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#122221 - 02/01/08 03:38 AM Blast's thoughts on survival (long)
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3684
Loc: TX
Warning, this may ramble a bit.

One of my favorite things about this forum is the large number of "Then things went wrong" posts. As much as I love reading about the newest flaming flashlight or cheeseburger in a can, the thing I most look forward to are y'all's personal experiences. Lately there's been a lot of good ones that have offered much food for thought. So, I've thought about them. This is what I came up with: There are three interrelated things you can control that will help you through a tricky situation.

The Triangle of Survival

Sure, luck will always play a part in survival, but I've focused just on what a person can control. So, let's explore this deeper.

Planning/preparations, Gear and Resourcefulness. Laid out in print they seem self evident. This blatent obviousness is why a lot of people, even those who profess to being prepared, completely miss them. Some people rely strictly on buying gear thinking each new shiney gizmo will add another layer of safety to their lives while some disdain anything more than a knife and a loincloth. Others spend a great deal of time thinking about stuff but never actually try/do anything. They read a book on edible plants then picture themselves saving a planeful of 23-yr old co-eds after crashing in the Andes. Others dabble lightly in two or three of these and consider themselves ready, but their lack of imagination about possible events and low-quality gear leaves them woefully impaired.

Now, before I go any farther I want to point out I'm as remiss in all this as most others. I love gear, I love knowledge, but actually thinking ahead as to what could go wrong is very much a weak point of mine. Many ETS member are more than willing to vouch for that...

Okay, so back to The Triangle. What's the big deal? Well, like I said these are the things YOU can control. Let's look at them deeper, starting with Planning/Preparation (those who can, do. Those who can't, teach blush)

Planning & Preparation
Under this topic falls all your thinking about possible threats, assigning likelihoods of these threats, researching about how to handle these threats, and then any steps you take to diminish these threats. This includes everything from reading this forum to watching the weather reports to stockpiling food. I also place in this corner things like keeping your body, emotions and finances healthy. It is sort of a catch-all for the verbs, the "doing stuff", of being prepared. The saying "Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance" is very true. If you don't know what threats are out there you can quickly become screwed. The same goes if you know what the threats are but don't actually get off your tush and do something about them. As you figure out the threats and begin preparing for them you enter the our favorite corner of The Triangle: Gear!

Gear is the fun one. It seems just about everyone here drools over the latest knife, signaling device or article of super-clothing. There's nothing wrong with buying gear. The problem is buying gear because it's cool rather than because it fits in with your threat assesment/abatement plan. If you've done your planning properly you are much more likely to acquire the proper gear for your situation. A down sleeping bag may work great in cold desert nights but if it turns into a soggy mass while trapped on a mountain you can end up royally screwed. Plan first, then buy gear based on YOUR likely situations, not the situations some magazine writer a thousand miles away. Gear reviews are a good starting point, but please make sure the test situations match your own, especially if it's something you may need to save your life.
First aid kits fall into a similar trap. Many people start adding all sorts of heavy-duty medical stuff to their first aid bags even through they don't have the slightest idea how to use them (Blast raises his hand blush ). You may have a suture kit in your bag but unless you stitch people up for a living just keep those needles/thread sealed. Scalpels? What, you are going to remove the appendix of some kid in the mall food court? My thoughts always used to be "buy the gear now, learn how to use it later". I've wasted a lot of money that way.
The ETS member Taurus is a great example of how to do things right. He knows the sort of environment he'll be in (planning!) and then gets gear with a proven track record of working well in that environment. His cold-weather hunting set-up is a thing of beauty. Hacksaw is another great role model. His gear isn't locked away waiting to be used for the first time in an emergency. He's out in horribly cold weather trying it out. If real world testing shows a weakness in an item, that item is replaced.

Okay, so you've figured out what likely threats you'll face and you have the gear you need. Then suddenly your friend's truck breaks down 25 miles away from anywhere and you gear is reduced to a pocket knife and shoes laces. This is where the third side of The Triangle comes into play.

This covers what you've stuck in your brain as well as what you can pull out of it. It's your knowledge and creativity that allows you, the natural tool-building top of the evolutionary chain, to figure out what to do when reality blindsides you. Primitive skills, first aid training, mechanical knowledge, etc... The more you know the more likely you are be able to find a solution to your problem. Raydarkhorse's recent adventure is the perfect example. They didn't have their normal gear (poor planning/preparation) but some proper preparation (telling someone to send help if they don't return) coupled with the ability to improvise shelter and the knowledge of proper MRE-TP technique allowed him to enjoy a situation that would have been miserable, maybe even deadly for many others.

