KEEPING WARM AND WELL WHEN IT IS FRIGID OUTSIDE
The typical pond turtle is profoundly better equipped to survive in a hostile environment than are we. What really sets us apart, however, is the three pounds of extraordinary brain matter that rattles about within our skulls. Delicate, vulnerable and breathtaking in its complexity, it is this contrivance, beyond all others, that has allowed humans to survive and prosper—from the ocean’s black depths to the world’s highest peaks to the dark side of the moon.
1.0 IT’S ALL IN YOUR HANDS
1.1 Keeping your hands clean is the primary prevention against respiratory illness. Wash your hands compulsively whenever you are in public. Antibacterial soaps sound “sexy,” but almost any soap used with clean, warm or cold water will neutralize microscopic threats if used appropriately.
KEEPING YOUR HANDS CLEAN IS THE PRIMARY PREVENTION AGAINST RESPIRATORY ILLNESS.
1.2 Hand sanitizers have the advantage of being portable, convenient and helpful. Most, but not all of them, are alcohol based. This means the sanitizing gel has to evaporate and subsequently desiccate the “cooties” to be effective. They are also frequently flammable and can help you start a fire in a pinch. But you don’t want to get that stuff in your eyes. (Ask me how I know that!)
1.3 Don’t touch your face. A sick person sneezes into their hand and opens the door. You open the same door and then scratch your nose. It really is that simple to pass the flu or contract a head cold. Try to get into the habit of coughing or sneezing into your elbow. Address your inevitable facial itches with your forearm rather than your fingernail. It makes a big difference in cold and flu season.
1.4 Surgical masks seem to be fairly fashionable in many parts of Asia. We are not quite so evolved on this side of the pond. A disposable surgical mask keeps aerosolized droplets out of your respiratory system (and yours from getting to others) and provides a physical barrier against touching your nose or mouth with your hands. Having the flu is markedly worse than looking awkward in public.
2.0 KEEP FIT
2.1 You can do push-ups almost anyplace. That’s why the U.S. Army is so hopelessly addicted to them. A mighty warrior once told me the way to get started was to do a single set of push-ups to the point of exhaustion. Then cut that number in half and knock that many out every time you have a free minute throughout the day. I’m a skinny guy, and I was doing 80 at a sitting after two weeks. If back problems prevent a steady diet of pushups, do a perfect push-up with your hands on a bathroom scale, put that much weight on a bar and do the reps on a bench.
2.2 The road to hell is littered with abandoned expensive, low-mileage exercise equipment. We bought our treadmill from the local Goodwill store at a fraction of its original purchase price.
2.3 A pull-up bar is cheap and affixes above any handy closet door. Knock out a few pullups every time you use your closet, and you’ll tone up in no time.
2.4 Endurance exercise such as running can be mighty hard on your knees over time. I learned that the hard way. Water aerobics is best, but nobody has time for that. A bicycle represents a nice compromise. A stationary bike gives you all the aerobic benefits without requiring you to brave frigid winter weather.
2.5 Indoor aerobic exercise is tedious. It can be tough to stick to a proper regimen when confined to the house. The rule in my home is that we can watch as much TV as we want … as long as we are walking on the treadmill at the time. This helps minimize wasted TV time and maximizes fitness.
2.6 If you want to lose weight, you have to get hungry. Cold water is one of the few things you can put into your body that will help you lose weight. Water has no caloric value, and your body has to expend energy to warm it up. However, drinking cold water or eating snow in a survival situation can rob you of critical heat when you need it most. Under those circumstances, warm it up first if at all possible.
3.0 KEEP YOUR MIND SHARP
3.1 A deck of cards takes up no space, and there are games for literally all ages. From 52-Pickup to Go Fish to Pinochle, a pack of cards in your survival loadout can help you and a friend pass the dead time.
3.2 My kids made me friendship bracelets out of nylon trotline of various colors when they were young and we were cooped up during bad weather. One of them has not left my wrist in 18 years. Scrub them down with soap in the shower, and they stay fresh. (My kids are all grown now, but I think of them every time I glance at my wrist.)
3.3 Most anybody can make something with his or her hands. If carpentry or needlework is not your bag, just Google “craft ideas” and prepare to be inundated. Fill your time with something productive rather than vapid electronics.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Prepper Fall, 2018 print issue of American Survival Guide.