How to Make Acorn Coffee

Quickly learn how to utilize this important survival food with step by step instructions on how to make acorn coffee from an oak tree.

Big thanks to Survival Lilly for this great video!

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6 Essential Winter Survival Books Every Survivalist Needs

We’ve all probably heard the phrase “A penny in your pocket is worth 5 in the bank”. That’s exactly how I feel about my survival library; “A book on the shelf is worth 10 at the store”.

Even though it’s impossible to know everything there is to know about survival, having the knowledge available when you need it may mean the difference between life and death in crisis situations. In trying times you will want to be able to reference many different topics. That’s why having a versatile survival library with plenty of diversity should be a top priority for any serious survivalist.

Here are 6 essential winter survival books that ever Survivalist needs in their library.

1. Surviving Cold Weather: Simply Survival
Simply Survival Book

2. NOLS Winter Camping Guide
NOLS winter camping

3. AMC Guide to Winter Hiking and Camping: Everything You Need to Plan Your Next Cold-Weather Adventure
Winter Hiking and Camping Book

4. Winter Camping in Yellowstone National Park

5. Winter Hiking and Camping (Backpacker)

Backpacker Winter Hiking and Camping book

6. How to Build an Igloo: And Other Snow Shelters
How to build an igloo book

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21 Incredible Articles from Survival Spot Blog

Wow has it already been that long? Today marks the 8 year anniversary that our survival blog has been online and delivering quality, unique content to our readers on every survival and preparedness related topic you can think of.

We love what we do and being able to share free resources with our friends in the Prepper community.

Knowledge is power and being prepared is a smart way to provide an insurance policy for you and your family in times of crisis. We want to thank everyone for all the support and here’s to 8 more years of bringing you all the survival information you need to stay one step ahead of the game!

Check out these incredible articles we’ve published over the years:

11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

10 Bad A** Sniper Rifles

9 Unique Alternative Housing Ideas

Build a Root Cellar

100 Items to Disappear First During a National Emergency

10 Impressive Doomsday Bunkers

Be Prepared: 6 Foods to Store Forever

What Makes a Good Bugout Vehicle

Choosing a Survival Dog

Lighter Showdown: The Best Survival Lighter

20 Ways to Become More Self-Sufficient Before the Crunch Arrives

40 Funny Gun Motivational Posters

The Surprising Benefits of Honey

The Argentina Collapse

3 Strange Survival Items You Should Carry All The Time

Self-Test the Amount of Fluoride In Your Water

40 Unique Places to Stash Firearms

Ultimate Sprouting Guide

10 Must Have Survival Books

Unique Survival Gear You May Not Have Heard Of

10 Popular Survival Knives

These in depth articles will help you keep your survival skills up to par!


Photo Courtesy: National Geographic

Be sure to check out some of our favorite Survival Blogs below as well:

James Rawles Survival Blog

The Survivalist Blog


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How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds Like a Boss

Updated: 10/24/16

Halloween pumpkin carvers – don’t toss out the guts! Make use of those leftover pumpkin seeds with this delicious recipe.

Roasted pumpkin seeds are a healthy and delicious snack that often gets tossed out with the garbage.

Here’s how to roast pumpkin seeds:

Cleaning out pumpkin seeds1. Rinse the pumpkin flesh off the outside of the seeds using water and your hands.

2. Soak the pumpkin seeds in salt water (brine) for about half an hour.

3. Drain the brine from the pumpkin seeds using a strainer.

4. Place seeds into large bowl and coat with a small amount of olive oil.

5. Add the following seasoningss to the bowl and mix until seeds are evenly coated:

  • 1 tablespoon seasoned salt or meat tenderizer
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion salt
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, crushed

6. Spray some Pam or other non-stick spray onto a large cookie sheet.

7. Take seeds and spread them evenly on the cookie sheet.

8. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until seeds are lightly toasted.

Pumpkin seeds in roasting pan

Cool and serve!








Make the Most of Your Fall Harvest

How to Make Your Own Butter

Make Your Own Survival Items

11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

120 Useful Books for Your Survival Library

Survival Spot Blog Owner***This article was contributed by Chrystle Poss a.k.a. “Survival Girl”, Owner of this Survival Blog and devoted Prepper. She has been writing articles on survival and emergency preparedness since 2006. You can find her work on various websites and publications.***

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Alternative Medicine in a Survival Situation

(UPDATED: 9/13/2016)

One of the major concerns with survival preparation is being able to sustain without needed medications for an extended period of time. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not have access to necessary pharmaceuticals it is easy to become panicked and overwhelmed. The good news is that there are alternatives to traditional meds that can be just as effective and even less toxic to your body than the traditional drugs your doctor has prescribed. There are several items that are good to keep around for everything from minor abrasions and burns, to stopping excessive bleeding and even reducing physical and emotional trauma. In this article I will share with you what I believe to be imperative alternative medicines to have around in any emergency situation as well as some alternatives to traditional medication.

If you have been prescribed medication for your heart, diabetes, epilepsy or any other disease which requires daily medication, the best recommendation would be to go to your doctor and tell them you are going on an extended vacation and would like to request a 2-3 month supply of all your meds. This will ensure that you have what you need to sustain your health in the event of an emergency. However if this is not an option for you there are several other ways to prepare for the unexpected by keeping certain crisis herbs and other supplements on hand that can be just as effective as the ones you’re currently taking.

Here is a list of the main items I recommend to keep in your medicinal stockpile:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar contains all the important minerals, like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphor, sulfur and iron. It is a powerful antibacterial agent and can be used to treat countless ailments. Apply the vinegar to bug bites, stings or burns to draw out the poison and reduce swelling and pain. Taken orally, it can help with acid reflux, digestion problems and it is very effective in detoxification of the organs, blood and digestive tract. Below I have listed the conditions I consider to be the most relevant in a crisis situation.

*** Be sure to get the organic brand that includes the “mother” as the pasteurized brand does not contain the same vitamins, minerals and enzymes responsible for the reported benefits.


Diabetes – The effect of vinegar on blood glucose levels is perhaps the best-researched and the most promising of apple cider vinegar’s possible health benefits. Several studies have found that vinegar may help lower glucose levels. For instance, one 2007 study of 11 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed led to lower blood sugar levels in the morning by 4%-6%.

High blood pressure
– The potassium in apple cider vinegar can be beneficial to both the heart and blood pressure by helping to make the blood thinner, resulting in a reduction of high blood pressure. Drink 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of distilled water (free of chemicals and inorganic materials) and add a tablespoon of honey to make the taste more palatable.

Arthritis – Arthritis can be a debilitating disease as it can cause severe pain in joints and muscles surrounding the joints. It has been said that arthritis is caused by toxins in the bloodstream depositing themselves in the joints and becoming enlarged over time as more and more toxins enter the body. These stony deposits can cause crippling and painful joint problems as time goes by. Drinking apple cider vinegar every day helps to break down and clear out these toxic pockets in the joints and has been known to have extremely positive affects in reducing pain and swelling when used by individuals suffering from this condition. In addition to drinking vinegar with water every day, you can also soak the arthritic area in a hot solution of vinegar and water (half a cup of vinegar to three cups of water).

