Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Simple Improvised Headlamp

This entry will show you how to improvise a headlamp from a small penlight. This idea came about from a happy accident. Initially I only intended to whip some strong cord around my flashlight because I was not satisfied with the thin string that was supplied, and was anticipating it breaking off at some point.

The flashlight I am using is a Fenix L1D. I love this little bugger. It takes a single standard AA battery, and works well with rechargeables. It throws out a lot of light, but also has options to decrease the brightness level via twisting the end, increasing battery life. It also has a strobe and SOS mode but whatever.

I use this flashlight all the time because of it's convenient size, efficiency, and light output, but of course often need the use of both my hands, leaving the only other option of mouthing it. Often dripping drool into it. This easy as pie mod will create a dual purpose device.

Getting Started

You don't need much. Just the flashlight and some cord. I used just shy of 1.8m (6ft) of 550 paracord. This is plenty for a light this size, and you probably don't want to have one much bigger hanging off the side of your head.

The whipping length was fairly short (10 turns) so the thread is kept clear. Thinner cord will need to be longer.

The exact length of cord is not critical as it will be made adjustable.

Whip It

<-- Double the cord along the flashlight, creating a loop. It is not folded exactly in half - one end is long - this is the line that is wrapped around the cylinder.

Hold at the point where the whipping will start and fold the long line over the short one, clamping it in place. -->

 Whip It Good

<-- Wrap around again and continue. Whipping needs to be TIGHT to work so pull that sucker HARD.

Continue until you almost reach the end, leaving a small area free. -->

If you whip it right up to the end, a loop may slip off which will loosen the whole works, leaving you with a lovely birdsnest. For this reason, stop wrapping at about 10mm from the edge.

Shape It Up

<- When you have wrapped enough loops, take the loose end and feed it through the loop.

Now pull on the short line that lays under the wraps, and pull it tight. -->

Get It Straight

Once you pull the loop tight - assuming every wrap was tight - the whole works will be secure. You can now release your grip because that cord is not going anywhere.

If you are not familiar with whipping, this is a pretty standard technique and can be used for many other purposes such as securing two or more poles together, or making comfortable handles for tools.

Go Forward

<-- Take one end of the cord and tie a knot in this fashion. This image shows the lay of the knot but you will want to tie it tighter than this before you try to sinch it up.

When tightened, it will slide along the other line and not slip under tension. Tie a knot on the other line to stop it from slipping. I used a figure-8 knot but a granny knot will do.

Move Ahead

This is how it works as a headlamp. Yeah you will look like a tool but what the hell. It works. It's easy to pull the line loose or taut around your head or hand, or hang it from your neck like a lanyard.

If you whipped it good, it will never come loose and you will never lose a valuable item such as a 90 fucking dollar flashlight ever.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Essential Fire Devices

A lot is written about fire in survival texts and I won't go into details about all the different ways of creating a fire, but rather the essential items you will want in your kit, and why.


Forget about matches. They are an outdated method for creating fire and are problematic. They take up a lot of space for relatively few "lights", and you may need to strike several matches to start a fire if the wind gets to them. They are prone to breakage. If standard matches get wet, they are useless. You can keep them in a waterproof baggy, with the striker, or you can buy or make waterproof matches, but as you will see, waterproof matches are not necessary.

The only benefit to matches is they come attached with a small amount of fuel (ie, the wood) but if you can't find a matchstick worth of fuel, you're not going to get a fire going anyway.

Standard Cigarette Lighters

For roughly the same volumetric space as a standard packet of matches, you can carry a lighter. Carry 5 what the hell.
I have only ever bought Bic lighters for as long as I remember and for good reason - they are safe and reliable. Every time you need a new lighter, buy 3 and stash 2 away.

A quote from their site:

Every BIC® lighter undergoes more than 50 separate, automatic quality checks during the manufacturing process. This includes testing of each and every finished BIC® lighter by lighting and extinguishing it to ensure the lighter performs properly before it ever leaves BIC’s factory.

They boast around 2000 "lights" each* - far more than the 50 you will get from matches (unless you do that splitting the matchhead thing which is just stupid).

*unless you smoke bongs

And one of the biggest benefits of a cigarette lighter: they are WATERPROOF. Well, not entirely, if you get it wet it might not spark immediately, but it takes very little to get it dry enough to spark and sustain a flame - even if it has been fully submerged.

