Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The seven enemies of life for survivalists

A reader of the excellent Bison Survival Blog made these salient points, which are worth sharing as they more or less sum up in a nutshell what true survival is all about.


We become mentally prepared when we are able to use the 7 Skills to defeat the 7 Enemies of Life.

The 7 Skills:

Fire Starting
Water Procurement
Shelter Building
Foraging for food
First Aid
Self Defense

The 7 Enemies of Life:

Fear and anxiety
Cold and Heat
Boredom and Loneliness
Pain and Injury

In essence, we develop self confidence by mastering the skills needed to overcome any situation that arises to threaten our life.

Always remember, none of us will be ultimate survivors - we all have to die one day.

But the successful survivor extends his or her life beyond an earlier death...a death that was caused by ignorance of how to make that life last longer.


How many skills do you have? Enough to survive a catastrophic event and its fallout? 
If the answer is none, maybe you should start learning - right now.
Could you handle the 7 enemies of life? Is there an eighth?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bunker down, survivalist style

Bunkers aren't just the stuff of war movies. Modern-day survivalists (and retro survivalists for that matter) love their bunkers, be they nuclear war-style retreats or secret caches for food and other supplies.
You can track down some great examples of old bunkers through the Australian Bunker Project and Wikipedia.
Check out these Swiss bunkers. Read all about Hitler's bunker.
Consider making your own bunker by converting a concrete water tank.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Who is Bear Grylls?

Former British soldier 'Bear' Grylls aka Edward Michael Grylls, a 33-year-old risk-taker from the Isle of Wight who prides himself in surviving any environment or culinary challenge, is the latest celebrity survivalist to dazzle cable television. 

His TV series Born Survivor, airing on the Discovery Channel, is compulsive viewing, if only for Grylls clownish antics and intestinal fortitude when it comes to taste-testing exotic foods such as goat testicles and camel fat.

The fearless, well-fed survival 'guru' has an interesting resume. Make up your own mind about the man.

Get Close Up with Bear and read a review of his show. Learn what the critics have to say about Bear.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Humanure - disposing of/recycling waste

Your plumbing is shot (this is your house we're talking about) and there's no plumber to help. You can't work out the system (or should that be the cistern?) and the family is fed up with crossing its collective legs. 
What do you do? 
You re-think your humane waste system - preferably before the proverbial shit hits the fan.
Some people might find the following distasteful, but hygiene is an important survival issue and this is a very effective, and ultimately more useful way of dealing with human excrement, which is usually pumped into the ocean (think about that next time you swallow some sea water).
Joseph Jenkins' book The Humanure Handbook (3rd Edition) has achieved legendary status. You can buy the book at Amazon, or read it online for free. Jenkins has also come up with The Loveable Loo, a collection toilet that looks easy to make if you have a woodworker in the house.
Still curious?
Why not visit Humanure HQ...


The Ultimate BOB (Bug-Out Bag)

If you're caught on the hop when disaster strikes, a BOB (Bug-Out Bag) can be your insurance. BOBs can be tailored to meet your needs (ie. single person vs a mother of young children), and stored near an exit, in an office desk drawer, in your car, or in some other secure cache located elsewhere.
Your BOB should address basic survival requirements - food, shelter and water.
If you're too lazy to make your own BOB, there are some commercially available, like the Safecastle Rig and the Go Bag Survival Kit.
In Sydney, Australia, Mayor Clover Moore is advocating citizens create a 'go bag' - the idea is not new, and has been mooted by US authorities for its citizens. The Go Bag recommended (see picture) is just about the poxiest piece of kit you could ever devise (including the 'disc containing back-up files of work' - your life is at stake, stuff the paperwork!), but it's a starting point - especially for women wearing high heels. Commuter 'Go Bags' will be much smaller than the list below, but stick to the basics - first aid, water and food - and build from there. Consider having multiple BOBs at work, home and on your person.