Product Recommendations: Bragg is the only brand I use.

*** Apple Cider Vinegar should not be used by those with allergies to yeast and/or yeast products.

2. Organic Pressed Coconut Oil: The health benefits of coconut oil are seemingly endless. It has been used for thousands of years for everything from hair, skin and dental care, kidney, digestion and metabolism problems, it has even been said to prevent cancer and reduce stress. Coconut oil has antimicrobial, antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties all of which we know are very beneficial in disease prevention and treatment.


Heart Diseases – There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However coconut oil is in fact extremely beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including heart burn, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetable oils. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.

Immune System Support – Coconut oil contains certain acids that are known for helping to build a strong immune system when ingested into the human body. Those acids are reported to help in preventing and combating such autoimmune diseases as herpes and HIV and even reduces the likelihood of contracting the common flu. When the oil is spread onto the skin it acts as a barrier blocking out harmful toxins and other chemicals that are absorbed through the skin.

Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidas, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.

*** Coconut oil should not be used by those who are allergic to coconut and/or coconut products.

Product Recommendations: Only buy organic coconut oil.

3. Colloidal Silver: Colloidal Silver is a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver. It has been found to kill numerous infectious bacteria and was widely used as an antibiotic prior to the 1930’s. Colloidal silver has been approved by the EPA as a disinfectant for hospitals and medical centers. Have you ever heard the saying “born with a silver spoon in his mouth”? This phrase was born as a result of the wealthy having their children suck on a silver spoon to prevent them from contracting the plague. Farmers used silver pails to store their dairy milk because the antibacterial properties of the silver helped to prevent bacteria growth.


Antibiotic – Before antibiotics came into use many people suffered and died after contracting even minor infections. It’s troublesome to think that the same might happen again if we were to loose access to these life saving drugs in an emergency situation. You will be relieved to know that colloidal silver has antibiotic properties that are second to none and keeping this powerful liquid on hand to use in times of crises can ease anxiety over contracting infections. A traditional antibiotic can kill maybe a dozen strains of bacteria and is usually directed towards a specific type of bacteria which leads to the development antibiotic resistant strains or “superbugs”. Colloidal silver kills approximately 650 different strains of bacteria, inhibits their growth instantly on contact and does not attempt to single out specific bacteria, thus resistant strains fail to develop. Silver has been touted as “the best all-around germ killer we have”.

***Those with allergies to silver should not use this product.

Product Recommendations: Some people make this at home but with the sensitive nature of silver ingestion I highly recommend you buy it through a reputable company with stringent testing procedures.

4. Garlic: Raw garlic could quite possibly be the best herb to have available in an emergency situation. Its antibacterial properties are second to none when it comes to fighting infections. It can be applied topically to kill infection at the site as well as ingested internally to fight bacteria from the inside out. Here we will list some of the uses for garlic that would be most helpful where traditional treatment is not available.


Toothaches – Crushed raw garlic applied directly to the problem tooth and surrounding gum areas has been said to kill infection on contact. It will be a little painful at first because the potency of raw garlic tends to burn a little (especially on sensitive skin such as gums) but you’re essentially trading a little bit of pain now for a lot of relief later. If you can stand the burn, it’s well worth it to resolve pain and infection and prevent the possible loss of a tooth later in the even that no dentist is available for an extended period of time.

Earaches – To relieve pain from an earache, simply pierce a liquid garlic capsule and let a couple drops drip into your ear. Lay down on your side for about 5 minutes to let the liquid make it’s way into the ear canal. The pain and infection should subside within hours.

Respiratory Problems – Place a couple of cloves of raw garlic into a sock or other breathable sac, either lay down with garlic sac close to your head or tie it around your neck. This method has been reported to help relieve asthma attacks and allergies. Another method is to chop the garlic and place into a bowl or pot of extremely hot water. Sit over the steamy garlic water with a towel on your head to help the steam enter your nasal passages. This method helps to clear up sinus infections and easy sinus pressure as well as to ridding the lungs of infection and respiratory irritation.

Product Recommendations: Only buy organic garlic.

5. Cayenne Pepper: Cayenne pepper is an herb derived from the chili pepper. Although most of us think of cayenne pepper as a cooking spice, uses of the herb reach far beyond the kitchen. It is considered one of the best crisis herbs available as its many life saving properties work instantly, making it an invaluable herb to have on hand for emergencies.


Heart attacks – If the victim is still breathing have them drink a cup of cayenne tea (a teaspoon of cayenne in a cup of hot water) and it has been reported stop the attack dead in its tracks.

Hemorrhaging – Cayenne is an extremely effective pain killer or anesthetic and can be applied directly to even the deepest cuts or wounds to stop bleeding, fight infection and promote healing. Although you will experience discomfort at the onset, prolonged exposure deadens the nerves to pain.

Convulsions – Traumatic experiences whether physical or emotional can send some adults and children into a state of shock and sometimes even trigger convulsions. Cayenne pepper can help offset these detrimental effects if not eliminate them completely.

*** Cayenne used in combination with caffeine has been reported to cause discomfort among some people.

Product Recommendations: Take pills for daily health and keep the powder on hand as well to stop bleeding in emergency situations.

We can not provide you with medical advice, dosage information, potential drug/herb reactions, or assistance with questions relating to injury, illness, etc. We are not licensed practitioners, pharmacists, or researchers. We are legally restricted from answering your health related questions. The information contained on this website has not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The information provided by Survival Spot is not presented with the intention of diagnosing any disease or condition or prescribing any treatment. It is offered as information only, for use in the maintenance and promotion of good health in cooperation with a licensed medical practitioner.

***This article was contributed by Chrystle Poss a.k.a. “Survival Girl”, Survival Spot Blog Owner/Editor and devoted Prepper. She has been writing articles on survival and emergency preparedness since 2006. You can find her work on various websites and publications.***

Additional Resources:

Top 10 Survival Movies

120 Useful Books for Your Survival Library

Cody Lundin Interview – When All Hell Breaks Loose

Collapse Documentary (2010)

11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

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Surviving an EMP Attack: Life Without Electricity

Published: 9/28/16

A life without electricity, how many can say they have lived it?  I can… at least for a few days anyway.

On a recent quest to identify the shortfalls in our emergency preparedness plan, our family decided to try out what it would actually be like to live without running water or electricity for 72 hours. We wanted to know what we would really need to survive like this in our home for an extended period of time.


With recent discussion of possible blackout scenarios in the news, we thought this would be a great exercise to test our preps. The potential for a nationwide power failure is a lot more real than many even realize. An electromagnetic pulse or (EMP) caused by solar flares from the sun could easily knock out the entire power grid. The possibility of a nuclear or cyber attack is also a major threat to grid system. As depicted in the t.v. show Revolution, it doesn’t take long for society to collapse after a catastrophic power loss.

