If you spend any time outdoors, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll encounter a bug of some kind that thinks that it can make a meal of you in some small way. The great majority of these encounters will result in minor discomfort on your part, but it’s important to be able to treat the injury (small as it may be) in order to prevent it from becoming infected.
The treatment for spider bites is more or less the same for all types of spiders save the black widow. Black widow bites are very painful and treating them with anti-venom can cause allergic reactions.
Chiggers are little mites that resemble small spiders. It’s a common misconception that chiggers burrow into your skin. When they bite they hang onto your skin, but they won’t dig their bodies into yours.
Ticks are little critters that look like a spider, but typically have shorter legs and thicker bodies. When one bites you, it latches on and sucks your blood. It won’t drink much, but because it punctures your skin it can cause infection and has the potential of introducing lyme disease.
Bees, hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets all have their own unique characteristics, but treatment of the stings is relatively similar and simple.
A sting can become life threatening, however, if the person has an allergy. Seek immediate medical assistance if a person experiences any of these symptoms:
If a person who is allergic begins to exhibit any of these symptoms, they should use an epinephrine auto-injector immediately. If a person is unable to do so, you should assist by injecting it into their thigh muscle.
Mosquito bites are fairly common and relatively easy to treat. They typically cause swollen and itchy spots that last for a few days or longer if you scratch them. You don’t need to do anything to treat the site of the bite, but you can do things to reduce the itching.
Leeches, like mosquitos and ticks, bite on and suck your blood. Similarly, they won’t suck too much blood so you don’t need to worry about blood loss as a direct result of the sucking. Where a leech differs from the rest is that it injects an anticoagulant to keep the wound from scabbing over. This can cause the wound to continue bleeding once the leech is removed.
Modern society has become dependent on electricity for just about every convenience we enjoy and nothing makes that more apparent than when the power goes out. The power can go out for a multitude of reasons, but most commonly it’s the result of storms. As a result, a large part of preparing for a power outage is also preparing to deal with severe weather.
The steps to take to prepare for a power outage are very similar to those that you would take to deal with any emergency. Being without electricity has a few unique aspects when compared to other emergencies, but preparations for one situation will greatly assist with another.
Most power outages last only a few hours, but it’s not uncommon for them to last several days. A good motto to hold to when preparing is to “plan for the worst, but hope for the best.” The best case scenario in dealing with a power outage is that you won’t even notice it except when you wake up and see all the clocks in your house blinking 12:00. In the event of an extended outage, however, a little preparation will go a long way.
The most important tool in your kit for being able to deal with a power outage is information. Knowing the impact and expected duration of the power outage will greatly aid you in your decision making. When the power is out, your TV won’t work and it’s likely that your internet will be down as well.
There’s a good chance, however, that your cell phones will still work for a while as the cell towers typically have a backup generator to keep them going in the event of a power outage. Your first action should be to contact the power company to get the information directly from them. It’s likely that they will have some sort of automated information line that will give you updates on the current outages.
You can prepare for this situation by simply adding the power company information number to your address book on your phone.
The next best way to get information is with an AM/FM radio. Having a small, battery or hand powered radio in your kit is a great way to be able to get updates on the weather and the efforts to restore power.
When the power is out, your refrigerator will also lose power and the food inside will start to spoil. The exact time it takes for food to spoil in the absence of refrigeration varies, but most things take a few hours of being at room temperature so you’ve got some time before you need to start throwing food out. Keeping your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible will help extend the life of perishable food and reduce the need to throw out spoiled food.
Your stove and microwave will also be without power so you won’t be able to cook anything except over a fire or camping stove. Having a supply of canned and other durable food on hand will offset the danger of running out of edible food during an extended outage.
The plumbing in your house may or may not continue to work when the power is out depending on how your house is plumbed. Your electric water heater will stop heating the water, but it will still contain a large supply of water that can be accessed in the event that there is an extended outage.
During an extended outage, it’s important that you keep informed about possible contaminants in the water system by listening to radio broadcasts. Should you learn that the water supply has been contaminated somehow, you’ll likely end up having to boil any water you get from the taps in order to make it safe for consumption.
Having a supply of bottled water on hand will help to offset the risk of running out of clean drinking water.