BOB elements and sizes vary, but if you want to be prepared for an emergency, think about including some of the following:-

Fully-charged Mobile (Cell) Phone - the network may go down, but if it doesn't, you can still contact family and friends.
Personal papers of importance
$100 in cash
Prescription medication
Family photo(s) in the event of a disaster, for use in the search for missing people
Maps (topographic) of your work and home area - if public transport fails, you need to know alternate routes/ways to get home.
Compass - and make sure you learn how to use one
Basic first aid kit
Dust masks x 2 - try not to crush these as you pack them as it makes them less effective
Water bottle (full size - enough for a 72-hour period)
Water purification tablets for when the good water runs out
Torch with fresh batteries
Knife - Swiss Army at the very least, or a Leatherman tool in knife/gun-phobic countries such as Australia
Can opener
Radio with fresh batteries (rotate batteries regularly - old batteries are great for remote control handsets)
Toilet paper
Antiseptic gel handwash
Aspirin/Panadol - or headahe/painkiller equivalent
Fire starter/matches
Space blanket
Beanie (in the winter, it's important to keep warm - you lose a considerable amount of body heat via your head)
Energy bars/chocolate
Packet soup/museli
Tissues or baby wipes for cleaning/personal hygiene
Duct tape - has 101 uses and is indispensable
Binoculars are a handy piece of kit that can also help you find out what's going on around you.
If you have room (and depending on how big you want to go) a cheap tarp and some rope is a great addition.

In an emergency, your core objective is to survive, and then to relocate to a safer area - usually your own home. Don't hang around in the city. Help those that you can, but your chief aim should be to get to a safe place and regroup with family and friends. From there, if it's necessary (ie. in a natural disaster situation), plan your next move.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Rescue foods - for real survival

Bircher muesli is the surprise rescue food here, developed by an Australian food scientist dedicated to alleviating suffering during disaster situations here and overseas. 

"Rescue Foods flagship product is All Day Bircher. This lightweight, compact and delicious food is made form all natural ingredients and contains protein, carbohydrate, fibre, and all possible essential micronutrients whilst being free from meat, eggs dairy, nuts, celery, wheat, gluten, artificial additives, flavours or colours. It is suitable for vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher requirements.

All Day Bircher can be stored without refrigeration for up to a year, and is instantly ready to be eaten straight from the pack with just the addition of cold water."

The vegetarian survival kit

Are you ready for the vegetarian apocalypse?
It's not just the carnivores who are obsessed with eking out survival in tough times, the vegetarians have a strong sense of self preservation too, ifthe survival chatter on is anything to go by.
Aside from general survival suggestions, food stores should be protein-based and low-sodium.
There are also suggestions for storing commercially sold ready-to-eat meals vegetarian/vegan meals. OK if you have the money, but for most people, the bulk storage of beans/lentils/rice/nuts and powered soups etc would be a more obvious course of action.
Add to this dried fruit, 'energy' bars (ie. muesli, chocolate or that strange melange of ingredients that results in those dark bendy chewy logs), crackers, canned fruit, powdered soy milk and vitamins.
One writer has soberly suggested the inclusion of spirits such as vodka and brandy - for medicinal reasons, of course ;)
You can also chase up a copy of Apocalypse Chow for some meat-free meal ideas.

Survival food in a pill

So what can you do when your food rations - fresh, stored or otherwise - are non-existent or compromised? Keep some of these in your cupboard for when times are grim. Survival Tabs evolved from early space program research (along with the rather unpalatable free-dried ice cream). The product claims to keep you going for months at a time, providing you with all of your necessary vitamins and supplements. They're compact, lightweight and easy to store. Check them out Survival Tabs.

Survival gadgets: the solar-powered laptop

This little beauty would be a fantastic asset if your power supply was interrupted, or you were away from conventional power sources for some time.
The CES 2008: Voltaic Generator bag charges your laptop on the go - read all about this groovy little product at Pocket Lint.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

New Zealand - a survivalist paradise?

Ask any Australian and they'll tell you there are more New Zealanders in Australia than there are in New Zealand. According to the following news story, Americans (and some Australians) are making a run on New Zealand real estate with a view to setting up their ideal survivalist bolthole. The town of Queenstown and its surrounds is one of the most sought-after locations.

"Nature has made this the perfect hideout. Disappear all the way down here and who would ever find you? Until now, Queenstown’s main claim to fame has been its pioneering of the bungy jump but these days it’s attracting a very different kind of dropout. This place has emerged as a surrogate international life raft. It’s become a sanctuary for wealthy Americans and others so scared of terrorism, they’ve opted for the ultimate sea change. There’s never been any doubt that New Zealand has the scenery, and well rather a lot of it. The vast majority of overseas tourists come from Australia but the thought, or perhaps the prejudice has always been, great for a holiday but who would really want to live here? Well the answer now is a great many. Quietly, this has suddenly become the great escape." Check out the Foreign Correspondent story here.
Truth really is strange than fiction! 