The United States is extremely dependent on electricity these days and it seems like electronic devices have infiltrated every facet of society.  The catastrophic effects of a large scale power failure would be devastating and could take months or possibly even years for society to fully recover.

Before we get into the details of our 3 day simulation, let’s discuss a little more about EMP’s for those who may not already be familiar with the term.  An EMP or (Electromagnetic Pulse) is described by as “a burst of electromagnetic energy produced by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, considered capable of widespread damage to power lines, telecommunications, and electronic equipment.”

EMP’s can occur as a result of natural causes like lightening, electrostatic discharge or a solar storm.  But the more sinister possibility of a cyber attack on our power grid or the release of a nuclear device in the stratosphere which is known as a high altitude EMP is what has many concerned about this threat today.

See: Trump Told EMP Attack to be Used to Stop the Election

EMP’s pose a very broad threat to our way of life and personal safety.  Some have said that an EMP attack has the potential to send modern society back into to the 1800’s in an instant.  The problem is that we are so dependent on electricity for all basic functions of our day to day lives no one would have a clue how to maintain without it anymore.  Back then we were accustomed to using candles and fuel lamps for lighting and most homes were equipped with wood burning stoves and fireplaces for heat.  Many families received their water from wells on their properties rather than depending on a central system and electrical pumps to supply clean water so we would not be nearly as affected by the loss as we would in modern times.

The effects of an EMP would essentially cripple all business, travel and personal activities and send us back to the stone ages.  Without time to prepare ourselves for such an event what would become of us?  Many suspect that society would descend into chaos as roadways become jammed, emergency services are deemed incapable and hospitals would fail to function.


What does this mean for you and your loved ones?

Immediate Effects of an EMP:

  • Planes would fall from the sky
  • Trains and public transportation could possible derail or become stuck on the tracks
  • Automobile accidents would occur as electronic components inside newer vehicles become inoperable and traffic signals are down
  • Elevators would become stuck mid-transit possibly trapping millions in highly populated urban areas
  • Rollercoasters could possibly become stuck leaving passengers stranded in precarious situations

These are just a few examples of electronics in motion, can you think of anymore that would be have devastating repercussions of they lost power all the sudden?

Interim Effects of an EMP:

After the first and most shocking immediate effects of an EMP are seen we would move into the next phase of dealing with the effects of these accidents.

  • Fires would rage uncontrolled as a result of fallen planes, automobile accidents, transformer explosions, etc.
  • Water would not be available to put out the fires as the pumps which depend on electricity to provide water to the communities would be rendered inoperable.
  • All methods of communication would no longer function as phones, televisions, radios and computers would no longer work.
  • The banks and ATM machines would be shut down so you would not be able to access the money you have in the bank.
  • Even if you have cash it won’t do you much good since most stores and gas stations would be shut down due to security issues.
  • Without refrigeration perishable food in homes and supermarkets would begin to spoil.

Long-term Effects of an EMP

After several days without electricity people would begin to panic as they run out of food, water and medication.  This is when things would really start to get ugly.

  • As fear turns into panic people would begin turning on their neighbors to get their hands on needed supplies.
  • Those who choose to hunker down at home would be faced with the threat of criminals trying to break and steal their resources or hurt their families.
  • People who were trapped due to the immediate effects of the EMP would begin to die of thirst and starvation.
  • Looting and rioting in the streets would lead to mass violence within communities.
  • Without sufficient authorities available to keep the peace, society would ultimately collapse and descend into complete chaos.

Many of the articles and books you’ll find on this topic tend to focus on one thing: protecting electronic devices from the physical effects of an EMP.  While this is an important thing to consider, I don’t feel that it serves the more important goal of protecting your own personal safety from the threats that will most definitely result from such an attack.  While EMP hardening can be helpful is it really worth it?  Sure you can build a Farady cage and place all of your precious electronics inside it but in reality what good is having your cell phone if no one else in the world has one anymore?  And even if someone did it won’t do either of you any good to try to use it when all of the cell phone towers are down anyway.

One situation that I do recommend using a Farady cage is to store sentimental items on a back up hard drive such as family pictures, historical records or important documents that are hard to replace.  There are many resources available that teach you how to make a Farady cage and most require few materials to put together and are fairly inexpensive to make.

See: Build Your Own Farady Cage: Here’s How

In this article we will focus more on preparations to keep you alive after an EMP strike.  How to make sure you have your basic survival necessities covered so that you can sleep at night knowing that you and your family are protected.

Solar Flare Nasa Image

AFP/NASA/Ho – A NASA image of an erupting solar flare. A powerful solar eruption that has already disturbed radio communications …

What follows is a chronicle of what we went through during those three days without electricity. The lessons we learned and what we discovered we were lacking in our storage items. Many of which you don’t ever think about until you actually try living without it. Many Preppers like to think we have already thought of everything and that anything we may need is just a cabinet door away. But when you actually try living that way you quickly realize there are many, many things you’ve overlooked. It’s like driving 100 miles up to your favorite camp spot with a truck full of goods, only to realize you forgot your tent. We learned many lessons during this family adventure we will refer to as “the blackout”, but most importantly we learned where we needed to fill in the gaps. As a result, we were able to patch up the holes in our preparations and now I feel a lot more confident in our ability to ride out any storm that may come our way.

Ground rules:

  • No lights, radio, television, heat/ac or any other conveniences that require electricity from the outlet.
  • Unplug all the computers, alarm clocks, etc.
  • No turning on sinks or flushing toilets.
  • Tape down all the sink levers and toilet handles with masking tape.
  • Absolutely no electronics (even the battery powered ones) since they would not be functional in the event of an actual EMP attack

The night before the blackout we made a few preparations to get started:

  • We filled up two 50 gallon tubs with tap water for washing as well as 5 cases of bottled water to satisfy our drinking/cooking needs.
  • We filled the freezer with dry ice to keep everything cool while the power was out.
  • We filled up all our coolers with ice for drinks, etc.
  • We turned off the breaker to the house to kill the power so that we would be true to the 72 hour period of darkness we had decided to impose on ourselves.

Life without Electricity

Day 1

The first morning was probably the most interesting because we took the opportunity to have fun with it and used our imagination a little as things got rolling. We settled into a role playing type of scenario where we pretended we didn’t know why or how the power got turned off (just as it would likely be in areal life situation). After verifying that nothing in the house was working, none of the outlets were active and the land line was down we were safe to conclude that something bigger was going on, and it wasn’t just us.

We both checked our cellphones to see if we could call out to get some information about what was happening but no luck on either line. We were cut off from the world, and the only way to find out what was going on was to leave the house. We decided to ride it out and see if the power would come back on soon – who knows what it might be like out there.

We would hunker down and play board games together, read books, color, crochet and do yoga together. Just enjoy being a family, something that we seem to have little time to do these days with so many entertaining distractions available.

