, that’s! Strong People will never sit in the front next time. Will they — You put these in your kit And I want everybody to grab one on the way home. I actually bought little tiny Ziploc bags. Can you smell it? Is it that bad, OK, I’ll put it away? You guys get the idea of the size here. This will actually purify about 1,000 gallons. So, just think about the space cost trade-off of that versus filter. You have to make sure it doesn’t get clogged you have to blah blah blah. That is bang for the buck, the best way to go in terms of how to purify water. So then you say: OK great, Now I’ve got a water purification mechanism, — AUDIENCE All. I have to do is carry along my 1,000-gallon container of water, ROBERT NIELSEN, I’m sure there’s a tricky way to open this
But you need something to actually collect water in So this goes in your kit. This is a very useful thing. That’S in your kit, .’Cause! You can make any kind of shape out of it If you’re trying to collect water from an unusual location. If you have a fixed-shaped item, it’s sometimes hard to get the opening of your fixed-shaped item in the appropriate place to catch water, Be it water, that’s dripping or whatever It also can be used for cooking. So again, what you put in your kit is something we can buy in bulk By the way I’m not selling kits I’m not selling kits at all. My theory here is that if kits aren’t cheap and if they aren’t small people won’t carry them, And if they don’t carry them, they don’t help them. So one of my goals here is to actually make the kits so small that they will fit –. It’S a two-part kit,
And each part will fit in your pocket, And this is the size I’m shooting, for This is the size that I’m shooting for Basically two things of this size. I think these are back to school. You put your erasers in here rubbers to some of you, So speaking of that these aren’t made for what we’re going to use them for, But they are tough They’re made for a rough environment, So make sure you get that kind without any of the extra goodies. Ok, These are great compact way to carry water Once you’ve collected it, you can put it in here and carry it And, according to the guy, at the pool store. This is not so caustic that it will eat through this. It will take a couple of weeks for it to eat through it.
You should be home within a couple of weeks. We like to actually pick things in our survival kit that are multi-purpose. Ok, So let’s talk a little bit about heat, retaining I can’t bend so I’m going to have you do this Open this up and get into the heat-retaining position which is you’re trying to reduce your surface area? So I don’t know if you call it fetal position, but when you’re down and basically the only part, your body – that’s touching – is your boots. You are wearing boots in the wilderness. Right folks Now mind you, his hands are warm. If you wait until your hands are really cold, your space, blankets, are not going to be your friend You’re going to spend a long time unwinding your space blankets. So these are like you didn’t leave So there you are AUDIENCE [, INAUDIBLE, ], ROBERT NIELSEN. Whats that AUDIENCE, Am I cowering here, ROBERT NIELSEN Yeah, Now you over your head right on
And then you get down into the — Yep, And so the idea here is that you’re actually lowering your total profile. These are wind-resistant. These reflect your heat back. They are unbelievably light Trying to get’em further back. There Got to get a better arm, Oh Over the fence, And also this has a reflective side. Now you should actually keep their reflective side in, But in fact, if you have a craft or somebody coming by, you can flip this around
This is not something found in nature, So this also draws attention to yourself. Thank you And if any of you have actually experienced space blankets, there is now a new generation. The ones I threw out are actually ones I had in my stock, But these are new generations. We can hand this around if people are interested, It doesn’t crinkle as much
It feels a little more plastic, It’s a little more durable, So it’s practical to actually make shelters out of that. It was a little harder with the pure Mylar untreated ones because they were really noisy and once they start to rip, they really go AUDIENCE Question about the chlorine. Robert NIELSEN Says again AUDIENCE Question about the chlorine. Thats enough to treat 1,000 gallons ROBERT NIELSEN Yep AUDIENCE. How do you pour a safe amount, There’s poison in too much ROBERT NIELSEN? You got it Now if I can find that toy, So what I actually intended to buy, but couldn’t find them in short order is this: is s scalpel blade And a scalpel blade is –. One of the most important tools in a survival kit is a knife. If you know how to use it, And in fact if I can only take one tool into the wilderness and use it to survive, it would be a knife.
For this kit, I wanted to make this kit so small that you would carry it. So, in fact, just carrying a blade means that you can affix it to handle. If you need to, And in many cases you’re trying to do something. Fine enough that maybe you don’t even need a handle, So what I brought were X-Acto blades. This didn’t seem like there was that much stuff in it. When I started Because they’re sharp I put’em in a special container, If you see me going ouch, ouch you’ll know what happened. Ok, They are here And you’ll have to just trust me on that.
