How to Treat Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, and Sumac

Treat poion oak

How Do You Treat Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, and Sumac

If you spend any time at all out in nature, chances are very good you are going to run into poison oak, poison ivy, or poison sumac. These green, leafy plants thrive throughout most of the U.S., and virtually all people will have reactions to them if they come into contact with these plants. All three of these plants can cause what it known as contact dermatitis with symptoms that include redness, rashes, and itching. The compound urushiol is what causes this misery, and it is so powerfully toxic that a pinhead amount can affect up to 500 individuals!

It should be noted that over the course of any given year, nearly half of the population of the US will present with symptoms of these plants. You can also find urushiol in other plants as well such as cashew nut trees, mango, and ginkgo trees to name a few.

poison-ivy

So, what should you do if you come into contact with these plants while you are out in the wilds? How do you treat poison oak and these other ailments?

The first treatment aid you should do is to wash/flush the area with plenty of water. This should be done as soon as possible before the reaction can take full effect.

The second treatment option you can perform is to use a baking soda paste. Mix about 3 teaspoons of soda with 1 teaspoon of water into a paste and then apply this paste to the area. You can easily carry a small bag of baking soda in your pack and is worth having on hand.

Another item you may want to carry in your pack is witch hazel. This liquid works well on relieving the itching. It will not affect the rash, but it can help with that awful itch until you get back to civilization.

Tea tree oil is another item that can help if you come into contact with these plants. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-inflammatory what can help reduce the rash symptoms as well as reduce swelling and itching.

Most people have heard of aloe vera, and this compound can be found in many over-the-counter products. It can reduce the itching and helps to speed overall recovery for those suffering from poison ivy contact. Aloe vera is also good for treating many types of wounds, making it a good pack item.

where-does-poison-growWe medics in the Army were told over and again that the best cure is prevention. That applies here, too. Take some time to learn what these plants look like, where they grow, and wear protective clothing and boots when you are trampling around in their territory. Stay away from these pesky plants, and you will not have to worry about treating yourself or others for their effects.

Important Note! Never, ever burn these plants. Inhaling the smoke can kill you, and getting the smoke on you and your clothing can literally cover you with urushiol. These dangers are present even if the leaves and vines are dried out. Be safe and never burn these plants.

 

What To Do When You are Lost

 

What to do when you're lost

What To Do When You are Lost

Getting lost in the wilderness is bad, but it happens all the time. What to do when you are lost starts before you leave on an adventure. By knowing a few tips, you can reduce your chances of becoming lost and increase your chances of getting out alive and well.

The first rule is always to tell someone where you are planning to go. This is true if you are planning a hike, a camping trip, or just exploring. You need to give map coordinates if possible. You must also tell them when you expect to be back. This information is needed in order for this person to direct rescue teams should you become lost or injured and not make it out on your own.

The second rule if you get lost is to stay where you are if you are close to the point you left with your friend. It is usually NOT a good idea to simply start wandering around if you discover you are lost. Now, if you did not tell anyone where you would be, then disregard this rule. Sitting down when you are lost is not going to get you out of trouble.

Rule three applies to those who need to move because no one is coming for them. First, do not panic. Relax and think about where you are and how you got there. You may be able to backtrack your way out of trouble. Here are some other things you can do:

Listen for signs of people. This usually comes in the form of traffic noise, but it could be any noise that people make such as church bells, trains, or factory noise.

Head for Higher Ground: If you do not hear anything, head for high ground where you can get a better look at your surroundings. Once you find a good spot, look for buildings or towns and forest ranger towers. Also, look carefully for roads. Unless you are truly in the wilds, you should be able to spot at least one road, and this is where you want to head as you may be able to flag down a vehicle. If there are no roads or anything else that looks man-made, look for rivers or lakes. Many times you can find humans on or close to rivers and lakes or at least be able to flag down a passing boat. This will also provide you with water if you need it.

When you decide on a direction to travel, keep yourself on track by spotting a fixed object ahead of you and travelling to that object. Then pick out another object and travel to it. Make sure that the object you choose is not too far away, or you may lose sight of it.

