If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in SHTF disaster survival chatter.
If you’re not reading this, you’re probably a zen koan, and I have no idea how you got here.
So assuming it’s the former, this is probably not the first time you’ve looked for advice and tips on Survivalism, and this probably also isn’t the first place. So let’s look at some common survivalist, life-hack-y tricks that go around the Internet that you should ABSOLUTELY RECONSIDER.
- The Egg Thing.
See that inside membrane? Good, now forget that exists.
I see this all over Pinterest (where our sister magazine Calsportsmanmag pins a whole load of stuff related to survival and history!) and it goes thusly:
“Who knew? If emergency occurs… While the blood is gushing – hold pressure and crack open an egg. Peel that membrane off and put it on the wound (continue holding pressure) The membrane will harden and keep the wound closed until you can get to the ER for stitches. My grandma taught my mom this and it works!”
Please for godsakes don’t do that. You know how you’re not supposed to eat raw cookie dough with egg in it because it could give you food poisoning? Now imagine putting the stuff that causes that directly into your bloodstream.
While technically the membrane will stop the bleeding, a band-aid is actually sterile, and comes in most first-aid kits. If you’re beyond the realm of a band-aid, you’d better get to the ER and get some stitches, not an omelette.
Also, whose idea was to stick the inside of a thing that came out of a chicken butt on their open wound? Who does that?
What you can do instead: Wash, dry, and crush your eggshells into a fine powder and mix them into plant soil, it can help fresh-potted plants and aerate the soil, as well as reduce acidity. If you have chickens of your own, you can also provide crushed eggshell to them, which will boost their calcium and help them lay more.
- You can use a Tampon as a water purifier!
No, no, no, nO, no. Stop that. First of all, you look ridiculous with a tampon in your mouth. Second, while claims of there being asbesdos in tampons are at best silly and at worst harmful, you don’t really want to drink water through a cotton ball, either. While they are absorbent, tampons aren’t meant to ‘filter’ anything. They’re made to absorb. In case your highschool education failed you miserably: They’re meant to absorb approximately 5-10ml of blood. About one to two teaspoons (per up to eight hours of use and absolutely no more, lest the user risk Toxic Shock Syndrome). They’re also completely sanitary in their packages, you babies, stop freaking out when you see them.Anyway, the point is, it might filter out mud or algae, but it won’t filter out bacteria that will still make you sick. Just bring a Lifestraw and some purifier tablets.What you can do instead: Surprisingly, if you’re in a real bind, you actually can use a tampon to plug a bullet wound! No word yet on whether or not this will also increase your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, but to be honest, if you have a tampon in your bullet wound for that long, I think you have bigger concerns.
Or, you know, you can just use them for what they were meant for.
- Use Night Soil for the Survival Garden!
Grow potatoes, not pootatoes.
Do you want disease? Because that’s how you get disease.Ok, well, not entirely. While this author isn’t by any means a botanist, unless you yourself are Mark Watney headed to Mars, you probably aren’t going to want to do this. If you’re getting your poo from more than just you, you’ll be exposed to other pathogens and germs and other nastiness that you don’t want on your hands, much less in your potatoes. However, Herbivore poop can be used relatively safely, because they only eat grass, though composting is recommended.
What you can do instead: In the case of omnivores, composting is allowed. In the case of carnivores? Trash it. Compost omnivore and herbivore waste with your banana peels, garden waste, grass clippings, whatever you compost with. Alternatively, don’t use any animal byproducts and get yourself a worm bin for composting.
- Anything containing “Detox”, “Essential Oils”, “Non-GMO”, “Organic”, “Superfood”, “Antioxidants”, etc.Listen, I know it’s not really a huge deal about survival, but if you heard about it “From the Internet” or if it came from NaturalNews, DavidWolfe or GOOP or (if you’re so inclined) Cosmo, just block it out. Those things are like the National Enquirer of health. Listen, if it’s on The Rational Wiki, do a little homework on it. Don’t be bogged down by buzz words or fearmongering.
Anyway, my point is, don’t trust ‘natural’ cures for stuff if you don’t have documented evidence. And I don’t mean ‘A blogger took pictures and put them on the Internet’, I mean get documentation from an accredited medical or educational source before you go sticking leaves on your cuts. That also goes for ‘Black Salve’, which is bad for you for several reasons.
What you can do instead: If you’re afraid of something unfamiliar, odds are good you need to learn more about it.
“Fear is the only true enemy, born of ignorance and the parent of anger and hate.” – Edward Albert
- What you need to do for Hypothermia is…Alright, chances are good you have some pervasive myths about Hypothermia lodged in your brain that you need to shake out. You don’t need me to tell you what every survival blog and their contributors is telling you.Short version: Don’t drink alcohol to warm up, warming up takes time, shiver lots, get into warm and dry clothes ASAP, eat something, no hot baths, no limb massaging, no heating lamps, get professional medical treatment.
We have the brandy ready for you when you get back from your near-death vacation, though!
If you’ve somehow made it here without knowing at least a few of those things, welcome to the present day, and good luck with that.
Things you can do as well: Hey, you know what gets less press than Hypothermia? Hyperthermia. Consider reading up on it and its treatments, now that you’re basking in the glow of your already knowing what Hypothermia is.