It’s likely that a power outage is the result of severe weather so you should certainly have a plan for how to deal with the loss of environmental controls inside your home. If the power is out, your heating and cooling systems will also be offline. The combination of severe weather and the loss of heating and cooling produces a high risk situation.
In areas that have particularly cold temperatures, it may be wise to have a kerosene heater or supply of firewood on hand to help heat your home. Piling on extra blankets will also be helpful in warding off the cold.
One tactic used in the arctic is to make sure that your vehicle’s fuel tank is topped off before a big storm so that you can take shelter inside it while you wait for the storm to pass. Should you employ this technique, make sure to check periodically that the exhaust pipe is clear and able to vent the exhaust. During a snowstorm, the snow may drift up and block the exhaust pipe which can cause it to backup into the vehicle.
Having a supply of flashlights, batteries and candles will make it possible to see during the power outage. Using candles for light has become a bit of a treat and you can make a fun event of it playing board games by candlelight. Be careful, however, to make sure that your candles are secured and not in danger of tipping over while you sleep.
Keeping your mind busy can do a lot to help ease nerves during a power outage. While it’s clearly not a critical requirement to keep entertained, it is a critical requirement to remain calm and entertainment can help meet that need.
Break open your favorite board game or a deck of cards and gather up with your friends, roommates, or family and play a few games. Playing games by candlelight can turn what would otherwise be an unpleasant memory into a fun family event.
Nothing tests you quite like being out in nature away from the conveniences and comforts of modern life. It’s easy to take even the simplest things for granted. Apart from our homes and appliances, just getting warm and clean water becomes a chore. Going on an overnight hike is a great way to take that first step into becoming confident that you can not only survive, but thrive in the absence of comfort and convenience.
There are a number of important things to keep in mind when you’re planning an overnight hike. Things like weather, terrain, water sources, trails, and camping sites all play important roles in influencing the success of your trip.
Before you go hiking, be sure to check the forecast for the trail. It’s likely that the weather where you’ll be hiking is very different than the weather where you live so make sure you plan to be ready. Nighttime temperatures drop quite a lot compared to the daytime highs, so make sure to bring along suitable shelter to create a microclimate for yourself while you’re sleeping.
There are a lot of beautiful places to go on a hike. Make sure that in your planning, you read the trail reports and study the map to so that you can anticipate challenges that you may face as a result of the terrain. Be on the look out for steep hills or sandy beaches or whatever is unique to your trail area that will influence the equipment that you need to bring with you.
It’s a good rule of thumb to have at least 4 liters of water with you per day. Those 4 liters weigh 2.2 pounds so you could haul it all with you if you had to, but it’s smart to plan your route around water sources. Being able to draw and filter water on the trail allows you to stay out longer and go to more interesting places. Personally, I always carry a gravity filter and a personal emergency filter every time I go hiking. Since we’re planning to be out for only one night, it’s not unreasonable to simply carry all the water with you, it just won’t be comfortable.
While it’s certainly possible to bushwhack across the wilderness, it’s a more advanced technique that you should work your way up to. It’s better to practice and develop your skill, confidence and experience first by hiking along well established trails.
Some trails are linear meaning that you start and end in different places. These trails are nice because you get to see new parts of nature, but their more difficult to coordinate because you have to have someone drop you off at the start and pick you up at the end.
A circular trail is much easier to coordinate and plan for. You also stay in more or less the same area so it’s easier to keep track of where you are and where you need to be.
It’s also important to consider the distance and elevation gain or loss of the trail that you intend to hike. Going one mile isn’t a big deal unless it’s one mile up the side of a mountain. Remember, that if you’re hiking a circular trail, where you start is where you stop, every step you take up is one that you’ll take down somewhere else on the trail.
On flat and level ground, the average human walks in a straight line at about 2 or 2.5 miles per hour. Your trail will likely not be flat and level and in a straight line. It’s a good idea to give yourself a buffer and account for stopping for a 5-10 minute break every hour.
Some trails have designated campsites while others have sites that have developed by being commonly used by other hikers. Still others have no designated campsites or commonly used sites so you can set up camp wherever you like. Most trailheads have a notice board that sets out the requirements for camping that you can reference.
