The ability to start a fire is a necessary skill, just ask hurricane Sandy victims, many of whom were huddled around bonfires in the streets for weeks. With fire you can boil water to purify for drinking and cooking, keep warm, dry wet clothing, keep predators at bay and not have to eat raw meat. Fire also provides that ever important yet often overlooked element of survival, comfort.
Although having a few important items in your home and vehicle for an emergency is wise such as cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly, steel wool or dryer lint, flint or a magnesium stick, you just might find yourself in a situation where you do not have access to such luxuries. So for now we will just go over the process if you only have matches or a lighter.
1. Find a suitable area. Clear an area of anything flammable for a diameter of 5 feet. Dig and smooth a hole one foot in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. This will be your fire pit. If you want to get fancy you can collect rocks to encircle your fire pit, although only do this after you have successfully started the fire.
2. Collect kindling. Small twigs, leaves, grasses, pine cones and paper gum wrappers, the dryer the better. This will be the foundation for your fire. If you cannot find anything dry, use swatches from your clothes.
3. Collect wood. Again, the dryer the better. If the wood is wet you will need more dry kindling to get a good base of flames under the wood.
4. Arrange the kindling as the first layer in your fire pit, being sure you have an arrangement of small to large pieces of wood nearby to feed to the flames once you have the kindling lit.
5. Using your matches or lighter, bring the flame to several areas of the kindling. You want to get a few areas burning at the same time.
6. Gently blow if it begins to smolder.
7. When you have decent flames, add small twigs in the form or a triangle or teepee.
8. Slowly add larger and larger pieces of wood.
9. Once your fire is burning and before the sun goes down, go in search for more wood. You want to have enough stocked the last through the night. Trust me, nothing is worse that having to go out into the cold dark night in search of more wood as you awoke to a dying fire!
Tie down any loose clothing when working with an open flame
Practice fire creating before your life depends on it
In an emergency situation, you want to make sure your fire is going strong before the sun goes down and temperatures drop