Bugging Out the Basics

Bugging Out Basics

The following article is not a plan, it is however, designed with the hope of getting you pointed in the right direction.

It seems that many articles about survival and bugging out make declarative statements. In other words, according to some, if you do not do this or that then you will die. This may be true in some cases, but the reality is that every situation is different. Your survival will depend on skill, planning and material things and luck does play a role, but as some will tell you, you make your own luck. 

Past articles have typically advocated against bugging out unless certain conditions have been met because of the inherent dangers associated with moving about during a crisis, leaving a known situation for an unknown one. There are dangers associated with bugging out that you would not typically encounter if you sheltered in place.

That being said however, some will leave and embark on their journey away from what they consider a danger zone regardless of conventional wisdom. In a crisis, just like in certain other situations, perception becomes fact.

People will have to decide based on instinct or what their eyes and ears tell them, because traditional sources of information will not be available. However, much of the decision making will be based on emotions, and not always on facts or logic.

Things to Consider

Bugging-out is not the end of it therefore your plan will need to be a multi-staged one. The first part of the plan would be evacuation from the danger zone. It has to be done quickly, safely and efficiently.

There is simply no point in leaving one dangerous situation only to find you are in worse shape.

Get out of the area quickly. Once the decision is made you cannot linger. In some cases, it may take you all day just to clear the urban sprawl if you are on foot and this is where it gets dangerous. If you cannot leave in a vehicle then you really are in a perilous situation, probably more treacherous than sheltering in place.

Leaving before the highways become clogged is your only chance, so this means you will have to leave before the need to flee is evident to others. You need to be informed and you need to make certain decisions based on information you have gathered. You need a plan in place for information gathering.

You have to be confident that the situation will escalate to where your life would be in danger if you stayed. You of course, would have to leave well ahead of the danger, so you are taking a chance. You may leave and then realize you did not need to, and now you are miles from home, have used up supplies, and may not have access to fuel to get back home. You need to plan for this as well.

You have to be able to sustain yourself independently of others. In other words, you cannot make a dash for the nearest drive thru window or hit up the local grocery store. If you do not have it in your bag you have to do without it.

There is a reason why bug-out-bags are also referred to as 72-hour bags. You cannot carry enough on your back for an extended period. Seventy two hours of supplies is the reality for most people. Water, food, clothing and medical supplies are heavy. You need a plan for resupplying yourself.

The Objective

Distance from the danger is important. If your city is attacked for example, you cannot linger in the area, so you need to know the fastest routes out of the area.

You need a destination in mind, a destination that is some distance from the hot zone. You need a way to get there, and assuming you can leave on foot is not thinking the plan through and it means you probably do not have a good enough plan.

Anyone can come up with a plan but not everyone can carry out that plan. It takes practice and hands on experience or otherwise your plan will not be based on reality. It is easy enough to plan on bugging-out with the spouse/partner, children, and other family members. Easy enough to imagine this is what you would do, that is until you have to do it, and this is when plans meet reality and many will fall apart at this point if you have never conducted a dry run,  and then tweaked your plan based on what you found out during your dry run.

How to Plan On Bugging Out

Know what you expect to achieve before you come up with a plan, and then come up with back up plans. Do you plan on setting up camp at the nearest Motel 6, go to a relatives or friends’ home or do you have other destinations in mind.

Much depends on the crisis, so in essence you will not know what your plans are until something happens. If the crisis is localized then you could seek safety with friends or relatives miles away, or at a motel in another city, but if the crisis affects the entire country then where do you go.

You need a plan for natural disasters as well as one for manmade disasters. Forest fires, flooding, hurricanes, and other disasters may force you from your home. This type of crisis is generally localized however, and it is simply a matter of getting out while you still can. Getting to an area not affected and having the means to sustain you and your family until the crisis abates and it is safe to return is the intent. If the power grid collapses then your plans to find a motel, go to a relative or friend’s home is not applicable.

