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SOS Kits


See these photos below, this is where I once worked up in the Northern Italian Alps at a place called "Cortina." Yep, it's the same place where they filmed the movie "Cliff Hanger" with Sylvestor Stallone, and I was working there when they were filming it too. Which the Italians in Cortina nick-named ol'Sly "Rambino." Which means in Italian "little Rambo" because he's not as tall in real life as he is in the movies, he's much shorter.

Cold Snow

Now I've never been to Alaska but people who have been to both, Alaska and Cortina tell me in the winter time Cortina is "just like Alaska." So man, would I love to visit Alaska. And so to all of you who live in Alaska, you are all so lucky to live there. And if any of you ever want to invite me to come over and visit ya, just drop me an invitation and I just might show up at your door step. Or I can make ya a deal, I'll swap you 2-4 weeks in Alaska for 2-4 weeks here in Italy, anybody interested? If so, let me know. Moving on...

Now these following car survival tips are dedicated to "Mr. James Kim" who died of exposure and hypothermia while trying to go for help for his family after becoming stranded in their vehicle in the Oregons wilderness back in December 2006. Originally I sent this article and tips to a well known online survival magazine called "Modern Survival." But the website editor basically "blew me off" because he didn't think my car tips were a good idea. And so I'll leave it up to you to decide if you think he was right or wrong.

Should you find yourself stranded in a remote area in your vehicle and you are not sure where you are, which way to go or where the nearest house or town is located. It's usually best to stay with your vehicle and wait for help to come to you than to wander off looking for HELP. But after waiting 24 hours or so and no one has yet come to your rescue, then here's what you can do to help increase your chances of being rescued.

(a) Just as James Kim did, start burning one rubber tire per day starting at day break so that the "black smoke" can be seen during daylight hours. But should your car tire burn out before night fall, don't burn another tire wait until the next day. And in the mean time build three separate wood fires about 100 feet apart from each other either in a straight line or a triangle as this means HELP IS NEEDED and will increase your chances of being spotted from the air.

(b) Like with a whistle and gunshots, three blasts of a car horn and then a pause between the 3 x beeps also means HELP IS NEEDED. But don't keep blasting the car horn until your battery goes weak, just every so often. And if your car engine still works, start it every so often to recharge the battery so it won't go completely dead and kaput.

(c) If it's a sunny day, remove the rear view mirror or one of vehicle's side view mirrors and go to the nearest and highest terrain feature and use it to signal for help. Either in the direction where you see civilization or where you think civilization is located. If there is no nearby high ground or hill, then climb the nearest and tallest tree.

Should you hear or see any aircraft a loooong ways off, don't give up and think it's too far away, still make every effort to try to signal it anyway. Because even if it's not an aircraft out searching for you but instead just someone out joy riding, they may still see your flashes, fire and smoke and think it's nothing.

But then maybe the next day or so the pilot will be reading a newspaper, listening to the radio or see on the television a news report about someone being lost in a remote area where he flew over the other day and he just might say to himself... "Hmmm, I flew over/near that area the other day, I wonder if that smoke and flashes was from that person they're looking for..." Makes sense, don't ya think?

(d) Just before sun down while it's still light out, remove the car battery, one headlight and some wires that don't have anything to do with the car's ignition system. Like the wires located in the truck section of the car. And then carry these items to the highest and nearest mountain or hill, build yourself a nice warm fire and then hook up the car headlight to the battery with the set of wires. Then start blinking the headlight in the direction of wherever you see lights and civilization, three blinks and a then pause, three blinks and then a pause over and over again which means HELP IS NEEDED. If you don't see any lights or civilization anywhere, then blink the light in all the directions.

But don't continue doing this all night long, just for an hour or two. As most people who live in remote areas, including hunters, campers and hikers usually hit the sack and go to bed around 10 pm or so. So it's better to only keep trying to signal someone for help no later than 11 pm. Plus you don't want to kill the battery as you will need to use it to restart your vehicle so you can recharge it and use it for another night(s). That is...if you still have some fuel remaining in your vehicle and the engine is still operational.

(e) Another option is to start a small forest fire. Though this could backfire and become more hazarous and dangerous, not only to yourself but to others if you're not careful. But if it's winter and there's snow on the gound and the trees around you don't have any leaves, then you might want to start a small forest fire as it might be the only way to get help. As a last resort, of course.

Mr. James Kim did everything possible to try to help keep his family warm and alive, but after waiting several days and no help came, he had no choice but to go for help. Though he made the right decision to leave his family behind with the vehicle, the only bad decision he made was to venture off the snow covered road which would have eventually lead him back to civilization. Yes, a sad and tragic story that could have ended differently if he had maybe used some of these car survival tips and or stayed on the snow covered road to civilization.