The Ultimate 21st Century Survivalist Bolthole

Looking for the ultimate in survival digs?
Check out Countryside Magazine's "Ultimate No-Holds-Barred Forget-the-Cost What's New Fully Equipped Homestead of the Present and Near Future You Can Buy Off-the-shelf Today."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Choosing Eden - and survival

Peak Oil is one issue that has seen a rise in the number of people exploring self-sufficiency as a means to sustain themselves in the future.
Adrienne Langman, along with husband Larry, left her cappucino lifestyle in Sydney, trading city life for life on the land in Nana Glen, NSW - one of actor Russell Crowe's haunts. No doubt it's a pricey neck o' the woods to start afresh, but you can't beat the rainfall or temperate climate.
Another great book is Woman on the Mountain by writer Sharyn Munro, about her life carving out a solo niche for herself in an old mudbrick cottage in Wollombi, NSW.
And then there's The Good Life (shamelessly taken from the UK TV serial of the same name) follows a six-month 'experiment by a Queensland family in living off the proceeds of their garden.
Nothing like a good DIY story to get you motivated.

The fictional survivalist

Do you want to know what survivalists do when they're not working on preparedness? Well, in addition to all of the other things every day people do, they enjoy survivalist fiction and movies. Every time you read an article related to survivalism, just about every writer makes reference to the Mad Max movies as the quintessential survivalist movie. It's not, but it does have very obvious survivalist themes. However, no survival nut worth his salt would eat dog food, unless the dog was eating as well as its owner ;)

I am Legend
The Survivalist
Panic in the Year Zero
No Blade of Grass 
Dawn of the Dead
Packin' it In
The Survivors
Red Dawn
The Postman
Mad Max
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Cast Away
Resident Evil: Apocalypse

The Day After in the US 
Threads in the UK
Survivor reality TV

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
Tomorrow by Philip Wylie
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Stark by Ben Elton
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling
Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
How to be a Survivor by Robert A. Heinlein (nuclear war essay)
Lucifer's Hammer by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven 
Footfall by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven
The Postman by David Brin
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles (Editor of
Good News by Edward Abbey
The Survivalist is the title of a series of paperback novels by Jerry Ahern

Do you have a favourite not mentioned above? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Aquaponics - a survivalist's dream

Ever notice how supermarket stock runs right down over Christmas or long weekends? You can walk in sometimes and there's no bread, milk or meat - fresh or otherwise. Now imagine if the shops were always like that, and there were queues for basic food items. Now imagine if the basic necessities were rationed (such as in World Wars I and II).
You can stockpile all you like, but nothing will ever replace the vitality of good fresh food. So how do you go about producing the right kind of food, and enough of it, independently of the commercial food chains?
Aquaponics is one exciting solution - an enclosed system where fish and vegetables thrive in a water-rich environment, complementing each other.
A nice adjunct to this could include chickens and a worm farm, which could easily be intergrated.
Check out the set-up that Joel, from Western Australia, has put together to keep him in fish and fresh food.

Meet the urban survivalists

"If I hadn't been looking for J., I'd never have noticed him -- neither short nor tall, rail-thin, dark T-shirt and khakis, no logos or name brands. The non-look is by design. "It's always good to hide in plain sight," he says. He is a survivalist, but not a grizzled Vietnam vet with a camouflage wardrobe, hunkered in an earth-covered shack in Idaho with a thumb-worn copy of The Poor Man's Atomic Bomb. He is young, 27, and a freelance artist (album covers, graphic design), and, most discordantly, he lives in New York City, which, all things considered, seems like the last place in the world right now where a survivalist would choose to survive." New York Magazine goes in search of urban survivalists.

A survivor's best mate?

The guys over at Pocket-Lint have just flagged the arrival of this nice piece of kit.

"Eton has launched a new hand-crank powered survival radio, the FR1000 at CES in Las Vegas for survivalists scared global warming is going to bring on an onset of biblical weather and disasters."

