Summer is here and that means it’s prime time for adventures with Mother Nature. These outdoor excursions can be loads of fun, but if you get lost or hurt, the adventure can quickly turn to disaster. Having a survival kit to help you get through until help arrives is essential to avoiding tragedy. Read on to learn the must-haves of a survival kit.
The basic rule for creating your own kit is to pack enough to help you survive at least 72 hours, the average amount of time it takes for help to arrive. This may not seem like very long, but three days without water is not a good situation. Keep the three necessities for survival in mind–food, water, and shelter–and pack accordingly.
Clean water is a very vital part of your survival. Just because the location of your outdoor adventure includes a water source, don’t assume that it is drinkable water. Even water that looks crystal clear can contain microscopic organisms that can make you very ill. Boiling the water is the best way to get rid of this harmful bacteria, so be sure to pack a pot and a bandanna in your kit. The pot is for boiling and will also double as a reflective surface with which to signal for help. The bandanna can be used to help separate mud from the water before boiling.
Fire is also a very important element of survival. Boiling water, cooking food, and basic warmth are only a few of its uses. Because of this, you need to include items to make fire in your survival kit. It’s a good idea to pack matches (in a waterproof container), but always have a backup plan. Since it’s sometimes difficult to start a fire with matches if the wood is damp, invest in a Fire steel. The kerosene in this burns very hot and can start a fire even with damp wood. Pack some fire starter items as well, such as cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly.
The body can survive longer without food than it can without water, but packing food makes your wait for help much more comfortable. Include items that are high in carbohydrates, such as granola bars and dried fruit and nuts. Another good thing to pack is some beef or chicken bullion cubes. Added to hot water, this is a good way to warm you on cool nights.
Speaking of cool nights, be sure to include a blanket or tarp in your kit. The tarp can double as shelter if needed, and most have a reflective backside that can be used to signal for help.
In case of injury, include a small first aid kit, consisting of bandages of various sizes, gauze, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, and a small pair of scissors. Be sure to throw in some insect repellent for those pesky mosquitoes and sunscreen to protect you from a sunburn. Include enough personal medication to last for a few days.
Miscellaneous items to pack include a tactical light with new (good) batteries, a survival candle (these burn for 8 hours), a pocket knife (or better yet, a multifunction tool that includes a knife, pliers, etc.), and a straight knife. This will come in handy for skinning food, or making a shelter. Always add a map of your location and be sure to carry a compass (and learn how to use it!).
The great thing about making your own survival kit is that it can be personalized. Pack the basics, then tweak it according to where you are going. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so don’t skimp on your kit. Your life might just depend on it.