8 May , 17

Read a map and other lost skills

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Who needs to read a map anymore? Can you carve a turkey? What if your son or daughter gets a burn… don’t do what my mom did and put butter on it! God love her but my mom wasn’t up on her first aid skills when i was a kid.

Navigating by map doing recon exercises when I was in the Army were some of the most fun and challenging tasks I participated in. When you get good you are the “go to” guy that would lead a small det of soldiers into an Observation Post or “OP” and then back out again once the mission was complete.

Get it wrong and you might spend days lost… or worse, you might get captured.

The days of “gender roles” are long past! Nowadays men spend just as much time cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children as women do fixing the house and earning a living. There no longer exists “jobs for men” and “jobs for women”—there are simply jobs that need to be done, and they’re done by the person best-suited to complete the task.

Below are three vital “man skills” that you need to develop in order to truly prove yourself a man:

Read a Map

Yes, women have often joked about how men refuse to ask for directions, no matter how lost we get. For thousands of years, maps were our only option for orienteering, and there were no GPS devices or Google Maps to help us get around. Anyone who couldn’t read a map was destined to end up lost and wandering.

Read A Map - Alpha NationToday, smartphones, satellite phones, and GPS devices completely eliminate the need for us to read physical maps while getting around town. However, what will you do the day your GPS device stops working and your phone runs out of battery? Or what about when you travel to a city that Google Maps hasn’t yet finished mapping (they do exist!)? Perhaps you may end up lost, in the wilderness, with nothing but a map to help you find your way home. What are you going to do then?

Learning how to read a map isn’t rocket science—it’s actually brilliantly easy!

Two Types of Maps

There are two basic types of maps:

  1. City/Road Maps – These maps divide your city into grids, giving you a clear outline of the metropolitan and surrounding suburban and rural areas, including all the roads running through the city.
  2. Orienteering Maps – These maps are designed for use OUTSIDE of cities, and they detail the landscape through which you will travel on your journey.

How to Read a City Map

Reading a city/road map is incredibly simple!

  1. Set the map from north to south. It’s easier to orient your mind/sense of direction when the map is the right way up.
  2. Find your location. You should always know where in the city your house or office is located. Use that as a guide to help you find your current location.
  3. Find your destination. Locate the spot on the map where you need to go. You can use the guide in the back of the map to help you find the grid for the street/neighborhood you’re looking for.
  4. Connect the dots. Start at your current location and find the best route to reach the destination. You can take the main roads, highways, side streets, or even through-streets—whatever you think will work best.
  5. Write it down. Write down the turns you’re going to make. For example, “Main Street, right turn. Third Avenue, left turn.” All you’ll have to do is keep an eye out for the road signs, and you’ll know which way you need to go.

Pretty easy, right?

How to Read an Orienteering Map

This is where things get a bit trickier. With orienteering maps, you’re going to need a compass (link to Compass Map Skills Article) to use along with the map. You’ll be traveling over a variety of terrain and will need to focus on what you’re doing to keep your bearings.

Color Guide

Orienteering map features are all color-coded:

  • Black is for man-made features like roads, buildings, cliffs, and trails.
  • Blue is for water feature; rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, etc.
  • Yellow is for open and semi-open land
  • White is for open woods
  • Brown is for land features (banks, contours, etc.)
  • Green is for vegetation that can be hard to traverse and thus should be avoided

Features of an Orienteering Map

Orienteering maps have a few features that enable you to find your way from your location to your destination easily:

  • Scale – This tells you the relationship between the map’s size and actual area size. For example, a 1:100,000 scale means a 1-inch distance on the map is 100,000 inches, or 15.78 miles. (Note: Orienteering maps use meters and kilometers rather than yards and miles.)
  • Contours – These brown squiggly lines on the map give you an idea of the terrain you’ll be traveling, including elevation. The closer together the lines, the steeper the elevation.
  • Legend –– This is a list of the symbols that you’ll use to decipher the different markings on the map.

Using the Orienteering Map

With road maps, you always keep it north side up so you can read the names of the streets. Orienteering maps, however, are meant to be turned according to the direction you’re facing. If, for example, you’re traveling from north to south, turn the map so it’s facing the same direction you are (south). This will help you figure out the landscape and terrain ahead and remind you of the way you need to go.

Handy Resources: National Geographic Map Skills booklet has a lot of good advice on map-reading to help you in any survival situation.


Remember, ancient travelers only had the sun, stars, and moon to guide them. You’ve got a printed map complete with road signs and directions—it’s VITAL you learn how to figure out your location and destination using a map!

Treat A Burn

No matter how careful you are in the kitchen, on the grill, or around the campfire, there’s always a risk you’ll get burned. You may find that your family also suffers burns from any number of things—from a hot oven to a curling iron to an accident in the garage to a house fire. It’s vital that you’re prepared and know how to treat the burns.