First business of the morning, I head straight to the bathroom and it hits me just how fun this is going to be without flushing the toilet for 3 days. I debated flushing for a moment since I had quickly rationalized that we would at least have a few flushes left in a real life situation. Even if the water had been turned off all night there would still be some water left in the pipe. But I restrained myself and left it to sit just like we’d agreed when we set the rules. You’d be surprised how hard it is to not flush the toilet when it’s been built into you for so many years. Hence why we taped them up to begin with.

Next on the agenda, I go to get my daughter some cereal for breakfast and notice that the temperature in the fridge is already starting to go up, despite the bags of ice we’d put in there to keep it cool. But the milk was still good and cold so I fixed some cereal and resolved to only open the fridge when absolutely necessary. So we wouldn’t make the situation worse.

As I plopped down on the couch I quickly realized that I had forgotten about my pet frogs, two firebelly red frogs that require a heat lamp on them all day to maintain the proper temperature in the aquarium. I had to figure out a way to replace that heat without electricity for a lamp – big problem. My first thought was a heating pad – nope, where am I going to plug it in? Then I thought about using some of my hand warmers to put under the aquarium to keep the bottom warm, which would naturally allow the heat to rise up through the cage. What about the oven? I could turn it on low and open the door and set them right on top of the stove?

It was actually pretty funny how almost every idea I had involved the use of some sort of electricity. You really don’t realize how accustomed you are to having it until it’s not there anymore. It was quite a challenge to even start to think outside the box and come up with a viable option to my dilemma. Finally it hit me – these guys just need sun, all that lamp was doing was creating artificial sun for them since they couldn’t have the real thing. I was going to give them the real thing, problem solved. I found the sunniest south-facing window in the house and set them right in front of it, with a dark towel half covering the tank, to help draw the sun and keep the heat from escaping.

Once the frogs we’re taken care of, the rest morning was pretty easy. We snacked on dried fruit from our food storage and just hung out on the living room floor with the windows open to provide a nice breeze.  Since none of the clocks in the house worked, it was hard to know when it was time to make lunch. By the time we thought to check the wrist watch it was already 1:30pm. The first half of the day flew by! Of course we didn’t know what time we woke up but I’m sure it couldn’t have been that late. After having some tuna fish sandwiches and chips for lunch, we decided to break out the guitars and play some music, the house seemed so eerily quiet without the usual chatter from television or radio playing in the background.

As the sun started to set we gathered up all the things we knew we might need over the next few days. We drug the grill out of the garage to cook dinner. We grabbed our stash of flash lights and batteries, luckily we already have these great little emergency night lights in outlets all around the house that automatically convert to stored power when the electricity is out, which helped a lot to provide some extra light during the evening. We also got out some candles and oil lamps, with an extra bottle of oil. We bought a bunch of these from thrift stores and garage sales since I remembered my grandma having those when I was little and she would light her entire house with them at night to save electricity. I remembered the oil lasting forever back then but I hadn’t actually tested that theory yet so I was excited to document the results for future reference.

As dinner time approached we had an interesting time trying to figure out what to make for dinner and the best way to make it. I was okay with finger foods but my husband insisted that we have a hot cooked meal. So we fired up the grill and we used up the hamburger meat and hot dogs we had in the fridge, figuring they would probably go bad first. We also went ahead and cooked up some chicken breasts we had although none of us had the appetite to eat it after gorging on all those hamburgers and hot dogs. I figured it was better to store cooked meat in less than ideal temperatures than to store raw meat and run the risk of contamination. Although it took some time cook everything we ended up having a nice little feast that first night – full of protein.


The biggest mistake we made with dinner was trying to prepare the food after the sun had gone down. Once the sun had set completely it was pitch black in that house besides the candle light and occasional flash light used to walk around. I ended up rigging up a flashlight taped to the top of the fridge and aimed down at the counter top so that we had some overhead light to prepare the food.

After dinner we decided to save the dishes for the next day since it was such a pain to see during the night. Plus we were all full and somehow being in a house with only candle light and no television makes you want to turn in early. I think we were all just thinking that the earlier we got to bed, the sooner it would be morning and somehow the dark, quite house wouldn’t seem so boring.

Notes from the first day:

I recently discovered an amazing product that would have been much more useful in that situation.  The Luci Light from M-Powered is a newer product that provides light in emergency situations.  It’s an inflatable solar powered LED lantern that takes very little sunlight and lasts forever.  If you don’t already own one I highly suggest you add one (or ten) to your preps immediately.  These things can be life savers in emergency situations.

Day 2

The first thing that I realized on day two was that candles suck! Most of the ones we had set up around the house had burned significantly, even though we blew them all out before bed to prevent a fire hazard. A lot of them were more than half way gone. That’s when I realized I had completely forgotten about my oil lamp project and hadn’t even bothered to set any up the night before. I went ahead and filled them up with lamp oil so they would be ready to go for the next night.

Although oil lamps are more of a long term solution they still present a significant fire hazard.  Since fire services are likely to be unavailable at worst or extremely delayed at best in a disaster situation it’s better to err on the side of caution on not take risks regarding fire safety in times like these.  That being said, I would highly recommend investing in some LED tea light candles and solar lanterns for your emergency lighting needs.  Avoid open flames as much as possible.

Since we are just coming into fall and the temperatures are already starting to drop outside it was a chilly night with no heat flowing through the vents.  We managed to stay warm through the night with extra blankets and a nice sleeping bag over the top of us. But there was definitely a nip in the air we started stirring and preparing for the day.  I didn’t realize how fast the heat dissipates once you turn the furnace off and it didn’t take long for us to notice.

We bundled up in sweaters, warm pajama bottoms and extra thick socks to keep us comfortable as we started breakfast.  I knew that once I got a nice hot cup of coffee to sip on everything would seem more manageable.  So I got started heating up a pot of water while my husband gathered some food from the storage room.  The eggs and milk had been sitting in the warm fridge all night and we didn’t want to take a chance getting sick so we decided to tap into the food storage supply of freeze dried eggs and hash browns.

We fired up the little propane powered Coleman stove we used for camping trips and started cooking.  I will say that it seemed like the water took ages to come to a boil.. maybe it was because I was sitting there staring at it the whole time almost as if I was trying to will it to boil with my mind.  Or maybe it was just that I really needed a cup of coffee but I would definitely recommend investing in one of those little Jetboil stoves that hikers use to heat water quickly.  The camp stove and kitchen pot works fine if you’ve got plenty of time on your hands but if patience isn’t your strong suit a jet boil stove is well worth the investment.

As we were digging through our camping supplies we found an old propane floor heater that we used to use in our Alaknak tent before we invested in a camp trailer.  It works pretty well in small spaces so we decided to bring it inside and put it to use warming up the house so we could remove some layers of clothing as we continued our day.  While the propane heater works fine as a temporary solution it does pose a fire hazard and isn’t an efficient heating source for larger areas.  Since our house doesn’t have a fireplace I think investing in wood stove for the basement would be a very smart move for future situations.  If you don’t have a place in your home to install one permanently they do sell portable wood burning stoves for tents that are reasonably priced.  I’ve read many positive reviews on this wood burning camp stove from Amazon and it comes highly regarded by many other popular bloggers in the survivalist community.

