WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Ways to be resourceful in the outdoors

Posted March 20, 2010

The weather lately has me thinking about doing anything that involves being outdoors. Oddly enough, it was sitting indoors waiting to see a doctor this week that lead me to write this blog. An Outdoor Life Magazine was sitting on the table and would not have been my first choice, but it turned out to be really entertaining and informative.

With the mountains of North Carolina just a few hours west of here, camping and hiking is a common way for families to relax together. I haven’t been camping since I was a little girl but do remember that it was essential to stay close together because getting lost was easy. Being resourceful with what you know and what you have with you is a great start if you find you’ve lost your way. Of course being prepared for a disaster is always the best way to survive one. But what if you find yourself away from your disaster kit, how will you light a fire or find water yourself? Outdoor Life told me how and I’m passing that information on to you!

There are several items that can be used to light a fire and to prolong a fire that I would have never thought of using. Hand sanitizer is alcohol-based and will take a spark immediately. Insect Repellent is even better with Neosporin working longer but taking a bit to get the fire going. Rubbing Chap Stick on paper before you light it will also make the paper burn slower. Snack chips are loaded with oil so they burn easily as well.

At night, rescue parties will be able to find you better if you have a contained fire. Of course with this information I must add that common sense must be used. Starting a fire is dangerous and can get out of hand quickly so do this only when you can control the fire and need it to survive.

Finding water and keeping hydrated is essential when you are lost. It’s our nature to want to ration water and food but we shouldn’t. We need to drink all of the water we have and not eat again until we find more water. Our bodies need extra water to handle the workload and exposure to the elements during the time we are lost. Now how do we find the water? We can watch the wildlife. Birds eat insects and then they fly to and from water in the morning and at night. Deer and other animals beat down paths on their way to and from a water source. You can also listen for frogs or crickets, both of these spend the majority of their lives by the water.

These are just a few helpful hints that I found very entertaining. I don’t know about you, but having this information makes me feel a little better about camping.


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  • Mike Moss Mar 22, 2010

    One other good campfire starter material my wife and I have used from time to time is, of all things, clothes dryer lint! We just collect some every so often and seal it in a plastic bag instead of throwing it away, and it makes very effective "kindling."

  • afitchchick92 Mar 21, 2010

    such great tips! this will make my next camping trip much more enjoyable! thanks, kim!

  • Made In USA Mar 21, 2010

    Some interesting tips on how to build a fire. Chapstick, potato chips, repellent. I would have never thought of those items. One they didn't mention are pine cones. They burn like they're soaked in lighter fluid.

    I haven't been camping since I was living back home in the western part of the state. My favorite childhood adventure was Dad taking the family camping at Lake James. Having our boat made it so memorable.

    I hope to head to Jordan Lake this year and go camping with my newer (and smaller) fishing boat.