Welcome to our new Magazine format! All new content will now be brought to you in this easy, new format. All our older content can still be found by scrolling below. Simply click the ">" to start the magazine and navigate via your arrow keys.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hiking Tips: 9 Signs of a Flash Flood

You’re hiking up a narrow canyon. You look down and notice something startling about the stream that you have been following. It is now

Increased suspended load gives this flooded st...
becoming clogged with debris including twigs, sticks, needles and leaves. You know that this is a sign of an impending flash flood and warn your hiking companions to start heading to higher ground.
Anytime you are hiking in a canyon, you must be alert for such signs. A flash flood can sweep you away with little warning like a roaring freight train. Here are nine signs that should alert you to the possibility of a flash flood:

1. Heavy clouds, especially thunderclouds, are forming upstream. The origin of a flash flood may be miles upstream. Always check the weather for the complete watershed where you will be hiking.
2. Water in the stream or river is getting deeper and faster.
3. The stream is turning muddy.
4. The stream is filling with debris.
5. You notice water stains on canyon walls. These show that there has been flooding in the past.
6. You see debris hanging from bushes and low branches. This is another sign of past flooding.
7. You notice wet ground, puddles and other signs of recent rain. These signs could indicate that the soil is saturated. Soil that is saturated already increases the likelihood of another flood.
8. You are tramping on rocky ground. If you’re hiking on slabs of stone or lots of rocks, the ground beneath you may not absorb water very well. In this case, flooding is more likely.
9. You hear an approaching roar in the Canyon.
If you observe any of these signs of a flash flood you need to be vigilant and ready to head to higher ground.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.

Tired of paying full price for outdoor gear?

Click here now for the latest REI deals.

We welcome comments. Please join the conversation.
Please subscribe to our RSS Feed for more great outdoors tips and issues (top right corner).
Loaded Guns Now Allowed in Our National Parks by Law
How to Treat Rattlesnake Bites
Learn to identify edible wild plants with Edible Wild Plants Cards.
Goose Down Sleeping Bags
Kid Sleeping Bags
Follow me on Twitter for more great outdoors tips and issues.
Outdoors and Hiking Tips
Related articles by Zemanta

Dirty Medicine, Part 2, by J.V. in Tacoma, Washington

atraumatic sutures; atraumatisches Nahtmateria...
Welcome to the second installment of Dirty Medicine.  Today we are going to be discussing something that will be beneficial on a few different levels.  It can help you stop uncontrolled bleeding, prevent infection, and repair skin.  That’s right, we are going to talk about sutures, also called stitches, today.
Starting off we are going to need to define what materials will be needed, both for practice and for real life situations.  The most obvious item needed is going to be some sort of suture material.  Suture materials come in various thread compositions as well as sizes.  Something like Chromic Gut (cat Gut) or Polyglycolic Acid is best used for inside the body or mouth as these dissolve after a week or so.  Polypropylene or Ethicon would be better served for skin closer or for tying off a bleeder.