Of course, the way to handle these problems is to not get lost in the first place. Buy a compass, learn how to use it, and remember to always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. The few minutes it takes to do this can save you hours, if not days, of trouble and worry.

Understanding Insect and Spider Bites

Insect and Spider Bites

It is virtually impossible to go out into the wilds and not get insect and spider bites. The wilds are their environment, and you are an intruder. Some bugs bite for defense and others bite as a way of getting nourishment (i.e., your blood). In all cases, however, it is good to know about insect bites and how to treat them.

Generally speaking, insect and spider bites will bring about some amount of swelling, usually minor in nature. Bites will also bring about pain, redness in the area, and itching in most cases. These are the most common symptoms and are usually mild, lasting from a few hours to a few days. Treatment for minor bug bites can include putting ice on the site, applying anti-itch medication, or doing nothing. That is the good news. Now, the bad news.

Symptoms of Insect and Spider Bites

Symptoms of Insect and Spider Bites

There are many people who will have allergic reactions to insect and spider bites. In some cases, the person may not even know that they are allergic until they are bitten. The medical term for severe allergic reactions is anaphylaxis. While these reactions are not very common, they can be deadly when they do occur. Look for the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness and confusion
  • Shock
  • Sudden cough or wheezing
  • Obstructed airway
  • Unusual swelling
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and/or stomach cramps

The insects and spiders that can cause a reaction in anyone, not just those allergic to them, include:

  • Brown recluse spider
  • Black widow spider
  • Most types of scorpions
  • Wooly slug (aka the puss caterpillar)

Also, there are other insects that can cause reactions as well, mostly because they involve numerous bites at one time. This would include insects such as:

  • Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets
  • Fire ants
  • African bees

The signs and symptoms of these types of bites can include all of the above-mentioned reactions plus large areas of swelling that come on quickly. This area can encompass a whole limb (such as an arm or leg) within minutes of being bitten. There is also an intense redness at the area as well.

Treatment for Insect and Spider Bites

It is imperative that you keep the airway open so the person can breathe. Loss of oxygen, even for a few minutes, can lead to permanent brain damage; any longer than that and death will occur. You may need to do artificial respiration to keep the person alive.

Monitor the person’s heartbeat (pulse). Cardiac arrest (heart stopping) can occur in severe cases. You may need to do CPR.

Treat for shock by elevating the person’s feet and keeping the person warm.

Get medical help ASAP. For the most part, this person must be treated by professional medical personnel. You can do your part to help keep the person alive, but you will not be able to treat the symptoms fully.

Because insect bites (and occasionally spider bites) are common in the wilds, carrying a well-stocked first aid kit (with bite-treatment supplies) is a very good idea. The chances of being bitten while on the trail are much higher than any other type of injury you may encounter, so be prepared.

 

Converting Boot Sizes: What Size Men’s Boot Should a Woman Purchase?

CONVERTING

All women have been there: You have your heart set on a specific set of boots, yet your size is out of stock. Frustratingly, you cannot seem to find your size anywhere, yet you notice that the men’s version of the boot is, in fact, in stock.  However, wait, what size do you wear in men’s boots? This predicament can not only be frustrating, but it often leads to incorrect size purchases and the pain of returning footwear you purchased online, often at an additional investment of time and energy for you. So how do you convert men’s boot sizes to women’s? We will cover that and more as we examine women’s boot sizes and the process of converting between genders.

frustrated-woman-online

When discussing boots, the reality is that the vast majority of boot styles are made exclusively for men, and of course in men’s sizes only. This is a classic case of supply and demand: More men purchase boots, more men wear boots, so, therefore, more boots are produced for men. Without women’s boot sizes, or limited availability for women’s sizes, what is the next step to get what you want? While most boots are labeled as “men’s”, women can, in fact, wear the boots; however a size conversion is in order. The standard adage is for a woman to subtract two sizes off of her standard shoe size to calculate her shoe size in men’s footwear. For example, a woman who wears a size 8 in women’s shoes would, generally speaking, wear a size 6 in men’s shoes.

size conversion chart

 