On your way out, I want people to come by and pick up a little plastic bag to pick up their chlorine, Basically you’re going to be able to make a kit on your way. Out of here I asked REI if they would give me a bunch of bags when I was there, I mean I wasn’t there just before I started the talk, But if I were, they gave me a bunch of bags, And so you can actually make kits on Your way out, If I had more time, I would have made’em beforehand, But instead you’ll get to be hands on. So the answer to your question is you use one of these X-Acto knife blades And you essentially just scrape in a very small amount.
And the point is that, if you put in too much one, you won’t be able to drink it Because it will really be truly repulsive. Iodine has a danger Because iodine doesn’t have much of a flavor, And if you overdo iodine, you can shut down your –. I always forget which one kidney AUDIENCE [INAUDIBLE] ROBERT NIELSEN, Liver, Kidney, Which one is it One of those organs?
One of the things you need – And so I don’t like to use iodine because if you overdo it, you don’t know it until it’s too late And with the alum I actually don’t know. This is a bit of an experiment for me here as well. So we’ll read the instructions and see what it says: AUDIENCE: [, INAUDIBLE]. What about bromine? Is that the same as chlorine or different ROBERT NIELSEN, So I’m a little bit old school in this stuff. So I don’t even know if you can go to a pool, store and get bromine. You can OK. The reason I like this stuff is that it’s stable
And they’ve actually put stabilizers in here, So these things have a shelf life of five years or something In the older days. They didn’t have a stabilized, And if it was in this tablet form it would only be good for a few months before it would start to go bad or whatever chlorine does when it stops doing what it’s supposed to do in that. So in that case I don’t really know if bromine is better or not, But I know that if you go to like REI or whatever and you buy all these little individual tablets now you’re in this position, where I’ve got this tablet And how much water should Put it in Or do I break the tablet or not It’s better, to start with something big and then just shave off what you need. That thing will last you many years,
How are we doing on time? Do you have any idea here So we’re halfway? Ok, So finding water, I talked to you about purifying water. How about finding it Probably should have done it in the other order here. So there’s several ways to find water And one of the best ways is to actually get up early and take a bandana and actually go collect it off things that have collected dew. Thats a very, very convenient way to go about it.
Also, if you get up and it’s frozen, it’s water – The nice thing about it – is that if it freezes only theoretically H2O freezes, So some of the things that might have settled at the bottom may not be part of what freezes, depending on the temperature and stuff. So another thing is to go: grab the ice. That’S out there Collect it. Don’T pop ice in your mouth. People think that when they’re in the wilderness – and they find snow that they need water, they just pop it in there. If you can melt it first, Because it takes a lot of calories for your body to deal with the fact that you’ve just put all this cold water in your mouth or cold ice in your mouth. And now you have to replace those calories with food.
And that’s probably something that you’re having a hard time with at that point in time, So people sometimes call it the rule of threes. I don’t really think it’s threes, It’s more like fours! You can last four minutes without air. You can last four days without water. You can last four weeks without food, So if you realize four days versus four weeks, food is not your most important priority And if you ever get a survival kit from somebody and it has sugar or any food type inside of it, take it out.
The number of people who’ve been accosted by bears because the survival kit they have they didn’t know actually had sugar in it. Thank god, sugar’s going to save my life Bears have such good sense that they can actually smell the sweetener in toothpaste. So if you decide you want to brush your teeth in the wild, take baking soda with you, Don’t take anything that has a sweetener in it. You’D be surprised how many things sweeter finds its way into
Except for like that, Tom’s of Maine That stuff’s not very sweet at all AUDIENCE Question ROBERT NIELSEN Yeah sure And by the way, you’re free to interrupt me Just as long as you remember where I was AUDIENCE So what you said makes great sense if you’re really Deep in the wilderness or whatever, But there are different kinds of survival kits, ROBERT NIELSEN Absolutely AUDIENCE In some situations having food is probably a good thing. Are there better foods that don’t have sweet? What would you recommend as a very stable food that will last a long time in case you forget to change it, that you stick in somewhere for day outings? That kind of thing, ROBERT NIELSEN, Part of the reason why I didn’t want to include food. Besides, the bear aspect is that we have so many really good energy bars and things like that that are sealed and are dry and they’ll last forever, and they have really good carb content and stuff
I think that for most people, when they get into a panic situation, they’re going to burn more glycogen And they’re going to need more glycogen, Because that’s what your brain essentially requires is glycogen. If you run out of glycogen if you’re working out – and you just run out of sugar, you pass out You’ll, never run out of fat. So having hard candy available is a really good thing to have in a kit. I tend to think of them as you have food and then you have your survival kit And if you happen to carry them at the same time, that’s your choice, But you should know which is food in which isn’t food. So this actually brings up the psychology of being lost Your biggest enemy when you’re loss is your own mind. Apparently, human beings are the only animals that can scare themselves the way we can scare ourselves. We intellectualize about what could happen and what could happen? What could happen So? The common wisdom here is that you stay busy.
