Risk Assessment for Survival

Risk Assessment may be one of the most important survival skills there is. So exactly what is it? Well, sometimes you run into a situation that your gut instincts tell you what not to do or what to do. For instance, jumping off a 5 story building. You pretty much know that isn’t a good plan. Risk Assessment is a bit different. It is the cognitive action of making an informed decision as to whether an activities reward is worth the dangers of the activity.

In other words, is it really worth walking across that thin ice to get to the other side of the lake? What is gained? Is the gain worth the dangers? What are the dangers? Is the situation dire enough to make it worth it? Questions such as these are the same questions military leaders ask before ordering their troops to do something.

Assessing the risk of an activity doesn’t always have to do with survival in the woods or out in nature in general, nor do you have to be a military leader to use it. Is that 6 pack of beer really worth venturing out in a freezing rain storm? Can you make it through the night without that gallon of milk or should you drive in the Blizzard to get it? Is that pot really worth smoking when you are looking for a job?

Risk Assessment is part of everyday life. But it is crucial when in a survival situation. Making wise decisions when lost in Nature can be the difference of living or not. How important is it to cross this river? 2 dukecreek

What would the benefits be? Getting to the other side, right? Well, do you see a house, that means rescue on the other side? Can you see the bottom? Or would it be wiser to just walk the bank down stream until you find a house?

The same process should be used when deciding whether or not to make camp for the night or try to walk out in the dark. Is the terrain rough? Do you have a compass? Do you have a flash light? Is someone in need of immediate medical attention?

Yarrow leaf 2

Edible? Yes or no?

One situation that you absolutely must use Risk Assessment is when making use of wild plants. It is crucial that you know 100% exactly what it is before consuming any plant. Mistaking a hemlock plant for a wild carrot will result in your funeral. Mistaking a poison ivy vine for a grape vine will result in a very uncomfortable few days…or longer.

So, are you starving to death? Not likely. Are you so weakened that you can’t continue without nourishment? I doubt it. Food in a survival situation can help in many ways, but is it worth the risk. Not if you don’t know 100% what you are eating. That’s why practicing plant identification before heading out into Nature is wise.

Risk Assessment is important everyday. It will keep you from making poor decisions in life and will keep you from doing something that might cause a survival situation.

When in Nature…it’s crucial. A mistake 5 miles from nowhere can be the difference between hypothermia and a pleasant walk in the woods.

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Pine Pitch

As mentioned in a previous post, Pine Pitch is a very useful tool. When among pines, look for the white residue that runs down the bark. It sorta looks like a giant bird crapped on the side of the tree if it is from an older wound.


Pine Pitch wound

It looks like very thick syrup on a fresh wound.

Pine Pitch is extremely flammable and can be used to start your fire. Scrape the whitish, harden pitch into a powder or or small chunks. I have been able to use a magnifying glass to catch this on fire on a sunny day and I’ve also been able to spark it with a ferrous rod. Easiest is, of course, direct flame. Put some next to tinder so you are ready to feed the hot flames from the Pitch.

Fresh Pitch, from a freshly broken branch or a knife cut on the trunk, can be used on a wound to stop bleeding.  It even has anti-bacterial qualities.

Use an old can to melt some pitch into a liquid. Add charcoal powder, that you crushed, from your fire and some sort of wax. Don’t use ash. Actually crush some of the black charcoal. Remove the mixture from the heat and keep stirring it into a ball of blackened pitch. It will ball up around the stick as it cools. You now have a portable and non sticky ball of glue and sealant.


Pine Pitch

In a survival situation, you of course will do what ever it takes to make it to safety. As a matter of practice, don’t go around breaking pines up and slashing them to get the pitch flowing. Look around. You can almost always find some from an old wound.

Just scrape the pitch into a container and collect what you can.

Don’t forget to put a small handful of Pine Needles in some fresh water to boil into a Vitamin C rich tea.

If you have any questions please comment below and watch our YouTube channel for a future video on using Pine Pitch. Click here to view Nature’s Access Videos.

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Trees for Survival

Typically when people think of a plant for use in a survival situation, they have things like Dandelion, Plantain, Cattails, or Mullein in mind. Not generally do they think of trees. Heck, sometimes trees are left out of the plant discussion altogether.