  1. Remove the child proof strip. This is easily done by levering it out with a small screwdriver or the tip if a knife. I do this anyway because I hate them. Leaving these strips on will provide some protection against getting the flint wet in the first place however.
  2. Put the lighter to your lips and suck air through the striker.
  3. Strike the flint without pressing the gas if you can avoid it.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you get a spark, at which point you will get a flame which will dry the flint completely in short order.

The entire process will take less than 30 seconds to get a flame from a lighter that has been completely submerged.


You don't need a fire-lighter every time you start a fire, but they are worth carrying for when materials are wet, or a little green, or you just need a little boost. I prefer to carry the fibrous kind, they are made from wood pulp and some sort of fuel. The ones I have are made from 45% wood fibre and 55% wax.

The reason I like the fibrous kind is that they are very easy to slice up into small sections. You do not need a whole fire-lighter every time you start a fire.

If materials are wet, circle them around the initially small fire and let them dry without smothering the delicate flame. Start with the smaller kindling on the outside surrounding the central fire, and the larger fuel surrounding that. Bring the outer material in as it dries and feed the fire, gradually building it up and providing more heat for the larger wet material surrounding it.

If it has been pouring with rain, fuel on the ground will be initially too wet to start a fire (while trying to conserve precious luxuries such as liquid or solid fuel). Don't look on the ground for your kindling, but rather look to the trees. Almost every tree or bush will have dead twigs attached. Snap these off as they will be far more dry than material that is laying on the ground, and much easier to get burning.

Larger sticks and logs on the ground that have been sitting in standing water will be wet on the outside, but will still be dry in the core unless they have been soaking in water for a long long time. Dry the surface of such materials next to your fire, with the smaller materials closer to the centre.

By following this logical process you will always be able to get a fire going in the wild no matter how long it has been raining.

Notes on Other Fire-Lighting Devices

Firesteel is a compact and convenient device. If you are skilled with it, you will get even more fires from it that from a cigarette lighter. While these tools don't last forever, they will last a LONG time, and are essentially waterproof and will produce a spark easily when wet. I definitely recommend stocking one or two of these in your kit.

Fire-Pistons are an ancient device for creating an ember with which to kindle a fire. If treated properly, a good fire piston will last a lifetime. While not completely waterproof, by design they are sealed tight when not in use, making it very hard for water to penetrate, even if totally submerged for long periods.

Zippo-style lighters are robust and will last a lifetime if properly cared for, providing you have spare flints and can find fuel for it. Substitute fuel includes:

  • Alcohol: works well, but evaporates quickly
  • Lantern fuel: hard to light, but will burn admirably when ignited
  • Kerosine: works well.
  • Camp stove lantern fuel: essentially the same as lighter fluid (naphthalene) 
  • Nail polish remover: probably would work

You may be tempted to try diesel or petrol (gasoline). Don't. Diesel won't ignite from a spark, and petrol will puncture your face with exploding lighter parts. If you have petrol and a sparking lighter, soak something with a SMALL amount, and ignite that.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Rising Seas or Sinking Land?

Sinking land is rarely reported. Coastal land or islands being lost to the ocean are often blamed on rising seas or excessive rain. Strange how the "rising sea" seems to discriminate against certain areas, while changing very little in others.

Beaches I have known since childhood, that are so long and flat that the tide rushes in and out over a large distance very quickly, still have the same amount of beach that they had decades ago. Yet, some places have lost enough land to the ocean that they have had to be evacuated after countless centuries of undisturbed habitation.

There is a jetty here which is around 800 metres long (1/2 mile). At low tide you need to walk almost the entire length of the jetty to get to water because the beach is on such a gradual incline that there is a vast difference between low and high tide. I haven't lived here forever, but according to long term locals I've asked, they haven't noticed any loss in the amount of beach.

Official scientists throw around figures such as 9 mm per year rate of ocean rise. Presumably this is the outcome of measurements, or perhaps results from computer simulations based on CO2 in the atmosphere. Since I don't subscribe to the carbon based climate change theory, I don't really care to investigate. Perhaps there will be more on this dubious "science" in a later blog, but if you want to see what happens when carbon dioxide (which BTW is heavier than air) is released into the atmosphere, this Snopes Article is a good place to start.

This post was inspired by This Article which led me to do some further research and expand it a little. Emphasis is added and original opinions are mixed in with sourced information. It's my blog. Sue me.


The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, is in talks with Fiji's military government to buy up to 5,000 acres of land in order to relocate the 102,697 people that live in his country.

Other plans considered include building a man made island, similar to a floating offshore oil rig (at a cost of roughly $US 2 billion), or a series of sea walls, costing nearly $US 1 billion. This money will have to come from the international community and is very unlikely to come, as each region on Earth faces their own strife.