My preferred site for obtaining suture materials is EmergencyEssentials.com. They have a fairly narrow range of products supply, but their prices are extremely reasonable.  I would recommend getting one or two of their Surgical Kits.  This will have everything you need to get started.  If that is not your cup of tea and you want to just buy your own stuff separately and design your kit(s) for certain scenarios/situations be sure that you get at a minimum some sutures.  I like to use a set of needle drivers, however in a pinch a Gerber or other similar multi-tool could work.  Another thing would be to get some scalpel blades to trim the skin up around the edge of the cut or incision, again a regular knife could work, but I prefer to have all the proper tools.  Some surgical scissors (I prefer the stainless steel variety, but there are some decent ones that are plastic). 
Now for the fun part!  Go to your local butcher (or your hog house) and acquire a pig foot for every member that will be practicing sutures (this number should be everyone in the family/group).  With the pigs foot thawed, i.e. not frozen, and soft like it was just cut off, make a cut anywhere in the foot/ankle region with a knife or scalpel.  Pig’s skin is a pretty close representation of human skin so it will give you a good idea of what it feels like to actually perform sutures.
At this point gather up all of your suturing supplies/suture kit and take a close look at the cut you just made in the foot.  Hopefully you used a sharp knife and the cut has straight edges and is a cut and not a “tear”.  If it does appear to be torn then take your surgical scalpel or whatever type of blade you will be using with your surgical kit and cut some of the skin off along the wound so that the edges of the wound are straight.  Now, opening up your sutures you will notice that the thread will be attached to the needle, just grab the needle away from the point with your needle drivers and lift out.  All of the thread will come out with it.  When holding the needle drivers with the needle in them, you want to use an “under-handed motion” to insert the sutures into the skin.  This means that the needle drivers should be in your dominant hand with the pointed (pliers-like) part pointing towards your non-dominant hand.  The needle should be held so it points away from the body with the pointed needle tip.
Most wounds will look similar to a “V” if looked at from the side, with the tops of the “v” being the sides of the skin and the “trough” of the “v” being the cut itself.  To suture you must place the needle in the skin from the side of the cut a little ways (usually a couple of millimeters will work; you just want to make sure it is far enough back to not tear through the skin when it is tightened).  Place the needle in the skin and angle it so it will cross the “v” about ¾ of the way down towards the point, then come out the other side of the “v”.  Once you see the needle break the skin you will want to let go of the back end of the needle and grab the tip and pull the thread through until there is only an inch to half-inch long tail on the other side of the wound. 
To tie the knot you will need to drop the needle (preferably onto a sterile surface) grab the long end that just came out of the wound with your non-dominant hand and wrap it around the shaft of the needle drivers.  Do this one single wrap for the first time.  Then open the needle drivers slightly and grab the small end of the thread and pull it through the loop you just made in the thread.  Pull this knot tight enough that the skin is aligned and closed, but be careful not to over tighten it to the point that the skin starts to turn up and look like a mountain.  Now do the same thing, this time however wrap the long thread 3 times around the needle drivers. The total amount of times you will want to wrap the thread around and pull it through is 4 times, the first you will do it once, the second will be 3 times, the third will be 2 times, and the last time will be 1 time again.  Now you can cut both the long thread and the tail, as close to the knot as possible.  This completes one suture. 
Congratulations on your first suture, however you are not done yet, now we must continue to do sutures until the entire wound is closed up.  I prefer to start in the middle of the wound and then keep dividing the wound in half, until the skin is completely closed up.  You do not have to put a suture every 2 mm or anything like that, just put sufficient amount that the skin edges are “joined” together and there is no break in the joint.  Just be careful to make sure you do not over tighten the knots.  You want the skin to be lined up, not look like the Rocky Mountains.
The important thing to remember is that sutures must be removed (except for the dissolvable ones that is).  The following is the recommended suture removal time based on what part of the body is sutured.  Face 3-5 days, scalp 7-8 days, chest and extremities 8-10 days, hands and joints 10-14 days, back 12-15 days.

Always make sure prior to wound closure that you debride the area and cleanse it, you wouldn’t want to lock that in the skin forever to cause infection.  Also be sure to check on the closure every day, look for signs that the sutures are ripping the skin, or the wound turning read, any sort of heat coming from the wound, discharges from the wound or bleeding from the wound.  These could all indicate either infection, or improper wound closure.
As always, practice and be prepared. 

Using Cage Traps

by Tony Hursman

Cage traps are an important tool for catching animals and may have a place on most traplines. They will catch and hold animals alive and damage free. You may get more trapping ground by having this ability because most farmers have cats and dogs, and cage traps are by far the best traps to use when domestic animals are part of the situation. 

Cage traps come in varying sizes with a vast array of trigger styles and either drop-down doors or the swing-down style.
The drop down style door trap.

