P. Edronkin

Steps to follow during a wilderness emergency (VI).

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Starting a fire:

Under survival circumstances, a fire plays a dual and - indeed- fundamental role:

1)-It provides energy: be it for heating, cooling or lighting your survival shelter, a fire is a must, even in tropical regions. It will help you to dry your clothes, keep away animals, see at night, keep your shelter comfortable, and even guarantee a minimum degree of hygiene for medical duties.

2)-Procure psychological comfort: we all feel good near a campfire, and this comes from our collective memory. Thousands of years ago, our prehistoric ancestors protected themselves at night just by using fires, and somehow, this has been kept inside our minds.

There are various techniques to start campfires, even without any modern devices. After all, primitive men used to start fires too. These methods, however, can be arduous and time-consuming for the unprepared and inexperienced survivor. They are all are based on patience and require skill: start a little fire, keep it alive and grow it slowly until you reach the optimal size, but most survivors don't have them.

Thus, seeking for wood or any other form of energy (coal or dung, for example) is also a vital task, and once your fire has been lit, keeping it alive should become a priority as well, because it is far more inefficient in terms of consumption of energy as well as resources (matches, for example) to start again a fire each time you need it than keeping at least a small flame burning on (see section for more on this issue).

A campfire near an abandoned cabin.
Fires are hard to start if there is a lot of moisture
in the air, but after a while burn nicely.

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