President Tong tells The Telegraph that this is their last resort: "Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages."

Most of its population has already relocated to the island of Tarawam, after their home islands vanished. Villagers on Abaiang, one of the Kiribati Islands, had to relocate the entire village of Tebunginako because of rising seas and erosion.



The Maldives are fighting a losing battle to keep their heads above the water. Their capital - an area of just 1.77 square kilometres - has a 3 metre wall erected around it in an effort to keep the ocean out and protect the 110,000 people squeezed into this city.

The biggest issue faced by President Nasheed is the loss of their liveable land, so far losing three inhabited islands a year to the ocean. A documentary describes his battle. Already 14 of their 200 islands are gone. The Maldives was the first nation to sign up to the (worthless IMO) Kyoto protocol.

A further 70 islands have had their water aquifers inundated by sea water and their occupants now rely on desalination for their drinking water.

Plans are in place to purchase land elsewhere to relocate the population. A very impressive stance from the government there, where they could have just cut and run like so many others in power would do. Other, more extravagant plans, are also being floated - pun intended.

One of the sourced articles reports "A sea-level rise of 59 centimetres over the next century, the upper limit forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would render most of the Maldives uninhabitable."

59 centimetres in 100 years ? This seems a little optimistic to me, and a nice example of the "Not in my lifetime" mindset that is so common.



Seychelles is another island losing land to the relentless and unforgiving ocean. Areas that were recently covered with trees are now beaches, the trees toppled by the ever advancing waves.

Locals are noticing their beaches shrinking, tourists cramming into smaller and smaller areas as the land continues to disappear beneath the approaching water.


Torres Strait Islands

So far, 6 islands in the Torres Strait are facing flooding from the ocean. Building foundations and ancestral graves are being washed and eroded away. Roads have disappeared and houses have become permanently flooded. Obvious signs of centuries of undisturbed habitation, now being lost to sudden changes.

After generations of living by the sea, many locals are feeling uncomfortable, especially in periods of "king tides". Tidal water is encroaching houses that never used to be at risk until recently.

The residents of the island of Tegua, which numbered roughly 100, were declared the world's first climate change refugees by the UN.

Torres Shire Mayor Pedro Stephen was quoted to say "These islands are sinking." Whether he was referring to actual land subduction is not clear.

The federal government has pledged $5 million for funding seawalls on 2 of the islands, however the Executive Manager of Engineering Services reports that this is thoroughly inadequate. According to Donna Green of the University of New South Wales, the Torres Strait islands - considered the most vulnerable area of Australia, is barely a consideration for the Australian government.

$5 million sounds like a lot but does not go very far in large scale building projects, and this money is yet to be delivered. Most governments aren't much use when it comes to anything but taxing the crap out of you.


There are more islands and areas that are facing the same peril but I will not list any more as the story is basically the same over and over. Some of these include:

The Solomon Islands
Carteret Islands

Bangladesh, Indonesia and Jakarta deserve blogs in their own right, and may be expanded upon here at a later stage.

Just out of interest, I plotted the locations of these places against a map showing the major tectonic plates.

There certainly seems to be a clustering. Make of that what you will.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Water Collection: Fog Collector

Water is often touted as the #1 priority in survival, and for very good reasons. Not only do you need a constant supply, but it must be potable - that is, clean enough to drink without harm.

If waterways become polluted, or your environment turns arid, acquiring enough clean water for you or your group can be problematic and time consuming. The least time you need to spend on any one task, the better, because you will have a LOT of tasks.

I have recently become aware of some new water gathering techniques, one of which is described below.

Fog Collectors

These devices are rather simple, basically they consist of a net which collects moisture from the atmosphere. The water particles collect and drip down the nets where they are collected. Not only is the water clean, but the device will work unattended, leaving you free for the many other chores you will be tasked with.

Only basic periodic maintenance is needed.

As their name suggests, they work best when a thick fog rolls in, but there is almost always moisture present in the atmosphere as the earth rolls under her blanket of air. Even in an arid desert, moisture laden air will roll in overnight and should present you with at least a little water - providing you get to it before it evaporates.

This video, from non-profit organisation FogQuest will introduce you to this simple concept;

As you can see, they consist of a simple net with a trough below. It looks like they have fashioned this gutter out of PVC piping cut in half, very simple.

There will be plenty of "trash" and "debris" around after the apocalypse which can be put to good use for those with a little knowledge, and perhaps, a multitool. It's pretty hard to cut PVC piping with your teeth and fingernails.

