Movies about wilderness survival lessons are always great fun. Big-budget Hollywood effects give a compelling look at how the average person reacts when their world is turned upside down.
Of course filmmakers exaggerate, ignore facts, and embellish techniques in order to make things fun and entertaining to watch, but underneath it all there are some useful lessons to be garnered.
Today, we’re going to look at the popular Tom Hanks film Cast Away. An everyday FedEx manager crash lands on a tiny tropical island and is forced to survive for several years with very little available.
I will be spoiling basically every single plot point from this movie, so I would strongly recommend watching it before reading this article if you’ve not had the chance. It really is a delightful movie, even apart from the survival aspects.
Be Prepared for Survival: Change Can Be Sudden and Overwhelming, So Be Ready For It Before It Happens.
The first part of the movie is slow, introducing you to Tom Hanks’ character and the busy life he leads, which is not much, unlike yours in many ways. He enjoys Christmas dinner, deals with lazy coworkers, and works hard to find a gift for his kinda-sorta fiance.
The action begins on a routine flight, as the plane is suddenly damaged during a heavy storm over the ocean. Throughout the action, Hanks sits in his chair as if in a daze, only moving in response to the trained flight personnel’s frantic commands. Because of that, he has to be told to grab vital tools like the emergency plane kit rather than taking the initiative for himself.
Although a plane crash could happen at any time, he never bothered to train himself to know what he would need, when he should reach for it, or even where emergency materials were located. Thus, when the plane crash lands in the ocean, he rips open the emergency boat and allows the emergency kit to tumble into the ocean, and it snags and sinks with the rest of the plane.
Had Hanks taken the time to familiarize himself with the emergency equipment on the planes he routinely flew in, he would have been able to grab onto the survival boat and deploy it properly without losing so many vital tools.
He would also have been able to secure valuable belongings without forcing his trained friend to run about the cabin trying to help him. Since he did not, he not only lost his tools but also put his friend in a position to bash his head against the plane during a rough moment, possibly injuring himself badly.
Survival Mindset Awareness Preparation: Use the first days and Hours Of A Disaster Wisely
In this case, Hanks actually did better than might be expected in some areas since he went about recovering any wreckage from the crashed plane, such as boxes, the damaged boat, etc., and put them above the tideline for safekeeping.
He did poorly in other respects, wasting his time setting up warning signals below the tideline rather than setting up survival essentials such as a campfire, freshwater, food, and shelter. He also leaves his flashlight on for no reason while exploring caves and such that he could easily have waited for daylight. Because of this oversight, he becomes so tired that he leaves the flashlight on all night, draining the batteries from his perfect signaling device.
One of the most egregious faults occurs because he is still in the mindset of a modern person with conveniences and resources to spare when he finds his dead friend washed up near the island. Rather than taking all of the valuable materials from the man’s corpse (including his belt, shoes and socks, clothing, tie, anything he might have had in his pockets, etc.), he instead removes the wallet and spends precious energy burying his friend in the sand.
Although this seems an honorable gesture, particularly since his friend is the one who shoved the liferaft at him, the hard truth is that the dead man no longer needed any clothes or other valuables on his person. Frankly, the body could have been left in a pool of the preserving saltwater for a day or two until Hanks had setup the necessities for himself.
A modern, resource-rich mindset says that the body needs to be respectfully buried without being undressed and robbed; a survival mindset says that a corpse hardly needs clothes, but a stranded survivor might make it because of the extra resources.
He does eventually drop this mindset, though. Once he starts sorting through all of the apparently useless FedEx items, he immediately begins applying them to problems that he has run into and starts finding uses for the eclectic assortment of packages. It would have been much better for him had he been ready for survival from the moment he woke up on the island, however.
Wilderness Survival Skills: Hone Your Skills Beforehand Understand How To Survive Without Making Mistakes
Given that Hanks’ character is supposed to an “everyman” we can relate to, the movie shows him learning how to properly break open coconuts and collect the precious liquid inside, how to make fire, how to spearfish, how to cook various animals like crabs properly, and so on.
Had he taken the time to learn how to find tinder, make a fire, and perform other important survival tasks, he would have been able to avoid the injuries and hunger he suffered early on before he learned by trial and error. Of course, Hanks had the advantage of being relatively uninjured and thus had time to devote to learning during his personal disaster.
You may not be so lucky, and so being ready beforehand could be the difference between life and death for you and your family.
