In a survival situation you need to understand your position so to plan a route and travel safely.

6 Benefits of Attending a Hostile Environment Awareness Training (H.E.A.T.) course.

6 Benefits of Attending a Hostile Environment Awareness Training H.E.A.T. course.

Any course that increases your knowledge is beneficial. Such knowledge may improve your work performance or enable you to advance along your career path. But, no course can have such life-changing results as a H.E.A.T. course.

Here are 6 Benefits of Attending a Hostile Environment Awareness Training course

The knowledge you gain from such our courses will eliminate the ignorance you may have about how to survive various stressful encounters. Do you know how stress affects your thinking faculties? Can you respond effectively and decisively to a life threatening situation such as a carjacking, kidnapping, home invasion or violent assault? Does the thought of such an event fill you with a paralyzing dread and crippling anxiety. If so, given the increasing likelihood of such criminal acts occurring, you need to attend a H.E.A.T. course.

What is a H.E.A.T. course?

Hostile environment awareness training is characterized by exposing delegates to high fidelity stressful situations, but in a controlled environment. By using a combination of theory and realistic simulations, you will learn how to respond effectively and ensure your personal safety and security when in danger.

6 Benefits of attending a H.E.A.T. course

  1. Understanding the psychology of survival. This helps you to overcome normalcy bias, to heighten your situational awareness and to cultivate a survival mindset when faced with any disaster.
  2. Knowing why and how to prepare before travelling to a foreign environment ensures that you reduce the known risks to your life, liberty or limbs.
  3. Receiving practical instruction in-and experience of- emergency first aid, a simulated kidnapping and conduct under hostile interrogation, you will be better equipped to handle these stressful situations when they occur.
  4. Engaging in group desktop exercises to develop a survival strategy based on real life incidents encourages group co-operation and independent thinking.
  5. Learning how to prioritize your survival needs during an emergency helps you conserve energy whilst staying calm.
  6. Practicing how to make shelter, signal for help, find drinkable water, start a fire and navigate to safety in any man made or natural disaster has many everyday applications.

Attend one or all of our all-inclusive H.E.A.T. courses in Cape Town, South Africa. Learn to return home whatever dangers you face when travelling.

Find out more, about how Zero Foundation Africa can help you.

Signaling devices to get you rescued

Signaling devices to get you rescued

Whether you find yourself lost outdoors, trapped in a lift or stranded with your vehicle, you need to attract the attention of others to help you. Here are Signaling devices to get you rescued.

Shouting is the least effective means of making your location conspicuous and attracting rescuers. Rather, remain calm and use the acronym STOP.

  • S = stop. Do not exacerbate the situation but stay put and sit down.
  • T = think. Retrace your route in your mind. Make a note of any useful kit you are carrying. Consider how you arrived in this situation.
  • O = observe. What landmarks can you identify? Are your footprints visible? Can you hear noises that might help with confirming your location?
  • P = plan. Knowing what you know, what plan will you make to get rescued? Either you must self- rescue or signal for help from other people.

6 really effective signaling devices

  • 1. 3 or 6 is the magic number. Three or six of anything is universally recognised as a distress signal. Use a whistle, gun, torch, smoke or flags to attract attention. The response will be 3 blasts of a whistle, gunshots or torch flashes.
  • 2. Use S.O.S. in Morse code. Simply send a S.O.S. signal using any of the above devices to make three short dots (S) and three long dash(O) repeated by three dots. Repeat every minute, as possible.
  • 3. Use ground signals to communicate with a plane. Dig symbols into the ground or lay down branches to indicate a medical emergency, need for food, indication of travel or place to land.
  • 4. Create a Catherine Wheel by tying a chemical lightstick to a length of cord. Twirl the cord over your head or in front of you and create a circle of light visible for several kilometers.
  • 5. Carry a Skystreme inflatable foil kite. With its lightweight and reflective material, the kite can reach 50 metres in height yet is small when packed. Like all good survival tools, it can be repurposed as an emergency medical splint, filled for use as a water carrier or inflated and used inside your clothing for added warmth.
  • 6. Set up 3 signal fires, equally separated from each other. Build them in the open or on high ground. When rescuers might be nearby, start the fires and add damp wood, damp grass or spare tires to generate smoke for visibility in daylight. At night use drier wood and more fuel.

Your strategy when lost or stranded is to advertise your location. The more signaling devices you can use, the better. Adapt your use of emergency signals to your environment and create contrasts that will stand out and attract others.