You always do something, even if it’s wrong, you always do something that makes you feel like you’re, actually doing something to change your situation. The military has a great phrase. They say do something even if it’s wrong –, not too wrong –, but even if it’s wrong, Because if you do something and it’s wrong, you can correct from it. If you never make a decision, you have what’s called analysis, paralysis And you go nowhere And it feeds on itself So be very active in your own recovery.
Be very active in thinking about what your options might be And also don’t bank ever on one option: What is it All your eggs in one basket, If you signal – and you think somebody saw you with your signal – mirror – don’t just use that Use other mechanisms Cover All your bases, But stay busy And also we’ll cover shelters in a little bit. Is there a board I can write on here Yeah. There is So when you build a shelter and when you end up spending the night in the wilderness – And maybe you can comment on this And by the way, please chime in. If you have a different experience, If you’re in a survival situation and you’re not really well prepared, don’t expect to sleep that night
Expect to survive and make it to morning, But don’t really expect to be getting comfortable enough to sleep. People actually find that nighttime is where their head plays with them, And it’s 2 o’clock in the morning 3 o’clock in the morning you’ve been cold for a while. Your head is just playing with you, playing with you And that’s the toughest time of your whole survival experience And then, as the sun comes up just like oh it’s a new day, You start to become more optimistic about what can happen.
Or the sunlight’s hitting your eyes and you’re getting whatever the drug is that gets released in the brain when light hits your eyes And so just think about the nights as just surviving them And during the days you’ll be warm. You’Ll probably have some time on your hands, so you’ll be able to sleep. So don’t worry yourself, sick by the fact that you’re not really sleeping at night – And there are some people who say you shouldn’t sleep at night, because sometimes people fall asleep and never wake up. But again the attitude is everything The guy who — AUDIENCE. Thats something to worry about ROBERT NIELSEN Rewind, So the gentleman who cut off his own arm because he had to get away from the boulder that had crushed his arm and everything.
So several semi-scientific studies came out afterwards to determine what the personality is of survival. Whats a person who has a good survival personality And again it was semi-scientific, But it was interesting And the basic premise was that you have a broad spectrum of emotional capabilities Like the person who’s unbelievably passionate but also can be really logical.
So if you have traits that are on opposite ends of each other, then they say that you have all of a wider range of things to draw on, I’m just going to say bipolar, But that’s obviously a whole different thing, But some axis, if you’re on both Ends of that spectrum of that axis, that’s considered to be a really good survival, trait, So don’t hold it against us AUDIENCE. The rest of us should just not go outside ROBERT NIELSEN. Well, part of the reason I got into search and rescue, and everything else was simply that I want more people to enjoy the outdoors, And I want them to have less worries that if things go awry that they’re really on their own, Because the people who are In search and rescue, this is all a volunteer thing, Many ex-military And it can be a pretty impressive group of people.
This is all totally volunteer, This is their passion And if you’re into search and rescue, you train a lot. If you ever see me in a grocery store line and I’m waiting, I pull a piece of rope out of my pocket and a practice tying. My knots OK. Because you need to know how to tie your Prusik blindfolded. You need to be able to feel if your Prusik is correctly tied. You need to be able to break the knot and retie it. So I have to keep my hands busy And this is the safest thing to public. Did I say that out loud Boy, there’s so many toys in here. So, by the way, if you ever decide to include matches — And by the way, I don’t really think matches, are that important believe it or not? I think, unless you really know how to build a fire, and unless you know all the various things matches are going to give you false hope.
