(SurvivalDaily.com) – Metal detectors can be a lot of fun, and a good way to get out and about without necessarily having to be social. But they can also be great tools for survival — sometimes in ways you may not expect. They can even help you learn whether someone claiming to be unarmed is telling the truth or not.
Metal Detectors 101
Metal detectors send out an electromagnetic pulse. When that pulse encounters a metal object, the signal bounces back and causes an alert on the device. Detection usually extends to approximately 1 foot below the ground.
But you can’t just start digging. That can be dangerous and illegal. Instead, you need to follow a few “best practices” to stay safe.
Retrieving the Item
Make sure you are on your own property or have permission to search for metal where you are. Never dig on private property or any property if you don’t have clear consent to be there. Not only can you get in trouble for trespassing, but you may end up doing the work to retrieve something that the owner then gets to take from you.
Before you dig, try prodding at the spot in question. A long stick, screwdriver or other long device can be used to prod into the ground. Once you hit your mark, mark the spot. Then, do it again within the same vicinity. Repeat this method a couple of times in order to get an idea of how big the object really is and how far you’re going to need to dig.
Once you dig up the item, resist the urge to clean it. Instead, place it in a bag to take home with you. Clean the item once you reach your destination where you can inspect the item and the materials that come off of it.
Now, let’s say you have a metal detector for a hobby, but you want to use it in a way that contributes to your survival efforts. Know that underground pipes are usually made from metal, with the exception of waste disposal plumbing. You can use your detector to find a water pipe, but instead of digging it up, follow it to its source. Remember that gas pipes are also made from metal, and you never want to hit one of those.
You can also use your detector for safety. If you think someone may be armed, go over them with the detector to find out for sure. They can also help you identify objects such as landmines and buried metal boobytraps. You can even use it to try and detect metal buried within a piece of wood (such as nails). This is ideal when you want to make a cut, but don’t necessarily want to encounter a flying piece of metal face-first.
Remember that your metal detector should be thought of as a SHTF device. That means both size and weight matter. Look for something lightweight and either small or easily reduced in size. A sliding or folding shaft can make this device less cumbersome if you have to take it on the road.
Speaking of portability, don’t just leave your batteries in your detector when you aren’t using it. This can result in corruption and leaks over time. If anything, try to find a device with batteries that are compatible with other tools or equipment. This will allow you to get the most out of your batteries while also ensuring you have less to carry.
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