What Do You Need

  1. You need a threat analysis so you can prepare for the most likely. Heavily populated areas are targets for attacks for obvious reasons, but again you cannot decide to leave until the area has been attacked or if an attack is expected. The problem is if you know then others will as well.
  2. A destination is critical. You cannot just grab your bag and wander aimlessly until things settle down.
  3. Supplies are critical but again you can only carry so much. This is problematic, because unless you have a destination with shelter and a cache of supplies that can sustain you for longer than 72-hours you cannot survive for long. Herein lies the problem with bugging out.

Your plan has to cover all of the above and then you need backup plans. What if the weather is cold, what if a family member is sick or has an injury that prevents them from leaving.

It is not this articles intent to tell you what you should do one way or another, only you can decide that. The intent here is to get you to think about possibilities and to make you realize that disasters come in all shapes and sizes and no one plan is a “one size fits all”. The plans have to be tailored to you and your family and to what is happening on the ground and they have to be adaptable. In other words what is applicable today may not be relevant tomorrow.

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Survival Knot Tying

The Importance of Knot Tying In A Survival Situation

Skill is what will save your life in a survival situation, and often times it is the simplest of skills that you have, which will be the most useful. Most of us already know how to tie a simple knot. We learned how to tie our shoes at a very early age, and possibly even learned how to lash our books together for easy carrying.

You can tie ribbons on gifts, and may even tie off certain cuts of meats, so knowing how to tie knots is not new, but the type of knots you may need in a survival situation may be new to you.

Knot making is a simple mechanical skill, a skill that you will never forget, but it takes practice, repetition in other words so the skills become natural. In stressful situations you want skills that come to you without thinking, where your hands and muscles know what to do without thought.

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Wilderness Survival Basics Continued

Wilderness Survival Basics Continued

Some people when they find themselves lost in a wilderness environment believe they can walk themselves to safety. In some cases you can of course, but the point is, if you know how to get back to civilization then you are not lost.

Lost means you do not know which way to go, or how to get back home, so where does that leave you. It leaves you lost and it means you have decisions to make, decisions that can impact your survival.

The reality shows and even some survival articles you may find online focus on food. They do this because the average person panics because of food or the lack of food once they find themselves lost. Once you know food is not available the minds tells you that you are hungry and this can be a distraction and it can be deadly in some cases.

When people get hungry that is all they focus on and in a survival situation some may take chances by eating mushrooms for example, because they saw it on TV or eat insects, and berries or plants that may be toxic.

Set Yourself Up For Survival

Before setting out inform someone of the general areas in which you expect to be hiking, hunting, or camping. Let them know when to expect you back, so if you are not back when expected, the authorities can be notified. If you know someone will be notifying the authorities then you can hunker down and wait. Your objective as always is to survive until rescued.

Shelter Basics

Do not spend all day building a roof over your head and ignore ground insulation. Build a bed instead and then if time permits build something for overhead. It does not matter how well the roof is constructed if your body conducts all of its warmth to the cold ground. You may fall asleep and never wake up if you do not have good ground insulation. You can cover yourself with leaves or dried grasses and you can survive if you have adequate insulation between you and the ground. Even if the air temperature seems warm the ground is colder and you must be aware of this to prevent hypothermia in cold weather.

Help Those Helping You

Do what you can to help your rescuers’. Build signal fires or trace SOS in the snow by piling vegetation in the form of the lettering so it stands out against the white snow. Rescuers may be in the air, walking your trail or traveling along the coastline in watercraft, so make sure your signaling can be seen from the air and ground.

Use high ground for signal fires and along the water’s edge if near a significant sized body of water. Brightly colored material can work as well, life jackets, tent material, clothing and so on.

Above all stay put, shelter in place and let them come to you. Wandering around trying to find your way back will make it harder for those looking for you, and it increases your chances of injury, you will drink more water and use up valuable energy.

