Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills/Disaster Survival


With the recent violent tornadoes and floods that have hit the US I have started to think seriously above short term survival in situations where you may be trapped in your basement or home for some period of time before help arrives. One of the things I would be concerned about is how to cook food and/or boil water with no access to the outside world and in a situation when venturing outdoors may be dangerous. Because of this I know items like camp stoves would be dangerous as you would have to store small propane canisters in your home which are an explosive hazard.

So I was wondering what the best way it would be to provide a heat source for both warmth and cooking while not posing a threat being in a small enclosed space like a basement.  

Thank You

Potable water can be stored for long periods of time without the need to heat.  Having said that, if you must use a heat source in a confined space, the volatility of liquid and gas fuels is only one concern.  The other is out gassing.  More folks died in the ice storm of '98 from generator exhaust than from the weather or prolonged power outages.  While the small canisters of propane are the most stable of the gas and liquid fuel sources, the safer alternative to heating food without a wood stove or power would be chemical heating bags that are activated by water.  This method also outguesses and should be used sparingly in confined spaces.  They are used by the military and are found in most MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat).  With safety, preparation, and conservation of resources to consider, a winter weight sleeping bag for each family member, potable water stored in safe containers, five gallons for each family member, plus five gallons for heating and sanitation (You can't wash wounds or rinse dishes with hand sanitizer), and use of chemical heating bags planned for once a day over a five day period would be a solid foundation for short term survival.  Remember not to advertise the fact you have these things as looting in the aftermath of traumatic events is more common than not.  It is better to be in a position where you can offer aid rather than one where you need to defend yourself against panicked neighbors who want your water and resources because they knew you had them before an incident.  Much Respect, and I hope this helps.

Wilderness Survival / Primitive Skills

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Michael James Douglas


I can answer questions about wilderness survival, primitive skills, bushcraft, mentoring, outdoor education, nature, awareness and tracking. The subsets of these skill areas are vast and include Shelter Building, dressing for the out of doors, fiber arts, wild crafting, making cordage from plants, trees, and animal parts, flint knapping and stone tools, bone tool making, crafting and using hunting tools from the landscape, tracking, trailing, track interpretation, edible, medicinal, and utilitarian plants, trees, and shrubs, primitive pottery, fermentation, fungi for food and medicine, identifying hazards, movement, camouflage, and concealment, making baskets and containers, water gathering and purification, using bird language to read the landscape for survival needs and the movement/location of other living things on the landscape, primitive/modern navigation, fire making off the landscape, fire by friction, ice lenses, and approaches to survival atttude.


Student of Survival and Primitive Skills since 1980. Founded The Maine Primitive Skills School. Have been sharing and learning skills professionally since August 4, 1989. Studied with Tom Brown jr., Charles Worsham, Paul Rezendes, Jon Young, Mark Elbroch, Arnie Neptune, Ray Rietze, and all of the students, volunteers, interns, instructors, and staff at The Maine Primitive Skills School and the schools that have been started by its community. We go on full survival outings at least twice a year to build community and develop our skill sets. New instructors are allowed to bring a metal knife. These trips usually last between 5 and 10 days. We have also been weaving in permaculture and sustainable land management concepts at our main campus.

New England Environmental Educators Alliance Maine Environmental Educators Alliance

MAMLE-Middle Association of Middle Level Education Ancestral Plants-A Primitive Skills Guide to Important Edible, Medicinal, and Udeful Plants of the Northeast.

B.S. University of Maine, College of Education, Environmental Education USMC-Numerous military Survival Schools (SERE, JWS, Cold Weather) Tracker School (16 courses from 1989-2003) Kamana (Wilderness Awareness School) Paul Resendez (numerous Tracking Workshops)

Awards and Honors
Vigil Honor-BSA-1984 Primitive Skills in the Modern Classroom-1992 Volunteers of America Star Award-2002

Past/Present Clients
U.S. Military Unity College Bowdoin College Colby College Scouting Maine Conservation School 4H

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