Once the sun started to come out and the day warmed up we decided it would be good to get out of the house and get some exercise.  So we grabbed the dog and the kiddo and set out on a hike to keep our minds occupied and look for edible plants or other resources we might be able to use.  We brought along our recurve bow and my daughters professional sling shot for practice.  We might as well put all of our free time to good use while we’re at it and work on our survival skills.  Although I know many of you will laugh and say “a slingshot, really?” I think that teaching our children how to use a sling shot to catch small game can be an invaluable skill to have in a survival situation.  While I know it’s no match for a firearm it can be a great tool for covert survival in the wilderness as you can still hunt and provide food and sustenance while avoiding detection.

We spent most of the day roaming and hunting and my daughter located some morel mushrooms under a great big pine tree near the top of the mountain we climbed.  As we made our way back home we brainstormed ideas on the best way to cook and season our tasty treasures once we got back.

After our delicious meal of wild mushroom stroganoff we settled into our pj’s and curled up together in our big king sized bed with full bellies and peaceful hearts.  It’s funny what a little bit of quiet can do for your soul.  After only two days without the hustle and bustle of typical everyday life I was already starting to feel less stressed and more relaxed as nodded off to sleep with my happy little family.

Notes from the second day:

Always keep extra blankets, sleeping bags and pillows on hand for warmth.

Day 3

When I woke up on the third day the first and only thing in my mind was how bad I wanted a hot shower. I mean one day without bathing is fine, two is pushing it but three is just miserable. My hair felt so greasy and I just wanted to get clean.

My husband and daughter were still sleeping so soundly that I didn’t dare disrupt them.  I slipped out of bed to let the dog out to go to the bathroom.  I couldn’t help but reflect on the past few days of life without electricity in our home.  It was difficult to live comfortably without the typical modern conveniences that we’ve all become accustomed to and this was only a mock blackout.  No threat of gangs banging down our door or looters breaking in through a window while we sleep as I’m sure it would be in a real blackout situation.  How hard would it really be to survive such an apocalyptic scenario?  Could we survive?

Once I snapped back into reality I began the daunting task of heating up water for a bath the sound of pots and pans clanging around as I looked for my large canning pot must’ve woken up my husband.  As I stood there in my terrycloth bath robe looking helpless he walked up and put his arms around me “We made it” he said with an accomplished look in his eyes.  “Did we?” I replied, “I feel like all we did was realize just how much more we need to do in order to be prepared for the real thing.”

“Better to find out now rather than wait until it’s too late”…


We learn best by doing – plain and simple. I’ve always been a very visual person, I need to see something. To feel it, to hold it my hands, to actually try something to really get it.  The best way to determine weaknesses in your prepping strategy is to put them to the test by setting up a mock scenario to discover anything you might have missed.

Luckily we had all been able to bathe the night before we started the blackout in preparation for 3 days without water. But what are the chances you’re going to have a chance to prepare like that? It’s not like there’s going to be some kind of warning and Lester Holt is going to come blaring across our T.V. screens “Good evening America, we just thought we’d go ahead and give everyone a heads up: we’re in the final 24 hours now, it’s time to really get your stuff together before TSHTF.” Chance are, when disaster strikes it’s going to be completely out of nowhere and likely without any type of warning at all. That’s why it’s better to really keep your stuff together, inventoried, organized and complete at ALL times. Don’t slip up and deplete your water supply thinking that you can just go and restock tomorrow. What happens if tomorrow is a day too late? Always keep enough of everything on hand so that if something were to happen that very moment, you wouldn’t be in a hurry to run to the store and stock up on those last precious items that you accidentally let yourself run out of.

Check out this great video from National Geographic which portrays a blackout scenario in America:

American Blackout Documentary

Additional Resources

11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

120 Useful Books for Your Survival Library

Cody Lundin Interview – When All Hell Breaks Loose

Collapse Documentary (2010)

10 Bad A** Sniper Rifles

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Halloween Costume Ideas for the Die Hard Prepper

Updated: 10/2/2016

Preppers are people too! And when Halloween time rolls around we like to get our party on with the best of em’! But it’s not like a Prepper to fall out of line with our survivalist values just because it’s Halloween. Have some fun this year by rockin’ one of these awesome Prepper costumes while still holding true to your Prepper personality.

Here is my list of unique Halloween costume ideas to help you stand out express yourself this year:

1. Ghillie Suit

ghillie-suitClick here to buy this Costume    

2. 3D Zombie

Click here to buy this costume

3. Storm Trooper

storm-trooperClick here to buy this costume  

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Preparing a Wild Turkey

Intro: Cleaning Your Wild Turkey

You have finally achieved a successful turkey hunt and the most difficult part is over. But, there is still a lot of work to do cleaning the bird to get it ready to be put in the freezer. One of the most common questions and concerns of new turkey hunters is how to clean a turkey after they have shot it. This article will hopefully answer most of the questions about cleaning a turkey with some of the techniques I and many other hunters utilize.

Step 1: Make a Decision

The cleaning or field dressing process begins right after you shoot your bird. The first thing you need to decide after the pictures are taken is what you are going to do with your turkey.

Make a decision immediately about whether you will have the turkey mounted. This will determine how you will proceed with the cleaning process and how much care you should take transporting your turkey. If you are planning on having the bird mounted, do not field dress the bird.

You might also consider how you plan on cooking the turkey. Roasting, smoking or whole deep frying are cooking processes that work best with the skin still on the turkey, although there are techniques for a skinless turkey as well. Frying or grilling pieces of turkey will work well with a bird that has been skinned.

At this point , you have basically three options for continuing cleaning your wild turkey.

  1. Prepare bird for the taxidermist.
  2. Field dress the bird if it’s hot or you’re a long way from home.
  3. Wait until you get home before proceeding with cleaning the bird. If it’s cool enough and you have a relatively short trip home, you can wait before taking on the task of cleaning the turkey.

Preparing Your Wild Turkey for the Taxidermist

If you are thinking about having a turkey mounted by a taxidermist, by all means, shop around by visiting professional taxidermists in your area before you go hunting and get a feeling for the quality of their work and the prices they will charge. If you don’t have a good taxidermist in your area do not get discouraged. There are many excellent taxidermists all across the country and by asking friends and fellow hunters or doing your own research, you can find a quality taxidermist. Spending a little extra money to ship your bird is well worth it to get an excellent reminder of your trophy hunt. Mounting a wild turkey is not easy and if you let an amateur mount if for you, don’t expect excellent results.

The secret to getting good taxidermy mounts of any animal is 1) Keeping the animal in as good as condition as possible before it reaches the taxidermist, and 2) Choosing a qualified taxidermist.