You Will Not Starve To Death

Something else will do you in long before you starve to death, but being hungry is not comfortable and it is a distraction as noted earlier. However, it is not worth attempting to curb your hunger by eating plants, certain bugs, mushrooms or berries unless you have extensive experience in identification of them. The only value you would get from a few leaves is a psychological one and the downside can be sickness or worse. Focus on water, shelter, and fire. These three things will keep you alive until rescued.


Even clear running streams will contain pathogens and bacteria and ideally of course, you would filter and then purify any surface source, but you may not have the means. Dehydration is a certainty, but sickness is not always certain and this is where decision making to survive comes in.

If you simply have no means of filtering or purifying and you need water to survive then you would have to drink the water. Obviously, it is better to be rescued sick then discovered dead.

The way to survive is to prepare to survive and this means telling someone where you will be and when you will be back and always carrying a survival kit whenever you venture outdoors.

Never leave home without the basics for survival and they are water and the means to collect and purify it, a shelter or the means to construct one,  fire starting materials and signaling material and finally food for energy and for morale.

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Fire Starting Basics

Fire Starting Basics

A previous article discussed the basics of wilderness survival, the basics meaning simple and straight forward. Information to get you started, and information that can actually save your life. No fancy tricks, and no years of training needed to learn the basics of surviving long enough to be rescued.

Once you know the basics however, you can then build upon them. You will need practice to gain confidence, so that you can actually change the environment around you allowing you to survive in it.

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Wilderness Survival: The Very Basics

Wilderness Survival

Your goal, if you find yourself lost or stranded is to survive until rescued or to sustain mobility so you can self-rescue.

Survival reality shows, for dramatization place the experts in extreme situations. If one were cynical, you might believe some of the situations were staged, because of the extreme nature in some cases, some but not all. Knowing this however, does not take away from the fact that you can actually learn something from the shows.

It is not likely you will awaken one morning to find yourself in the Alaskan wilds or in the middle of the Amazon with literally just the clothes on your back however. You started out on your outdoor adventure with the intentions of coming back in the same shape as when you left.

You likely started out with something, a bicycle, a backpack, possibly firearms, even an ATV in some cases and with items in your pockets as well. Items that can help you survive if you realize you have them.

A day hike, a mountain bike ride, a short hunting trip or you simply decided to grab your binoculars and do a little bird watching, but something went wrong. A wrong turn, a weather event, an injury or you simply wandered a few yards off the trail and became confused. Regardless of how, the fact is, you are now lost or stranded and you have to deal with it quickly, rationally and skillfully.

Survival Skills Are Not Necessarily the Same as Bush Craft Skills

Certain wilderness survival skills are needed for short-term emergencies where your sole focus is on rescue or doing everything you can to find your own way out of the predicament.

Bush craft skills are of course survival skills, and there is much overlap, but bush craft skills not only allow you to survive an emergency in the wild they also allow you to thrive long term in a wilderness environment. 

Lost Versus Stranded

Lost is just that, lost. You have no idea where you are, and of course, have no idea how to get back to camp, the hunting lodge or home.

If you become stranded, you may very well know where you are, but cannot get back because of an injury or mechanical failure with your bicycle, ATV, snow skies or even snowmobile.

Knowing You Cannot Make It Back and It Is Getting Late

There is always a debate on what should be a priority in a wilderness survival situation. Is it shelter first, fire, water or food.

The answer is it depends. If you do not have extensive wilderness survival training then shelter should be your first priority. You do not know what the darkness may bring, so your shelter should be constructed before dark, regardless of the weather conditions.

In cold weather not having an adequate shelter made within a few hours may mean the difference between surviving and not. You need shelter from the hot sun as well. People have died from heat exhaustion and/or dehydration while searching in the hot sun for water while lost.

