In a survival situation you need to acquire protection, to better face: elements, injuries, wildlife and emotions.

Abandoning the Ship

Sometimes, evacuation from Hostile Environments is carried out by sea.  In Africa, and especially West Africa, many countries with coastlines have a divided nation – a Muslim-controlled Northern region run by the military; and a Christian-controlled Southern region run by the police.  Consequently, history teaches us that the need for northern inhabitants to reach the coast often results in conflicts with their southern neighbors.  Given climate change and increased desertification in the Sahel region, the likelihood of such conflicts occurring in places such as Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo and Benin is relatively high. Read more

Car Safety: what to do in case of carjacking

Have you ever thought about the risks of carjacking?

Consider that you car is an extension of your home. For some people the car is their home, but for many of us, the car is a place of solitude where we can listen to our own music and smoke cigarettes, but hopefully not drink alcohol. Yet, these safety considerations are nothing compared to what can happen to your car before, during or after you have used it during your normal day.

Herewith some easy precautions to counter car bombs which are destructive forms of attack yet fairly simple to accomplish.

As car bombs can be triggered by speed, braking, pressure, pull or by radio, the best way to learn the basics is to attend one of our H.E.A.T. course and minimise the threat by Read more

Characteristics of Hand Grenades

Many insurgency groups in Africa have access to hand grenades.

According to humanitarian aid workers in Bujumbura,Burundi, grenades were periodically tossed into gardens where meetings were being held.  Although the grenades often had the pin still inserted, the message was clear and demonstrated that neighbours wanted the noise of the meetings to be kept low.  Fortunately, no casualties were incurred despite the nonchalance with which these dangerous cans of explosives were thrown around.

The first historical evidence of grenades in the Western world was from the 15th century when iron balls filled with gunpowder were detonated with burning fuses.  However, the Chinese were the first to use grenades as a more offensive application of their combustible invention, gunpowder.

Yet, the name comes from the Spanish word for a pomegranate – “granado” – and the Spaniards used them fairly extensively during the 16th and 17th centuries, and they proved highly effective given the slow rate-of-fire of muskets on the battlefield.  However, by the First World War, grenades had not been in common use owing to their poor design and ill-timed detonations.   The British inventor of the golf club, William Mills, also invented the “pineapple grenade” which has continued in use into the 21st century.  During the First World War, the British attached these grenades to sticks and used a long fuse to make them easy to throw a fair distance.  But, because the German soldiers in the trenches often threw them back, the fuses were reduced to the 4.5 second delay that exists today.  By the Second World War, the grenade had been improved and included various applications using smoke (signalling and screening), phosphorus and fragmentation (to produce casualties) and gas (for both casualty and riot control effects).

The general characteristics of hand grenades are as follows: Read more

Counter-surveillance and anti-surveillance

Our H.E.A.T. courses are designed to teach attendees the ability to survive and operate effectively in Hostile Environments.  Although Hostile Environments are typically characterised by emerging markets and emerging countries, Hostile Environments exist anywhere there is a risk of loss of liberty, life and limb.  Whilst the most obvious Hostile Environments include Outer Space,Antarctica and areas with erupting volcanoes, your own home country could become a Hostile Environment.

In South Africa, the acquisition or use of certain information could be construed as a “threat to national security” and could get the holder of such information arrested and imprisoned.  Imagine you are a journalist in South Africa and have access to information that a senior political figure used bribe money, from the controversial 1990s Arms’ Deal, to furnish their home.  The information you have confirms that contractors were paid generously from an account into which commercial agents working for the arms’ suppliers had paid substantial “commissions”.

Before publishing such information, the senior political figure could utilise the state’s resources and place you under surveillance.

What is Surveillance? Read more

Kidnap and Ransom: five strategies to escape

Kidnap and Ransom have been used as a means of extortion for millennia.

During the 1st century B.C. many noble Romans were kidnapped by pirates but they made a mistake with Julius Caesar.