Simple enough right? While the two size subtraction method generally works, it is important to recognize that there are sizing differences between shoe brands as well as shoe styles. For instance, when purchasing boots, ordering two sizes down holds true more often than not, but this is because heavier socks are typically worn in conjunction with boots. When purchasing sneakers or tennis shoes, which are generally worn tighter, it is recommended that women purchase a size and a half smaller than their female size for male shoes. Furthermore, certain brands run small while others generally run large, so it is important to do some research about the brand’s sizing in order to select the correct size on the first try.

woman-computer-research

So, what does all of this information mean? Well for starters, women’s boot sizes and the conversion from men’s to women’s can be awfully tricky. If you are in a pinch and don’t have time to do extensive research, go with the “tried and true” two size subtraction method. The best course of action, however, involves trying the boot or something similar on for size. If at all possible, find a local store that offers the brand of footwear you plan to purchase online. Locate a similar style of boot and try it on for size. For boots, a proper fit is slightly on the snug side. A loose boot will slide as you walk and can lead to blisters, pain and discomfort over time, while an overly tight boot will do the same. Once you have found the proper size for the brand you intend to purchase, it is safe to use the two size conversion method with relative confidence when purchasing online.

Purchasing boots does not have to be a hassle. While the process may seem overly complicated, ensuring a proper fit is of the utmost importance because getting caught in a combat setting with improper footwear can slow you down. It can also cause pain, and may even compromise your mission. A few simple “steps” now will help you when you have “boots on the ground”!

The Ragged Old Flag of The United States of America

ragged old flag

The Ragged Old Flag

This morning, like many early mornings, I sat at my computer flipping through Facebook with a cup of coffee. This typically takes very little time because most of the drivel that emanates from my Facebook feed is virtually worthless. No, I do not care that you got a bikini wax or that you “Like” some post from a Facebook friend you probably wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with in real life.

However, today was different. A buddy of mine shared a video on his wall that caught my attention. It was entitled The Ragged Old Flag. We are friends on Facebook and in real life. He is a true warrior. My friend is a long time US Army Special Forces operator, a Green Beret. He has been on multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and a few other places he cannot really talk about. He did this well into his late forties until his body finally gave out on him. To me, he is not only a warrior and a hero, he is the embodiment of the American spirit. My friend joined the Army late in life. In his late twenties, he enlisted in the US Army and later volunteered for, was accepted into and earned his place among the elite US Army Green Berets.

The United States Army Special Forces are known as the Green Berets because of their distinctive service headgear. They are a special operations force with five primary missions. They conduct unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism missions. My buddy has pretty much done it all. And he doesn’t talk about it at bars bragging of his bravado. He is a silent warrior. Like all true warriors, he doesn’t want or need the recognition.

My friend posted a video that I have embedded at the bottom of this article. It is an old gritty Johnny Cash video where Cash relates the story of the American Flag in a small rural town that has become ragged and worn. It is a story as much about our flag as much as it is about my friend and all service members after years of service and dedication to the homeland that I love. It reminded me of how sickened I am by all of the politicians in our country who have hijacked my homeland and perverted politics to cater to their special interest cause of the day. Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers, I am talking to all of you. You make my stomach turn. You’ve stolen the America I grew up in and turned it into a freak show of politics.

Forget the Republican and Democratic parties. Forget the Tea Party. Whatever happened to the American Party? When I was growing up there were people of opposing views just like today. Some of my friend’s parents were democrats. My own parents were and still are democrats. Some of my friend’s parents were republicans. However, you know what? I would never have known that. Heck, I did not even know what I believed in politically until I was in my late twenties. To me, all of my friends were just Americans. I had Black, white, Asian and Hispanic friends growing up. Their skin color never mattered to me. It was who they were on the inside that mattered. To this day, I couldn’t care less what color your skin is. It is the color of your integrity that matters to me.

The media have become that proverbial middle child many families have that gets drunk at the holidays and proceeds to gossip about and criticize everyone under the sun just because deep down inside, they are not at peace with themselves. Sure, it garners good ratings to spread gossip and denigrate those who have opposing views, but it does no good for anyone. For all that attention you are getting at that moment; know that when you aren’t looking, we think your actions are idiotic. We are Americans and we need to start acting like it. We need to stop pushing each other down trying to force the agenda of the day in which we happen to believe. We need to start acting like the Americans who fought and died for the Ragged Old Flag. We need to come together as one and be Americans again. We cannot lift each other up if we keep pushing each other down.