The logical course is to seek shade/shelter until it becomes cooler. Conserve sweat, not your drinking water when it is hot. A shelter is as important in hot weather as it is in cold weather. Restrict your movement and stay in a shaded, sheltered area during the hottest part of the day. You want shelter from breezes to slow the evaporation of sweat to slow down the dehydration process.

If you are lost, staying in place is recommended and you should never attempt to hike through the woods in the dark. Nocturnal predators prowl the woods at night and this includes deadly reptiles such as snakes. You can also walk off the edge of a cliff, trip and break a leg or fall into a ravine, at the very least shelter in place until daylight.

A debris shelter can be put together within hour using what you find on the forest floor, with limited to no tools at all.  Poles propped on one side of a fallen log and covered with pine boughs, leaves and other vegetation would be considered a debris shelter.

Ideally, you would have a tarp or poncho in your backpack. A tarp or poncho together with some forest debris means you could have a suitable shelter made in no time. Once you have a shelter work on making a fire.

A shelter is not just for protection from the elements. Shelter and fire is needed for morale a psychological shot in the arm if you will, not to mention the very practical need for protection from predators and insects. Fire and shelter can protect you from predators and to more than just annoying insects.

Water is critical and once you have a shelter and fire then seek it out if it is an immediate concern, otherwise hunker down as darkness falls and wait until daylight.

If you panic, you may die and it is that simple, because people make mistakes when they panic, they fall off cliffs or into ravines while dashing from tree to bush, because they think they recognize the tree or bush.

Camp is just around the bend in their mind but it never is, soon the person is worn out, possibly injured, and they have sweated profusely and now need more water, of which they have little. They are still lost, exhausted, scared and it is now getting dark.

Get your mind straight and face the fact you are lost, and that you can think your way through it. You do have resources that you can use. You just do not know what they are until you evaluate your situation calmly and rationally and can see things for what they really are.

Anyone can get lost, even the experts can and do get lost, but the deciding factor when it comes to surviving is that the experts prepared to become lost. Whenever you set out for the woods, regardless of the reason or expected time in the woods, be prepared to stay in the woods overnight or even longer.

You need shelter, fire, water and eventually food. In most cases however, you would be rescued or would find your own way out before starvation became a problem. However, food/nourishment is needed for energy and for morale.

There is that word again morale. Self-confidence and the will to survive is important, the comfort from food is not to be discounted when in a survival situation. Food can calm your nerves, and most people would tell you that food would be their first concern if they did ever become lost.

If you have the skills to survive long enough to starve to death then you would never starve to death.

A Wilderness Survival Kit Is Not a Bug-Out-Bag

The biggest mistake people make is that they overload their bags. What happens when this is the case? The bag is left behind more often than not for those short forays into the wild. The kit is designed to be carried at all times, especially when you think you will only be gone for a few hours or even for just a few minutes.

Keep in mind a survival kit is not necessarily a replacement for the typical supplies you would carry if hunting, camping or even hiking. A wilderness survival kit should be an everyday carry (EDC) whenever in a wilderness environment.

Recommended Items Include:

  • A quality fixed bladed knife
  • A multi-tool
  • A lightweight and waterproof tarp
  • Poncho
  • Fire starting materials
  • Water
  • Water purification means such as purification tablets/ small metal container for boiling
  • Cordage, quality nylon rope or Paracord 50 feet at least
  • Protein bars, trail mix and/or several MRE’s
  • Signaling device or materials such as a whistle, mirror or brightly colored cloth or signal flags

The fixed bladed knife is worn on your belt along with a full canteen of water, with water in the pack as well. The poncho and tarp are tightly rolled or folded up and the rest of the items can easily fit in a small pack that can be shouldered or strapped to a bicycle for example. Not heavy or cumbersome so it can be easily carried no matter the situation.

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Why You Probably Will Never Ever Bug Out

Bugging Out

The key words being probably never, and do not confuse bugging out with evacuation. You would evacuate because of a wildfire, flood and tornado for example, with every intention of returning home in a matter of days or even hours.

