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Homeless man gives lessons on survival

Living on the streets homeless can be difficult, but now that the weather is changing, the need to survive is becoming critical.

Posted: Nov 13, 2019 6:11 PM
Updated: Nov 13, 2019 6:17 PM

Matt Miller is the executive director of the Rome Rescue Mission. He’s seen an increase in the number of people coming in now that the temperature is dropping.

"This is kind of an unexpected cold front that came through, so a lot of people were caught off guard, and that includes the people that are living out on the street and are homeless."

John Bennett is able to survive in the toughest of conditions because he’s certified in search and rescue, and chooses to live homeless.

"It’s extremely dangerous and it literally is a full time job. You wake up thinking what’s next. What do I have to do next. Where am I going to eat next. Where am I going to sleep next. Ok I can’t sleep here anymore. I got to find another spot. It’s really an all day, full-time job."

Ralph Burnham lived under a bridge for close to two years. He describes what it’s like to be down on your luck.

"It’s extremely, extremely hard. Literally heartbreaking. I can’t even count the times that I literally just broke right down crying. I mean in tears. Praying to God, please help me. Something. Please, and slowly but surely God certainly stepped up."

You don’t have to be homeless to need survival skills. John Bennett tells us the skills can come in handy for people affected by a natural disaster.

"You can freeze in your home. You can freeze to death in your home and not be homeless, so building these experiences and life techniques on how to survive, and then I take them to the extreme."

John has numerous tips, but survival starts with the basics.

"The most important thing is what you have on you now. Beyond your mind, you’re going to want to layer up."

If you should find yourself homeless, you can build yourself a basic shelter from branches, and staying warm is also critical.

For someone who’s homeless, how important is fire?

"Fire is extremely important. It’s going to keep you not only warm, it’s going to boil the water for you. Keep the water clean. It’s going to cook your food for you. It’s going to keep all the predators away. It can also be used as a signaling device for search and rescue," he said.

John will be teaching a survival course at the Rome Rescue Mission on Wednesday, November 20th from 10-noon at the Rome Rescue Mission.

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