Therefore I have a favor to ask of all you, if you think my car survival battery & headlight tip is a pretty good idea, I'd appreciate you contacting the editor of Modern Survival at www.modernsurvival.net to let him know what you think. Just a short message saying 'Dear Editor, I just read Army Ranger Rick's car survival tips on his website at: www.therangerdigest.com and I think you made a mistake in not accepting and publishing his tips. I personally found them to be ...(fill in with your own words). Thanks, appreciate it.

Moving on..

Do you spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter time? Are you hunter, trapper, cross country skier or snowmobiler? Do you sometimes cross over frozen creeks, rivers or lakes? Would you be prepared and know what to do if you plunged through the ice?

If you do, did you know that as soon as your body hits the freezing water it takes your breath away and will lower your body temperture 30 x times faster than if you were standing naked in the wind? That your mind will go blank for a few seconds and your first reaction is to PANIC! And if you don't get out of the freezing water within 2 - 4 minutes your body will start to curl up, you'll lose muscle control and begin to shiver uncontrollably? Followed by unconsciousness and a slow freezing death within the next 15 - 20 minutes? Did you know all this? I'll bet ya didn't, did you?

The only thing you can do to save youself is to try to keep on resisting and take violent actions to get yourself out of water as quickly as possible. And so if you're in water over your head and you can't break the ice to the nearest shore line because it's too far away and you don't have anything you can use to grab onto the ice to pull yourself out, the bottom line is...YOU'RE GONNA DIE!

And so if you know you have to sometimes cross over frozen water and you're not prepared to take a freezing plunge.well then it's your own freaken fault and you deserve to die, DUMBASS! Well here's an easy way to be prepared and you only need a few nails and two pieces of wood. When you're ready to cross over some ice, what you should do to be better prepared is tie some parachute cord from one ice pick to the other by running the paracord through your jacket sleeves, like so.

Wood and Nails Holding Using Movement
2 nails in 2 pieces of wood..
attach some cord, run it..
through your sleeves and..
use it like so.

This way should you fall through the ice you'll have the ice picks at your finger tips and you'll be ready to pull yourself up & out of the water. And once you're out of the freezing water you immediately have to (a) roll in the snow so it will blot & absorb the water and maintain whatever body heat you have remaining or (b) you need to get out of your clothes immediately and start doing some vigorous exercises to generate loss body heat and or (c) run immedately to the nearest house or vehicle for warmth or (d) immediately get a fire going ASAP!

When packing & carrying these ice picks you can tie a bunch of 550 paracord to them so in the event you see "someone else take a plunge thru the ice," you can keep tossing and retrieving them over and over again until they are in the hands of the person. Is this a good idea or what? You betcha it is!

Another item that comes in handy out in the snow country is a compact snow shovel just in case you have to build yourself a snow shelter, (see my "Expedient Shelter" page). But depending on what kind of a snow shovel you buy, they can be quite expensive and a bit of hassel to pack & carry. The more compact and lighter they are, the more costly they are. And the more bulky and heavier they are, the cheaper they are.

Well of course compact & light is better than bulky & heavy, duh? But if you're like me and you don't wanna spend a lot of money on a shovel, here's what you can purchase.

Cut Two Holes Shovel

I bought this plastic snow shovel for less than $5.00 and modified it myself by cutting out the two handholds, weighs very little and it works great too. You can use it with or without a wooden handle which can be cut from any old tree branch provided it fits inside the shovel's handle hole.

Some other items that come in handy out in snow country are snow shoes. Though the really good ones are pretty expensive, but if you don't spend a lot of time in the outdoors you can get away with buying and using a set of these snowshoes.

Snow ShoesSnow Shoes

Wham-o Plastic Snow Shoes

Cost: $25.00 - Order from: www.snowspeeders.com/snowshoes.html

Personally, I own two different sets of snow shoes, a set of expensive heavy duty snow shoes and these orange Whamo Snow Shoes. And whenever I take off and go skiing up into the Italian Alps, I always keep these orange pair of snowshoes in my camper just in case I need'em. I like them because they don't cost much, they're made out of a strong flexible plastic and they're bright orange too. Which makes'em easy to see and find when you lay'em down in the snow, not to mention they can be used for signaling too.

If you're an outdoor winter enthusiast who likes to ski, hunt, snowmobile and ice fish, listen up because this next tip just might save your @ss someday. And the recommended items that I suggest you purchase and carry in a small pouch attached to your belt are not only essential, but very lightweight too.

For a few lousy $$$ you can buy a new or used military nylon first aid/compass pouch and keep insideof it the following minimum cold weather emergency items:




Multipurpose Pocket Knife 1
field craft needs, preparing shelters, game, etc.
Small Compact Mirror 1
signaling rescue parties during sunny daylight hours.
Mini AA/AAA Flashlight 1
light source and for signaling rescue.
Wire Commando Saw 1
cutting wood for fires, shelters & other field craft needs.
Thermal Blanket 1
maintaining body warmth, to make shelter, protection against weather.
550 Parachute Cord 50 ft.
building shelters, making animal traps & snares, fishing line, etc.
Waterproof matches/lighter 1
starting fires
Candles 1
starting fires and as a light source.