On most state and federally managed land, you’re free to stop and camp anywhere you like. Be sure to check the website for the agency responsible for the land you’re hiking on to be sure.
Since you’ll only be out one night, picking the exact right spot to sleep isn’t a huge deal. Clearly there are bad or dangerous places to camp, but don’t spend too much time trying to find the ‘perfect’ spot. All you really need to have a “good” night’s sleep is a relatively flat surface and a blanket. It’s not an uncommon practice for hikers to bring along a tarp and pitch a lean-to or simply wrap themselves in the tarp to keep the rain off and the warmth in. A tarp will do the job, but a hammock or tent and a sleeping mat can drastically improve your level of comfort while in the wilderness.
Since you’re planning on being out for one night, you won’t need much by way of supplies. At a minimum, you should bring food, water, and shelter.
Bring enough food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. You can bring pre-cooked food to save on the need to cook it on the trail, though I find that camp cooking is relaxing and can be a nice way to end the day. Chatting with other hikers while eating a hot meal is something that I look forward to at the end of a long hike.
Plan on needing about 8 liters of water. While you’ll likely not need that much water, having more than you need and always topping off when you get the chance is a good habit to be in. Humans can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water. You only need to run out of water once to realize that having it and not needing it is much better than needing it and not having it.
The point of shelter is to be able to create a microclimate around yourself to insulate you from the weather. A tent and sleeping bag are the most commonly thought of items when considering shelter, but I prefer to use a hammock. I find it to be much more comfortable, lighter and easier to carry than a tent. Shelter also includes the clothing that you’re wearing so be sure to include that in your plans.
A person who has never failed is a person who has never tried anything great. The only time that failure should be viewed as something contemptible is when it’s the result of negligence. The only time failure is final is when you decide to stop trying. When you finally win, every failure that came before is merely a learning experience.
Immediately after you fail, you’re going to feel awful. You’re going to feel like a worthless failure. You’re going to want to curl up and hide from the embarrassment and shame that you feel is coming at you.
This is absolutely the wrong thing to do.
When life knocks you down and starts kicking you, if you just curl up and take it, then the only way the pain stops is if life gets tired of kicking and moves on or if you pass out.
Don't just take the beating. Get up. When I say “get up”, I mean it both figuratively and literally. Get up out of your chair or out of bed and go do something physical. Go for a walk. Go do some pushups. Go do something. The simple act of going and doing something that you choose to do is a victory. It’s the first small step in dealing with failure.
Dust Yourself Off
Saying “dust yourself off” is meant to be a poetical way of communicating that you need to repair anything that is broken. This can be things, relationships, or even your physical, mental, or emotional health. Failure can manifest itself in a multitude of ways. Before you can move forward with another attempt, you need to repair any damage from your previous failure.
This is probably the most difficult part of dealing with failure. You have to take stock of the damage caused by the failure and come up with a plan to make it right. It’s very likely that you won’t be able to repair some things. Relationships can be damaged beyond repair and even if they can be repaired, they still require the commitment of two people. Your commitment alone isn’t enough.
Mental and emotional harm are also very difficult to repair. The scars left by mental and emotional harm aren’t visible like those from physical harm and so are much more difficult to identify and treat. That said, seeking help in treating mental and emotional wounds is just as important as getting a wound stitched or getting a cast on a broken bone. Not getting help for mental and emotional wounds is a failure and is exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
Learn and Adapt
People like to say that insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. While it’s cute and funny, I think it fails to consider the effect of erosion. Trying the same thing again and again is going to cause an erosion in both you and your opponent. This gradual wearing down or attrition will eventually produce a different result.
While attrition is a simple strategy that may work in the end, it requires that you be willing to endure more pain and suffering than your opponent. Sometimes the will to endure is all you’ve got left in you. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not the best thing.
A much more effective approach is to learn from your failure and adapt your technique. Study the events that occurred during your previous attempt. Pay attention to the various actions and responses from both sides and think up different actions to take and responses to make. These are the adaptations you’ll make next time.
You’re back on your feet. You’ve repaired what was broken. You’ve studied and made changes to your plan. Now it’s time to put it into action.
Try again and again and again.