Because you’re going to be like, oh I’m just going to create a fire, I’ve got matches Right, There’s more to starting a fire than matches. So, in the respect of you stay dry, you stay out of the wind. You seek shelter, it’s a rare situation where you’re actually going to require matches to survive a night. It might make it more comfortable, But I think the false hope of trying to create a fire not creating it and then having that big letdown. Oh, my god, I didn’t create a fire, I’m in big trouble.
Thats actually much worse, So I have matches But don’t worry about’em. This is an ACE bandage And I love ACE bandages And if you’re ever in the wilderness – and you get hurt an ACE bandage is your friend, But we like to do things multi-purpose. Sometimes we call it highly repurposable An ACE bandage is a generic thing. The best way to carry an ACE bandage is in the shape of a t-shirt, And you just cut you spiral cut and you end up with an ACE bandage And if you’re lost, you should probably be willing to cut up your t-shirt That non-cotton t-shirt. Ok, I don’t know if I brought this And we do this in the field. We want to actually have a medical kit. I don’t know if I brought it, We want to have a medical kit And a medical kit is a personal thing right. It depends on what you think you’ll need. So, if you’re in fact allergic to bees, you better have your — Something. I can’t think what it’s called
Audience [INAUDIBLE, ], ROBERT NIELSEN, The EpiPen. Thank you very much, Which I was going to bring today. So you should have your EpiPen. If you’re somebody who tends to twist their ankles, you ought to have an NSAID non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug The best way to build one of these kits –, and no, I don’t think I have it here. — The best way to build one of these kits is to get together with about 20 friends, go to Costco and buy the 400-count. I don’t know 800-count Whatever they are. The many count thing of acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol diphenhydramine, which is also known as Benadryl. Absolutely I forget what it’s called, but the anti-diaharreal medicine, Because if you get diarrhea in the wild you’re going to lose a lot of moisture And that’s not going to be good for you – Buy all these in the large quanti
And we buy fly fishing tackle boxes, the little tiny thing like this And you can put about two days’ worth of each medication in each of the little compartments And you have six or eight or whatever thing is, And the most expensive part of that is the Tackle box.’Cause you’ll end up paying about $ 2 for your emergency. Over-The-Counter medicine kit. If you’re, a parent and your children have ever had an allergic reaction to anything, — and I mean just like hay fever – — buy an EpiPen. An EpiPen is a synthetic adrenaline. The EpiPen is in a form factor that I think was designed by the army. It’S a self-injecting mechanism, So you inject in the leg They make them smaller for children And what the EpiPen does is the EpiPen actually helps you deal with anaphylactic shock.
And if somebody has ever had an allergic reaction to something that means that there’s potentially something out there that maybe they’ve even interacted with before that, will in fact cause them to have anaphylactic shock. And there have been lots of stories of people that never been allergic to anything in their life And they ran into something they never ran into before and boom Anaphylactic shock is where your respiratory tissues, essentially swell shut And once they’ve swelled shut, there’s nothing. Anybody can do for you You’re done So. An EpiPen is synthetic adrenaline, which is a vasodilator
And a vasodilator will in fact cause the swelling to go down And it’s the only thing that will save your life in that situation. If I can only take one medical, the device or medical mechanism into the wilderness, most everything else I can live without. I might be in more pain or whatever else, But when you need an EpiPen, that is the only thing that will save your life And don’t get just one, Because the first one it’ll stop the swelling from continuing. But after the adrenaline wears off the body’s. Pretty good at absorbing that I could actually start up again, So they say minimum of two realistically four. You have to get a prescription from a doctor, But as far as I know, it’s not an abused substance.