Learn Your Basic Survival Medical Skills and Know How To Maintain Proper Hygiene
The most cringe-worthy moment of the entire movie is when Hanks begins to realize that an abscessed tooth (that he knew about long before he got onto the plane!) has finally reached the point where it needs serious treatment. At first, he tries to survive with it, but eventually, he has to take his ice skate knife and deal with the problem “head-on.”
The process is so painful that he actually loses consciousness for a while due to pain overload! He even comments that the most valuable person to him at that moment would be his dentist and that he should have just gotten the tooth cleaned and been done with it awhile ago.
You can do the same thing with various health issues, whether for money reasons or just because it is time-consuming. If you’re having a chronic problem, get it looked at and sooner rather than later. Get that Lasik done, so you don’t have to use corrective lenses if that option is available.
That goes for problems stemming from obesity and lack of exercise too. Imagine if Hanks had had to deal with Type 2 Diabetes resulting from a bad diet on that island! Not only that, but Hanks really should have been using a chew stick or two to keep his other teeth cleaned, unless he wanted to lose a few more teeth in the course of his stay. And considering that coconuts are a natural laxative, he might have been served to know some alternative toilet paper solutions, too.
Although most of what Hanks knows about modern life is useless to him on the island, his skills in determining efficiency for FedEx were instrumental in calculating how far away he was from his crash site and the original route the plane was taking.
He also applied his personal ethics of testing everything to ensure that his boat designs would work properly. He used him “get it to work at any cost” attitude to find new sources for rope and other necessary materials.
You only have a limited amount of time each day to learn new skills or purchase equipment, so if you can find ones that are useful now and during an emergency, it can be a much more valuable investment.
Others Can Be Completely Oblivious Even When Problems Should Be Obvious.
Once Hanks uses all of his skill (and a generous helping of Providence) to get off the island and back home to civilization, his joyous friends and colleagues show a remarkable lack of understanding about what he’s been through.
He is invited to a “You’re alive!” party where they serve plenty of lobster, crab, and other expensive seafood…to a man who had to survive on it for 3 years. Then a friend remarks that they have a lot of fishing they need to catch up on as if Hanks hadn’t just spent several years fishing each day to stay alive!
Similarly, people who take no thought to prepare for disasters and upheavals can view the lifestyles of preparedness-minded folks as odd or even ridiculous. Of course, there is a level of nuttiness that will keep you stuck in a cave somewhere waiting for the sun to explode, but preparing for natural, political, or economic disaster is perfectly logical and reasonable if you take the time to look through the facts surrounding our fragile modern world.
And these are the chief lessons to be learned from one simple movie. Although certain parts are embellished or exaggerated to make a good movie, certain aspects are still very much valid and realistic. Learn what you can, and enjoy the rest as pleasant fiction. Regardless, be prepared!
Fundamentals of Water Filtration & Purification for Emergency Survival
Water filtration is when a contaminated water supply is prepared and made safe for human consumption. There are several methods of water filtration that can be used. Still, the main aim is to render the water fit for use by removing or killing bacteria, microbes, and other contaminants. The type of water filter that one can use depends mainly on the contaminants’ nature present in a particular water supply.
Purpose of Water Filtration
The main purpose of water filtration is to remove impurities from water. The designing of water filters is done so that they can facilitate cleaner water from existing sources reliably and as quickly as possible. These filters provide safer water, improving the taste, and removing bacteria that could otherwise cause infection or sickness if ingested.
Types of Water Filtration
As mentioned, there are several different forms of water filtration used. These include reverse osmosis, which condenses the water before forcing it through a semi-permeable membrane at high pressure. It then removes large particles such as bacteria. Besides, sand filters work similarly, though on a larger scale. They remove bacteria and large particle contaminants.
Another type is ultraviolet filters that bathe the water in radiation, thus killing bacteria. Activated carbon filtration reacts to the pollutants with carbon and removes them from the water, while distillation boils off the water, leaving pollutants behind.
Benefits of Water Filtration
Many benefits come from the water filtration process. Among these are the improvements to health. Research shows that filtering out chlorine from any drinking water reduces the risk of some cancers, such as colon and rectal cancer. Simultaneously, by removing bacteria and other microbes from the water, the risk of disease is significantly reduced.
This is particularly important for both children and the elderly, whose immune systems are not as strong, especially during emergencies. Water filters should be replaced regularly to prevent a buildup of microbes and other contaminants. If this is not done, pollutants will build up. Once they reach a critical level, they can easily overflow into the water supply, making it more contaminated than before filtering took place. This should be considered, especially during an extended period of a disaster.