One can imagine you could even improvise such a device in the wild using fronds or long leaves to collect the moisture, and sliced bamboo (if you are lucky enough to have some) as the guttering. Guttering could also be fashioned from large leaves or paper bark properly shaped. Of course, such a setup will require more maintenance and frequent rebuilding. So perhaps some netting in your kit would not go astray...

Area Suitability

Some areas will be more suited to this device than others. Areas with high elevation can expect more fog than land closer to sea level. Terrain where clouds are forced to move up over mountains are especially suitable.

Setting the mesh up perpendicular to prevailing winds will yield the most water, and areas with a consistent wind direction is ideal.

As with everything survival related, it is best to experiment beforehand to see what works for you, rather than be fumbling around at the last minute.

This is by no means a 100% solution to everyone's water needs, it is but one more tool in your arsenal of knowledge.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

10 Natural Disasters Caught on Surveillance

      This article was kindly contributed by Raghad Rabah of 2MCCTV Surveillance     

Throughout history, natural disasters have been a perpetual a burden on us all. They have destroyed cities and taken the lives of many. Videos of the disasters are usually recorded at a safe distance from a video camera or helicopter. What you don’t see is what happens at the moment an earthquake or tornado hits. What would you do if there was an earthquake or tsunami in your area? Do you have a plan? We have put together a list of the 10 most astounding natural disasters caught on a surveillance camera. These videos are a reminder to us all of the merciless disasters that can occur and a reminder that we should be preparing for them before they are upon us.

St. Bernard Transmitter Hit by Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2005

This video shows minute-by-minute CCTV footage of hurricane Katrina approaching a transmission tower located in St. Bernard. You can see the high-speed winds across the screen and the water approaching. In real-time, the water only took about 7 minutes to reach 4 feet high.

Tornado in Parkersberg, Iowa May 2008

No security camera lasted more than 17 seconds when the tornado hits this bank. They were snatched from their positions and flung away from the walls. It is crazy how the tornado just picked up everything and tossed it aside.

Haiti Earthquake Footage January 12, 2010

Below is a video of security footage of the quake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This CCTV footage was from a security building, which was left intact. The rest of the city, though, was hit with a 7.0 magnitude, leaving many people homeless, and burying people in the rubble as well.

Pep Boys Store Getting Flooded in Nashville, TN May 2010

This is amazing footage of how things get destroyed during floods. The doors weren’t open at first, but the pressure from the water forced them to open and the water poured in, bringing in with it debris and signs from outside.

Security Cameras Capture Kentucky Flood May 2010

This video shows you what the property of one family was like before and after the flood in Kentucky. At 0:37, you can see that a river has come into place, where there was nothing before. Also, most of the land in the background is submerged with water.

Fire near Haifa, Israel December 3, 2010

In the first few seconds, you can see some fire in the bottom left corner of the screen. Then at about 1:16, you can see the smoke rise up, creating a large black cloud. At 1:30, the camera is turned and records the fire, and ten seconds later, a lot of areas are up in flames. This is an amazing video that shows how powerful Mother Nature is.

Turkey Earthquake October 23, 2011

In October of 2011, the city of Van was struck with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. It seems like quite a frightening experience. At the beginning of the video, you can see a couple walking when the security camera and everything start to shake vigorously. What would you do in a situation like that? At 0:24, you can see people exiting the buildings onto the streets. Luckily, everyone in this video made it to safety. People in other areas weren’t that fortunate.

Volcano Erupts in Sakurajima, Japan July 24, 2012

Located in southwestern Japan, the Sakurajima volcano is one of the most active ones in Japan, and it erupted on July 24, 2012. The cloud of smoke reached 1000 kilometers into the air. At 0:08 seconds, you can see the lava and other debris drop like rain from the eruption. And at 0:13, it seems as though it creates a sonic boom, that’s how effective it was.

Tornado Tears House from Ground in Parkersburg, Iowa May 25, 2008

An EF-5 tornado ripped through Parkersburg on Sunday, May 25, 2008. This footage, captured from an ATM surveillance camera, and unlike other videos, you can see the tornado itself sweeping through and tearing the house apart. Very few materials can withstand an EF-5 tornado, so it comes at no surprise that this house did not withstand it.

Collection of Earthquake CCTV Footage

Am I seeing things, or is there a man in the first video? I could not imagine being in his place, I would be so scared! Everything is shaking intensely and falling to the floor. In the video from the hotel, people are waiting for the automatic doors to open. Shouldn’t they be able to push them open because it’s an emergency?