But the fact is, there are many trees that have profound survival uses. Maybe more important than all other plants. Trees provide shelter, building material, food, medicine, fuel and utility material.

Fuel is probably pretty obvious, but also taken for granted. Most people realize that wood is the fuel of choice in most survival situations, but there are some things that should be noted. One, not all wood is created equal. Simply put, soft woods are superior for starting fires and hardwoods are superior for sustaining a long burning hot fire. Soft woods in general are your evergreens. Hardwoods are your deciduous. There are some exceptions though and not all deciduous trees are hard woods. Therefore, it would be wise to be able to identify Oaks, Maples and Beeches. If you learn to identify those in all seasons, you will be well served. When it comes to fuel and starting fires there are two trees to keep in mind. Pine (any variety) and Birch.

White Birch 2

White Birch

Not only do dry pine needles, pine cones and twigs make great tinder, but the pitch is very flammable. It does light better with direct flame, but I have been able to spark it and use a magnifying glass to ignite it. Once lit, it burns hot and for quite awhile. If in a survival situation and you can’t find a natural occurring wound, break a live branch off at its base or use your knife to create a wound on the trunk. Don’t do that just for practice. But in a survival situation, do what ever it takes. If you are in a stand of pines, you’ll find some pitch on one of the trees.

The bark of White Birch is very flammable. It will burn very hot and long enough to ignite other tinder. By scraping the white side with your knife, you can accumulate a pile of white bark dust and flakes. That Dust and flake pile takes a spark very well.  It will easily catch the bark itself on fire allowing you to add more fuel.

Something a little less obvious than fuel, is food. Of course nuts and fruit are available on a myriad of trees, but don’t assume they are edible. If you don’t know what you have, don’t eat the berries or nuts. Positive Identification is as important on a tree as it is on any plant. Aside from berries, nuts and fruits, there are also other ways to provide nutrients with trees. Birch and Maple water in the Spring is very refreshing and cleansing. They are both great sources of fresh potable water. Teas from leaves and needles, from both Birch and Pine are very nutritious and valuable during a survival situation. Again, don’t assume everything can be used. Cherry leaves for example should not be consumed.


Pine overlooking Castle Rock at the Picture Rocks National Shoreline, Lake Superior, Michigan

Pine Needle Tea Makes an excellent decongestant. Boil the needles and breath in the vapors. Don’t burn yourself. This works similar to Menthol. Willow and Slippery Elm Teas contain salicylic acid which can be used as a pain reliever.

You will notice how often I mention the White Birch. White Birch may well have been the most important plant available to Native Americans in the North Eastern States and Eastern Canada. The Chippewas of Michigan relied heavily on the tree for everything from Medicine, drink, sugar production, homes, transportation, and utility. The Sap was a very important Spring Tonic used to purify the blood after a long winter eating sub par food. The Bark was used to make everything from baskets to pots and utensils to canoes and hogans. Without the Birch, the people would have had a much tougher life.

The point is, while studying survival plants, take some time to study the trees. There are way more than I mentioned with way more benefits. This barely brushes the surface and does trees no justice. This Spring I will post videos on rope making, basket making and other useful tidbits. keep an eye for them. Meanwhile, study your trees.

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Education is the Best Preparation

Having all the right equipment during a disaster of any kind is certainly the right thing to do. No question a proper knife is a must. Long shelf life food is a great plan. Shelter material is awesome. It’s very wise to have some pain relievers and anti-biotics. No argument here. Click on our affiliates to the right to get some of the best supplies out there.

My Pattriot Supply has fantastic long life foods available at a very reasonable price. You would be well served to click this link and get some.

Surviv-All Survival Knife

Statgear Surviv-All Survival Knife

The Statgear Survival knife is perfect at only $45 bucks. You can’t go wrong with it’s full tang, rubber grip. fire starter rod, cord cutter and sharpener.


But here is the thing. Supplies run out. If the disaster last too long, your food will run out, your shelter material will get ruined, God forbid you lose your knife. That would be bad!!!

