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Posted on Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Sierra Brantley searches for a key in a simulated glacier river. The idea is to see how fast you can’t feel your hands. Now imagine that being your whole body!


Follow the United States Coast Guard Regulations but carry even more than the mandatory requirements.

If the USCG says you need two PFD’s – bring four. You’re better off with more than not enough. In your boat, carry at least the following items:

  • PFD’s for every passenger
  • Flares
  • 2-way Radio – USCG monitors Channel 16
  • Paddles
  • Throw bag and rescue ring
  • Flashlight
  • Practice good boat habits
  • Keep the deck clean and clear
  • Keep gear organized and put away (If you get in trouble you won’t have time to get things out of your way)
  • Know your location – continually question where you are because if you get in trouble the USCG can’t save you if they don’t know how to find you.  Learning basic navigation skills is optimum.
  • Keep an eye on your passengers – Supervision is critical
  • Watch water for debris – Everyone on board (passengers and captain) should always be l          looking for possible hazards
  • Do Not distract the driver
  • Remember – Alcohol and Boats don’t mix

Keep in mind that Rivers are more dangerous than lakes because they are always on the move.. They carry additional water risks such as:

  • Eddie’s
  • Holes
  • Undercuts
  • Boils
  • Sweepers

These are all areas where you can get sucked underwater and trapped.



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Congratulations Iron Dog Racers
Posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Congratulations to Marc McKenna and Dusty VanMeter for their race to victory in the 2012 Iron Dog. All of us at the North America Outdoor Institute also want to congratulate our loyal Iron Dog racers who have provided support for the community service programs we provide – Ryan Sottosanti and Chris Olds. Their teams finished in the top 5 with Sottosanti finishing 3rd and Olds finishing 4th. Way to go guys. Read more

We commend all of the racers along with the Iron Dog organization for their dedication and hard work that has turned this race into an event that all Alaskan’s can be proud to watch and support. Great job everyone for a class act!

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Wilderness Medical
Posted on Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

If you lead groups or frequently participate in outdoor adventures, you could easily be caught in an emergency situation that requires wilderness medicine. You can get prepared by attending a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder course. NAOI offers SOLO (Stonehearth Opening Learning Opportunities) nationally certified wilderness medical courses. These courses include First Aid/CPR and are scenario based for lots of hands-on, interactive practice. We are offering a 25 hour WFA or WFR-Recert; September 24-25 and a full 80 hour Wilderness First Responder course October 6-15. Learn more or sign up now!

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Story of tragedy and survival
Posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011

When Ashley Udelhoven and four teen-age girls set out across glacier fed Tustumena Lake on the Kenai Peninsula to spend the weekend at a cabin, they were thinking of fun and adventure. But their adventure, like too many others, soon turned dangerous and deadly. The wind came up and they were suddenly caught more than two miles offshore by towering waves that swamped their boat sending everyone into the 40 degree water. They were all wearing life jackets but only the sheer will, ingrained skills and perseverance of three of the girls saved their lives. They somehow found the strength and drive to swim to shore and hike for several hours to a remote cabin where they were eventually rescued. But their Dad and a family friend didn’t make it. When 16-year-old Katarina Anderson landed in the water, she was wearing a too-big lifejacket and was fighting it. Ashley tried to help her but his body quickly succumbed to hypothermia. The other three-girls, encouraged on by 15-year-old Miranda, made the decision of survivors to head for shore. Read the rest of the story at adn.com… These girls are an inspiration and an example that shows training pays. They were prepared with lifejackets and knowledge about the area. They knew what to do and followed through. We could all learn from them. Prepare yourself and your children for potential accidents. Attend an NAOI Wilderness Survival Skills Training program to learn more www.naoiak.org

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Changing Everything
Posted on Sunday, May 29th, 2011

It’s amazing how one moment can change everything. I was reminded of this fact the other night when I rolled over in bed, stretching to reach the night stand, and dislocated my knee. The patella (knee cap) popped medial (to the inside of my knee) stretching and tearing ligaments and tendons on the way. Fortunately my wilderness medical training came into play and I knew what I had to do. I rolled on my back and forced my leg back into an anatomically correct position while pushing latterly (to the outside) on the patella which instantly relocated the knee. Phew! But in those few moments my life instantly went from gardening, running and biking to lying on my back with an ice pack and contemplating how this could happen to me. I wasn’t out doing any thing that really put me at risk. I was in bed. Alone!

After hours of contemplation and research, I’ve come to the conclusion and accepted the fact that while I know how important physical activity and strength training are, I’ve obviously failed to follow through for myself. I’ve let my quadriceps (the big muscle on the top of your thigh that support your knees) get out of tune from lack of exercise. I’ve known it for a while but now it’s a proven fact; I’ve spent too much time sitting in front of my computer and not enough time dedicated to health and fitness.

I’ve now made a promise to myself that once I can get back on both feet, I’m going to diligently focus on therapy and rehabilitation. And not just for my injured knee but my whole body. For my life.

So my advice of the week is…Keep yourself physically fit… and Join NAOI at an upcoming wilderness survival challenge program supported by the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation to get outside and learn survival skills that range from trail safety to plant awareness to Wilderness Medical. Check out our Calendar of Events to learn more and sign up!

In the meantime, while I’m waiting for the knee to calm down and start healing, I’ll use this time to work on and update our website, Facebook, newsletter, scheduling, grants…Hmm. I should have plenty to keep me off this leg for a few days.

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Teen Survival Challenge
Posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010

Are you between 12 and 19 and a fan of Survivor or Man vs. Wild? Do you have the skills needed to survive if you get lost in the wilderness? Find out at the NAOI Teen Survivor Challenge on Sat. Aug. 21 from 4-8 p.m. This back to school special program features live music, food, fun and a chance to test your outdoor skills or learn more. Space limited. Sign up at http://www.naoiak.org/register.php or download the event flyer now to learn more.

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Bicycle Safety Tip
Posted on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Yesterday I had an amazing experience. I was driving home when I turned on Pittman, and spotted a teenage boy on a little trick bicycle wearing shorts, a light jacket, sneakers and a ball cap peddling along blithely on the wrong side of the road. No helmet, pads, protection… I shook my head knowing what could happen to him. I drove passed and hadn’t traveled more than 500 yards when I spotted a moose on the same side of the road as this young man peddling his little bike. The distance between them was evaporating fast. I stopped, grabbed my cell phone and switched it to camera, my heard pounding. Tapping the shutter I cursed when nothing happened. ‘Come on,’ I breathed, tapping it again. Suddenly the moose saw the bike coming and bolted through the brush startling the teen swerved across Pittman toward me without looking for traffic. Thank goodness there wasn’t any. As he furiously peddled past me, now on the right side of the road, I saw the startled flash of fear beginning to fade from his youthful expression.

‘Wow. That scared me,’ he admitted. ‘Thanks for stopping.’

I wanted to say so much as he peddled off down the road and then crossed to the wrong side again; Instead I could only get in my car and drive away wishing I’d been able to share some safety protocols he ought to consider BEFORE he experienced a bad outcome.

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