Before the Hunt

Finding a good taxidermist is up to you but there are some tips that will help you get your bird to the taxidermist in as good of condition as possible. These are some general ideas and your taxidermist may have specific instructions on the way he likes to receive birds.

First, make sure and take on your hunt a large plastic bag and a cooler large enough to lay the bird in without scrunching up the tail feathers. Take with you some paper towels, cotton balls, and either a large plastic bag, a section of used panty hose, or both. Many taxidermists recommend using a section of used panty hose cut from the thigh area as a covering for the bird to keep the feathers in place. Cut out a section of the hose from the thigh area and tie up one end. Then after you shoot a bird, carefully slip the bird into the bag head first, pulling the stocking over its entire body. This will help keep all of the feathers in place. You can also just use a large plastic bag and slip the bird inside it and carefully carry it out of the woods.

Shooting the Bird

When you harvest a bird, always try for a clean head and neck shot. If you want the tail feathers to look good, do not shoot the bird head-on while it is strutting. The shotgun pattern will shred through the tail feathers and that will not look good at all. In fact, it’s best not to shoot a strutting bird period. Tthe best shot to take is a side shot with the bird’s neck stretched up. This should keep all of the shotgun pellets well away from the tail and wing feathers. It is much easier for a taxidermist to replace or repair a shot-up head than to try and repair or replace tail and wing feathers.The distance should be around 25 to 30 yards which is a good distance to aim for any time you are hunting turkeys. This yardage allows for a clean kill without too dense of a shot pattern which may cause extreme damage to the head and neck. If for some reason you do need a second shot to kill the bird, try and take it at the head only and from a sufficient distance to limit more damage to the bird.

After any turkey is shot, they often thrash around on the ground before dying. There really is not a lot you can do about this since picking up a thrashing turkey is not very smart. Your best hope is that he will drop dead and lay stone still after the shot which does occasionally happen. If he does flop around, pick up all of the loose feathers you can find and send them along with the bird to your taxidermist.

After the Shot

After the bird is dead, there are three keys to getting your bird to the taxidermist in prime condition.

  1. Keep the plumage dry and clean. Stuff paper towels or cotton balls into the bird’s mouth and anus to keep any blood or body fluids from soiling the feathers. Also, if there are any large or bloody wounds, stuff them also to keep as much blood off of the feathers as possible. It may be necessary to wrap the head in paper towels if it is really bloody.
  2. Limit feather loss and damage by slipping the bird into either the pantyhose section or a large plastic bag or both. Be very conscious of the tail feathers and do not scrunch or bend them. If the bird flopped around a lot, be sure and pick up any of the loose feathers.
  3. Keep the bird cool – As soon as possible, start cooling the bird by placing it in a large cooler. If you have to wait more than several hours to get it to a taxidermist, you will probably need to freeze the bird.

Also, do not field dress the bird. Most taxidermists would much rather field dress and skin the bird themselves.

Storing and Shipping

If you do not have a taxidermist picked out or you have to store the bird for a long period of time you will have to freeze the bird. Just make sure the bird has plenty of room and do not pile other items onto the bird. If you need to ship the bird to a taxidermist, contact them and ask about the best way to do this. They will be up to date on any airline regulations and can give you the best methods for safely shipping your bird.

In conclusion, try and choose a bird in great condition to be mounted and find a good, quality taxidermist. It’s worth paying a little more up front to have a long-lasting, beautiful memory of a trophy hunt.

Field Dressing Your Wild Turkey

Field dressing is essentially gutting the bird in the field while leaving the feathers on. Removing the guts or entrails is important to help allow the bird to cool faster and to keep the “juices” inside the bird from spoiling any meat. If it is a cool day and you aren’t far from home, you can skip the field dressing step and wait until you are home before cleaning the bird.

Here are the steps for gutting or field dressing a wild turkey:

  1. Lay the turkey on its back.
  2. Follow the breast down to the rear of the bird until it narrows to a point between the legs.
  3. Pull up on the tip and cut the bird open by making a shallow horizontal incision (through the skin only) between the tip of the breast and the vent (anus). It helps to pull out a few of the feathers in this spot so you can cut more easily.
  4. Make the incision large enough to insert your hand and pull out the entrails, making sure to pull out the heart and lungs.
  5. Cut around the vent (anus) by carefully following the intestine back and then cutting around its exterior. This is where you need to be careful since you don’t want any of the intestine’s contents getting on the turkey.
  6. Remove the crop (sac-like thing filled with what the turkey’s been eating) by making a cut on the neck of the turkey and reaching down and removing the crop located at the top of the breast.
  7. Rinse out with water and wipe with paper towels if you have these available.

Plucking Your Wild Turkey

The traditional way to clean a wild turkey is to pluck the feathers off and then gut the bird. This will keep the skin on the turkey which will give it more moisture and flavor after you cook it. You can also save the “giblets” (heart, liver, gizzard) from the bird and make a traditional turkey gravy later when you cook it.

It is preferable to pluck the turkey before removing the entrails. This keeps feathers from getting inside the bird cavity and in general keeps things cleaner. If you’ve already field-dressed the bird, don’t worry about it but be sure and rinse out the cavity good to remove any feathers when you are done plucking.

Turkeys have over 5,000 feathers on them and it is easier to remove them if the bird is dipped in hot water. Some people use boiling water but many people swear that water at 140 degrees is the optimal temperature for plucking a bird. Once a bird has been dipped in hot water, the feathers will come off much easier and they also are easier to handle since they are damp and they won’t fly around the room. A large washtub is best for dipping the bird but you may have to improvise if one’s not available. The large primary wing feathers can also be a problem and it’s easier to just remove the wing at the first joint past the shoulder so those very large primary feathers don’t have to be pulled out.

If you have left the legs on to help you dip the bird, you now need to cut them off. Then it is time to go ahead and remove the entrails by gutting the bird. This process is basically the same as Field Dressing with the exception of needing to remove the head with a large knife, cleaver or hatchet. Some people also like to use the neck to toss in the stock pot. That is your choice. You can also save the turkey giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) and use them to make a traditional turkey gravy. The gizzard is what allows the bird to grind up its food. Be sure and cut the gizzard open and to thoroughly clean it.

You should now have a cleaned bird that is ready to be cooked or frozen.

Skinning and Fileting Your Wild Turkey

Another option to the plucking and gutting method is to skin and then filet the bird’s breast meat off and remove the legs and thighs. This method is quick and easy and allows you to remove the meat from the bird without even opening up the body cavity. If you plan on roasting, smoking or whole deep frying your turkey, you might stick with plucking and gutting the bird since this method does not save the skin. I generally cook my turkey by frying or grilling pieces of turkey; using methods that make up for not having the skin on.

Generally, the areas I hunt are only about a half hour or less from my home so I never worry about field dressing the turkey. I just take it home and clean it immediately. I also hunt in Kansas and the weather is typically very cool during most of the spring and fall turkey seasons. On one hunt during the spring, the weather changed from sunny, to rain. to hail, to sleet and finally snow. If it is warm where you are hunting and it takes you awhile to get to a place to finish dressing the turkey, by all means field dress it first.