Attend one of our courses to learn and practice with several emergency signaling devices. Sometimes a whistle and torch might be enough but the true survivor joins our courses to understand how the latest technology can assist. We show him or her how to signal for success, wherever you might need to be rescued.

Find out more about how Zero Foundation Africa, can work with you.

Read clouds like a Weather Forecaster.

Read clouds like a Weather Forecaster.

Clouds are formed by a cooling process. As air temperatures drop at a rate of 2°C per 300 meters, the water vapour in the air will condense to form a visible cloud when cooled to a ” dew point”. Learn how to read clouds like a weather forecaster and harness this knowledge to survive any hostile environment.

When the dew point equals the air temperature, the air cannot hold any more water vapor and clouds become visible.

The word cloud comes from the Old English (1320s) word “clud”. This described a rock formation because that is what clouds look like.

Yet, the names for all five categories of clouds are Latin in origin. Their names are: cirro, alto, strato, nimbo and cumulo. These words describe the height and shape of the cloud. Recognising these types of cloud will help you predict the weather.

What are the 5 types of clouds?

  1. Cirro= lock of hair. These wispy looking clouds exist at 6000 metres altitude and above.
  2. Alto= middle. These clouds are thicker and exist around 4000 metres altitude.
  3. Strato= layer. These clouds are stratified and have a layered look.
  4. Nimbo= cloud. These clouds exist above the freezing point in the atmosphere and exist around 2000 metres altitude.
  5. Cumulo= heap or pile. They exist at all levels of the atmosphere. At low levels, they look like cotton balls. Other times they look softer but larger in appearance. The largest ones are massive clouds reaching the troposphere and beyond.

Learn to recognise the different types of cloud to anticipate bad weather, persistent rain, or mist. You can plan your shelter needs accordingly.

By Benedict Weaver / Zero Foundation Africa

To learn how to read clouds like a weather forecaster and to understand how to read the weather and plan accordingly, attend one of our courses.
Learn more about how Zero Foundation Africa can help you.

Get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment.

Get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment.

A survivor is defined as “a person who copes well with difficulties in their life”. You can get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment. Anyone reading this article can relate to that definition even if the types of difficulties we have personally faced are not the same as each other’s.

Alison Clarke:

Stepped outside of a Cape Town night club to get some fresh air before going back inside. A man approached her and suddenly started touching her inappropriately. She could have panicked, frozen in place, and become a victim but instead, remembering her training, she did what is known as the “Trident” – and it saved her life. The best part of the Trident is that it is a simple self-defence technique anyone can master.

Scott O’Grady:

Was flying a peacekeeping mission over Bosnia in June 1995. His F16 jet was hit by a missile and he ejected. On landing, he grabbed his bail-out bag and survived for a week behind enemy lines. The contents of that bail-out bag saved him until he was rescued by US Marines.

The two examples above are from different scenarios but both reflect difficulties handled well under pressure.

Every employer has a Duty of Care (DoC) responsibility to its staff and contractors working on the company premises. However, this responsibility extends beyond the physical workplace when staff travel abroad on company business. Then, your staff represent the ethos and business practices of your company. If their travel experience could expose them to the risk of loss of life, liberty, or limb, then their employer must ensure that the corporate traveller has the necessary skillset to avoid preventable death, detention or bodily damage.

Such a skillset is taught during hostile environment awareness training (H.E.A.T.) courses, which are available in South Africa, equip employees with the ability to operate effectively when seemingly benign situations turn hostile.

The benefits of a two-day H.E.A.T. course:

  • It will provide details of their company’s corporate travel security policy and procedures. (If your company doesn’t have a policy, one needs to be developed before the pandemic ends and travel resumes).
  • It will showcase the pre-planning that needs to be carried out before leaving staff leave their home country: key areas include destination intelligence about the foreign country; meet and greet protocols at airports; routes to hotels; local resources for emergency medical situations; and evacuation process along corridors of safety and emergency communications.
  • It will introduce the concept of “Everyday Carry (EDC)” – by knowing what kit to carry and how to use it, staff will be more self-reliant and capable of operating with confidence in a hostile environment, which will in turn provide the company with sufficient time to arrange for a controlled and safe evacuation.
  • It will allow staff to make informed decisions about where to spend their leisure time without exposing themselves or the company to physical, financial, or reputational risk.
  • It will show management how to prepare a debriefing on their return.
  • The nature of this debriefing is to provide management with lessons learned; marketing intelligence about the competition; and identified risks to other employees travelling on business.