We all know a guy. You know. That Guy. The one who ‘has a plan’ when the Zombie Apocalypse’ happens (it won’t). That plan usually consists of holing up in a mall or a grocery store, brandishing ridiculous weapons, and may have taken a martial arts class once.
There’s a survival variant, too, and I’m gonna tell you all about it.
You might find that you’re a That Guy. There’s no shame in it. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I was a mall ninja once, and I’ll admit it, I still like overly complicated and ridiculous ostensible weapons.
These are so stupid. I’m delighted.
Think you can be a genuine survivalist? Well, read through, and see if you think you could stand surviving on your own in Alaskan wilderness. No mall ninja-ing, no martial artistry, just surviving off the land with a basic kit of tools.
Here’s why that might be really, really hard.
- Hunting is harder than you think it is.
Alright, alright, I know: “But Sam,” you say, “I hunt all the time. You’re being stupid. (insert other colorful language to taste)”.Yeah, alright, hunting in the Lower 48 isn’t so bad wen you take a truck out and use a kitted-out rifle with a scope and whatever else. But we’re talking a basic kit, remember. No fancy tricked-out rifle (maybe a basic one, but you’ll run out of ammo eventually), no guides, no premade baits, you’re trekking out in your warmest clothes in temperatures anywhere from 46 to 70 degrees. Oh, and hunting season obviously doesn’t apply all year, unless you have your proper Resident subsistence hunting permits. In that case, you may find yourself a hell of a lot colder while you’re trying to fish, hunt, or trap while there’s snow and ice around.
Oh, but that’s not all: Remember, game will make tracks if they realize there’s a human nearby. You can quickly run out of game to track in your nearby area, forcing yourself to be nomadic, or to occasionally ‘migrate’ from one settlement to another like the Korths.
- Moose are Huge.
No really, have you ever been up close to a moose? Really up close? I can tell you they can get up to 6.9 feet at the shoulder, or 1,500 lbs, but does that really convey how big a moose is?
Patio and car in background for scale.
How about Grizzlies?
“See that idiot over there with the rainbow knife, cubs? Were going to eat them.”
Let’s not forget wolves, cougars, coyotes, Wolverines, bison… Look, anything adapted to live in Alaska is either full of blubber like most of the sea life, or is 90% fur and horns/teeth/claws/spikes. Or at least, that’s what it’ll feel like when you’re facing down 600 lbs of angry grizzly.
- What if the worst happens?
So you got beat up by a grizzly. That’s okay! There’s a whole 26 hospitals in Alaska! …and 663,300 square miles of land.For those who don’t feel like doing the math, that’s one hospital for every 25,511 square miles or so. That would be assuming they were spread out evenly, of course, and they are not. I’m not even gonna go into the amount of trouble you can get into from weather, falling into the ice, animal attacks, potential infections, bad water, or diseases from fleas and ticks, among other things.
- This isn’t the Boy Scouts.
Ok, you were in the Scouts, you know your way around building an impromptu shelter, distilling water with a solar still, how to build a campfire…When was the last time you actually did that? Did you do it in Alaskan temperatures? Can you use whatever fire starting gadgets you have in windy, wet conditions, to reliably start a fire with freezing, gloved hands? Can you cook the meat you hunted over a sputtering campfire? Can you build a home beyond a basic shelter to keep you warm and dry? If you can, you might just be better off than you thought!
Polish boyscouts acting as couriers during the Warsaw Uprising, picture from Wikimedia. These kids are more hardcore than I will ever be.
- Do you have the coin for it?
Er, yeah. Turns out, living ‘the way our ancestors did’ is more expensive than you think.
“As of 2015, Alaska’s largest metro area, Anchorage, has an average monthly rent of $1,410. One-bedroom apartments rent for an average of $1,050 per month. Kenai, a small town, is somewhat cheaper, with an average rent of $837 for all apartments.””Utility bills north of $300 are not uncommon in Alaska’s colder regions.”
“In Fairbanks, a smaller and more remote city, prices are higher: $4.75 for milk, $3.36 for bread and $5.75 for a pound of chicken.”
These quotes come from Investopedia.com and you know, it’s a huge state, so you have to make sure your truck and/or snowmobile is functional, possibly with spares for when things inevitably freeze and/or break, and also only 267 gas stations in the state. Goodness only knows how often they can get refilled.
6. Bonus round
This one might not be surprising to you, but it might be to ‘That Guy‘: You need people. You need people to talk to, to barter with, to laugh with, to smile at, you need human interaction. Even the loneliest of introverts needs somebody to talk to. If you think you don’t, congratulations: You’re a ‘That Guy‘. But hey, prove me wrong, and tell me your story in the comments!
Anything else I forgot? Feel free to tack it on, I write these for your amusement, and I can absolutely be wrong, though I do my best to *Research.
*Read as: google
Maybe don’t tailgate a moose the next time you see one. When these two snowmobilers ran into one, the moose had a little something to say about their tailing too close. These two managed to get out with minimal damage, but it was a good thing at least one of them was carrying a gun to warn the creature off. Nobody got seriously hurt this time, but it certainly says something about packing heat in the wilderness.