So I don’t think you’ll have any trouble. I don’t know how you’d abuse it, But I guess people are adrenaline junkies. So it’s possible. We are recording, so I shouldn’t say this, But it’s also dual-purpose. So if you’ve ever seen, thank you. Hollywood. If you’ve ever seen. Hollywood, where they show somebody flatlining in an emergency room, And they say oh quick, he flatlined, let’s shock him OK.. First of all, it’s completely wrong. You never actually shock somebody who’s flatlined. If somebody has flatlined there’s only one thing that will get the heart started: Epinephrine the only thing that’ll get the heart started. The reason you actually use an AED is the heart is actually beating it’s just out of sync. The four chambers have to all operate in synchronicity, So the heart’s actually working really hard, Just no blood’s going anywhere. So, what the AED does is essentially causes the whole heart to have a big muscle, contraction,
And then, when it lets off, the hope is that the heart will pick back up. So now, when you’re, watching with your friends, you can say ah yeah those who have no idea what they’re doing Shocked’em So the EpiPen. If somebody actually had a heart attack and you’re out in the wild – And you know that their heart has actually stopped technically they’re dead, You only perform CPR on a dead person. By the way They don’t tell you that, But that’s what it is. So you only perform CPR on a dead person, So if the person is dead, there’s not much. You can do to make their situation worse. So if you have an EpiPen and there’s no beehives nearby or whatever –, I’m a wilderness EMT as well And in the EMT tradition, we have protocol
So we can’t do that, But what we can say is I thought he was having an anaphylactic shock. Looked like that to me, I’m just not very good, But that’s what I thought it was AUDIENCE. So is this Pulp Fiction scenario?’Cause shooting someone in the leg with an EpiPen when their heart’s, not beating, is not going to get the adrenaline to their heart right, ROBERT NIELSEN, Actually, the circulatory system, the body, tends to diffuse
So when you put something in these things, go right into the muscle And they will actually be absorbed into the system. Its better! If you actually do it closer up to the heart, But I’m not really comfortable giving anybody advice on that. If you get the wrong place, Robert said just stab it nearby. No, no, no, The body will — And it doesn’t actually take much for the heart.
Its really strange, When I did my EMT rotations. Somebody would come in and it would like their heart would stop And then pretty soon it was like bloop And somebody says: OK, give them so many cc’s of up And then whoosh beep beep. Just picks it right up And you’re like wow And then a few minutes later it wears off And it’s like bloop bloop, bloop And they’re like OK again, And so you do that two or three times
And you want the body to take over after a while And if it doesn’t, then we call it Just one of these things like you, can impress all your friends watching television, Apparently George Clooney, when he was doing E.R. Instead of saying EKG kept saying KGB And They couldn’t get him to stop saying that, So I wonder what that was all about. Lets see, OK, I want to jump to interact with wildlife a little bit, Because this, I think, is something people are interested in. So, first of all, there are big things and there are little things in the wild that you need to know about. The big things are bears mountain lions and –. What was the other one? I’Ve forgotten now AUDIENCE People, ROBERT NIELSEN, Well, actually, what mammal other than man is responsible for the most deaths in the United States every year, AUDIENCE Dog AUDIENCE Bears ROBERT NIELSEN. Whats that AUDIENCE Bees, ROBERT NIELSEN Hm Mammal, AUDIENCE Moose AUDIENCE [, INAUDIBLE, ], ROBERT NIELSEN Deer, AUDIENCE [, INAUDIBLE, ], ROBERT NIELSEN Yeah,
They’re not attacking us, But it’s worth knowing right AUDIENCE. So in a wilderness situation, [INAUDIBLE] ROBERT NIELSEN OK. Yeah, Snakes bears. I was just trying to think what three –. So I want to tell you an urban legend If it is an urban legend and probably is it’s still worth hearing, because the message is interesting: We shy away from snakes that rattle Because they rattle and they’re telling us they get away, And so apparently, in places Like Texas, — again, this may be an urban legend –. They have these things called rattler roundups where they actually try to get rid of the great, huge populations of rattlers
And the way they find these rattlers is by their rattles. So what they do is they are selecting all the ones that have rattles and they’re killing them, And so now you can get bit by a rattler and that rattler does not have a rattle. So that may be an urban legend, But I think the point is still interesting and still valid For what it’s worth. Think of the small rattlers –. I don’t know the rattle-ettes. I don’t know what you call them –, but the baby rattlers also have venom And they’re the teenagers. They haven’t actually learned how to modulate the venom, So you can actually get more venom from a baby rattler than you can get from an adult.