  1. If you are saving the tail fan or cape from the turkey, remove them first. I also always remove the beard before starting to clean the bird. If you are not saving the bird’s cape or tail you can leave them on and start by laying the turkey on it’s back.
  2. To begin removing the breast filets, pluck some feathers from the middle of the breast and make a small cut through the skin. Then work your fingers underneath the skin and pull the skin back from the breast down to the sides of the turkey.
  3. Find the breast bone and start by cutting down one side of the breast bone to loosen the breast filet from the bone. This cut will run from the lower tip of the breast all of the way along the breast bone and eventually up along the wishbone and to the shoulder / wing joint..
  4. Start at the bottom tip of the breast and work your way from the rear of the breast forward, fileting off the breast by pulling the filet and using the knife to help separate the breast where needed. Be careful of the crop when you get to the top of the breast. (The crop is the balloon-like sac up between the two halves of the breast by the neck). It is full of some nasty stuff and you don’t want to puncture it.
  5. Repeat this for the other side of the breast.
  6. Remove the thigh/leg by flipping the turkey over on it’s breastbone and skinning the thigh and leg.
  7. After they are skinned, cut through the thigh muscle where it attaches to the back. To help this process, grab the leg/thigh and bend them up towards the backbone until the joint pops loose. Keep working and cutting through the thigh until you can free the thigh/leg from the turkey’s body. Repeat for the other side. I usually then cut through the leg joint and separate the drumstick from the thigh. Wild turkey drumsticks are notoriously tough when you cook them. They also have tons of tiny, tough, bone-like tendons running through them. The only way I’ve found to make them edible is to cook them for a long time in a crockpot and sometimes on an old gobbler this doesn’t even work.

I hope these methods will help you enjoy your turkey.

For further details on butchering and preparing poultry I highly recommend this book:
Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game


Additional Resources:

Top 100 Items to Disappear in a National Emergency

9 Unique Alternative Housing Ideas

Top 10 Survival Movies

120 Useful Books for Your Survival Library

Cody Lundin Interview – When All Hell Breaks Loose

11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

Collapse Documentary (2010)

10 Bad A** Sniper Rifles

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3 Practical Wilderness Survival Tips That Could Actually Save Your Life

I find that many of my fellow Preppers seem to be avid outdoors folk.. must be par for the course since most who practice the art of the self-sufficient lifestyle to want to know our surroundings and understand what it means to live off the land.  Some are very skilled hikers or hunting enthusiasts, some just like to explore but hopefully all should understand the dangers you may encounter out in the vast wilderness.

We hear stories about it in the news every day; the boy scout who wandered too far from his group and became lost in the mountains for three days in freezing temperatures.  The hiker who slipped and fell in a crevice and was stranded there for days as her loyal pup went to summon for help.  Or the most recent story about the parents who abandoned their 11 year old son in the forest as a punishment for throwing rocks in the water.

While each of these stories contains a noteworthy element of shock or surprise whether due to an unforeseeable accident or just to the sheer stupidity of some people the fact remains the same – being lost in the woods is scary as hell!

If you should find yourself lost in the wilderness there are many different variables you need to consider before determining the best course of action.  Here are three practical wilderness survival tips that could actually save your life should you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation.

1. Always Be Prepared

If you take a trip into the wilderness the best thing you can do is be prepared before you leave so that you can avoid getting lost in the first place.   If you’re going backpacking alone you will want to make sure to let someone know where you are going, when you’re leaving and when they should expect you to return.  That way if you do not return when expected there will be someone who knows where to find you.

If you are a beginner or unfamiliar with the landscape it is not recommended to go into the wilderness alone.  You should always have a friend with you who can have your back should something bad happen.  Even a slip and fall could turn into a fatal situation if there is no one there to go for help and you have no way of contacting emergency services.

Try to stay on the trail so that you can easily find your way back.  If you choose to deviate from the beaten path, you should mark your way by leaving stones, sticks, etc. to track your way.  You can also make note of landmarks that are easily recognizable to help you find your way back.

You should also make sure to take a pack with several emergency essentials; first aid kit, knife, rope,  water purification, food, lighter, compass, whistle, bandana, inflatable solar lantern, phone or gps, etc. By taking these precautions before you leave, you reduce the likelihood of becoming lost in the woods.  Even if you do get lost, the survival items you carry with you can keep you alive until you are rescued.


The Art of the Bug Out Bag

What to Eat in the Wilderness

2. Assess the situation

First you need assess the situation that you find yourself in.  Did you get separated from a group or were you traveling alone?  The next steps that you take will depend largely on the answer to this question.  If you got separated from a group chances are that they are currently trying to locate you.  If they can’t locate you on their own there is a likely possibility they will be contacting authorities and search and rescue will be looking for you as well.  If that is the case it makes sense to stay put where you are so that you can be located quickly.

If you’re out hiking alone and you get lost, that is a different story altogether.  If you are in a high traffic location it still might be your best bet to wait until someone comes along who can help you get back on the right path.  If you’re in a very remote area then chances of stumbling upon another hiker are slim to none.  In that case you will want make a plan to find your way back to safety.  Either way, the course you take will depend further on what time of the day it is and what the weather is like.  Even if you’re all alone and don’t expect anyone to come looking for you, it is probably best to stay put and hunker down if you’re approaching nightfall or weather conditions are poor.  Trying to find your way to safety in the dark of night or in the middle of a snow or rain storm will only make your situation worse.  If that’s the case make a temporary shelter and hunker down for the night, then start again at first light.

No matter what – don’t panic!  Don’t start running as fast as you can or screaming out for someone to hear you.  That will only use up your stored energy and leave you feeling stressed out and exhausted.  Keep calm, take a step back and assess the situation before you make any moves.  When you’re calm and collected you can make wise decisions about which action to take next.  By keeping your cool, you can logically plan your escape strategy without getting further lost or missing a rescue opportunity.


Best Camping, Hiking and Wilderness Survival Books

3. Find your way to safety

Once you have assessed the situation you should be able to plan your best method for survival. At this point you can determine whether you want to shelter in place and wait for rescue or try to find your way back to safety.  Should you decide to shelter in place be prepared to provide the basic necessities to keep yourself alive through the night by using your survival knowledge to build a makeshift shelter.

Always bring a compass and familiarize yourself with basic navigation techniques so that you can find your way out.  If you do not have a phone or GPS system with you, there are some basic navigation techniques that you can use to find your way back to safety.  Following a river downstream is usually a foolproof way to find your way back to civilization.


Celestial Navigation Techniques

Special Forces Navigation Training

Todd Tucker SurvivalistThis article was contributed by Todd Tucker, Survival Spot Blog Editor and contributing author. Todd has over 20 years of experience practicing and perfecting wilderness survival techniques. He is a highly skilled rough terrain hiker, climber, fisherman, large game hunter and survival gear expert.