To the politicians of all political parties, I have this to say to you. Fuck you. We are your constituents. If government were a business, we would be your customers. I know it is hard for you to understand at times. But you need to start acting like you give a damn about your customers. Stop telling us one thing to get elected and then doing the exact opposite once you are in office. In my world, we call that lying. In the business world, we call that bait and switch. You’ve cheated the American people and I for one am sick and tired of it. Don’t tell me you are going to fundamentally change the country for the better when you are trying to tear down the Ragged Old Flag and raise one for a country I don’t fundamentally recognize anymore.

Like Johnny Cash states in the video, I thank God for all the freedoms we have in this country. When I enlisted in the Marine Corps I knew that I was willing to lay my life on the line in defense of my homeland and fellow countrymen. I still would today, even for someone’s right to be stupid in America. Because, if we lived in Iraq or Afghanistan or any other oppressed nation, stupidity is not tolerated, it is murdered. Just like the homosexuals, Christians and people merely fighting for freedom that are being martyred, crucified and beheaded by ISIS (or ISIL or whatever flavor of radical perverted Islam they are claiming today.)

Freedom is not free. It never has been. It was won by the bloodshed of our ancestors as they fought the Revolutionary War. It was won as the ocean waters of Normandy ran red with the blood of my countrymen. It was won in Korea and Vietnam. Freedom was fought for in Iraq and Afghanistan. History will judge whether our causes were just, but I believe all of these wars were fought in the name of Freedom. I will always feel our cause was just.

It is time to wake up America. It is time for the American party to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and lead America back to her greatness. Like the Ragged Old Flag, Americans have been “abused, burned, dishonored, denied an’ refused” by the very government for which she stands. Americans are being scandalized throughout the world. We have liberated oppressed people and asked for nothing more than a plot to bury our dead soldiers. We may be thread bare and wearing thin, but I still believe in America. As Americans, we can survive Presidents with whom we disagree. We can survive corrupt politicians of all parties. We’ve been through fire before and we shall prevail because we are one nation under God. We are Americans and I am still mighty proud of that Ragged Old Flag.

What Are the Different Types of Campfires

What Are the Different Types of Campfires?

different types of campfiresIf you are an old hand at camping, you probably already know about the different types of campfires that can be used at your campsite. However, if you are not familiar with these types of campfires, this article can help you quite a bit the next time you sleep under the stars.

Safety First

Many campsites have fire rings already in place. If you have one, clean it out before you try to light your fire. If you need make a fire ring (and you DO if one is not there), clear out the dead grass and other brush where you want to light your fire. Dig or scrape down to bare earth or rock. If you are on soil, dig down a few inches and put that dirt to the side. You can use that dirt to douse a fire that threatens to get out of control. The rest of the dirt, or stones should be put around the area as a firewall.

When you are ready to light your fire, pile some tinder in the center of the ring. Tinder is very light, easy to light material. Think hay, straw, paper, etc.

Different Types of Campfires

tepee type of campfireTepee fires are the most common type of campfires, and it is good for many things including cooking. To make a tee pee fire, start by putting some tinder (light, easy to catch fire material) into the center of your fire ring; build it up like a Indian style tepee. Over the tinder, set kindling such as twigs or sticks into a tepee fashion. Over the kindling, set larger material like larger sticks and smaller logs continuing that tepee style setup. Light the tinder and kindling, and the fire will move up into the larger material.

The Cross Fire Type of Campfire

The cross fire is great for those who want a long-lasting fire, good light and heat. Lay down your kindling and tinder and add a few larger twigs to it once the first is going. Then add logs in crisscrossed fashion. Do not add too many logs at one time or you could snuff out the fire.

The Cabin Type Campfire

log cabin type campfireThis type of campfire lasts a long time and it is good for providing light and cooking. Start by setting up your kindling in tepee fashion over your tinder. Put down two logs of firewood on each side of this cone that you have made. Then, put two more pieces of firewood over these, thus making a square. Once this is done, add shorter pieces of wood on top as you build up what looks like a log cabin.