The adults can give you dry bites. They don’t want to give up their venom Because it takes a lot of energy out of them to create venom. So if they’re feeling threatened depending on the situation, they may or may not give you venom. But if you get bit by a little one, they may not have a rattle first of all at that point, Because a rattle is a function of as they get older, to any snake bite you should deal with as if it were venomous In any medical situation. If I get cut on my arm, the rule of thumb is compression and elevation. This is the one place where compression and elevation are not. What you do Compression is bad, because you’re pushing the venom further into your system And elevation is bad, because now it gets to your heart faster and easier, So you actually want to do somewhat the opposite. You actually want to keep it below the heart. You want to keep that person calm And you want to –. I won’t go into the whole X thing. You draw the thing blah blah blah. You have cavities
But sometimes actually even putting it in cold, water or a cold surface will actually cause that part of the body to actually distribute that poison at a slower rate. So if you can actually slow down the absorption of it depending on how much you got that’s actually, OK, So, let’s see Bears You can intimidate a black bear very easily. You should not try to intimidate a brown bear. Unfortunately, brown bears are not always brown. Black bears are not always black And the way you identify them is basically by the shape of their head et cetera. The thing with bears is that you do not want to surprise a bear. Thats the thing. So if you’re walking through the wilderness and you’re by yourself – and you think, you’re crazy for doing this but just every — hello, Mr
Bear Anybody out there Just make yourself known Because the attacks that happen happened because you came up on the bear. You caught him off guard. Maybe he’s eating Maybe he’s going to the bathroom Because they’re vulnerable then, And they know other people – know they’re vulnerable, then So there’s a few situations where you’re going to really inflame the bear Or young’s there mom’s there Bad situation So communicate just by speaking up Or If you have something which is two pieces of metal, just click two pieces of metal together,
Some people put a cowbell when they hike They have a cowbell. It just makes this kind of noise. No, it’s not the dinner bell. Its just something: that’s not natural! It’S not wood, it’s not something! The wind is creating by cruising through trees, And then the other thing is, if you actually come across the bear. First of all don’t run Because they have a fight-flight reaction. So if you run it chases, It doesn’t know why It just does And if you’re really dumb enough to run at least run downhill Because they’re very tall in the rear. So if they’re running downhill, they very easily lose their balance and roll down the hill.
The bad news is now they’re at the bottom of the hill And they’re really good at running uphill because of their body structure. So don’t run That’s the first thing. The second thing is: if the bear — And animals will probe each They’ll check each other out in the wild, to figure out what the territory is. Maybe the bear’s never seen a person before, Or certainly not with this color. So if the bear looks interested in you start talking to him,
Doesn’T matter what you say? Obviously, But the thing is, the bear has essentially a differencing engine And, as he starts to get a little closer, you start getting a little louder And you start getting a little more aggressive And you start showing teeth And the bear’s, like. Ok, I got the message, But if you sit there quiet, you’re sort of saying yeah come on come on over buddy, So animals have this way of negotiating And you need to play by their rules when you’re there. So just start talking to bear And in many cases they’ll be like whatever I’ve got some berries over here I’m going to go And then I think everybody knows if you’re ever attacked by a bear, you’re uninteresting if you’re dead, And so you play dead And One of the key things is you always stay face down. So if the bear grabs you and flips you over, your momentum carries you all the way around and you end up face down again.
But those are pretty rare. The key thing is: don’t surprise, a bear Mountain lions. We don’t know as much about mountain lions as we think It’s a pretty solitary animal. They have one mountain lion for 50 square miles If you’ve ever seen a mountain lion in the wild you’re fortunate, If you’ve ever seen a mountain lion and he’s crouched and he’s looking at you you’re, not fortunate. So, there’s a couple, a really important things to know here. First of all, if you see him and you get him in profile – it’s all good, But everybody’s seen at least a house cat. If you’ve seen a house cat the way they stalk everything you’d be surprised. How similar it is to a mountain lion, So if the mountain lion — And they have incredible vision by the way — If a mountain lion is in that position and he’s looking at you Predators by the way their eyes always face forward. Excuse me:
If you’re a prey, your eyes are out here, like a rabbit, The bottom of the food chain Eyes are out here, But predators’ eyes are forward. If a mountain lion is looking at you and you make eye contact with him, essentially you’ve been made, And it knows it can tell based on an angle. It knows that you’ve spotted it. The worst thing you can do at that point is to look away, Because what happens is if you go hey Joe
That was it the opening it had. So what you do is you’re like oh crap Joe, come here, And you bring your crowd together. Does anybody have a jacket I could borrow? I want to just show. Thank you. So you bring your crowd together and — Wow. Thats a jacket, My god Are you from Southern California, So you bring everybody together And you bring the little ones behind And a mountain lion’s model of the world is everything’s. Deer or some derivative of a deer And a deer’s got a big neck And his jaw is entirely designed. It’S literally perfect, through evolution. –. If you believe that stuff, I had to say that — it actually can separate the vertebra So to a mountain lion. The more you look like a deer, the more you look good And by the way some people have salt licks in their back yard because they want to bring the deer close to the house’cause they’re, so beautiful With the deer come the predators. So if you put a salt lick out and your family pets start to disappear, you know why
So one of the things you want to do is you want to make yourself bigger, OK., Something like this makes you bigger, And it also starts to break up the pattern Where’s the neck, Because that’s what they’re all about I need to know where the neck is Where’s. The neck Get together like this. If you actually have a space blanket, they make a lot of noise. They got a weird kind of shininess to them. Those are great for the same thing as well AUDIENCE And tell your friend to take his picture. Robert NIELSEN Yeah yeah. Well, you don’t have to run that fast. You just have to outrun your friend, So then the other thing is we don’t really know why, but there’s a really unbelievable affinity for children. Mountain lions have been known to go past old, decrepit adults that are really easy targets on the edge of the woods to go out into an open field which is much harder, much more risk to go after a child.