So eventually, all the conviences will be gone, so now what do you depend on……..?  Your brains, survival instincts, common sence and faith. I’m here today as testimony that those are important attributes. But the fact is, the more you hedge your bets, the better off you will be. Hedge your bets by educating yourself. There is no substitution for knowing how to survive. With knowledge, you will discover that God has provided all the materials you need to survive.

Get to know what plants are utilitarian, medicinal, healing, soothing and nutritious. Your life depends on it. Learn 5 to 10 plants that you can use for each of those catagories. In the following weeks, I will help you identify just that. Check back often. Commit those plants to memory. I will focus on readily accessable plants from the Great Lakes region. If you have any questions on them or any plant, let me know.

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Emergency Currency

I know the following info is common sense to experienced Preppers. But, maybe not so much for many of my readers who haven’t given it much thought.


I hear alot of talk on shows, like Glenn Beck, on how important gold will be when the financial crisis strikes. Your bank accounts will be worthless, your cash unwanted. The historical evidence is there to support that. Pre WWII, Germany’s Mark was really only valuable to help get a fire started. But in reality, is gold the way to go?

In a true global disaster, gold might be a good thing to hold on to if you have any. Bury it somewhere and forget you have it. If and when the situation improves it is possible that the gold will have value, but really, why does it have value? It isn’t particularly useful. It does make shiny jewelry. There are some minor industrial applications. It isn’t all that rare like it’s touted to be. Go to any department store and you will find some. Rare things are just that, hard to find.

So is gold what you should be spending your hard-earned cash on. Well, maybe, it could turn out to be a great investment, if the economy worsens, but doesn’t collapse or as opposed to the stock market, yes. It could be a good thing to have some and put it aside. Real gold though. Actually possess it. Don’t fall for the companies that issue you a piece of paper that says you own gold. That’s probably as worthless as the paper the promise is written on.

So maybe a little gold is good, but in a disaster, what is much, much, much more valuable than gold?  Simply put, things that will keep you healthy, safe and comfortable during the disaster.

If you want currency that will be valuable, hoard some things that you know people will want and be willing to trade for. Cigarettes for example. Try giving a gold ring in exchange for passage through someones territory. See how far that gets you. Try giving a pack or two of “Joe Cools” and I bet you get further.

Coffee will be another luxury that people will take as payment. Coffee is one of those items that people don’t forget when it comes to packing for a wilderness trip.

I know by experience how important it is when on long military campaigns. Having a decent amount of long shelf life coffee on hand will help you get through some tough times. Both for your own consumption and as a barter item.

Food and other survival items like tarps, knives, fire starting equipment, packable fishing equipment, radios, batteries, on and on. All will be more important during the crisis than a few oz’s of Au. While you are thinking about investing in the future, you might do yourself a huge favor and buy some things that will be of true value in an emergency. Long term items that will feed, shelter, protect and comfort you and your family.

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Preppers Page


Wild Leeks (Ramps), legally and responsibly harvested.

Top Prepper Site

We are adding a Preppers Page to Nature’s Access. That doesn’t mean we suddenly think the world is coming to an end. But that really isn’t what Prepping is all about. After all, if the world is coming to an end, why even try to prolong the inevitable? Prepping is just what it sound like, Preparing. For what? Who knows?

Maybe as little as having a bad case of the flu and not being able to get out and buy food for the little ones. If you were prepared, you would have at least a weeks worth of food on hand. That should get you through the flu.

Maybe the grid goes down and you are left without power for an extended period. It doesn’t matter so much why the grid went down, but if it does, and it has, be ready with battery operated lights and radios. Better yet, have flash lights and radios that you can crank to recharge. I can tell you that I have used ours numerous times when storms knocked our power out.

We all would like to think the United States is on a stable footing. We hope it is and we hope it stays that way. But come on people. Human beings have a way of creating amazing things and we have a way of messing everything up. Our economy is on shaky ground and the inevitable problems basing our economy on paper that means nothing can only end two ways. One-we wake up in time and base our economy on something tangible, like, I don’t know…Gold maybe? Two-the envelope burst open and we are in a world of hurt. The warning signs are there. Housing crash, stock market dump, Goldman Sachs, etc, etc.

Just the fact that our country is so polarized between Constitutionalist and those who have no clue what it is, lends itself to civil direst.

