When you need a Beacon the most.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-sinking-schooner-image16210789“A man swam 5 1/2 hours in the darkness of Tangier Sound, Maryland, to summon help as four other family members, including two children, clung to the capsized fishing boat that had taken on too much water and overturned in stormy weather.”  by David Strege

 

Emergencies on the water can be more terrifying than their land-locked brethren, and can have unforeseen challenges such as hypothermia, aquatic life dangers and severe seas. In situations such as these, the ability to contact rescue in a split second is a real need.

The best signaling systems for these types of emergencies will always be high strength beacons which are powerful enough to reach dedicated satellites, and last long enough to be biangulated to give pin point information on location.

Early versions of these systems where based on Soviet and US rescue satellites called CosPas and SARSat, and were mainly used for military applications. Individuals and companies who where fortunate to have this technology paid a hefty price for it, and most of the systems were heavy and bulky.

Today, emergency beacons capable of sending an emergency signal to the heavens and bring help are compact and affordable. Many of the new kits which USI are preparing to release for public use have cutting edge beacon technology not dependent on cell phone systems, or anything else which may be wiped out in an emergency.

Here are two great videos on how the system works and why other systems do not work.

 

 Overall preparation for what nature can throw at us is not that overwhelming but it does take a little effort. USI has a wealth of information, equipment and training for everyone about all forms of mitigation so visit our web site at www.usiusa.com and if you have a need feel free to call!

USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.

Check us out at: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon   LinkedIn   YouTube   Shop

Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN

Original article found at: http://www.grindtv.com/outdoor/excursions/post/man-swims-five-hours-to-save-family-after-boat-capsizes/

Is there a perfect Survival Kit?

Is there a perfect survival kit? Possibly, if you know your realistic capabilities and can take into account all possible scenarios you find yourself in then sure, the perfect survival kit can be built. Skill set will have a lot to do with the construction of your kit, especially when trying to keep it light and compact. An example of this is the synthetic flint fire starter. I have one in my kit which is just over two inches long and I find it adequate for my needs. However many people I train find it very difficult to use and prefer something along the lines of the Blast Match which is system owned by the Revere company. The Blast Match is much bulkier and heavier than what I use but for individuals who don’t practice starting fires with a spark it’s an ideal survival tool.

This same principle applies to the knife one carries. Ideally the best survival knife is around seven inches long, made of high quality steel with a solid non abrasive grip. In addition it should be simple in design with a flat back strap for pounding when splitting wood and have a guard capable of mitigating the possibility of injury. Some of the more classic designs, such as the Buck 124 Frontiersman are much more functional in the field than some of the “sexier” combat designs.

Unfortunately, large knives like the 124 are designed for belt carry and are not really adaptable to a personal survival kit and thus functionality must give way to size and weight considerations. For a small personal survival kit the folding “pocket” knife comes out on top. Although limited in its capabilities a folding knife of the correct size and configuration will carry and individual through a myriad of situations.

Second, is positive lock up? The knife must have a solid positive locking system. Most knives in this price range fit the bill but just test it before you buy. Even the higher end companies produce inferior products. Last is the blade. The blade should be as straight as possible or have a slight concave shape. Knifes which curves up to fast (the bowl) are designed for skinning and, although they can be used in an emergency, are inferior designs for field use.When choosing a folder for the survival kit a couple of things must be looked at. First is quality. Your personal survival kit may be the only thing between you and a miserable cold death so it must be high quality. Too many pre-made kits on the market reduce cost with this one VERY important item. A good quality folding knife can be purchased for between $30.00 and $50.00 which is not a lot when your life is at stake.

Around these two key items the rest of the survival kit can be constructed following the 7 +1 priorities of survival. These are:

  • Positive mental Attitude (PMA)
  • Medical
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Personal Protection
  • Communication
  • Food
  • Plus  Navigation

DSC_0079-2Although priorities are arranged in a specific order they are fluid enough to be re-arranged for the event and need. For example, signal may become the first priority if you are attempting to flag down a vehicle immediately after a car crash or trying to establish contact with another member of your party in times of civil unrest.

If these needs are filled in your personal survival kit then you have accomplish your mission of preparing for the worse. Most normal situations last between 24 and 72 hours with the majority of survival events being of shorter duration (24 hours).However, USI added Navigation to the original 7 because of historical long term events which require movement.  With this in mind, it is quite possible to construct a high quality survival kit which can be carried on the belt or at the most in a shoulder bad or backpack.

 Overall preparation for what nature can throw at us is not that overwhelming but it does take a little effort. USI has a wealth of information, equipment and training for everyone about all forms of mitigation so visit our web site at www.usiusa.com and if you have a need feel free to call!

USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.

Check us out at: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon   LinkedIn   YouTube

Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN

An AXE is just an AXE. NOT REALLY!