WARNING: Before you treat any burn, you need to know how severe it is. The treatment protocol for major and minor burns is very different, as is the degree of emergency.

treat burns - Alpha NationFirst Degree Burns — These are usually minor burns that affect only the outer layers of tissue. It’s likely to cause pain, swelling, and redness. However, if the burn covers a lot of skin surface area or is located somewhere important (face, groin, feet, hands, etc.), it may be a good idea to call 911.

Second Degree Burns – These are more serious burns that affect not only the epidermis (outer layers of skin) but also the dermis (inner layers). In addition to the minor symptoms, there may also be blistering and white, splotchy skin.

If the burn is larger than 3 inches across or is located on an important part of the body, it’s recommended you seek medical attention.

Third Degree Burns – These are VERY serious burns that go through the dermis and damage the deeper layers of tissue (including blood vessels and nerves). The skin can become blackened (charred) or whitened, and the injured person may suffer more serious side effects. Regardless of the size or location of the third degree burn, it’s vital that you seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY.

How to Treat Minor Burns

Let’s say you’re in the kitchen cooking dinner and you burn yourself on the stove. Or one of the women in your family burns their hands on a curling iron. It’s not serious enough to warrant a visit to the hospital but it still needs to be treated. What do you do?

  • NEVER apply ice – Icing a burn will restrict blood flow, which will prevent it from healing properly and could lead to more serious damage. You want to run the burn under cold water to cool it off (for about 10 to 15 minutes), but NEVER apply ice to a burn!
  • Remove anything constricting – If you’re wearing rings, bracelets, tight clothing, or anything else that could constrict the injured area, remove them now. The burn will likely cause swelling, and constricting jewelry or clothing could increase the pain.
  • Apply a soothing gel – Aloe vera gel is the best thing to use to treat burns, as it relieves the pain and reduces the risk of scarring. You can find other burn-treating creams at your local pharmacy.
  • Take a pain-reliever – Advil, Tylenol, or Aleve can help to reduce the pain of the burn.
  • Leave small blisters alone – If the blister is smaller than your pinky fingernail, don’t pop it. Only pop bigger blisters. Once popped, make sure to apply antibiotic ointment to clean the area to prevent infection, and cover it with a gauze bandage.

As long as the minor burn doesn’t cover a large skin surface area, you shouldn’t require medical attention. However, if the burn is more serious, get to the doctor just in case!

How to Treat Major Burns

When it comes to major burns, you should NEVER treat them yourself. You should immediately call 911. However, as you’re waiting for medical services to arrive, here’s what you can do:

  • Make sure they’re breathing – Check their pulse (at their wrist or neck), watch their chest, or listen for breath sounds. Perform CPR if required.
  • Protect them – Get them away from whatever caused the burn and away from any smoke or heat. DO NOT remove burned clothing that is stuck to their skin.
  • Remove constricting items – Belts, jewelry, clothing, or anything that could constrict blood flow should be removed—cut off, if necessary.
  • Elevate and cover the burned area – Cover the burn with a cool, moist cloth to protect it from infection and to soothe it. If possible, raise the burned area above heart level.

When it comes to major burns, NEVER immerse the burns in water. This could lead to hypothermia, shock, or a decrease in blood pressure.

That is all you can do—leave the rest of the treatment to the experts when the ambulance arrives.

Carve A Turkey

Turkey is a classic Thanksgiving dinner food, and it’s often the main dish at Christmas dinner as well. The size of the bird means there’s a lot more meat than you’d get from a chicken, but you have to carve the meat away from the bone in order to eat it.cook a turkey - Alpha Nation

Unfortunately, carving a turkey is often easier said than done. Between the low fat content of the meat (which makes it harder to cut) and the strong joints (which don’t break like chicken legs), it may be a bit of a struggle to carve the turkey until you learn how to do it right.

Step 1: Remove the legs. Pull the leg away from the body, cut the skin between the drumstick and breast, and bend the leg back to pop the joint out of its socket. Slice the joint and set the leg aside. Repeat with the other leg. Cut the drumsticks free from the thighs.

Step 2: Remove the breasts. Instead of slicing the breast into multiple pieces, use the ribs as a guide to help you cut free the entire breast at once. Sever the wings at the joint. Cut the breasts on a separate cutting board.

This is the fastest way to carve a turkey, and you’ll find it makes the least amount of mess. However, if you’re the sort of person who likes carving the meat still on the bone, get a very sharp knife and slice the meat of the thigh toward the rib cage.

These three skills will serve you well while out and about, at home, and at the dinner table. Read Part 4 for a few more vital man skills to develop…

Man Skills Part 1 

Skills for Men Part 2



Todd Lamb is one world's most trusted sources of Health and Fitness information and programming. He has dedicated his life to the service of others having served as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Special Service Force and as 17 year veteran Police Officer with 10 years on SWAT and 4 as a Team Leader. Todd is dedicated to transforming the lives of 1,000,000 men through honest science based information backed up with years of practical experience in Tactical Operations. Todd is a Best Selling Author of multiple best selling fitness programs and the book STAND APART

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