Emergency Water Filtration Techniques
In any emergency water treatment, you should always filter water as a first step. If municipal water supplies falter or electrical power fails, you can turn to unusual sources. Serious illness can result from drinking water without filtering or treating available water from plumbing reservoirs, waterways, and swimming pools. In most cases, homemade filters or commercial filters do help to avoid these problems. There are different filters used, which are discussed below:
One of the real defenses against water-borne diseases is by boiling or chemically treating water. Filtration helps by removing many water contaminants. When the water is cloudy, it should be left to settle and then filtered through clean cloth layers. Some experts recommend boiling water for ten minutes. Besides, five to eight drops of chlorine bleach per gallon of water kill harmful viruses and bacteria, but crude filters only remove obvious debris in the water.
Ceramic water filters effectively remove harmful organisms, providing immediate drinkable water. They remove particles down to one micron in diameter. Not all filters in the market meet these standards. You should therefore check with the manufacturer to find out if additional steps may be needed. In emergencies, filters that depend on a pressurized water system to operate will not be of great help.
The Homemade water filters built in stages do filter water in large amounts, though not perfectly. These filter stages should run from coarse to fine, where first stages screen out large pieces of debris, and later stages remove finer particles from water. In the last stage, the water could look clean if there is a deep layer of activated charcoal. It should be disinfected with chemical treatments or boiling before drinking it. Homemade filters are not considered enough to guarantee potable water, though they can be used in a crisis.
Small backpacking water filters are a great idea for the home emergency kit, although their total output can go as low as 200 gallons per filter. They are combined with simple cloth filters to remove coarse debris, producing drinkable water from emergency sources such as water heaters or even from toilets’ reservoirs.
Emergencies indeed happen in the cities and a wilderness situation when clean water runs short. An emergency filter pit can be dug in the bank of a creek or even the shore of a lake in such situations. The ground itself is used as a primitive filter. Before filling a container, one should wait for the hole to fill and the water to clear. At this point, stage filters with found materials such as dry grass or clean sand can be rigged from spare clothing to serve the purpose
Must-Have Foods for Your Prepper Pantry
For any prepper, consistent stockpiling of nourishing and long-lasting food is an imperative priority. It means that the more individuals prep, the more secure they will be in an emergency or disaster situation. If you are searching for the right foods to store in your pantry for survival and sustenance before a crisis, here are some suggestions.
Purified and seltzer water:
First and foremost, you need to have water to make it through the disaster. Therefore, as described above, you need to make plans to have some bottled water available.
It’s also a good idea to stock up on canned goods with high fluid content. Two good examples are canned pineapple juice and canned vegetable juice, easily accessible at your local market. These will provide both water and nutrition ions to the body system.
This type of milk can last for 2 to 10 years. You only need to add a bit of water to have a nutritious drink any time of the day.
Hard cheeses packed in wax:
It is not always easy to find waxed cheeses, but they are worth the effort. For example, sharp cheddar, Swiss, or parmesan in wax are extremely difficult to find. They last and also provide a great meal option.
Protein bars and protein drinks:
As mentioned above, protein is a key source of energy for your daily nutrition. Canned protein drinks and protein bars last a long time, and they can be a key component of any pantry prepping strategy.
Dried and canned meats:
This is another great source of protein. These meats are prepared to last. Examples of these are canned tuna, beef jerky, and chicken. A good stock of canned meat products is definitely critical for your prepping pantry.
Bouillon cubes, espresso coffee, and tea:
These combinations provide nutrition for your drinking needs. Tea and coffee provide caffeine as well, which can be important for survival in the course of a disaster. Bouillon cubes will provide you with a bit of a pick-me-up through a dense flavor with a small bit of sodium. Meanwhile, instant coffee and tea can be used to keep you awake with caffeine. You might want to have a bit of water with the coffee and tea, though, as they can dehydrate your body.
If you are going to do any cooking, the oil will be vital. Although most oils last one to two years, you can consider coconut oil, which can last years before going bad.
For many years, wheat has been a key diet constituent. It contains vitamins, fiber, some protein, and minerals. If you have access to water and other basic cooking ingredients, this product becomes a key baking ingredient even for the simplest meals.
For many people, baby food and infant formula are expensive. In case you have a baby, boxed baby cereal and canned formula are easy to store and are also in great demand. They can serve as alternatives to those expensive brands for children’s survival.
How to Start Your Food Storage Plan
It is important to have an emergency food pantry that ensures a consistent supply of food that your family can survive on if a disaster cuts off normal access to food, water, and other utilities. An emergency food pantry that is well equipped is a necessity for every family. One point to note is that emergency foods should be non-perishable.
