By John Law, Niagara Falls Review
Fishing rods, boats, and Duck Dynasty. Lots and lots of Duck Dynasty.
This weekend’s Niagara Boat, Cottage & Sportsmen Show at the Scotiabank Convention Centre teased summer with its usual outdoorsy displays. But in-between the antique fishing lures and camouflage sweatshirts, Dave Arama and a few friends were asking: What happens when nature fights back?
Ice storms. Flooding. Zombie outbreaks.
Okay, scratch the zombies, but they do make for a good metaphor. When stuff hits the fan and things break down, are you prepared?
A survival trainer for 35 years, Arama offers courses on everything from starting fires to preparing for ‘civil unrest.’ Which is where shows like The Walking Dead come in – while the zombies aren’t real, the breakdown of society it depicts gets people thinking.
“It could be a bit of a trigger, like the ice storms,” says Arama. “The ice storm had a paradigm shift in people’s thinking – if you didn’t suffer through it, then somebody you knew went through hell.
“My thinking is, people are not ready to meet zombies in Canadian Tire when they’re fighting over generators, but maybe it’s raised the awareness level for overall preparedness in a kind of a convoluted way.”
Sure enough, a couple of booths down from Arama, a retailer with a Walking Dead banner was selling weapons frequently seen on the show.
It’s the worst case scenario, says Arama: An outbreak, a natural disaster, the breakdown of society.
But the majority of his training deals with more direct problems: A stalled car, getting lost in the woods, harsh elements. He says about 12,000 people per year in Canada are reported lost because they didn’t do the simple things first.
“We generally find 90% of outdoor enthusiasts have no emergency plan,” he says. “No survival kit, no compass, no communication equipment.
“Maybe they’re watching too many reality shows. A lot of people, when they have the remote control they know what to do. They’re watching experts do things that make it look easy.”
What flusters Arama most is that it has never been easier to let people know where you are at all times, yet so few plan ahead. Even something as simple as leaving a map with someone, with directions on where they are, could save a life.
“The technology’s never been better – you can pair a smart phone now with a tracking device and text out anywhere in the world,” he says. “I’ve never lived in a time when there’s been so few excuses.”
Keeping in the survivor spirit, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Wolf Starchild – who once hiked the 850 km Bruce Trail barefoot – stressed the need to always carry three sources of fire while hiking. DSBN outdoors instructor Chris Reid of Niagara Falls says even if it takes 45 minutes to start a blaze, the sense of accomplishment lasts all day.
“The kids want something different, and something real.”
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