You would evacuate and head inland for a few days to escape a hurricane, or move to higher ground to let flood waters recede, this is not the same as bugging out because society has collapsed or because you feel it might collapse in the city in which you live.

If you have to bug-out because of hostilities or extremely dangerous conditions on the ground then you are essentially a refugee, unless you have a specific place, other than a government-established camp, that you can go to that provides shelter, has infrastructure, water, food and other essentials.

If the conditions were so bad that you and others had to flee your area then it is not likely, any other area would be able to provide you with the much-needed necessities without some type of governmental intervention.

Let’s face it; life is not as it was hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Back then, if droughts wiped out the crops or the winters became too cold you could pick up and move to another valley further south.

Entire villages routinely migrated so they could collect ripening food sources and to follow animal migrations. Today we all are essentially trapped in one area, and cannot simply pick up, move, and settle in a more hospitable area because of a crisis. We are essentially victims of society’s as well as our own successes.

In the 1930’s the Midwest was under a severe drought, crops dried up and topsoil was blown away by strong winds creating what was called the Dust Bowl. People by the tens of thousands fled the devastated areas.

Farmers and their families migrated to populated areas, looking for work, food and shelter. Camps were set up outside of cities, shantytowns and hobo camps dotted the landscape for miles around each town or community.

People fled to where other people were. They bugged out, from one place, only to find the conditions were even worse in some cases in the places where they ended up. Unemployment was 25 percent at the time and this is a conservative figure. Some have estimated that over two million people became displaced completely; they became hobos in other words.

The Question is What Would You Do

Do you have a place to go to that is any better than the one you are leaving. You have gathered supplies, gear and materials that would have to be left behind. You may assume you can carry it all in a vehicle with a trailer. However, if you are able to drive from your current home to a so-called safe haven, then the conditions were not likely bad enough to where you had to leave in the first place.

It is a paradox, because if the conditions on the ground warrant you leaving then you probably cannot leave because of the conditions on the ground, unless it is on foot. Most people would not get far on foot.

If the crisis overwhelms the country then your area of the country is likely to be overwhelmed as well. You could set out on foot, but then what. In most cases, your supplies would be gone before you made it past the city limits. Some people at this point would probably turn around and try to get back home, but it may be too late.

Experts and others with an opinion recommend you find a remote area to settle in, in other words they tell you to bug-out to the woods. To the very woods that others will possibly be fleeing too as well. Moving a populated area essentially from one place to another is what might end up happening. Hobo camps, and shantytowns would spring up.

Sheltering in place is not as romantic as bugging out. Bugging-out brings to mind the wide-open spaces, freedom of movement, no angry desperate people and no cops, until it, all changes and people start to gather in remote areas, just as you did.

Food will be scarce and water quality questionable in any area in which you end up. For those that think they can hunt for game probably need to reconsider this idea. There are over 300 million people in the United States all needing food, and the population of deer for example, is not even 10 percent of the population of humans. Animals will migrate away from humans and the ones that do not, will be killed off quickly if society collapses. In all likelihood, you will not be able to provide enough food daily for you and your family, by hunting.

You would have to migrate to find game and where does that leave you, because everyone else has already figured this out as well. Game would be plentiful if the crisis reduced the human population by a significant amount. The only way you could survive by roaming around the country is if the competition for resources was considerably reduced.

If you shelter in place, you will of course have dangerous situations to deal with, but you may very well have friends and neighbors to help or at the very least, you will have the advantage of knowing the area.

The country may collapse but not all communities will collapse entirely, people will gather for protection, to share knowledge and to help one another.

There may be situations that require you to leave and leave quickly but what is most likely to happen is the question. Bugging-out should always be the very last option and never the first one, because you do not want to flee one crisis only to find yourself in the jaws of another even more deadly situation.

If you were to analyze the situation carefully, you would probably find it is safer to shelter in place rather than leaving a known situation, however devastating it may be, for one in which you have no idea how devastating it is.