By Benedict Weaver / Zero Foundation Africa

Get realistic training to survive in a Hostile Environment. Sign up for a H.E.A.T course today .

Find out more about how Zero Foundation Africa can help you.

Design your ultimate survival kit

A survival kits come in many shapes and sizes, but their importance lies in the ability of the user as well as the environment in which the user finds themselves.

A survival kit is the mark of an individual who has a preparedness attitude and recognizes that everyday events can be turned upside down by factors beyond your control. In January 2010, a filmmaker walked into his hotel reception lobby after a day’s work only to be engulfed in darkness and falling debris. Within a couple of seconds, the journalist was buried under rubble, but was saved from being crushed to death by a concrete lintel that jammed between him, a wall and the collapsed roof of the lobby. Although he did not have an earthquake survival kit with him, the filmmaker did have an iPhone and used the torch application to wiggle his way into the lift shaft and a more safe location. Whilst in the lift shaft, he accessed a Bear Grylls survival application and was able to read about surviving by drinking his urine and other Bear Grylls suggestions.

You might not think that you will ever be exposed to needing a survival kit for the Apocalypse or a hurricane or any other disaster, but then you might also think that it is the government’s responsibility to save you in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Yet, the need for designing your own survival kit, whether an urban survival kit or a mini survival kit, is critical to your success whenever you find yourself in a dangerous or hostile environment.

In fact, life itself is survival and, as the victims of violence in Syria will confirm, all the changes is the conditions under which you live.
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The H.E.A.T mini survival kit is contained in a waterproof capsule and holds the following survival items:

  • Waterproof paper and pencil to help you write notes, to use as tinder, to indicate your travelling direction or to stave off boredom.
  • A small compass to provide you with the cardinal directions of north, east, west and south. By knowing these cardinal points, you can orientate yourself to the direction you want to travel, even if you cannot see the sun or the stars. During our H.E.A.T. course, we teach you how to use the compass, as well as bare hand navigation.
  • A whistle as the noise is better than having to shout or scream. The international distress signal is 6 blasts every minute and the response is 3 blasts in a row. Similarly, you can communicate in MORSE code using a whistle and the noise travels far at night.
  • A ferrochromium flint and steel provides you with the ability to light many fires, irrespective of the conditions. Whilst sparks generated by the ferrochromium rod will ignite many forms of natural tinder (dry leaves, belly button fluff and wood shavings, our mini survival kit also includes two tinder blocks to help you start a fire in wet or windy conditions.

The above four items enable you to light a fire for moral or heating purposes; to determine direction for travel or rescue purposes; a means of writing messages or writing a trail; and a method of alerting rescuers.

Whilst all these items can be carried in a small waterproof container, sometimes you might need a slightly larger survival kit for everyday use or travel.

Anyone venturing into a potentially hostile environment or crossing wilderness terrain in an aircraft or by vehicle should always be well prepared for any emergency situation. The next post will show you how to build a more comprehensive survival kit and demonstrate the usefulness-for-weight value for each item.

A magnetic attraction: the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Better understand how a compass works and the Earth’s Magnetic Field.

A compass will provide you with the direction of the four cardinal points – North, East, West, and South.  By understanding how a compass works and knowing the numerous recognizable signs that indicate direction, you will rarely be lost.  So, it is important to understand the Earth’s magnetic field and how to make a temporary compass.  The compass, like gunpowder, was developed by the Chinese who used a chunk of magnetic iron ore suspended by a piece of lace to help them navigate on land and sea.  Today, the simplest compass is a magnetised needle mounted on a pivot so that it rotates freely.

To make your own temporary compass Read more

Orientation: navigate with the stars

Sometimes, when operating in a Hostile Environment, you might need to travel at night.  The decision to travel at night could be motivated by security considerations or simply weather conditions, as cloud, rain and temperature could provide you with suitable cover for safe movement.

In such situations, you might not have a compass or be able to see the sun, in which case you need to navigate with the stars. Read more

Learn to Point North and to read a compass

During our H.E.A.T courses, attendees often share an all too common experience – the alarming feeling of being lost.  However, by using some simple navigation techniques , understanding how to point north and learning how to read a compass, you might become temporarily unaware of your surroundings in a hostile environment … but never lost.

If you think you are lost, stop travelling and take stock of your surrounding.  You should be able to recall your point and time of departure, your destination and have a rough estimate of the distance you have travelled and in which direction.  If you are flying, you might know your approximate ground speed and flying time.  These two indicators should give you an idea of the area in which you have landed. Read more