We don’t know if it’s the sound simply the size, We don’t know, But they are specially interested in children. You make eye contact and what you don’t want to do is bend down to pick up your child.’Cause. What are you starting to look like here? Anybody seeing the pattern here So this says oh yeah, I could be a deer Sure Why not And the mountain lions that tend to attack people as far as we know – and we don’t have that much data – they are the really young and they haven’t quite figured to what they’re doing They’re the really old Or they’ve been injured in some way And for mountain lions, one of the worst things they can do is break a tooth break — do they’em canines on a cat. I don’t know Those are a dog name right –, But if they break one of their four teeth, their ability to be successful predators can substantially reduced. So in that case, sometimes they’ll go after easier prey.
And we look pretty easy, But mountain lions are pretty rare And if an attack ever occurs, they get really fixated on who they’re attacking. So, if you’re there with your buddy and he’s being attacked and you’re thinking to yourself. Ok, if I try to help that thing’s going to turn on me – And I love my friend, but I don’t want him to be on the receiving of this. We don’t know exactly why but they’re unbelievably fixated
So if you go up and you help pull it off, the mountain lion will just be like, and he’ll go right back to who he’s trying to attack A very successful strategy eyes, Go for the eyes, That’s true by the way, with people In a predator. If it gets a damaged eye, suddenly is seriously at risk. So don’t try to pry the jaws off or pick your knife and try to hear where the heart is. You could be there for a while Wear’s the animal anatomy And they’ll give up real quick when their eyes are in danger, So we’re running out of time And there’s always so much more to say. Child SAR Put a whistle on your kids any time they head into the wilderness.
International distress symbols are three of anything Three whistle blows: three gunshots. I don’t think you should send your kid into the wilderness with a gun But send them into the wilderness and parents on your way out come see me. I’Ve got whistles. I’Ve got lots of stuff by the way, so on your way out And kids have a tendency of hiding. They feel like they’re in trouble. So search and rescue on a child are actually extra challenging As a family. You need to have a family secret, A family secret, Some phrase that it’s a secret in your family And only your family and friends of your family know this secret And it could be anything It could be like Barney’s left-footed Or it could be. Your favorite pizza type Or just some crazy phrase. They tell us Then, when we’re in the wild, we’re walking around And it can be a little funny. Oh, Barney has a left-footed
Barney’S left-footed And the kids will actually then say. Ok, this person knows my parents And OK, I’m not in trouble And blah blah blah Kids are actually really hard Because they literally try to hide from us. Its just the way. Kids are So come up with a family secret And make sure it stays secret And then you’ll have something to give to search and rescue. Should that ever happen AUDIENCE You want to talk briefly about getting found. Do you hike downstream? Do you hug a tree ROBERT NIELSEN? First of all, has anybody been watching Man Versus Wild AUDIENCE? Yes, ROBERT NIELSEN, So I have a lot of respect for him.