The swing down door style.
These two styles make up the majority of cage traps, but there is also the wooden box trap. The wooden traps have taken many species of fur bearers in the past.

When deciding to use cage traps you first have to look at all the different types of cages out there and decide which best suits your intended use.  For this example we will use the raccoon as our target animal. When looking for a cage trap to take coon we need to look for certain things with in the cage that would allow us to take the coon safely and with out damage to the coon or cage.

The first thing is the size of the trap. Sizes vary from 8x8x12 to 12x12x36 and other sizes throughout this range.  The best I've found for raccoon have been the 12x12x36. I like them because as the door closes, whether it be a swing down door or a slide down door, the door will close without the animal's tail being caught. This aspect alone will save you some lost animals. This size lends itself to taking the largest coon to the smallest coon. If using something smaller you may have a coon that won't fit into the trap, but if you use the larger trap that's not a concern.  Door style on the trap is a personal choice. Both work equally as well, but if you are moving and transporting the traps a drop down door trap will require more room for transport. Traps with the swing-down door style can be stacked neatly on top of each other without a problem.

I have used many types of wire on cage traps from the 1x2 through the 1/4x1/4 inch meshes. The best I've found is the 1x1 mesh. There will be more repairs with the other sizes vs the 1x1 mesh.  When deciding upon your trap wire design you want a double layer of mesh on the trigger and bait housing area with the mesh being placed so it is offset from the other mesh. This will not allow the coon to reach into the cage from the outside and set it off.  This allows you to set the bait in the very back of the cage without worrying about the coon stealing the bait without entering the cage. Another feature that comes with some cage traps are the bait doors. I highly recommend a bait door on your cage. It makes it so much easier to add or remove bait from the cage.  The following picture can be enlarged for detail.

In barns the cage trap can be set anywhere you have found some sign and or travel corridors the raccoon are using. Once you place the trap in barns or outbuildings you will need a way to secure the trap at that position.  Raccoons will roll the cages and they can push them all over the place if not secured into position.  Once the trap is secured you can apply some footing material inside the cage as this will make the trap more inviting to the animal. There is also another benefit from this practice. Once the coon is in the trap and caught he will concentrate more on destroying the materials in the trap than destroying the cage trap. You can apply material to the out side of the cage trap as well. The dark hole that is produced when covering the outside of the cage will be inviting to a raccoon. The coon seem to stay calmer when trapped in a cage covered in material, keeping the him from fighting the trap.

I like to make a food trough at the back of my cage traps. I take a 1 1/2 plastic pipe and cut it to the width of the back of the cage. Then I will cut out the center half of the pipe to make it a trough and secure it in the back of the cage.  The food or lure is placed in the trough.  Another method is to leave the trap uncovered and spread some dry cat food over the trigger and just a bit outside of the cage. This gives them a taste and forces them into the cage to retrieve the rest of food.

When setting and baiting traps outside a lot of the same principles apply. Find the raccoon trails and food sources and set the traps off to the side of trails.  I like to cover my cage traps not only to keep the trapped raccoon calmer but also to camouflage it and avoid the possibility of theft.  When using cages outside I always cover the bottom of the cage with grass or hay or pine needles. I want the bottom of the trap to match the surrounding ground, as this keeps the trap seeming more natural and inviting to the raccoon. I've found that any material covering on the bottom of the trap is always a plus for raccoon trapping. Using these techniques will produce coon in cage traps.

Bored? Need Some Skills? Want to be Prepared? Get Certified

Skills logo
It's back to school time and while most of us are past the age of mandatory education, learning should be continual and for the rest of your life. If you have some spare time this fall, why not get certified/licensed in a skill (or two...or ten) that will help you be more prepared? Here's some ideas:
The idea is to always be learning something, preferably something that will help you in a survival situation.

For Dog People- A Dog's Purpose

Got this in an email today, thought I would pass it along:

A Dog's Purpose? (from a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.
Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,

''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.