One of the first things you need to think of before you ever start a fire is what exactly you are planning on burning. As you may know White Birch Bark and other dry hard woods are great for starting a fire. Other plants though, like the Cashew Plants or Anacardium occidentale give off toxic gases when set ablaze. There have been numerous reports of throat irritation, naseau, vomiting, unusual fatigue, blindness and even death. Never under any circumstances burn cashew plants or any type of plant from the Anacardium family which is the same family that has poison ivy and poison oak in it!
Cashew plants aren't all bad though, not only do they make a tasty treat when processed correctly, but their seeds can be ground up into a powder and used for snake bites! The nature oils in the nuts can also be used to heal cracked heels.
Poison Ivy or toxicodendron quercifolium and Poison Oak can be found in many woodsy areas throughout The United States. If you come in contact with one of these plants the symptoms will appear within 3-24 hours, but can show up even days later. It varies by person, the size of the plant and the season of the year. Spring and summer are the times of greatest potential for poisoning. Symptoms are itchiness, skin inflammation, swelling and the formation of blisters. Avoid this plant at all costs...
Poison Oak or toxicodendron quercifolium is very similar to Poison Ivy but looks a bit different and frequently climbs up trees or walls. Poison Oak is a perennial shrub like Poison Ivy, so it needs to be completely removed from the ground to keep it from coming back every year. Here are a couple pictures of the plant and it's damaging effects...
Also beware of the deadliest fish in the world, to find out click here.
Episode 1 Five Points Survival
Episode 2 Starvation
Episode 3 Quest for The Stone
Episode 4 In The Cold of The Night
If you are stuck in the woods a very important thing to notice is the signs of weather changes. The last thing you want to have happen is to be caught in a sudden rain storm without having any form of shelter. If it is cold soaking your clothes only makes things that much worse especially if you don't have a fire already started.
First thing you need pay attention to is the force and directions of the winds. If it is windy and dry, most likely it will continue to be so until the wind losses force or changing directions. These are the times when you could receive a bit of rain.
Remember, if you are stuck in the woods it is also just as important to trap rainwater to drink if you do not know of any clean water sources around you. You can use plants or even your clothing to collect water. Just ring the water out of your clothes once they are soaked. You can also use this trick in the mornings. Simply tie your shirt around your ankles and walk through dewy plants and ring out the trapped water.
If is is foggy this doesn't necessarily mean it is going to rain. A lot of times only once the wind picks up it will begin to rain. You can also watch the clouds for a cue on which way the weather may turn. Generally, the higher the clouds the better the weather, but you can also learn the different types of clouds to predict even more accurately.
The wildlife around you can also tell you a bit about what type of weather is headed your way. Squirrels and rabbits will be very active right before a storm. Birds will also feed in lower locations then normal when a storm is approaching.
Yet another indicator is your fire smoke. If it is going straight up the weather should be fine, but if the smoke is swirling or pushing downward, most likely a storm is near. Of course, if all else fails try and remember the old saying, "Red Sky At Night, Sailors Delight, Red Sky In The Morning, Sailors Take Warning..."