Basically, it seems to me people get into trouble because they focus heavily on one aspect of The Triangle to the detriment of the other parts. In most cases it seems like having two of the corners covered will get you through an incident if luck is on your side but to truely be equipped to survive you need to cover all three aspects.

Anyway, just some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head. I don't know if they'll actually help anyone or if I was the only slow one who hadn't already figured all this out...

Foraging Texas
Medicine Man Plant Co.
DrMerriwether on YouTube
Radio Call Sign: KI5BOG
*As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn a sales commission on Amazon links in my posts.

#122223 - 02/01/08 04:08 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: Blast]

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852

good post--good thinking--your just not playing with fire,
are you---

#122224 - 02/01/08 04:24 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: Blast]
wildman800 Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 2841
Loc: La-USA
I like the idea of the Triangle. It helps bring confusion into orderly thought and helps clarify priorities!!!

I think that "Gear" and "Preparation & Planning" are the base that allows for "Resourcefulness" to be utilized at the "Pinnacle of Need".

Just my thoughts.
The best luck is what you make yourself!

#122226 - 02/01/08 04:31 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: Blast]
NorCalDennis Offline

Registered: 01/30/08
Posts: 61
Loc: Sierra Foothills, Nor Cal
Awesome food for thought.

I might have to print this out and post it above my monitor!

Sort of a daily reminder / focus chart.

While I have long believed that I will never get old, I have come to the realization that sooner or later there will be more people younger than me.

#122227 - 02/01/08 04:34 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: Blast]
Taurus Offline

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 458
Loc: Northern Canada
Originally Posted By: Blast
.... Plan first, then buy gear based on YOUR likely situations, not the situations some magazine writer a thousand miles away.....

Blast my brother, This sums it all up in a nutshell. No matter how hard you try you can’t be ready for EVERY survival situation. Usually it is best to prepare for the biggest threats that you yourself will face and allow enough flexibility in your planning to change a plan if need be. In the army we call it a threat assessment. Some people try too hard to find the ultimate kit to fit every situation and then get discouraged when they find out everything isn’t always so black and white. In the end they get overwhelmed by it all. My biggest threat is the cold so my gear gets packed accordingly. I was on an advanced survival course some time back where an instructor tried to tell me that I should carry clear plastic bags in my kit in order to make a solar still (IN CANADA) I was so taken aback by this I couldn’t believe he was serious. I can blind fold myself and walk for 5 minutes in ANY direction here and most likely will fall into water of some sort. In those RARE places in Canada where it is dry there are certainly methods a hell of a lot easier to get to water than a stupid solar still. I tried making them in Afghanistan outside my tent in my spare time just to see if they were worth the hype in the popular survival books(non survival situation, just to test them out) It would take at least 5 of these stupid things to be even worth your time in the best of conditions. Now imagine trying to use one here where a really hot day is 25-30 deg cel. Because my instructor read about it in the SAS survival guide about solar stills he figured that you MUST have the ability to make one no matter where you are. Granted I can find a lot of uses for clear plastic in the field, this is not one of them. I promptly walked out of his lesson………..

Anyway, now I am rambling. My bad
Good reading blast, I always look forward to the things you post.

#122230 - 02/01/08 04:48 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: Blast]
cedfire Offline

Registered: 07/10/03
Posts: 659
Loc: Orygun
Reminds me of the fire triangle.

Makes a lot of sense and simple to remember, too. I know I'm guilty of leaning more one way or another.

#122231 - 02/01/08 04:50 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: cedfire]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3684
Loc: TX
Reminds me of the fire triangle.

That was my insperation for the triangle, which probably comes as no suprise. grin

Foraging Texas
Medicine Man Plant Co.
DrMerriwether on YouTube
Radio Call Sign: KI5BOG
*As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn a sales commission on Amazon links in my posts.

#122239 - 02/01/08 06:22 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: Blast]
aloha Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/16/05
Posts: 1055
Loc: Hawaii, USA
Aloha Blast. Serious post. I just want to say that I would like to sign up for a planeload of 23 year old coeds. (don't tell the missus)

#122243 - 02/01/08 06:42 AM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: Blast]

I was just at the local used book store today leafing through a survival or martial arts book (I can't remember which) and I saw the same triangle. I was leafing so quickly, I am thinking that your post is a sign that I should go to the store and buy that book.

#122250 - 02/01/08 12:42 PM Re: Blast's thoughts on survival (long) [Re: ]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
Hmm, so replacing the point labels on your triangle with associated personalities, I would use Dr. Evil, Inspector Gadget, and MacGyver.

Works for me.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

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