But he does a couple of things in there, which are just crazy. You do not go down a mountain by going down the face of a waterfall on vines. Ok, Most injuries in the wild actually happen near swift, water, And so you have this love/hate relationship with water when you’re in the wild, Because you need it, You want to get to it. You want to get your water where it’s fast-moving and cold, But at the same time it’s easy to get hurt. It’s easy to get pulled away And if you get pulled into the water and you find yourself floating downstream in some river feet forward feet up. Of course, but feet forward, And if you come across, something that looks semi-submerged do not ever try to swim under it Because there’s a good chance. You’Ll never come up Because they’re sweepers, They’re, essentially trees that have fallen down have been pulled down.
And if you get in there, you’ll get stuck And you’ll just be held down and you’ll drown. So we go through all this crazy training. We’re like we’re going down the river, And we see this thing And we try to push ourselves and jump over it and swim over it, Not really jump And it’s hard. Its really hard, So stay away from the water. If you can It’s the most dangerous place, If you’re completely in the absence of all roads, going downhill and following the river, is the quickest way to find civilization?
With children, they have a program called the hug, a tree program where, if a child is lost, we tell them to stay, put. Thats where the hug a tree idea comes from Because they have a lot of energy And they can climb a lot of places. We can’t, And they don’t tend to follow the profile. Adults would be like. Ok, what’s the easiest way, I can go up this hill or I can go down this trail. Its like I’ll go down. The trail. Kids are like I’ll go up the hill. So it’s much harder to find them, So we say stay put Assuming that somebody knows they’re out there, So anyways there’s a lot more detail to cover. Sergei has actually asked me to give a talk on starting a fire with simple wood tools, So I think we may have another talk at some point in the future And, like I said, I have a lot of gear here And I would like people to come By and pick things up,
We have plastic bags, which should be a part of everybody’s survival kit. I have to show off the one thing if it’s here This is the coolest flashlight. I have ever seen. Theres been a lot of advances in LED technology, So this is the flashlight And it snaps onto a 9-volt battery And depending on the battery and such I think this has like 100 hours or something It’s unbelievable And in fact what people often say is they replace Their smoke detectors every year,
And they take it out of the smoke detector put it in here and it’s amazing, And this is actually the most expensive part of your kit. Its going to be like $ 14, But everything else is like $ 2 $ 1 $ 2. So again, I’m not selling anything. I just am saying that these kits, when put together correctly, can be very inexpensive and very small, And thus people will actually carry them –, some of you Yeah, So we’re always learning And in particular, when it comes to interacting with wildlife, Because there’s only been 50 Cases worldwide, where we have actually have any data on mountain lions, for instance, So yeah, But would people be interested in some kind of follow-up, Something more technical? I actually have only done about half of what I really could cover here today. I really didn’t cover the kit as much as I was hoping. Well, everybody knows about whistles. I told’em about the whistles three things. Oh, yeah, One last thing Direction: All you really need is something teeny like this. This is a is a $ 4 watchband compass, OK And the nice thing about it. Its small And you really, when you’re lost, you only need to know within about 1/8
If you’re off by 10 degrees, it’s not really going to make a huge difference, But if you actually note your direction –, let’s say you leave whatever the car or the house, whatever — and you head someplace And then you decide, I’m lost Or I’m not sure Where I am I’m going to turn around and come back And you think OK, I went due north So now I’m going to turn around and go due south If there is actually, if it’s like on a road or something like that, don’t try to go straight Back Because what’ll happen is you’ll, go straight back and you’ll get to the road and you’ll say: OK, so it’s either to my left or it’s to my right.
So the best thing to do is just aim off by 10 degrees So that you know when you hit the road you have to go right. You’D, be surprised how many people they hit the road. They turn the wrong way. They go for a long distance. The wrong way, Because they’re sure it’s just around the corner, just around the corner, Must’ve been really off By the time they turn around and come back. They’Ve really lost their mental edge that they have, And these kinds of decisions surviving has a lot to do with your mental position And so a lot of the advice I’m giving is things that — Don’t practice self –. What’S the phrase I want: Don’t practice debilitating behavior, Don’t practice self –. What’S the phrase I’m looking for Help me here, AUDIENCE Self-debilitating ROBERT NIELSEN, Thank you! Thats it What you guys said So I would love to do more. So maybe we’ll set up another one.
And thank you for your patience And please come by and pick up stuff, Because otherwise I have to carry it home.
Source: Youtube Video, “Wilderness Survival: Building A Survival Kit”
Video link: https://youtu.be/07hYzpX7UeI