The Phonetic Alphabet is the only reliable way of pronouncing the letters of the alphabet so everybody understands what’s being said. I had to learn the Phonetic Alphabet in my early teens, because I was a member of the local Bushfire Brigade, and the local search and rescue team. Both organisations relied heavily on CB radios, and in an emergency situation, you might only get one opportunity to relay information (so you had to make each transmission count).
“I’m not a member of any rescue team. Why would I need to know the Phonetic Alphabet?” l hear you ask. You don’t have to be a member of anything to need the Phonetic Alphabet. If you have to contact the police, fire brigade or ambulance service, the operator might ask you to clarify some of the information you have provided. Trust me; they will appreciate hearing the Phonetic Alphabet far more than the garbage used on TV game shows (absolutely no dispatch operator wants to hear “L for lollipop, D for dolly, S for slippery-dip”). Improvised alphabets have too great a margin of error in translation. The Phonetic Alphabet has been refined through trial and error, using a list of words that can’t be mistaken for any other words.
The Phonetic Alphabet is very useful for relaying information, such as license plates, or if you need to spell out a street name. I have listed the Phonetic Alphabet below, including the correct code word and pronunciation of each code word.
I’ve provided you with the information, now it is up to you to practice it. Don’t have the time? Make a habit of running through the Phonetic Alphabet in your mind as you drive to and from work, or even as you drift off to sleep each night. Trust me, you’ll master it in no time.
Exercise; some of us love it, some of us loathe it. Regardless, it is an essential part of life; especially if you have a job that isn’t physically demanding.
When you were younger, exercise was almost unavoidable. Sport was part of the curriculum at school, and after school you usually had an hour or two to play before your parents got home. You also had the option to participate in your favourite sport or playing with your friends all weekend.
After you graduated from school, life got a little more complicated. You got a job which took up more hours every day than school ever did. Your social life shifted into overdrive, filling your weekends with socialising and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, this was the same point in time your teenage metabolism bid you farewell.
But don’t despair; all is not lost. Getting back into exercise isn't as difficult or intimidating as it appears. The key to success is your attitude. You have to accept that your body isn’t as fit and strong as it used to be; and you have to accept that results won’t happen overnight. Don’t think of fitness as one massive job; rather a series of small steps.
Before you throw yourself into the next boot camp, or sign up for an intensive exercise program with a personal trainer, you need to get your body used to moving again. Walking is the ideal starting point. Yes; simple gentle walking. Start small and work your way up; a couple of minutes at an easy pace, on flat ground. Increase the distance and your speed as your body improves. Your target should be a 30 minute walk at a brisk pace, 5 to 6 days a week.
Once your body is a little stronger, you should consider doing squats. Again; this isn’t as ominous as it sounds. If you can sit on a chair, you’re half way there. Instead of sitting down and staying down, stand up again. Remember to engage your core muscles, and use your glutes (bum muscles) instead of your knees to do the work. When you’re strong enough, do it without the chair. Correct technique includes keeping your back straight and looking toward the horizon (both ensure you don’t curve your spine). You are looking to work your way up to 3 sets of 8 reps.
Push-ups are another exercise to consider. Find a sturdy section of wall and place your hands shoulder width apart and take one step back. Engage your core muscles and perform your first rep. You want to achieve 3 sets of 8 reps. When your strength builds up, increase the difficulty by taking another step backward. From there, move onto push-ups on your knees, and eventually full push-ups.
These exercises require no equipment, and will help you improve your strength, endurance and overall health. These steps will take you a few weeks to get comfortable with; but once you are confident, you can move on to bigger and better things, such as joining a gym or self-defence class.
Don’t be too harsh with yourself. Every step you take is a step in the right direction. Remember, you don’t find the time to exercise, you make the time to exercise.
The quickest way to get yourself into trouble in the bush is to try something you know is well and truly beyond your capabilities. For some inexplicable reason, people assume the simple act of going camping makes them invincible. This situation is exacerbated when the person in question hasn’t done a lick of exercise since high school.
Over the years I’ve seen people do things that had no chance of success.
- Swimming – Whether it is in a river, lake or the ocean, make sure you can actually swim the desired distance before you jump in. If you aren’t sure, or know you can’t make the specified distance, don’t attempt it. Drowning isn’t something you want to experience. You don’t want to risk your own life, or your rescuer’s life, because you over estimated your abilities.
- Trees – Being out in the bush gives some people the urge climb trees. If you know what you are doing, you should be ok. A good rule of thumb is your ability to do chin-ups. You need a lot of upper body strength to climb trees. If you don’t regularly do chin-ups you might want to reconsider your need to climb trees. Once you’re halfway up the tree, it’s a long way to the ground.
- Steep rock face - Rock climbing shares similar perils with tree climbing. People overlook the obvious; don’t climb up if you can’t climb down.
- Demanding physical labour in the sun - If you aren’t used to performing hard physical labour, don’t make your debut in the hot midday sun (while giving it all you’ve got). Break the job into smaller tasks, and drink plenty of water. It will take a little longer to get the job done, but at least you won’t get sunstroke.
Adding alcohol into any of these situations is guaranteed to turn a bad outcome into a complete disaster.
Obviously, if you were in a life or death situation, you would do whatever it takes to survive, including ignoring the above mentioned guidelines. If you are just there to enjoy the great outdoors, don’t let your ego turn a fun weekend into a disaster.