If you were alone, had good health and had some supply caches that you could resupply yourself with, then you could essentially roam the area, but to what end is what you have to ask yourself. The area you bugged out from is not the only dangerous area.

In a grid down scenario wherever you end up could be as devastating as any other area. To get there you would use up supplies, energy and you may be put into a situation where you will have to scramble almost by the hour to provide for yourself.

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Evasion Tactics in a Wilderness Environment

Evasion Tactics Wilderness Environment

The following is informational only, and is intended to be used, when you as a Prepper, have to abandon your home, and are forced to set off in to the wilderness. You may be forced away from your home by marauders, rouge law enforcement or rogue military units and even by other Prepper groups.

Your success or failure depends on the level of training of those tracking you, and your own level of training. Assume those tracking you are skilled and that they may use tracking dogs.

This information is not applicable to those that find themselves running from law enforcement because they have committed a crime. The fact they committed a crime shows their level of training and intelligence, so enough said on that.

Evasion is a survival skill that is instinctive in human and animals alike when danger is present. Animals use it all the time. They use their instincts/skills to prevent detection, so they do not end up as a meal for predators, human or otherwise. Animals cannot control their environment as humans can however.

Animals walk the same trails to water, and they do not have the ability to alter their trail to avoid detection. They seek water and then forage for food in the same areas, year after year, in other words, they cannot associate the consequence with their actions, but humans can.

One of the ways to counter an expert tracker is by knowing how to track. Learn how to track another human being if you expect to be able to avoid being tracked down by others. There is more to tracking than just following footprints. An expert tracker looks for patterns and they will make an educated guess as to probable entry/exit points and ultimately may ascertain your destination.

Practice with a friend. Have them set off as if they are being pursued and this means they will walk faster than normal and may even run in some cases to get ahead of those following. Follow their tracks and make note of where the trail gets harder to see and where it is easier to see. Note the soil, or snow composition and how the tracks look when someone is walking or running. Notice how the grass is trampled and how fast it recovers after someone has trampled it.

Note the conditions where you lost the trail. What type of soils or ground cover makes tracking harder? This is what you will learn when you practice tracking others. Study the tread pattern and length of stride of the person you are tracking and memorize it so as not to get confused when more than one track is present.

When You become the Hunted

Running at first is important to gain distance from those following or from those than might follow you. If you see an armed unit heading toward your house, and escape is the only alternative, then you want to move quickly. It is assumed you have a survival bag packed and ready to go.

It will take time for the aggressors to get organized, so use this to gain distance. Do not head for any obvious landmarks like rivers or lakes or any structures that might be in the area. The trackers in most cases can only guess about your skill level and what survival gear you may have.

To eliminate the obvious they may split the team so one or two can check any water sources and possible shelters in the area. They may put a water source close by under surveillance. They will immediately begin trying to determine a possible destination.

The weather and terrain are calculated into the mix. They know you will need water, so make sure your survival bag has enough water so it is not an immediate concern.

In all likelihood, you will not stop an experienced tracker from eventually finding you if they stay with it. Of course, if you have a destination that is a safe zone, or can find an area where you can successfully launch a counter attack then you can stop the tracker (s).

In most cases, you would need reinforcements to launch an attack to stop a well-armed unit however. Your objective is to confuse and slow the tracker with the hope they give up the hunt.

Use roadways, streams and railroad tracks to your advantage, but realize they will expect you to do this, and you will be exposed while doing this. Enter on blind curves where the view is obstructed from both directions and once on the roadway in the stream or on the tracks reverse direction.

This will slow the tracker, not stop them because they will eventually, if not immediately, realize you changed direction. They will find where you reentered the woods. Do not try to keep landmarks such as roadways, train tracks and waterways in sight by walking parallel to them.