USAF Survival Instructors, now known as SERE Specialists are trained with and live by the Axe. Although they are fully trained and equipped to survive and fight anywhere, the axe is as much a part of them as their boots. When they are instructing in the field they carry it as a safety tool to build fires, shelters, litters or whatever they need. To see a SERE specialist without his or her axe is to assume he/she is working in the office for the day. The Axe is such a part of an instructors life that if you make it to retirement, you are presented with a chrome plated axe in a shadow box.

estwing_campers_axeSo what makes a great AXE? When it comes to survival durability reigns supreme. If your axe breaks, bends or the eye opens up then you have problems. There are many professional axes from around the world which are made of amazing steel and are wonderful to use but they all suffer from the same malady. They have a wooden handle. Wood is the best shaft for an axe handle; there is no way to argue that. A good piece of hickory is resilient, strong and can absorb vibration. Unfortunately, wood must be maintained or it will dry out and eventually break.

In a survival/disaster situation, having a broken axe handle (although it can sometimes be improvised from local wood) is a very bad thing. Only one axe on the market today can stand up to the extremes of everyday use in all environments with little or no probability of breaking and that is the Estwing Axe. Estwing axes are completely made of tool steel, just like a full tang knife. Also, they protect the user from vibration with a very durable polymer rubber grip. They are so tough and reliable they are the primary survival tool in the Yukon and Alaska.

SO, if you are serious about saving your own life go buy an Estwing axe. Click the link to get an Estwing axe from Amazon!

 Overall preparation for what nature can throw at us is not that overwhelming but it does take a little effort. USI has a wealth of information, equipment and training for everyone about all forms of mitigation so visit our web site at www.usiusa.com and if you have a need feel free to call!

USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.

Check us out at: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon   LinkedIn   YouTube

Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN

What is a Survival Knife?

CATS 1CVWhat is a survival knife? This question brings more opinions than any other topic I know of. How big, what metal, hollow handle, plastic sheath, double edge or single and of course, what brand is the best.

Mostly what I read on the web is personal favorites but none really deal with the core subject of survivability. Of all the survival tools in your inventory, regardless of the environment, the knife is something you don’t want to make the wrong choice on. So facts speak volumes and opinions are, well, opinions.

It is widely agreed that a true survival knife falls between 5″ and 7″ (blade length). I personally lean towards the 5″ blade but I do commonly carry a 7″ blade especially when I know I’m not making any stops at the local grocery store. For whatever reason, many people see that extra 2″ of blade a “clear and present danger”. With a 5″ blade, in the right sheath, I can usually cover it with my shirt.

Grips are a no brainer. Micarta really is the only choice. Originally developed by Westinghouse, this material is designed to withstand virtually any environment (including a wide variety of chemicals) and temperature ranges. If blade steel was this good I wouldn’t even bother with this article! Micarta also has the unique ability to be molded into any color and makes for some beautiful handles (not really a “survival” concern, but nice).

baby boloSheaths are in the same category as the grips. You can’t beat the new, molded to the knife shape, thermoplastics. Even though I prefer my knife sheaths to be leather, the long-term durability of plastics make leather “antiquated”. There is some room for a nylon sheath argument, but compared to Zytel  resin, nylon fabric is old fashion. Plastic sheaths also have an advantage of being mounted in any configuration, on about anything with just a new hole and a plastic tie. You’ve got to love them!

Blade style is a big area of contention. Knives run from the exotic and saw backed to the plain Jane clip. A good blade shape takes into consideration what the knife is going to be doing on a day to day basis. If the knife is going to be hacking down trees then a heavy, weight-forward blade would be ideal. If skinning a moose was the primary function then a long upswing  in the bowl would be good.

A Survival Knife is a tool. A tool which may be asked to do a lot of different tasks from hacking down a tree to skinning a moose so it needs to take all these into consideration. Of course, designing a knife which could do all these and do them perfectly would probably create a freakish looking piece of steel. People have tried, but for the most part people have failed. So what does a survival knife look like?

usmc bowieThe answer may surprise some because it has been around for a long time. The clip point bowie, made famous by the USMC in their knife. Straight and to the point it defines the shape of a tool which can do a lot of different things and do most very well. Most modern knives are some variation of a clip point, but for long term reliability, the less “sexy” the better. You can beat on it to split wood, hack down small trees and even skin a rabbit. Overall there really isn’t a better style.

Does that mean the Marine knife is the best. Not really. They are good but the tang is lacking because of its design. A survival knife should be solid (same stock dimensions) tip to tip. However, the blade shape is spot on.The Marine signature knife, although adequate and proven, lacks a few things. The grip is leather and susceptible to environment, the blade is not quite thick enough for extreme use and although a good fighting width it should have more meat for chopping etc. etc. However, for its purpose, it works.

So now that I have upset the world of survivalists, lets move onto the steel and bother everyone else. The are so many new alloys on the market that saying this steel or that is the best for survival is almost impossible. With new methods of tempering stainless and infusing nitrogen, this metal once only used in the dive industry is now common place in field knives. So where do we go when we pick a metal for our knife?