During his kidnapping, the future Roman “Dictator perpetuus” treated his captures as subordinates and actually insisted that they increase their original ransom demand.  On his release, he promised his captures that he would return – to their surprise, he did and crucified every one of them every hundred metres along the Appian Way. Read more

Types of Rifles: ammunition and parts

There are a number of common types of rifles available today and they can be split into two, defined by what ammunition they fire.

Long before the rifle was issued to soldiers, the musket was the most effective way of knocking down the enemy.

By igniting gun powder a heavy lead ball was propelled down a large smooth bore tube with limited accuracy.  But, the lead ball could penetrate a wall as well as a suit of armour. Read more

Types of Pistols: revolver and semi-automatic

One of the most common characteristics of a Hostile Environment is not the aggressive nature of people around you, but the haphazard emptying of various weapons.

Often, the local populations express their grief or glee by firing bullets into the air, into the ground or at any object whether moving or not.  This puts you in the firing line and you need to understand how to survive a shot because dodging a bullet is not a realistic option.

Before understanding how to treat a gunshot wound, you need to understand the types of pistols that you might face in a Hostile Environment. Read more

Survival Shelters

In the priorities of survival, as taught during our H.E.A.T. courses, protection from the elements is a # 1 consideration.  In a survival situation, especially in a Hostile Environment, personal protection must be your top priority.  Therefore, you need to know how to build the different types of survival shelters.  Sometimes, inclement weather can cause you greater problems than any perceived threat from government surveillance or dangerous disease.

If your clothing becomes wet and there is wind, the chill factor will make you cold very quickly.  Coupled to low energy, because of a lack of food, your morale will drop and being cold, wet and hungry could kill you.

Likewise, in the desert, lack of adequate clothing and exposed skin can result in dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death.

Notwithstanding the use of an effective layering system for your clothing to counter various weather conditions, you will also need to consider the different types of shelters that you can use in either urban or rural environment.

In an urban environment, shelters Read more

Survival Duct Tape

During our H.E.A.T courses, attendees often ask what are the most important pieces of kit to pack when traveling to a Hostile Environment. 

Although we discuss the design of survival kits and grab bags on Day One of the course, and issue a H.E.A.T. survival capsule™ to all attendees, experience has shown that the “redneck repair kit” is a useful item in your gear bag.  The redneck repair pack was a phrase coined by Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg who have written several books about duct tape.

The redneck repair kit contains 2 items- a can of WD-40 and a roll of duct tape.  Adhesive tapes have been in use since the early 18th century when rolls of cloth tape had an adhesive coating on one side and were stiffened with dried urine from cattle.  Hospitals used a tape made from Read more

The five most dangerous anti personnel mines

Recent stories in the Egyptian press have disclosed that vintage anti personnel mines in places like Tobrouk andEl Alamein (scenes of battles during World War II) still claim the lives of locals.

The bulk of mines still used around the world are neither self-deactivating nor self-destructing, which suggests that future generations will be experiencing the same problems of unexploded ordnance as that faced by Egyptians today.

The mine was first conceived during siege warfare in the Middle Ages.  When attacking an enemy castle wall, a fire was positioned at the end of a tunnel dug out by the attacking force.  When the fire was lit, the tunnel supports burnt and both the tunnel and the wall collapsed.  For this reason, moats were dug around fortifications to prevent this type of tunnel and fire attack.

Later, the fire was replaced by an explosive charge and by the 20th Century, most mines were triggered by foot or by vehicle.

In the 21st Century, landmines are still triggered by foot or vehicle pressure and there are five types of anti-personnel mines which are in common use today.  The thinking behind such mines is twofold:  one, to dictate the direction of travel by the enemy through controlled detonations; and two, to incapacitate a soldier which will require two buddies to remove him and themselves from the battlefield.

The following most dangerous anti personnel mines are the ones found in Hostile Environments: Read more