You can change shoes if you have them, to leave a different tread mark. Change once you are on a highway, train tracks or in a river, and do this before reentering the woods. This will slow down and possibly confuse the tracker, but will not stop them.

Do not go near any structures you find, and once you have used a waterway, tracks or roadway  move away from them, and do not walk parallel to them. You do not want to be exposed in the middle of a river or roadway, so use caution when doing so, and make sure you are far enough ahead of your pursuers before exposing yourself.

Can You Evade Tracking Dogs

It is extremely difficult if not impossible once they have your scent. What you can do however, is to confuse the handler. Change direction abruptly, so if you come upon a big tree or rock, circle it and head off in a different direction for example, and then after 50 yards or so abruptly do the same thing. The handler may think the dogs have lost the sent if they keep twisting and turning back and forth, and the handler may then move them off in another direction. At the very least, you have slowed the pursuit.

You can walk in a stream but the dogs of course will track you to the water’s edge and then can find where you left the water. Walking up the middle of a stream leaves you exposed, so in some cases this method may not be worthwhile to try, unless you are convinced you have a substantial lead on your pursuers.

Do not hide in trees, because you are trapped if spotted and in most cases, you will be tracked right to the tree. Do not hide in water, the breathing through a reed trick, only works in the movies. You will be tracked to the body of water and experienced trackers will simply wait you out. You can develop hypothermia even if the water is 72° F, so you cannot hold out for long.

Do not smoke, chew gum or apply insect repellent that has an odor. Bury waste even urine under rocks and make sure you place the rock back so as not to leave any indication you where there. Hold your position so you can listen, you cannot just thrash through the brush, you have to stop periodically to look and listen. You of course want to spot them before they spot you, so use your senses to help you.


If you cannot stay ahead of them, then let them pass you, but to avoid detection you have to use camouflage.  Mud, wood ashes and foliage can all be used. You cannot make yourself look like trees or bushes so do not try, it will only make you stand out.

You want to break up the body and face’s outline by using shadows, leaves, mud and ash/charcoal. Blend in using the colors around you. You do not use green leaves and then crouch near a tan limestone outcropping. Use dust on your skin to reduce shine, along with mud and charcoal.

Grasses and leaves also can be stuck to the mud after it is applied to your skin and clothing. Resist movement because the eyes catch it. Go to ground and stay there until they pass. Of course, if they are using dogs you would not be able to do this.

Ideally as part of your prepping plans, you had planned for this and ultimately have more than one destination in mind. You cannot let your actions, in other words do not develop a pattern, which would allow the tracker to guess where you are headed.

If they realize you are steadily heading in one direction, they may have the capability of getting ahead of you, or they may determine your destination. Reversing course only slows the tracker and if you reverse course, and yet eventually head off in the same general direction you can be tracked right to that destination.

Therefore, you should have planned to have more than one destination, and as things unfold on the ground you can decide, which one is better suited.

Be patient and flexible. Flexibility is one of the most important keys to successful evasion. You are primarily focused on avoiding detection. Remember that people catch people. If you can avoid detection then you will ultimately succeed.

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Safe Collection and Purification of Drinking Water

Boiling Water Purification

You may have seen a reality show or watched a video online where a person is demonstrating how to use water purification tablets or drops. The person dips their canteen in the river or pond and fills it. Then they add two tablets, or add a few drops to the canteen. The person mixed it well and then waited the prescribed time before drinking. They missed one critical step however.

The entire drink line is contaminated when you dip a drinking container into contaminated water.

You probably have ordered drinks at a restaurant, ice tea, soda or even a glass of beer. The server carries the drinks on their tray to the table and as they pick up the drink you notice their fingers are holding the glass at the drink line, the very place you will put your lips to take a sip. Their fingers are all over the rim of the glass, their unprotected fingers.

Your canteen also has a drink line, a place where your lips touch as you sip. The water inside the canteen is purified but the drink line is not sanitized unless you follow specific steps.