Lets start out with a brief comparison between stainless and non-stainless (often called carbon steel). First, carbon is what makes steel hard and chromium makes it rust resistant. Stainless blades have less carbon and more chromium, Non-stainless the inverse. Carbon steel blades can be forged, giving them additional strength. Stainless, can be forged….by very qualified people with great difficulty and even then the forging can cause microscopic fractures which can lead to blade weakness. Carbon steel can be differentially tempered giving them good edge quality and good flexible strength. Stainless’ temper is consistent. Carbon blades tend to rust. Stainless is just that; stainless.

So in my little book, you can never beat a good carbon (non-stainless) knife. I can treat rust in the field with animal fat but I can’t fix a snapped off tip. Now I already hear the arguments and I’m sure they are all good, but I have broken enough knives in the field to know what I will carry. So of the carbon steel alloys, which is the best? It is a close call between A2 and D2 steel. A2 is an air-hardened steel famous for it use in combat knives (and is the one I prefer)  but  D2  has the best overall performance and can be deferentially tempered. It is highly rust resistant, flexible, holds a great edge, very abrasion resistant….its just good steel. In fact it’s good enough that many high end knife makers are turning to it.  Now I do want to make a possible exception to the D2 “ONLY” statement. There is a new alloy called INFI which is supposed to be as good or better, but I haven’t used it or studied it yet…..however there are some credible rumors.

Does that mean there is no place for stainless. NO, the Scandinavians have been using stainless to great success for…..heck I don’t know; a very long time. And some of the new stainless alloys are really getting close to D2 performance (close). The best thing about stainless is that it is environment resistant so anywhere there is going to be a lot of salt or moisture, stainless may be the way to go. So which is the best stainless, if your inclined that way? I have to lean towards VG-10. I think S90V (found in some Spyderco knives) is the ultimate stainless but it is seriously pricey. So stainless of choice goes to VG-10.

survivalknife1VG-10 is a good balanced alloy with just enough vanadium in it to allow it to be honed to a nasty edge. I has good rust resistance, good strength, and is moderately durable. Overall it is a good material to make a knife out of. The one thing to remember about stainless is that quality means higher $$$. You can have a 1095 carbon blade (lower end of the non-stainless) and it function well, but if you go with a cheap stainless you may just leave part of the blade behind.

So what makes a good survival knife? Nothing, really, that wasn’t in use way before my time. A good forged carbon steel blade with simple straight lines and a sheath to hold it. Modern technology has brought us more consistency in our steel quality, better handle and sheath materials and it has given us field knife grade Stainless Steel (something which was un-heard of just 30ish years ago) but other than that we haven’t come that far. As far as Survival knives are concerned the key is Strong, Simple and functional.

Personally, when I carry a mass production knife, It’s the US made A2 steel field knife by Blackjack (Mod. 14). HOWEVER, recently Universal Survival Innovations has been designing their own Combat And Tactical Survival (CATS) series of hand made knives out of D2 Tool steel and by far these are the my preferred choice!

Remember! A knife may be your last option for survival so make it your best option!

 

 Overall preparation for what nature can throw at us is not that overwhelming but it does take a little effort. USI has a wealth of information, equipment and training for everyone about all forms of mitigation so visit our web site at www.usiusa.com and if you have a need feel free to call!

USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.

Check us out at: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon   LinkedIn   YouTube

Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN

 

 

 

 

Diaster Mitigation is an Individual responsibility. Introducing the USI SRB

 

tornado destructionMany people look to the government (Federal, State and Local) to solve their problems, including disaster mitigation. However, there has been a trend in these bastions of civil authority to slowly attempt to hand back that responsibility to the average Joe. The problem is many Americans don’t know where to start, nor what to do.

USI understands this issue and has responded by developing the first civilian response kit called the “SRB”, or S.E.R.E.ous Recovery Bag. The SRB is specifically designed to allow the individual or family to stay safely near the disaster site, even if their home is a total loss. The SRB supplies survivors with everything from food and shelter to construction tools. The SRB equips survivors to begin clearing debris, and start the recovery process.

Just like the rest of the USI catalog, the Recovery Bag is housed and filled with top of the line equipment which will not fail you in your time of need. USI continually reviews articles such as the one presented here to get a better understanding of what is needed and how our extended family can be best served. Everyone has heard the latest horror stories from tornado alley. The situation could have been much better for the survivors if they had immediate access to shelter and supplies to begin the recovery process.

 Overall preparation for what nature can throw at us is not that overwhelming but it does take a little effort. USI has a wealth of information, equipment and training for everyone about all forms of mitigation so visit our web site at www.usiusa.com and if you have a need feel free to call!

USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.

Check us out at: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon   LinkedIn   YouTube

Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN

Original Article @ http://homes.yahoo.com/news/top-5-states-most-at-risk-of-disaster-015829128.html