Anyways, the bottom line is, you have no idea what the future holds, nor do I. But being prepared for what ever comes, only makes sense. Take some time to read our Preppers Page and follow us for updated material. Read the whole website for info on survival, wild edibles and medicinal plants. If you can, remember our goal is to help people not only prepare for any situation, but also to get out and enjoy what God have given us…Nature.

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Nature’s Access Affiliates with My Patriot Supply

I’ve written a lot about being prepared and how important it is have the supplies on hand when an emergency hits. That is why we have affiliated with “My Patriot Supply” to bring you the food, equipment, heirloom seeds and water filtration supplies that you need. Use this link ⇒ Emergency Supplies to take you to a seamless experience while you secure the materials you and your family needs to make it through any hardship that you may encounter.

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Be Prepared for a Happy New Year

It seems like 2016 was a rough one. There was a lot of news that I think we would all like to forget happened, everything from world events to local disasters. That’s why it is important to ensure your family is prepared. You never know what will happen. I’m not convinced it’s the end of the world, nor do I think you need to be in order to see the value in preparation.

Consider a black out situation. It’s happened. Our grid is not new. Remember the 2003 blackout in August that wiped out power in the North East and in Ontario? I do. How about a blizzard or other weather related situation? What about civil distress? We all remember a few of those over the last few years, don’t we? Flood by netalloy

The fact is, it doesn’t need to be Armageddon for you and your family to think about ensuring you can make it through a rough period. It doesn’t take much and you don’t have to plop down a ton of cash at one time.  In the coming months, Nature’s Access will provide you the opportunity to plop down a bunch of money to be prepared, lol, or you can purchase smaller portions at a time as funds allow.

Over the last couple years, we have studied intensely the value of wild edible and medicinal plants and survival techniques. We have experimented with various tools and natural resources to ensure we can provide you with the most accurate and useful information. We will continue to do that in new year. We will be working on classes again as well.

The level of preparation you achieve is entirely up to you…obviously, but, minimum preparation really is a must or you will regret it. At least make sure your car has proper cold weather gear in the winter and you have a weeks worth of food and light sources in your home. #

If you and your family are not prepared for any mishap that might happen, I guarantee you will feel better when you are. Take the time to study the information on this site and be ready to secure the food supplies and equipment that will help ensure you and your family have a happy, healthy 2017.

 Happy New Year! by jhnri4


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Natural Blessings

Nature’s Access would like to thank all of our readers over the past year. We hope you had a wonderful year and that 2017 brings you joy and happiness.

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The Nature’s Access Family.

We would also like to remind our readers of the Natural Blessings all around them. Blessings that have been bestowed upon us by our creator. The car in the driveway, the driveway that leads to the garage and the garage that is attached to a warm comfortable home with all the trimmings are not the blessings I refer. Those may be the results of the blessings from our giver of gifts, The Holy Ghost.

The blessings I refer to are our Natural Blessings. The talents given to us, the drive to succeed, the will power to keep going when all seems lost, the ability to feel empathy and sorrow and the greatest gift…the ability to love. Those gifts are the gifts that make a poor person rich and a rich person poor (if they are lacking).

God has provided for everyone, it is merely our ability to receive those gifts that enrich or dampen our lives.

It is our sincere hope that we all find it in our hearts to allow the Natural Blessing of God into our lives in the following year to come.

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Survival is a Frame of Mind

Being prepared when you venture out, whether in Nature or driving your car, is always a great idea. Why would you go on a hiking excursion without water and basic first aid supplies? Why would you drive in winter weather without proper clothing and boots? It really doesn’t take much to put a cold weather pack in your car and leave it there for the winter. It isn’t difficult to carry a small pack, with a water filter at least, when hiking. Yet many people do just that. Many people wish they took the time to prepare.

That is basic, but with all the preparation in the world, you can still be in trouble…if, when the time comes, you panic. Your brain is the number one survival tool that you have. The key is to keep it under control. Don’t panic. Sit for a minute and catch your breath, relax, meditate. Ask God for guidance. Most situations afford you the time to get your emotions under control.