Ideally, you will have two containers, because one could be used for collection of the contaminated water. Once collected the contaminated water is then filtered into a clean container. This way you do not have to worry about the canteen threads and cap being contaminated.

You would need a filtering medium so you can filter the water into a clean container. Once the filtered water is inside a clean container then you add your tablets or drops.

Of course, nothing is ideal, so if you only have one container then dip it, add your drops or tablets and shake well. Once mixed, loosen the cap and act as if you are going to pour some of the water out. What you want to do is make sure the treated water flows around the cap and threads. This is to destroy contaminates lingering there. Then replace the cap and wait the prescribed time. Most tablets require an extended wait period after treatment so make sure you read carefully.

Once you have a camp established, you could sanitize all collection containers in boiling water. Boiling is always the preferred method of water purification. It is always prudent to filter water even if you plan to boil it. Filtering removes certain debris and waterborne cysts that in some cases, can withstand boiling water.

Bacteria, protozoa and viruses can be harbored inside the cysts and other debris and thus are not destroyed by the boiling process. Once inside your stomach, the acid present would dissolve the cysts/debris, which of course would then release anything inside in to your system. A one-minute roiling boil is adequate in most cases.

Protozoa – Cryptosporidium

Potential health effects are gastrointestinal illness, diarrhea, vomiting and cramps. Drinking water is contaminated by human and animal fecal waste.

Methods that may remove some or all of Cryptosporidium from drinking water are

  • Rolling boil for 1 minute, boiling is very effective in killing Cryptosporidium
  • Filtration is highly effective in removing Cryptosporidium but you must use an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter)
  • Disinfection with iodine or chlorine is not  considered an effective method for killing Cryptosporidium
  • Chlorine dioxide has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Cryptosporidium, chlorine dioxide is usually sold as water purification tablets and they may advertise they are effective against cryptosporidium

The ideal method is when you combine filtration with disinfection. This method has a very high effective rate in removing and killing Cryptosporidium when used with chlorine dioxide.

Protozoa – Giardia intestinalis 

Also known as, Giardia lamblia and its health effects are gastrointestinal illness, diarrhea, vomiting and cramps. Drinking water is contaminated by human and animal fecal waste.

Methods that can remove Giardia

  • Rolling boil for 1 minute, this is very  effective in killing Giardia
  • Filtration has a high effectiveness in removing Giardia when using an absolute less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter);
  • Disinfection with iodine or chlorine shows some effectiveness in killing Giardia
  • Chlorine dioxide water purification tablets are known to be effective in killing Giardia
  • Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing and killing Giardia 

Bacteria and Viruses

All of the above-described methods are effective in removing and destroying bacteria and viruses in drinking water. Once again, the ideal method is filtration and then purification.

Iodine is effective as well as chlorine dioxide in killing bacteria and viruses, but as noted above iodine is not effective in killing certain protozoa. You cannot mix iodine with any other chemical to purify water; it can only be one or the other.

Methods that may remove some or all of viruses and bacteria from drinking water are

  • Rolling boil for 1-minute minimum
  • Filtration is not effective in removing viruses in most cases, but is proven effective in removing bacteria
  • Disinfection with iodine or chlorine has a high effectiveness in killing viruses and bacteria
  • Disinfection with chlorine dioxide has a high effectiveness in killing viruses and bacteria

There is debate about filters and viruses. Viruses are typically smaller than 0.1 micron and thus are not removed by the standard filtration device you would have in your backpack. There are filters that claim to be able to filter out certain viruses and they might very well do so, but in a field environment how do you know the filter is still effective. The only way you may find out is by becoming sick.

Have backup methods/filters or use a combination of filtration and purification methods to ensure your water is safe to drink.

In the United States viruses are not a huge problem because most deadly viruses such as polio and a few others has been eradicated, or people have been vaccinated against them. However, this is not to say that you would not be exposed to any virus.

CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/backcountry_water_treatment.html

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