Putting Out Your Campfire

When it is time to go, make sure you put your campfire correctly. Use water to put out the fire and to cool off the ashes. If you are in a state or federal park, follow their procedures. Some parks do not want you to “drown” the fire as someone else may be coming to your site later and the ground will be too wet for them to start their fire. Once the flames are out, it is always a good idea to shovel some dirt over the area to smother any possibly remaining embers.

We hope you have found our information on the different types of campfires helpful.

Hot Weather Hazards You Should Avoid

Hot Weather Hazards

Hot Weather Hazards to Avoid

It does not have to be the dog days of summer for someone can to succumb to hot weather hazards such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. These three conditions hit thousands of Americans each and every year. In some cases, these conditions can be fatal. The good news is all of these hot weather health hazards are easily prevented and treated.

Heat Cramps:

Heat cramps come upon those who have been perspiring a lot without replacing lost electrolytes, namely, sodium (salt). Drinking bottled water or tap water will not replace the salt that you lose when you sweat profusely. The loss of this salt can lead to painful cramps in the stomach and large muscles (thighs, back, shoulders). Heat cramps are rarely fatal, but it can (and will) become more painful until lost salt is put back into the body.

Treatment: The treatment for heat cramps is to get some salt back into the body. Salt should be placed in water, and the water taken in slowly. Salt tablets can also be used, but many medical experts shy away from them these days. The victim should be placed in a shady (or cool) place, clothing loosened and allowed to drink the salt water slowly.

Heat Exhaustion:

military hot weather hazrdsHeat exhaustion occurs because of a lack of water. A person suffering from heat exhaustion will sweat profusely, become red in the face, and weak. He or she may become dizzy and confused and will often have a headache if the problem is not treated. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, so it must be dealt with fast.

Treatment: To treat someone with heat exhaustion, first get them water, which they should not gulp down as that will lead to vomiting. Next, get them into a shady area and loosen their clothing and boot laces. The person should remain at rest as they drink the water. They will feel much better within 30 minutes or so.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is one of the hot weather hazards that kills. It is that simple. A person suffering from heat stroke must be treated quickly or else. When heat stroke occurs, the person will not be sweating (compare this to the above conditions); they will often appear pale (but can be red, in some cases), and their skin will be clammy. The danger with heat stroke is that the internal temperature of the body will cause brain damage that can be permanent or can be fatal.

Treatment: The treatment for heat stroke is to lower the person’s body temperature as quickly as possible. If there is a body of water near, put them into the water (stay with them!). Remove clothing and boots and fan the person. Apply cold compresses if possible. Once the person’s temp is lowered, give them water and keep them still. Monitor their vital signs (breathing and pulse) and be prepared to do CPR if needed. Seek professional medical assistance as soon as possible.

ALL of the above situations are hot weather hazards you can avoid. Prevention is the best cure. When you are outdoors during hot weather make sure you drink plenty of water and get the salt that you need. If you begin to feel dizzy, or begin to feel cold, understand that you are heading for a heat-related problem. Get some water, get out of the sun, loosen your clothing, and rest. Stop a heat problem before it starts.

We Have a Problem with Homegrown Radical Islam

 We Have a Problem with Homegrown Radical Islam

Homegrown Radical Islam

This is hard to stomach fellow citizens. Homegrown radical Islam has reared it’s ugly head in Colorado. I struggle to understand why in the world a natural born US citizen would want to join ISIS, a barbaric terrorist group consisting of radical Islamists who hate America. Their stated mission is to kill us all. A 19-year-old Colorado teenager, Shannon Conley, plead guilty Wednesday to trying to help the militant Islamic State. The plea deal in the terrorism case requires her to give authorities information about other Americans with the same intentions.

Shannon Conley was wearing a black and brown headscarf over her striped jail jumpsuit as she entered the plea in federal court to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine is what she faces when she is sentenced in January. But don’t worry fellow Patriots, the prosecutor has already stated they will seek a reduced sentence for her as long as she cooperates with authorities. Is it just me or shouldn’t a citizen who willfully sought to join a terrorist organization hell bent on killing us be given no reduction in their sentence? This is homegrown radical Islam folks.