Additional Resources:

Top 100 Items to Disappear in a National Emergency

9 Unique Alternative Housing Ideas

Top 10 Survival Movies

120 Useful Books for Your Survival Library

11 Survival TV Shows Worth Watching

10 Bad A** Sniper Rifles

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Survival Blog | Survival Spot

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Surviving a Venomous Snake Bite – What You Need to Know

The majority of snakes you come across in North America aren’t venomous, however there are a reported 7000-8000 bites coming from venomous snakes each year. Fortunately, very few of these bites actually result in death and this is for a variety of reasons, including awareness and antivenin treatments. Furthermore, snakes often deliver a ‘dry bite’ on humans so that they aren’t wasting their venom which is required to kill prey for food.

In North America, there are four types of venomous snakes: coral snake, rattlesnake, cottonmouth and copperhead. Each snake has their own distinctive markings which you can learn to recognise and this will become extremely useful for when you’re out and about. It’s important to learn the markings of these snakes as other non-venomous snakes have adapted to look like them, as a way to serve a warning to predators.

How to Identify a Venomous Snake?

Here’s an infographic, produced by the guys at Sniff Outdoors, which goes over each snake’s distinctive markings and some key features. This will also cover, briefly, what to do if you encounter one, which we’ll talk about in a bit more in-depth in the body of this article.


How to Prevent a Snake Bite?

If you’re out for a hike or going camping with your friends, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and have a knowledge of which snake is likely to live in that habitat. With this knowledge, you will be far more conscious of where you tread or place your hands. A large majority of snake bites actually come from human error i.e. walking too close to where a snake is lying or turning over a log to find a snake was underneath.


Gaining an understanding of the habitats of each snake and being aware of some key behaviours will go a long way to help to prevent a snake bite from actually occurring. For example, does the coral snake prefer to hide under rocks and leaves? Do cottonmouth snakes only live by the water or do they bask on rocks too?


The Coral Snake

This snake and its subspecies tend to live in forested areas, spending most of its time underground or hiding in leaves. As well as enjoying staying in jungle areas, they are also found in the sand hills of Southeast United States.


It can be hard to tell the difference between the coral snake’s head and tail which it uses to its advantaged when it feels threatened. It will coil its head into its body and raise its tail, which many people confuse with the head.


Keep in mind the rhyme ‘Red and yellow, kill a fellow. Red and black, friend of Jack’ if ever you come across one. On the venomous coral snake, the red and yellow bands are always touching. Some non-venomous snakes have similar colorings, however not in the same order.

rattlesnake (1)

The Rattlesnake

The large majority of rattlesnakes are found in South-western United States. The most obvious feature of the rattlesnake is the tail, which acts as a warning signal to threats. As well as their rattle at the end of the tail, rattlesnakes also produce a hissing noise, in a similar manner to a cat hissing when threatened.


Rattlesnakes live in a variety of areas, including grasslands, swamps, bush and rocky areas. In warmer temperatures, they like so soak up the sun on rocks or open areas. However, they also spend a lot of time in rocky dens and some will hibernate in winter conditions.


Similar to coral snakes, when threatened, rattlesnakes coil their body, however instead of raising their tails, they will raise their head, which gives them a greater ability to strike if needed.


The Cottonmouth

Also know as the Water Moccasin, this snake is semi-aquatic and prefers to live in and around water, such as swamp or marsh areas. When not in water, due to the fact they are cold blooded, they will spend time raising their body temperatures by basking on rocks.


The cottonmouth has a thick body with a blocky head and dark brown cross bands. Sometimes in older snakes, the skin coloring is so dark that it appears to have no visible markings, which can make it trickier to identify.


Living in Southeastern US, the cottonmouth can be found most places where water is involved, like ponds, rivers, swamps and lakes. Unlike most other snakes, the cottonmouth tends not to retreat in face of threat, which gives it a reputation for being aggressive. Similar to the rattlesnake, though, it will coil its body and raise its head to be ready to strike.


The Copperhead

Its name is given by the light brown/read appearance and copper colored head. The outline of their cross bands tend to be darker, with the inside coloring being a lighter shade of brown. They’re at their widest at the top of their back and narrower down their side, which is the opposite of the cottonmouth’s cross bands.


The copperhead has a large range, across northern and southern US, with their largest range being from Alabama to Massachusetts and Illinois. Similar to rattlesnakes, they have a variety of habitats however primarily they like to stay in forested or rocky areas such as mountains, next to streams or canyons. It’s not uncommon to see them in suburban areas hiding under rocks or in old, abandoned buildings.


Although copperheads usually hunt alone, they can be found on rocks with other snakes and are seen as a sort of ‘social snake’. It can be hard to spot this snake, which means humans can easily make a mistake by treading too closely.

Precautions to Avoid a Bite

You should now have a fairly good understanding of venomous snake behaviour and their likely habitats. There are also some things you should and shouldn’t do, which will set you in good stead for preventing a bite from occurring. Prevention is much better than having to deal with a bite.


  • DON’T turn over logs or place your hands on rocks without checking first – these are perfect places for snakes to hide.
  • Watch your step – be careful if you’re walking in long grass or somewhere you can’t see where you’re placing your feet.
  • Always zip up your tent and keep your boots inside it – snakes love to slither into dark places.
  • DON’T fend off a snake with a stick – if you’re close enough to do that, you’re probably close enough to be bitten!


What Should You do if You’re Bitten?

If you do land yourself in the unfortunate position of becoming victim of a venomous bite, make sure to follow the next few steps. It could be the difference between a minor inconvenience to a bigger problem.


  • Seek medical assistance straight away and try to describe key features of the snake in as much detail as possible, including what kind of habitat it is in.
  • Lower the wound below your heart – this will stop the poison from spreading as quickly.
  • Minimise the risk of a second bite – often snakes give a dry bite at first and a venomous bite if they need to fend you off again so there’s no point in making the situation worse.
  • Keep your heart rate down and minimise movement – again, this is in an attempt to stop the poison from spreading quickly around your body.
  • If you’re not going to get help for a while, wash the wound with fresh water to prevent infection.

***Please note there has been some controversy as to whether or not you should apply pressure or use a tourniquet for a snake bite.  Please see the following resources and make an informed decision when deciding the best method to treat a snake bite.

“Applying [PBI] with a pressure between 40 and 70 mm Hg in the upper extremity and between 55 and 70 mm Hg in the lower extremity around the entire length of the bitten extremity is an effective and safe way to slow the dissemination of venom by slowing lymph flow (Class IIa, LOE C). For practical purposes pressure is sufficient if the bandage is comfortably tight and snug but allows a finger to be slipped under it. Initially it was theorized that slowing lymphatic flow by external pressure would only benefit victims bitten by snakes producing neurotoxic venom, but the effectiveness of pressure immobilization has also been demonstrated for bites by non-neurotoxic American snakes….”



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