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How to Send Smoke Signals

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Thinkstock

Not getting any bars on your phone? That doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with faraway friends. Just send them a smoke signal!

1. Light Your Fire

No surprise here, but you’re going to need a hefty fire if you want to send a smoke signal. Build a normal campfire – start with small, easy burning tinder and gradually work your way up to heavier fuel.

2. Flash Some Green

As impressive as your roaring fire is, it’s probably not going to make all the smoke you need. To kick up your smokiness, gather a bundle of green sticks and grass. Dump them on your fire. While your inner camper may rebel against the idea of putting green fuel on a fire, the addition will actually help you kick out thicker, whiter smoke that’s easier to spot.

3. Embrace the Wet Blanket

Forget every negative thing you’ve heard about wet blankets. Douse your bedroll with water – otherwise you’re going to have a roasted blanket on your hands – and toss it over your fire until no more smoke is rising from the flames.

4. Go Under Cover

Once the smoke has stopped rising, quickly pull the blanket off the fire. A white cloud of smoke should rise from the flames, just in time for you to throw the blanket back over the fire. The cloud will rise as a single puff, your first signal.

5. Know the Code

Once you can send smoke signals, encoding your long-distance messages isn’t hard. Although there is no universal smoke-signal language, American campers have a pretty clear system of signaling. A single puff simply lets observers know where you are. A series of two signals is generally accepted as a code that all’s well, while three puffs in quick succession alert viewers to an emergency.
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Smoke signals are the most interesting way to broadcast your position in the wilderness. Need to broadcast that you’re a beer drinker with great taste? Grab a Dos Equis.

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How to Cross a River Without a Bridge
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ThinkStock

Need to cross a roaring river? It’s always best to find a bridge, but if you absolutely must make it to the other side on your own, a few easy steps can keep you high and relatively dry.

1. Scout Around

Invest a little time in finding the best place to make your crossing. Avoid bends in the river, where water whips around the fastest. Once you find a suitable spot, walk downstream a few hundred feet to make sure there aren’t any hazards. It’s always good to know about the pesky 30-foot waterfall around the bend.

2. Don’t Be Narrow-Minded

They look tempting, but narrow crossings can be the most dangerous—they’re often the deepest part of the river. Look for the widest section instead. Keep an eye out for mild ripples—which are safe to cross—and avoid whitecaps, which can be treacherously slippery.

3. Ditch Your Duds

If the water will reach your knees, strip down to your skivvies - your pride isn’t worth getting hypothermia from wet clothes. Even if the river is shallow, remove your socks and put on a second pair of shoes if you have them. If you’re backpacking, unbuckle your front straps so you can quickly slip out of your pack if you fall.

4. Shuffle Up

Face upstream, lean into the current, and move across the river with shuffling sidesteps. You’re less likely to fall while sidestepping since you don’t lift your feet as high. If you’re with a group, link arms. The technique creates more contact points with the streambed and gives everyone a more solid footing.

5. Become a Bump on a Log

If the rapids are too fast, shuffling across may be a bad idea. Look for a log that spans the whole river instead. But don’t walk on it! Wet wood can be dangerously slippery. Instead, straddle the log and scoot along until you reach the other side.

6. Float Away

In situations where the river is deep but the current isn’t very swift, a football or soccer ball can be a handy improvised flotation device. Tether it to your wrist and grab on when you get tired of swimming. Or hug it with one arm as you sidestroke for extra buoyancy.
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Once you make it to the opposite shore, dry off and toast your successful crossing with a round of Dos Equis.

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