Conley’s public defender, Robert Pepin stated after her hearing that she has been horrified by the atrocities committed by the Islamic State group since her arrest and offered her condolences to those who have been caught up in its slaughter and oppression. Really? I’m sure James Foley and Steven Sotloff’s families are supremely grateful for her regrets. Court documents showed that she wanted to aid ISIS swith her skills as a nurses aid and the skills she learned during her time in the US Army Explorer program.

The following news report is an interesting peek into the lamestream mainstream media coverage. My question to the news station is why they had to so opportunistically and repeatedly show this homegrown terrorist in her US Army Explorer battle dress uniform with her traditional Islamic headwrap. They show the same images over and over throughout the report. Why do you think they did that? Here is the video.

Tell us what you think fellow patriots.

Military Homecomings

Military Homecomings

Have you ever been at an airport and seen the many military service men and women waiting for flights? I always wonder if they are leaving or coming home. At times, we tend to take for granted all the service men and women serving our country at home and abroad. These brave men and women bravely leave their families behind as they deploy and do their jobs. They spends months in less than ideal conditions. Many stare into the face of the enemy on a daily basis. When they return home, some of the best military homecomings occur.

Over the last decade, these heroes have endured deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been separated from their families for extended periods of time. They have done their job and deserve the best when they come home. These homecomings have been caught on video time after time. We’ve found one of the best videos of these military homecomings.

Get the tissues out, this video is an awesome compilation of military homecomings.

Military Homecomings Video

Didn’t get enough tears out from our video pick? Welcome Home Blog is a whole website devoted to military homecomings. Check them out for some happy tear moments!

Pros and Cons of Open Carry Laws

Pros and Cons of Open Carry Laws

Please Note: The information contained in this article is for general purposes only. Not all states have open carry laws. Each state that does has their own very specific rules. Check with your state before carrying your weapon on your person openly or concealed. Here is a list of the states that allow for open carry of weapons.

What Is Open Carry?

Open Carry LawsTo begin, let’s define what open carry means. Some states allow their residents to carry their firearms on their persons without a carry permit as long as the weapon is carried outside of a person’s clothing. In other words, the weapon can be seen by anyone looking at the person. Most people carry their weapons in a side-holster. While having a permit is generally not required for carrying the weapon openly, some individuals, convicted felons, for instance, are not allowed to carry a weapon under any circumstances. Restrictions vary from state to state.

Pros of Open Carry

The obvious benefit to open carry laws is that more people are armed at any given time. With violent crimes on the increase, many responsible individuals want to have protection within easy reach. Open carry allows these people to defend themselves, and others, should they find themselves in a dangerous situation. Many people believe that having an armed citizenry decreases crime. Lawbreakers are less likely to commit their crimes if they know locals may be armed and ready to take action against them.

Open carry laws are a true reflection of our Constitutional right to “keep and bear arms.” Legal open carry is, for some, a demonstration that they know their rights and are willing to exercise those rights.

Cons of Open Carry Laws

As with anything, misuse and abuse can happen. Most states that allow for open carry do not require any type of weapon’s training at all for their residents. If a person is legally eligible to carry a weapon, they may do so regardless of whether they know how (or when) to use it or not. This can lead to a variety of unfortunate incidents.

It is simple math that the more weapons that are being carried in any given area, the more accidental misfires will happen. Misfires can occur due to weapons being dropped, weapons falling out of holsters, weapons being carried with rounds in the chamber and the hammer cocked, and so forth. The good news is misfires that lead to physical harm are rare.

This last issue is purely social in nature. While there are many who believe fervently in open carry laws, there are also those who believe that citizens walking around, visibly armed, reflects poorly on their communities. It is a misconception to assume that these individuals are all “bleeding heart liberals”; they are not. There are more than a few professional law enforcement personnel who would prefer to see less firepower on the street than more.

In closing, if you live in an open carry state and are considering arming yourself, do invest whatever time it takes to become proficient with your weapon before you begin carrying it. This is time well spent.