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Hiking Emergency Care

Nicole Long, Staff Writer, Section Editor

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In Harrisburg Magazine, which covers community news-based subjects, a man named Jim Ryan, went on a trip with a couple of close friends to test their survival skills.Josh, Brian, and I found the highest, flattest, driest spot near the stream after foraging the apple grove of the few fruits deer and bear hadn’t already eaten.” Ryan believed that gathering your own food would be a great way to test his survival skills.

In a wilderness environment, it is essential to understand where to find survival food, even though food is the least pressing wilderness survival need. With plenty of water and a comfortable resting place, most of us can live many weeks without food. However, food is important for your mental and emotional health, as well as a source of energy and to maintain a normal body temperature. In a survival situation, you have to take advantage of everything available to eat. Most wilderness areas are full of natural food – ranging from plants to insects. The food sources you can utilize are determined by your environment.

Although these men were going on a 3 day hike, they did not take enough precautions for any extended stay. “We had about 40 feet of high-strength paracord, a magnesium and flint fire starter, a can of bug repellent, the clothes on our back, two hunting knives and a machete, two energy drink cans and four plastic garbage bags.” Only those items were packed for an emergency, so they weren’t planning on using them.

Jim had been a Boy Scout in his youth and learned many survival skills over the course of 30 years. “In dry conditions, I can light a fire with some fluffy tinder and one good spark from a flint. But if the forest around you is wetter than a mop on the Titanic, even the best woodsman can be stumped at building a fire.” On the weekend Jim and his friends chose to test their survival skills, the weather turned into a dreaded down pour. He searched everywhere he could for dry materials, “Usually, milkweed seed pods are excellent fire-starting tinder –unless you can’t find any–, and Birch bark slivers burn like gasoline when they’re dry or damp, but they won’t catch a spark.”

Starting a fire can be one of the most difficult things to do in the woods. To make a fire, using the wilderness around you, you’ll need to find dry materials: small twigs, pieces of bark, dry grass, etc.. Common knowledge says water drowns out fire. Once the proper materials have been gathered, there are multiple ways to get the fire going. A few methods are the hand-drill, the bow drill, and lens-based. Each method may be done differently, but in the end there is always a fire.

According to Erik Kulick, founder and chief instructor of the Pittsburgh-based True North Wilderness Survival School, “Survival usually follows the rule of threes: you can’t survive for three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food.”

According to Casey Lyons, a writer for Backpacker, a magazine focused on gear and survival technique, when packing for the trail, all hikers are advised to gather gear ranging from a lighter to energizing snacks. A lighter can be extremely helpful when starting a fire, or keeping bugs away. The snacks are packed to give bursts of energy, and help restrain hunger. Jim had made sure he had many of these items, but he wasn’t fully prepared. “Nine small, hard apples, two candy bars and a handful of beef jerky was all of our food. We had just 60 ounces of water, barely enough for three people for a day hike.”
Hiking is a fun source of adventure; although, sometimes that adventure leads to a different path where accidents are involved. These situations vary from health to safety – both using careful techniques. There are many ways to have a safe hike, depending on the location and time. Moving along a trail can be very dangerous, so it is always best to make sure different scenarios are not overlooked. “If you’re going out there, you might want to brush up on some of the basics of backwoods survival.”

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Hiking Emergency Care