Make sure you are putting everything in their perspective place. People have died trying to walk to safety when their vehicle got stuck in a snow storm. The fact is, they walked away from relative safety when they left the vehicle. It takes a long time to starve to death, so their concerns for the lack of food was over rated. Of course food is a great help, but more important than walking 10 miles in a snow storm without proper clothes? Probably not. The more important need would have been heat and shelter. The chances are, they had a lighter or something to get a fire going. If they properly prepared with a winter/vehicle survival pack, they definitely would have.

Once you have put everything into perspective, which is to say, have confidence you will survive your situation, take stock of your resources. Don’t take anything for granted. Realize that simple things can be used in an emergency in ways that the manufacture never intended. Even a simple tube of lip balm can help you survive your situation.


A survival tool can be as simple as this tube of lip balm.

Lip balm, for example, not only protects your lips from drying out, it can also be used to protect any exposed skin. Your face is a good place to add a layer of the balm. But there are other uses as well. Lip balm can be used a lubricant if you need. Most importantly, it also makes a good fire starter. Put a half inch chunk of it under some tinder and light it. It will burn pretty hot and long enough to start a fire.

Look around your car. There is probably other material that can be used to help get the fire going as well. Access the situation. Is it truly survival? If it is, don’t worry about the condition of your car. The seat covering material is dry and likely would burn long and hot enough to start even wet branches.

Do you have a spare quart of oil? That will get a blaze going. A spare tire will certainly burn all night. Just don’t breath in the fumes or you will have another survival issue.

If you have a can in your car, use it to melt snow for drinking water. Are there pine trees around? Pine needle tea is great in a survival situation. It is calming and you are putting nutrients into your body.

If you were hiking and got lost, take a seat. Listen intently. Sometimes you can hear vehicles on a highway from a long ways away. Hopefully you packed a compass in your pack. Why would you go hiking without one? Survival really does start with preparation. Did you do a map reconnaissance before entering the woods? No? Why not? google-maps . Well even if you didn’t, don’t panic. There aren’t too many places in the Great Lakes area that there isn’t some sort of civilization, fairly near by. Click the link to google maps above. Look at the area before entering. Know what boundaries there are. Roads, power lines, creeks, open fields.

What ever you do, just don’t wander. Walk in one direction the best you can (good use for a compass right?) and you will run into one of your boundaries. Once you hit a boundary, you should know where you are at.

For a list of survival tools when visiting nature, click surviving nature packing list.

The following are suggestions of things you should have in your car, but first, lets talk water.  Keeping water bottles in your car has been linked to cancers as chemicals (bpa) leech from the plastic into the water in hot weather. Most manufactures are moving away from plastics containing bpa’s but they are still out there, however, the amount that you would be drinking would have a minuscule chance of causing any harm. I still would recommend that you carry a good quality water filter that can make non potable water, potable. There are some good ones on the market for less than $30.00. These are not those water bottles with filters in them that remove some tap water taste, but survival filtration systems that filter out 99.99% of microbes and chemicals. Have the filtration system in your car along with factory sealed non bpa bottles of water. I buy a case in the summer and drink them. That keeps them in constant rotation and I keep hydrated, which is a very important survival strategy to begin with. If you are properly hydrated to start with, you will be in much better shape from the get go.

The list:

Drinking water source.

Food Packs

Fire starting source; lighter, matches, striker and tinder.

Flint and Striker

Cat litter to help get on stuck in snow and ice.

Small shovel.

Fire extinguisher.

Sun tan lotion.

Insect repellent.

Hat, coat, gloves, boots, extra socks.

Air pump.

Small tool box.

Flash light.

Tire changing tools (allot of people couldn’t change a tire if they needed to because of incomplete tool sets and even the lack of a spare tire).

Emergency Blanket

Deluxe Thermal Blanket

Vehicle in distress kit; flares, reflector triangle, etc.

Charged cell phone.

I’m sure you can think of more, but that gives you an idea. Follow this link for all your emergency supplies: Emergency Supplies

The bottom line is. Think. Use your best survival tool…your brain. Use it before you get into your car. Use it before you head out into Nature. Properly prepare. Use it when you are enjoying your activity but most importantly, sit back relax and use your brain when a survival situation presents itself. You likely have more resources than you realize.

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