Monday, January 7, 2008

History of survivalism

The 1970s wasn't just a time for peace and love - it was the beginning of paranoia about the survival of human civilisation.
Read this interesting summary of why people started 'heading for the hills' - literally and metaphorically - in anticipation of a catastrophic event.
Bear in mind, however, that this is a Wikipedia entry and should be treated as such - there are some great links, though.
An interesting addition to this page is the Wiki page devoted to survival retreats.
There are also some nice pop culture references for those keen to immerse themselves in survival-oriented fiction and television shows.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

A woman's survivalist kit

Your beauty and personal hygiene regime doesn't have to suffer when TSHTF - just adapt, with the help of basic larder supplies and some novel craft projects! by Ella Fortune of Survivor Magazine.

When tampons and sanitary napkins are in short supply, there are some longer-wearing, reuseable alternatives. Consider alternatives such as 'the keeper', a rubber cup that can be worn internally to collect blood during your period. Another alternative is reusable/washable 'moonpads'. You can also make your own, as seen here at www. If you start using them now, you'll be reducing the contribution to landfill.

Dental care
What did our forebears use before toothpaste became mainstream? That all-purpose household ingredient, baking soda! Just whack some on your fingers or toothbrush and add a little water and get to work. It also brightens your teeth.
The world used to be a smelly place and it wasn't unusual for lots of people to be 'on the nose' - and I'm not speaking metaphorically. Homemade deodorants are easy to whack together. To make a basic powder deodorant, mix equal parts of baking powder, or baking soda, and cornflour, a ¼ cup of each to start with. Add a few drops of essential oil. Lavender, cedar or tea tree are basic, gentle oils for those not sure what they want - lemon is also a popular alternative. Put the mixture in a sealed container and shake for a minute or so before applying with a damp facecloth. Don't wash it off.
Make your own! Yes, you really can. Just follow these simple steps and you can create your own personalised makeup - but you may find you need to give it go a few times to perfect it. Japanese Geishas favoured rice flour for their faces, so if you're pale you might consider giving this a try - but don't get too carried away. You don't want anyone mistaking you for a ghost!
You can't go past beeswax for lipcare - it's cheap, natural and leaves your lips 100% kissable.
Sun protection
If you're prone to getting sunburn, then be sensible. Tans can be dangerous, promoting malignant growth of skin cells. Large floppy hats, sarongs and t-shirts are quite acceptable. Let's face it, you won't be too fashion-conscious - you'll be too worried about surviving! You could also try this recipe for homemade herbal sun protection lotion.
Well, hairspray is one product that most likely will not be around in plentiful supply should catastrophe strike, but a nice fallback is sugar and water. Just add a spoonful of sugar and swish it around in (hot) water and put it in a spray bottle. This one has been a fashion secret for a long time, just beware when you're outside - bees can't resist the smell of sugar!
Skin scrub
Don't put that sugar away just yet, why not make yourself an invigorating skin scrub? Check out the simple recipe right here.
Start growing soapwort - this plant has, as the name suggests, fairly unique properties that are similar to soap. Mix two cups of distilled (boiled, and then cooled down) water, 1.5 tablespoons of dried and chopped soapwort root and two teaspoons of lemon verbena. Boil the water (again) with the soapwort root for 20 minutes, then add verbena. Allow to cool, before straining and bottling. Use within eight days. Beer also makes a nice hair rinse, but in a survival could cause tension with the beer drinkers!
Hair styling
Forget tongs, curlers and hairdryers. However, there are ways you can style your hair to some degree without these things. If your hair is long enough, braid/plait it while damp to get a lovely wavy effect when it dries and you take it out. For super straight hair, keep brushing it out in from of a heat source such as a fire. This also stimulates the natural oils in your scalp to give you lustrous locks. If your hair is short, consider using a headband to keep it neat and tidy. You could also style it by scrunching it with the sugar and water hairspray mixture for extra volume.
Stocking up
There are a lot of things you can do to make your life easier, but one very easy one is to stock up on a few essentials in the event of an emergency so that you may not need to adopt all of the above ideas.