KitSurvival Kit

Some other cold weather items you may want to consider packing & carrying...




Florescent Orange Cloth 1
for signaling rescue parties, especially during cloudy days
8-12 Hour Light Stick 1
for use as a light source for signaling rescure parties
Hand/feet Warmers 1
for warming feet/hands during extreme cold weather conditions.

Survival Kit

I'm sure you've heard or read stories about lost skiers, hikers, hunters and stranded motorists freezing to death due to prolong exposure to severe cold weather conditions. Or if they did survive their ordeal, they either had to have their fingers, hands, feet or toes amputated due to severe frostbite.

With all these high-speed commercial products on the market today, especially the easy to pack & carry in your pocket stuff. It's hard to believe why so many outdoor "winter enthusiasts" don't better prepare themselves before venturing out in the cold. I mean. Duh? Hello? Don't ya know it can get pretty damn cold outside?

Regardless if you're only going away for a few hours or for the entire day. If you're gonna be off the main roads, trails and or away from civilization you should at least carry in your pocket or in a small pouch a few basic "winter survival items. Such as a small signaling mirro, small compass, small florescent orange cloth, etc. And if nothing else, at least some matches a candle and a compact pocket size emergency space blanket. (See photos/drawings on how to use.)


Space BlanketUsing The Blanket

And a modification you might want to consider doing to the thermal pocket blanket (when you purchase it) is to place some pieces of "duct tape" on the corners and also along the sides. Then make somm nice round small holes where you placed these pieces of duct tape so it won't tear the blanket when you attach some nylon string (which you'll also need too) to the corners and sides for use as an emergency shelter.

Another modification you should make is to place two (2) 12-15 inch long pieces of duct tape "one-over-the-other" directly in the center of the thermal blanket and repeat this same procedure on the reverse side. Then if you should ever need to use it as a rain or cold weather poncho. All ya gotta do is remove one layer of duct tape from both sides, take your knife and make a slit down the center of the "second layer" of tape (but not the entire length) and then try it on for size. When you're finished using it, reattach the two layers of duct tape that you removed to close up this slit/hole so you can use it again as an emergency blanket or shelter.

ShelterThe real thing!

When it comes to cold weather survival, though there are many things you need to know, learn and practice. These are the most common overlooked rules when you have no means of starting a fire.

#1 - When on the move to reduce sweat, take your time and open up your jacket otherwise your clothes will become soaked and be hard to dry out and you won't be able to generate enough body heat to keep yourself warm when you do stop moving.

#2 - When you stop and rest, always place something between you and the cold ground or snow otherwise it will zap all the body warmth out of you.

#3 - If you're cold it's mostly due to not wearing the proper clothing and generating enough body heat, most likely due to sweat and or not having enough [food] calories to burn. No food, no fire, then you'll have to keep on moving or you could succumb to hypothermia and die.

#4 - Avoid eating snow and sucking on ice quench your thirst. If you're thirsty, first keep the snow or ice in your mouth until it melts entirely and it's lukewarm or you'll risk cooling the inner core part of your body that generates heat to keep the rest of the body warm. It's better to be a bit cold on the outside than to lose the inner core body heat or it will cause the entire body to freeze up and shut down entirely.

#5 - Always wear a hat or something on your head as that's where most of the body heat is lost and escapes. Think of your body like it's a bottle of water, if there's no cap on top to keep the water inside of it when you walk and move what will happen to the water? It will spill out of it, right? Well that's what will happen to your body heat when you walk and move without a hat on too. Makes sense, don't it? Sure does.

Make Snow Shoes
Now I'm sure you've read somewhere how to make a pair of snowshoes like these out of some tree branches and parachute cord, haven't you? Yea, I'm sure you have as almost all survival books and websites teach you how to make them. But what they don't tell you about these paracord snowshoes is that you have to repeatedly stop to tighten, retighten, adjust, readjust and sometimes re-string them over and over again. Why? Because when parachute cord gets wet it stretches, that's why. How much does it stretch? According to the manufacturer it will stretch about 1/3 or 33% more in length when it's wet.
Made Snow Shoes

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't make a pair of improvised snowshoes out of some tree branches and parachute cord especially if all you've got in a life or death cold weather survival situation is just a knife and some parachute cord. All I'm saying is if you want to pack and carry something else a bit more useful so you can make a decent pair of improvised snowshoes, you might want to think about making a set of these snowshoes instead. And all you need is some wire fencing and some self locking plastic tie-downs.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3

Then all you gotta do is (a) find yourself a nice set of curvy tree brances like these in the photos, (b) lay out the sticks, trim'em up a bit if you need then (c) lash'em securely together at the top and bottom portion with the self locking plastic tie-downs then (d) lay your wire fencing on top, (e) bend in and secure the excess wire around the sticks, (f) place a couple of wooden sticks across the center portion, (g) lash them down in place with some more plastic tie-downs and then (h) attach some parachute cord so you can fasten them to your boots.

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