They must not require cooking, refrigeration, or even water. It is up to you to determine the foods that you will stock in your pantry. It is critical to understand how to go about the whole process of starting up and getting your pantry ready just in case there might be emergencies in the future.
Long-term Food Storage Plan
Planning for your pantry is easier when you know how to get started, what you need to do, and what you need to buy. Preparing for a time when food is in short supply is not always an easy task, and you can also rest assured that this is not one of the easiest things to think about.
However, you can equip yourself with the knowledge and skills you need to plan and build your home emergency pantry. By using all the available information to you and applying that knowledge gained in the preparation process, you can efficiently stock your home pantry with the proper foods.
Location: The first step is to ensure that you have your long-term emergency pantry designed in a dry, cool, dark area. Many people choose great basements. Large closets and garages are also good.
Available storage space: The next step is to measure and note your available storage space’s exact size. This should be done before you can decide on what to store. You should be realistic and determine exactly how much physical room you have to spare for food storage.
Layout: The last step is to layout the space for access. It is good to plan where large water stores will be put, where you will store cans, and where you’ll store bins or boxes. After this, proceed to install the shelves properly.
Food Storage How to Select Necessities
Water: In the selection of items to stock, it is prudent to store water first. This is because the human body can survive weeks without food but can only go for a few days without water intake. It is recommended to set aside a gallon of water per person for every single day.
If you are creating a long-term stockpile, this could take up a lot of space. Therefore, you should limit the amount of water that you will need to set aside by stockpiling water purification tablets, a gallon of bleach, or, if need be, a portable water purifier such as the ones that backpackers use.
Carbohydrates: You should then stock up on carbohydrates. In case of any crisis, you’ll get most of your required calories through carbohydrates such as pasta, grains, and rice. It’s best to buy in bulk quantities. It should be noted that carbohydrates account for about 50 to 60 percent of the foods people put in long-term storage.
Protein: The next category should be canned meat and beans. These are excellent and long-lasting sources of protein. At the same time, protein bars are also useful sources for protein and other essential dietary needs. You should expect protein sources to account for about 25 percent of the entire storage.
It is recommended that you supplement the storage with dried foods such as powdered eggs, dried milk, dehydrated vegetables, fruits, and ready-to-eat dehydrated meals. All these are ideal space-saving long-term food items. You will also need to include dried beans if space allows. These should take up less space than canned beans, though water will be required to cook them.
Supplementary items: Other items such as salt, garlic powder, pepper, and sweeteners should be set aside. Sweeteners could include sugar or any sugar substitute. Favorite spices should be included in the list. This is because tasteless food can sometimes be demoralizing and can easily lead to a loss of appetite, which soon translates into malnutrition. Corn or olive oil for cooking and also flavoring food is great!
Utensils: The last step in selection is boxing up basic food preparation tools and utensils to store with emergency food supplies. You should ensure that you have the proper eating utensils, a can opener, and a cup.
It is good to remember to store a butane stove or gel-fuel with backups of cooking fuel. This will save you when you cannot make use of any other sources of energy, which is a common scenario in the event of an emergency.
Emergency Food Stockpile Process
Depending on the space available for your pantry, water needs to be placed in a large plastic drum with a pump, in gallon jugs, in five-gallon buckets, or individual bottles. Whichever one of these alternatives best fits your needs should be applied.
Besides, loose bags of dried beans, rice, and vacuum-sealed packets of dried foods need to be in containers. They should be kept safe from insects and vermin by putting them in plastic or metal bins with sealable lids.
Furthermore, jars and cans need to be organized on shelves, lined up by type with labels facing forward. This will help you with easy rotation. Rotation of foods in long-term storage should be done regularly as you buy new supplies. It keeps your long-term stores from spoiling. Expiration dates need to be routinely checked on your stored food and water. Any expired items should be thrown out.
Non-perishable foods that can be eaten without refrigeration, water, and cooking are great for emergencies. You are free to pick any foods that your family likes. You can also consider including a few treats or any other comfort foods, which might help the family stay calm during the stressful time that comes after the emergency has struck.
It should not be forgotten that you need to stock enough food to feed your family for at least three days. If there are any pets, emergency food should be included for them as well.
At the same time, you may experience a few changes in your family in the aftermath of the emergency, for instance, the addition of new family members or pets. Therefore, you need to regularly monitor and determine whether or not your emergency pantry is equipped to sustain the whole family in the event of a disaster. You need to discard or purchase items as new needs arise.;
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