These can include:-
Naprogesic or Ponstan, for those who suffer severe period pain. (Remember girls, as odd as this sounds, exercise can help to diminish this pain by speeding up your period)
Tampons or sanitary napkins (plan ahead in three-month lots and seek out unbleached cotton products)
Folding brush
Bobby pins, hair ties, cloth head band
A good hairbrush
Small mirror
Deodorant wipes
Baby wipes for make-up removal, dirty hands etc
Hand lotion
Lip balm
Grooming kit with manicure clippers/emery boards
Dental floss
Safety pins
Small sewing kit

Some optional additions could include:-
Shoe wipes
Nail polish remover
Spare hoisery
Clear nail polish for runs in stockings
Baby powder
Earrings backs
Super glue (for those broken heels)
Roll of sticky tape, used for removing lint
Notepad and pen
Hat that can be rolled up
Fresh white cotton t-shirt

Hope that gets you girls thinking!

Meet the new brand of survivalists

Meet the new brand of survivalists - they're probably your next-door neighbours. That's what Australian journalist Mark Whittaker discovered when he wrote a feature story for the Weekend Australian Magazine in November 2006.

"Adelaide aircraft engineer Steve McReady is sick of trying to warn people who won't listen, he is bugging out. He has sold four of his seven investment properties, and has a fifth on the market. He's putting his collection of 10 classic Triumphs and BMWs up for sale. The girlfriend begged him to keep the BM convertible, but there won't be much use for it in the world he sees coming.

"He has bought a property in New Zealand - which he says fares well in climate-change models - and once he gets his affairs in order he'll move there to learn about growing vegies and raising chooks. He wants to build a big shed to stock with all the important things that will become difficult to obtain, such as fencing wire and Band-Aids. But he worries that he's left it too late, and that the world might start getting ugly before he can learn how to make cheese and grow potatoes."

Read the full story here.

Australia - The place to be

When David Clark looked into the crystal ball after his son was born, he didn't like what he saw.

In his three-part series, posted on popular Australia/NZ Peak Oil chat group The Oil Drum, he looks into the future and talks about how he/we might cope with the challenges of climate change, peak oil and a possible pandemic situation.

"The Good News
Australia is a continent of coal, topped by mountains of Uranium. It is surrounded by a sea of Natural Gas punctuated by reefs of Shale Oil....OK, perhaps that is a little bit of hyperbole, but we are a very energy-rich nation. We are a net energy exporter.
In addition to our energy resources, you can’t seem to dig a hole in your garden without hitting a seam of iron, gold, zinc, or some other resource.
We have a population of only 20 million in a country nearly the size of the US.
We are completely self-sufficient in food; in fact we are a net food exporter.
If you have to live through a time of resource-depletion, this is the continent you want to be in."

Read it all here.

Free online survival course

You don't get too much for free these days. Survival Trading's offering this free online survival course for armchair punters who want to try their hand at Australian-based survival education.

Take the course right here.

Poke around the site, which seems to just be getting started. They also have this compact survival kit for sale:

Bushcraft - Richard Graves style

In his sadly now out-of-print Bushcraft books, the late bushman Richard Graves (of the Graves Irish literary clan), shared his love of the Australian outdoors. He wrote:

"The practice of bushcraft shows many unexpected results. The five senses are sharpened, and consequently the joy of being alive is greater.

"The individual's ability to adapt and improvise is developed to a remarkable degree. This in turn leads to increased self-confidence.

"Self-confidence, and the ability to adapt to a changing environment and to overcome difficulties, is followed by a rapid improvement in the individual's daily work. This in turn leads to advancement and promotion.

"Bushcraft, by developing adaptability, provides a broadening influence, a necessary counter to offset the narrowing influence of modern specialisation.

"For this work of bushcraft all that is needed is a sharp cutting implement: knife, axe or machete. The last is the most useful. For the work, dead materials are most suitable. The practice of bushcraft conserves, and does not destroy, wildlife.


Read his books online here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Top 10 Survival Books

Top 10 Survival Books

SAS Survival Guide

Crisis Preparedness Handbook

Where There Is No Doctor

The Survival Retreat

Encyclopedia of Country Living

New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency

Handy Farm Devices And How to Make Them

Five Acres And Independence

The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook: Recipes for Changing Times

The Foxfire Books

When Louis met the survivalists

BBC reporter Louis Theroux went into the wilds of Idaho, USA, to meet survivalists and learn what motivated them to adopt their lifestyle and drop out of mainstream society.
A riveting and occasionally tongue-in-cheek exploration of American survivalism at its most extreme.

Sadly, since we first posted this entry, the excellent survivalist episode appears to have been taken offline. If you want to learn more about Louis' Weird Weekends series, visit his fansite here:
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