Photo by Carolee Boyles
You can assemble muchof a personal survival kit from items just around the house.
Create a Personal Emergency Field Kit
by Carolee Anita Boyles
Ninety-nine times out of 100, when you go hunting you’ll come back with nothing worse than a few briar scratches. According to statistics gathered by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, hunting is one of the safest types of outdoor recreation. Hunting with firearms has an injury rate of only 0.05 percent, which is about one injury for every 2,000 participants. For comparison, golf has an injury rate of 0.16 percent, which is about one injury for every 622 participants.
While hunting is inherently safe, it still pays to be prepared when you head to the woods. Some items that should be in your pack are obvious: a flashlight, a bottled water or two and maybe an apple or granola bar. But when it comes to an emergency, what gotta-have items should you always have handy?
Several years ago, noted safety expert Patrick McHugh compiled a series of short lessons in emergency preparedness for outdoors men and women. Some of the items he recommended including in a personal emergency kit are:
- Aluminum foil: You can fold 12-by-24-inch pieces of aluminum foil to fit in a plastic bag. It’s useful for cooking, to protect a small fire from the wind and as a reflector for signaling.
- Birthday candles: You know the trick candles you can’t blow out? A couple of those will help you light a fire under wet or windy conditions.
Photo by Carolee Boyles
Dryer lint is excellent for starting fires; keep it dry in a plastic bag
- Chemical light sticks: Get the 8- to 12-hour kind. You can use these for light and signaling.
- Compass or GPS: If you know where you are and where you need to be, you may be able to walk out of the situation.
- Dryer lint: Dryer lint makes excellent tinder to start a fire. Keep it in a sealed plastic bag to keep it dry. For even more “starting power,” dampen dryer lint with charcoal lighter fluid or kerosene and keep it in a plastic 35mm film canister that you’ve sealed tightly with duct tape.
- Emergency blanket or bag: A waterproof emergency blanket, such as a space blanket, will keep you warm and dry. Use it for shelter, signaling, protection from the elements and to reflect heat from a fire into a small space.
- Energy bar or hard candy: This will provide the calories you need to keep going, keep calm, and think.
- First-aid kit: Basic items such as antiseptic wipes and Band-Aids of various sizes can come in handy. Other items to include are tweezers, eye drops, sterile gauze for wrapping, a roll of adhesive tape, a tube of Benadryl gel and a tube of antibiotic cream or gel.
- Instant broth or soup: If you have a fire going and can heat water, a cup of hot soup can be a great comfort while providing hydration and nutrients.
Photo by Carolee Boyles
Clean nail polish can make any match waterproof.
- Medication: Carry a two-day supply of any daily medicines you take, just in case.
- Mirror: For signaling
- Moleskin: This will protect tender places on your feet or hands, if you find yourself having to do something you didn’t plan on to stay warm or dry.
- Multi-tool: Good for a variety of tasks for which you might need a tool
- Plastic bags: A plastic bag will hold water, store food and keep things dry.
- Pocket hand warmers: Will help keep your hands warm
- Sandpaper: A small piece of fine sandpaper, stored in a sealed plastic bag, gives you something failsafe on which to strike a match.
- Shoelaces: Uses for shoelaces are almost endless. You can tie or bind limbs to help make a shelter or fashion a splint, or tie a plastic bag open to catch rainwater to drink. Stuff the end of a shoelace into a crack in a rock where a small flow of water drips down, put your canteen on the ground under the crack, and put the other end of the shoe lace in your canteen; the shoelace will become saturated with water which will then drip into your canteen.
- Small pair of scissors: To cut moleskin, laces, or anything else you need to trim
- Whistle: Three short blasts on a whistle is an internationally recognized distress signal.
According to McHugh, one of the advantages of building your own emergency kit is you know what’s in it and how to use it. Pack everything in sealable bags, and store them all in a large, sealable bag.
“Before you go afield, check to make sure your kit contains fresh and useable items,” he said. “Bandages tend to lose their adhesive power over time, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures outdoors. Medications have expiration dates. Inventory what you have, and determine what you may need. Become familiar with the items in your kit and where they are; you may have to get to them quickly when you’re in the woods.”